Thursday, 1 December 2016

Long Ago and Far Away

As this 'festive' season approaches, far too soon, I am frequently harking back to those days when love and excitement made life so precious.

I have so many memories and yet so few that are glued to my memory bank as strongly as music, dancing, and romance. 

My first girl-friend is still ever-present in my mind, even though she no longer lives in this world. Her name was Stella.  

Stella and I became very close. We danced together, went on long country walks on unforgettable Summer afternoons. Went to many cinema shows and, most of all, spent rapturous hours saying 'goodnight' as the witching hour quietly melted into the next day.  Then a very long walk home, for me!

She was twenty-two-and-a-half years old; I was a little over 16.  New Year's Day 1952 was our last day together.  Next day I wrote a 'Dear Stella' confessing that I'd lied about my age and I could not see her again. A cowardly act on my part, one which has never left my heart and mind.

This song is one of my eternal favourites. It is by a crooner called Dick Haymes, exquisitely performed and perfectly backed up by a superb band. The tempo is perfect for a slow foxtrot, my favourite dance of all.  

Friday, 7 October 2016

Stitched Up Eyes

I'm worried.  It's Clare, my artistic and hardworking young daughter. She has had major eye surgery on her left eye and minor surgery on her right eye, just over a week or so ago. 

She had to go to Sheffield hospital for this operation as our more local hospitals don't cater for detached retina jobs apparently. Blindness is guaranteed if this type of eye problem is not speedily dealt with.

Thankfully Clare still has fair to middling vision in her right eye but not much in her left eye which, apart from the retina being detached in two areas, a 'hole' was  discovered. This hole needed to be dealt with too.

Pat and I have been with Clare each day in her house, trying to keep her mind off her worrying thoughts and to take her some lunch. I am so glad we are now nearby and not in Scotland!

Yesterday when we arrived at Clare's place she was looking unhappier than ever.  She's suffering from a scratchy left eye as a piece of one of the tiny stitches is protruding and I'm as scared as Clare.  Sheffield hospital is contacted by 'phone. Go to A&E, the say; the stitch may need to come out.  I take her to Grimsby hospital and check into A&E. We wait and within fifteen minutes explain the problem. The nurse contacts the eye clinic and half an hour later Clare is examined by the ophthalmologist. He assures us that there is no need for any action on his part and that Clare should see the surgeon in Sheffield on Monday.  I am relieved and Clare is now happier than earlier. It is not a solution to the pricky-scratchy stitch discomfort but Clare will soldier on until Monday morning when hubby Andy will drive her to see the surgeon in Sheffield hospital.  

Every time I arrive to be with Clare her two big doggies, Bob and Molly, go wild with delight as I walk in. Molly has her squeaky pink toy in her jaws and is impatient for me to try to grab it from her.  Bob is bustling her away from me and strives  to get to me, tail swinging wildly and madly. These big babies are wonderfully welcoming and just want to play. It's lovely to see them each time I go there. The photo below was today, Friday 7th Oct, Molly has bagged a space close to me and Bob is patiently waiting for his turn!  I just love 'em both so much.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Holiday Nightmare for Granddaughter

My granddaughter, Sarah-Sophia, now lives in Mauritius with her husband Biljan, a barrister. They met during Sarah-Sophia's uni years at Cambridge and after their wedding in Manchester a year or so ago they left to live in Biljan's birthplace, the island of Mauritius.

They recently had a short holiday in Colombia but the homecoming was a real "Tales of the Unexpected". Here is her account of what went on.

Moral: Holidays can damage your sanity!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Europe - In or Out?

The USA is having a big vote soon, the Brits are also soon to have one: European referendum. 

Each is an important vote. The US Presidential is important because some of the candidates seem, to me, to be uniquely 'odd' - no names, no pack-drill, eh Donald?

The UK's vote to stay in or leave the EU is a tricky one too.

Do we continue to be governed by Brussels or revert to the British Parliament? 

Lots of scare-mongering as to what will be the outcome if we depart the EU, including advice from Mr. Obama and many others.  

I admit that I'm unsure of which way to jump. I detest the interference from the EU when they over-rule some of the British legal decisions and wish they'd keep their noses OUT.  I also think that the vast majority of Brits think the same, but is that a good enough reason to exit?  Probably not. 

Then there's the continuing expansion of the EU.  It started with about seven member states.  General de Gaulle always objected to Britain's entry but he's long gone. Now it's 28 members and the prospect of Turkey joining!

