Alison Goulding: Minny and Mossy

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WITH Mothering Sunday still fresh in the mind, I am reminded of one of my favourite childhood memories.

When I was about three, my mum used to drop me off at nursery before she went to work. Every morning we’d walk hand in hand together with me chuntering away and my mum diligently listening.

One day something caught my eye – a clump of bright green moss on the pavement leading up to the nursery. In that way that children are fascinated by random things it really caught my attention.

Every morning thereafter I used to make my mum stop and say hello to the moss with me, and I duly christened the clump Mossy (how original).

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I even used to kneel down and stroke it.

Mossy was soon joined by another bit of bright green moss which I then named Minny.

And so it went on. Every morning I’d stop and check on Minny and Mossy before toddling off to nursery to fight with the other children over who was allowed on the rocking horse.

Needless to say, my caring nature when it came to moss didn’t really extend to fellow playmates and I was pretty scrappy when it came to that rocking horse...

And then one day my mum told me it was nearly time for Christmas and I wouldn’t be going to nursery for a while.

I was inconsolable at the thought that Minny and Mossy would have to fend for themselves and might even cark it under the snow.

At which point my mum did possibly the kindest, most nuts thing in the world. Instead of ignoring me or telling me to bog off, she hatched a plan to save my pet moss.

On the last day of nursery before the holidays she walked me there with a spoon and a freezer bag in her pocket and dug up Minny and Mossy very carefully so she could take them home and replant them on our driveway, which she faithfully did.

For the many years that we lived in that house we were plagued by moss and my mum and dad never, ever complained or threatened it with weedkiller.

Until one day we moved and the new owners immediately ripped up the drive and put down block paving.

Thankfully I’d forgotten all about it by then and was too busy teaching my pet gerbils to do tricks to give a fig about my old pals Minny and Mossy.

In due course the fable of Minny and Mossy once again entered our family lexicon, and I cannot hear that story enough, especially as told by my mum.

She tends to roll her eyes when she thinks of the lengths she went to to keep us happy, while being just as doting with her grandson.

Nothing is too much trouble when she is spending time with Ellis. He is only two, and going through a phase of being scared by loud noises, chiefly hand-dryers in public toilets.

It hasn’t happened yet, but if all the hand-dryers in Norfolk are mysteriously dismantled overnight then I know where to look.

And whenever my mum gets on my wick, I breathe deeply and remind myself that not only did she give me the great gift of life, but she also risked being sectioned by digging up two bits of weed from a pavement in Liverpool in 1985.