Rosie was the ‘inspiration’ for the ChariTea Towel Collection in the Museum. For the 25 years that I had worked in, and with, charities I had wanted at least one of them to adopt a tea towel as a means of fundraising. None of them had taken up this idea. Rosie was a student in mosaic, and then a full time employee; she handcrafted the two tea towels at the top of ‘ChariTea Towels’ and I loved them, both. They are still going strong and have never faded. So when I decided to open http://www.virtualteatowelmuseum.com, there was always going to be a ChariTea Towel Collection.
Rosie left mosaic around about the time I retired. Rosie is a collector of silver teaspoons (we all have our quirks); we kept in touch via email and gradually that connection faded away. More recently, via Twitter, we have reconnected and I invited her to become a Guest Tea Towel 2020. People rarely respond enthusiastically to such an invitation but within a couple of days I received Rosie’s article, and I now understand why keeping in touch with people might not have been her Number One Priority. Rosie’s introductory remarks were “Feel free to edit my writing like you used to do…. it’s probably still as haphazard as when I was a student”
I haven’t altered a word; there was no need to: “I’m not a big tea towel person, despite regarding them as essential kitchen equipment. Most of mine are bought by me (I doubt that I’ve ever received one as a gift) and probably to match my kitchen decor at the time. They are then used till thin and tired looking, when they then might end up used as cloths for cleaning bathrooms. Most of my older, plain ones were sent into school this year for them to use as part of their nativity costumes. This one has more meaning.
Not long after Christmas, last year, we found out that I was pregnant with our second child, due October 2019. Later that week my husband also successfully interviewed for a new job in Rotherham which would require our second large move in three years and we would have to reapply for our daughter’s reception school place in the new area. So the year was already set up to be a stressful one.
The first house we chose fell through and the sellers of our second were dragging their heels. Our buyers had kindly stuck with us throughout this but nearing June we started to sense some impatience so decided we’d complete on our house and I’d go and stay with my Mum in Hereford for a few weeks till our purchase went through; Owen was already working in Rotherham, staying in airbnbs. I was 24 weeks.
That Monday, I suddenly started bleeding and getting intense waves of pain and my Mum had had to call an ambulance which took me to Hereford Hospital and then to Worcester Royal. After that I spent four agonisingly boring weeks living on the antenatal ward, bouncing to delivery every time I de-stabilised, until baby Jack was eventually born in July at 29 weeks. He was ‘blue-lighted’ to Birmingham Women’s Hospital as he was not accepting ventilation. There they were able to stabilise him and a flat on site was made available to me. The flat was adequately, though sparsely, furnished. But it was missing a few essentials such as a washing up bowl and, of course, tea towels. My husband dutifully popped to the shops up the road and got everything I could think of that I’d need for the next few days at least; including a pack of tea towels, the best of which I whisked away to be used for cleaning and drying my expressing equipment.
Jack spent one week in Birmingham, five weeks in Worcester and nearly four weeks in Hereford before being well enough to come home. The tea towel has followed him to each hospital; I now use it at home to dry his bottles when I am cleaning and sterilising.
One day, I will give Jack a Memory Box with all his hospital things in, first tiny dummy, first little vest, first Sats Monitor wire etc. And it will be lined with this tea towel.”
Thank you Rosie, that is some Tea Towel Story. Very moving and I am pleased that Jack is back at home.