All with unlimited entry to the UK.  Yoiks!

I think I'll decide soon: probably LEAVE EU.

OK, I've decided.  Voting to say LEAVE.

Thank you for helping me decide. Thanks!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Books Wot I'm Trying to Read

​​My poor old minces aint wot they used t' be, even wiv me new bins to 'elp me out. You may not understand as my vernacular is of the ducking and diving south London  genre.
'Minces = mince pies = eyes. Bins=short for binoculars=glasses. 
Recently finished "A Staffordshire Lad" written by Harry Titley. I bought this because of his RAF spell at West Kirby and in Germany. He is a year or so younger than I but his journey in the 1950s was almost identical to mine.  Remarkably similar, except he makes no mention of any girlfriend(s) during this time.  He must have started down Lover's Lane after demob as he is now married and has a family. Perhaps I'll buy his newer book "A Staffordshire Man" as I'm fairly certain that his post-RAF story will tell of his meeting his wife and other adventures.

Now reading a small book by Joyce Grenfell: "George: Don't do that!" which is part of one of her marvellous monologues.  I have always had the greatest respect for Joyce and still do.  I read her book about her travels all over the middle east and Europe during WW2, entertaining the troops along with her pianist friend Viola Tunnard. They were so courageous and dedicated; the men at the battle-fronts really adored Joyce and her friend.  She came from a well-to-do family; one relative, an aunt I think, was Nancy (Lady Astor) and Joyce's background resonates in her voice pattern. But she was so down-to-earth in all I've seen, heard and read about her.  This little book is quite charming, and typical.

She wrote this funeral poem, so very 'Joyce' in my opinion.

If I Should Go
Often Called - If I Should Die

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.
And I cannot end the Joyce Grenfell mention without offering one of her loveliest and funniest little songs, via Youtube:

I'm also reading "Stand by Your Beds" by David Findlay Clark, again about the 1950s National Service episodes.  The title is, of course, the command that was bellowed out whenever an officer or NCO entered one's billet or tent.  Well known by all conscripts, RAF and Army, although usually pronounced as Stand by YER beds!

Another current book that I'm trying to read is "The Heart Speaks" by Dr. Mimi Guarneri who is an American cardiologist. Subtitled: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing.  It is very well written and interesting to me because it may help in some way with my own cardio problem.  She recounts how she was on the ward rounds during her training some years ago, led by a silver-haired cardio consultant. He told the group of trainees that his best advice was to listen to the patient. This extract is what is written in her book:

"There's one thing I want to tell you before I leave today, a lesson you won't learn in medical school.  If you let patients speak and tell their story, and you REALLY listen, they'll give you their diagnosis. But if you keep interrupting them and they don't get to tell it, you'll keep ordering tests and lab work and you'll miss the answer that's right there in front of you"

Later she goes on to tell of a young man who had been diagnosed with an incurable problem, Lou Gerhig's disease, which paralysed this chap from the neck down. It is a fatal disease.  Dr. Mimi was simply taking his vital readings and she asked him about his earlier life.  Briefly her story says: He told me that he was fine before his accident.  She was puzzled. There was no mention of any accident in his records. He said he was hit from behind in his car and had to go to A&E and was told he just had a mild whiplash and it would wear off.  A few weeks later he couldn't move. Back in hospital he was diagnosed with this fatal disease!  Dr. Mimi thought his paralysis might be a disc causing the problem but her suggestion to her senior neurologist was dismissed; he refused to order a CT scan.  She then discussed her thoughts with her chief resident.  He listened to her and said he was willing to risk the wrath of the head honcho and carried out a CT scan in the middle of the night. A disc problem was disclosed; a small operation was performed and immediately the patient was cured of this 'incurable' disease.  I hope to come across further heartening passages, no pun intended.

I've two Lancaster bomber heavyweight books to read soon.  Plus a book, fiction, called The Secret of the Old Clock, by Nancy Drew. Never read any of her stuff before but it was said to be quite good by a blogger friend of mine.

My final book-in-waiting is Biggin on the Bump, the WW2 RAF fighter station Biggin Hill in Kent.  One of the most famous Spitfire and Hurricane stations of Battle of Britain fame.  This book is full of superb photographs of many brave men and women, the aircraft and buildings there. 

Happy 2016 to all.