Towards the end of my Enid Blyton phase, in late primary school, I bossily founded a writing club, which I called the Bluebell Club. Why Bluebell, you might ask. Well, I lived in a country—Australia– where scratchy native plants gripped your ankles whenever you were taken by your parents into the bush. My parents came from a country—France– where botany, and the inordinate affection for wild flowers, was the reserve of a few. They appreciated bluebells and other wild flowers as a sign that all was right with God’s heaven, but no poignant memories were bound up with them.
It must have been the English books I was reading, where bluebells and primroses and things like that were commonly found. Whatever, I founded the Bluebell Club and soon had managed to boss a few ragtags into it. Of course, I was the President, a President in messy dark plaits who despaired, sometimes, of the lack of enthusiasm of the troops. I inveigled my younger sister Camille into being the secretary, a position she filled with no little resentment and rebellion.
We sat, we the Bluebell Club, under the trees at the end of the playground, ignoring the bands of boys who sometimes marched past us, arms linked, chanting, “We hate girls! we hate girls!” We knew they were jealous of us as we sat there, telling each other the stories we had made up, which was the ritual of the Club. Each member had to bring a story to the week’s meeting; we read them, admired them, and then it was my job to say which was best, and which would be entered in the exercise book that served as the Club’s record.