Memories of My Boyhood in Mauritius in the 1950s & early 1960s,
& some nicknames in the Taylor family
by John Collingridge
(son of Joan Elizabeth Collingridge, née Taylor)
It was with very great delight that I read Donald’s book “They Met In Mauritius”. It has been a sheer delight to browse through and to see again many of those who peopled my happy childhood in Mauritius, many of whom I have not seen by face in over fifty years…Aunty Lizzie, for example. And so very nice to hear echoed the stories that Mum use to often tell me; and to see Mum as a young, joyful girl living her life in the paradise that I too once lived in. After browsing through the book when I first received it in the post, the family peopled my sleep and dreams throughout the night, which was so happy….so good to be in their company again. As one who grew up with a strong sense of “the clan” around me, I have very much felt like a fish out of water over here in Australia; particularly so since Mum’s passing, and the severing of the live link I had with Mum to our happy days in Mauritius.
I very much enjoyed Tim Taylor’s account of his school holidays in Mauritius (pages 514-517) and the custom of the briani (page 669) !!…..I remember that too, and an Indian chap also delivering pilau or “plo” as we used to call it, on his bicycle in a “tante”. Wonderful, happy memories! I also clearly remember bonnefemme dizzef (eggs); bonhomme bigourgno; bouillon tec-tec; bonhomme dilait delivering milk on his bicycle with a metal tank welded to his bicycle and ladling the milk out with an enamel cup (before Pure-au-Lait in the early 60s)….the health authorities would go into orbit these days!!; the dhobi; marchant poisson also on his bicycle with the colourful tropical fish in his tante and the strong odour of fish all around him; the sugar cane being pulled by bullock cart; the King’s African Rifles Regiment (KAR) soldiers on their route marches past the house in Cemetery Road; the “makololo” (East African) women with their extended ear lobes carrying their “picanninies” around Vacoas; the colour, chatter and aromas of the old Curepipe Market; the colonial grace of the Gymkhana Club and the Grand Baie Yacht Club; the spine-tingling spectacle of the Queen’s Birthday Parades in Port Louis as the Governor in his white plumes took the Royal Salute as all the troops (mainly KAR) presented arms as one and the band struck up “God Save The Queen” under the Union Jack ….how colourful and vivid life was! We were certainly blessed to have experienced all of that.
Nicknames within the Taylor-Smith family in Mauritius [1950s and early 1960s]
[as remembered by John Collingridge]
My mother’s nickname for her father, George Taylor, was “Archboy”.
George Taylor called his wife, Betty, “Little Muz”.
George Taylor’s nickname for his daughter, Joan, was “Moucouze”.
Percy Taylor was known affectionately by my Grandfather as “Percy Boy”.
Percy Taylor’s nickname for Joan Taylor (married name: Collingridge) was “Zonne Ponne” (pronounced the Creole way).
Ian Smith was known as “Tooky Boy”.
George Taylor’s dog: Pinta, nicknamed “Pinta Boy”.
Nicknames given to Tom & Joan Collingridge’s children:
Susan: Boozie Susie
George loved to play with his grandchildren. He used to wrestle with them and pinch them playfully. His wife Betty used to remonstrate with him, saying, “George!! Stop pinching the children! You don’t know your strength!!” It was all in play and a lot of fun. He used to make us go outside at the campement in Grand Baie while he hid rupee coins around the loungeroom; he would then call us in to look for the coins and guide us with a great smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, saying: “cold, warmer, hot, very hot” etc until we found the coins. Susan was the most successful treasure-hunter. I adored my Grandfather.