Childhood highlight

It is difficult to know what will best accurately paint a picture of village life in the late thirties. I was not an easy child! My mother had a difficult time with me and when, 18 months later, she had another boy she wrote to her close friend “I have now got a boy that is so easy to look after.”  I was reluctant to walk- having managed to travel very fast on four legs why use two? Maybe this was one reason for my continuing interest in four-legged animals.

Three years after my birth there were two more boys but  I had my two elder sisters to contend with. I had a love/hate relationship with the older sisters particularly the elder, Krista who was precisely three years older than me, sharing the same birthday. Hanne, the younger, was normally on Krista’s side in fights. In fact for me life only became worth living when I was able to beat them both at the same time at around six years of age. I also took control of my two younger brothers putting them into a pigsty if they misbehaved. The younger of the two, Verner was however a fierce fighter and very difficult to control. His fists were hard and penetrating!

From when we could first walk we each had to participate in farm work, feeding animals, milking cows, doing cultivation with the horses. On one occasion my elder

sisters were watching me age five or six, harrowing with our two horses; in the middle of the field the horses decided they had had enough -they turned the harrow around and made straight for home. I was screaming, shouting, pulling the ropes but they took not the slightest notice and to top it all my two elder sisters watched  the debacle and instead of helping were laughing their heads off! How could you love sisters like that!

There was also time to play. My sisters who started school at seven years of age came home and taught me numbers and the alphabet. I could reel off the alphabet in five seconds by heart. I could make additions, and it was all part of our play. Once I was sitting in a basket, in the byre, reeling off additions; when I came to 24 + 24 the basket rolled over and I fell right into the gutter full of cow dung, from then on my sisters always said that 24 + 24 is Egil fell in the gutter!

My mother taught me to plant and sew my own little garden and I sold the produce to her. I became adept at climbing trees and could get to the top in no time. This was very useful later when the local hunting society, in an attempt to reduce the population of Magpies ,since they were eating the eggs of the partridges ,paid children for collecting eggs and chicks from their nests which were always high up and accessible only to a few! It was a good source of pocket money.

As farm children we played with small animals including cats. We imitated what grown ups did- cows were tethered on the grass, so we tethered stones with holes in them and later we tried to tether the cats with binder twine but on one occasion things went horribly wrong which I never forgot. After playing I forgot to take off the tether from the cat, the cat disappeared but a few days later I found it had hung itself in a red current bush. It became a ghost for me, I did not dare to go close to the bush. I did not dare to tell my parents or anybody, I kept it to myself, but I knew I was responsible for the untimely death of a playmate and it hit me very hard.