Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tears before Bedtime


The other morning I got a letter from the secretary of my old training school; The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital with the minutes of the last meeting which I had not attended. Reading aloud to MTL I suddenly became choked and couldn’t continue with tears streaming down my face. MTL couldn’t understand why on earth I should get emotional about minutes of a meeting I had only once attended since I left in 1951.

The hospital was founded in 1829 and in the next year it will be closed and a new building is to be built in the city which will amalgamate the two children’s hospital in the area. This I knew about and had accepted and was sad that dear old ‘Pen’ (the hospital is in Pendlebury) would be no. more. The sentence which caused my tears was ‘today she was pleased to announce that the new children’s hospital is to be called ’The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.’

Why should the continuation of the name mean so much? For one thing many of us spent our most formative years there and experienced the joys and sadness one gets from nursing very sick children. And we took great pride in its reputation built up over the years. When I spoke to the secretary later she told me that most of the room had dissolved in tears.

Have you ever got emotional about an inanimate object?

Dear old Pen! One of the windows up in the eaves is the room Vanessa andI shared and kept a secret fire going for three days until Home sister discovered it. She was a brick - gave us a rollicking but didn't report us to Matron. Bless you Sister Walters.

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We did this everyChristmas Eve - walking round all the wards, singing carols to the children -no off duty over Christmas but they were the happiest Christmases I remember.

It looked the same in the forties- not a speck of dust. We put screens round the bed if we were treating the child

The year after I left so some faces and Sister Tutor are familiar.

From the left Sisters Walters, Sharp and Moon - I worked with them all and have happy memories of them.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

A Summer Sunday in July


It was a perfect summer day so we drove over to Crowcombe for lunch at the Carew Arms.
All quiet up the road

All quiet down the road - we should have parked under the tree .

Cool and inviting - a varied menu and roasts on Sunday
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A peaceful vista and a seat under the tree which we were grateful for in the heat of the day

Very quiet at 12.15

One of the many bars and some have Hogarthian characters drinking but you'll have to take my word for it.
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There was music from Alexis

We found a nice shady spot for coffee and people watching

The lady in the green t shirt is why I don't wear hipsters.

The smoker's terrace before the rush
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

A little help from my friends


Thanks to Z, Spanish Goth , Kim (all on my side bar) and # 1 son I have learned some jolly useful stuff today and – incidentally solved my problem.

Thanks chaps.


A Solution for Sunday?


Here is my problem: I want to change 183 pages from single spacing to double spacing. I know how to do it a page at a time, but it’s a lovely day and I’d like to get out in the sunshine. Is there a way I can change the whole document at one fell swoop? It would be lovely if I could. Over to my egg- head, techie friend

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Girl’s Day out


Overheard at lunch.

Elderly Lady: Did you not fancy a second husband Doris?

Doris: (Snort) I didn’t fancy the first!

We had been promised a glorious day but it was overcast to start with. Serving coffee in the car to the four of us can be a nightmare with wind and rain but the sun came out and from then on it was summer all the way. After we had finished gazing at the sea and shooting the breeze we set off to Williton and then West Quantoxhead. We were early so crossed the busy road and walked passed two horses (one blinkered- why?) and entered St Ethelred’s beautiful Church, when I realised I had forgotten my camera.

Margaret, who is a fairy tale grandmother, went round making notes to organise a quiz for her Chinese grandchildren who she plans to take round the church when they visit from Scotland. As we walked slowly back to the Windmill Inn where we were to have lunch I mused aloud how we had been going on jaunts now since 1986 and how they had changed over the years;. the drives getting less adventurous and the walks shorter. What would we do when we felt driving was beyond us? Jackie – the eldest – in her eighties said firmly,

‘We’ll go to each other’s homes and order in Wiltshire foods. They’re very good.’

Margaret said,

‘We’ll go down to the town for a meal and have a taxi back.’

As both Joy and Jackie have birthdays in August we decided to fix two more dates whilst we were still mobile.

Over lunch we found we all suffered from a surplus of piles of books allover the house. I found a box tucked away on one of the balconies and Margaret found a great pile in the airing cupboard. Apparently her husband had bought them from the dump and they were damp. Men!

Just one driving blip: I was parked on a steep slope so left it in first gear and then
did a double kangaroo when we left. How we laughed.

Back at home we enjoyed relaxing in the garden and had tea with my best china and the raspberry cream sponge cake that my French DIL always takes back to France. As the sun worked round to the bay trees MTL appears with some sparkling Cava and none of us wanted to hurt his feelings so we quaffed.

A votre sante!

St Ethelred' s Church - West Quantoxheadoxhead
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Print and be Damned!


For a while now I have been unable to use my printer – Photo Smart - getting messages: the lid is open and there is no paper when it wasn’t and there was. Then the paper would get snarled up. When one of our techie sons couldn’t fix it I decided to cut my losses - ditch it and get a laser which should cope with tackling my wordy manuscript. Imagine my delight when I found amongst a load of bunff a three year insurance I had bought with the printer which was still valid.

After advice from techie son I decided to get an HP Laser 1005 particularly as it has a good sized paper shelf. I discovered the cartridges cost £50 to £60 and as I felt the original printer had been a duff one decided I should suggest they swap my printer for a laser and throw in a spare cartridge. At one time I had three very helpful assistants but it was all in Colin’s hands and Colin resolutely stayed out of shot. Mustn’t grumble; in the end I paid £30 which covered my laser printer – a spare cartridge AND a further three year's insurance. I felt quite pleased

Very slowly I have put it together and it works and is much simpler than the original, which did all sorts of stuff I didn’t need. 500 sheets of paper at half price from W H Smith and I’m good to go.

Tomorrow is girl’s day out and I’m driving. MTL suggested as the garden was looking nice, fountain flowing and forecast brilliant that I should invite the girls back for tea in the garden so I’ve been watering, moving pots, sweeping paths and washing furniture when I should have been cleaning the car. Great idea though darling!

Kitchen window bed - fragrant with tobacco plants and stocks

I thought this wa a crop circle and we had aliens but Karen says it's my mowing
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monday - Monday


Yes I know it's Sunday but tomorrow I have an unscheduled dentist's appointment. It seems only yesterday that our Norfolk grand-daughter was an adventurous little spirit and had us both in the river at Tarr Steps with Granny Pat grimly clinging on to her. Now she is a law graduate. Her sister - the eldest grandchild is married and expecting our first (blood) great grand child in December. We already have a beautiful step-great grand-daughter and expect another - also in December.

Girl Talk
For some time I have been fairly incapacitated by a sore shoulder; I've even had to get MTL to do up my bra. When it spread to my upper back I gave it a lot of thought and think I have solved the problem. Recently whilst buying a bra I was measured and found that instead of 36C I was 34 D. Being emerald green when it comes to discarding anything remotely useful I just tightened the straps of my older bras. I now realise this was akin to putting my shoulder in a vice, and the relief now I've lowered the straps (and inevitably my bosom) is palpable. What an idiot!
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Friday, July 18, 2008

The Giddy Heaven fell.

Story contd.

The Definition of Love

My Love is of a birth as rare

As ‘tis, for object strange and high:

It was begotten by despair,

Upon impossibility.

Magnanimous despair alone

Could show me so divine a thing,

Where feeble hope could ne’er have flown

But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive

Where my extended soul is fixt,

But Fate does iron wedges drive,

And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see

Two perfect loves; not lets them close:

Their union would her ruin be,

And her tyrannic power depose.

And therefore her decrees of steel

Us as the distant poles have placed,

(Though love’s whole world on us doth wheel)

Not by themselves to be embraced.

Unless the giddy heaven fall,

And earth some new convulsion tear;

And us to join, the world should all

Be cramped into a planisphere.

As lines so love’s oblique may well

Themselves in every angle greet:

But ours, so truly parallel,

Though infinite, can never meet.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,

But Fate so enviously debars,

Is the conjunction of the mind,

And opposition of the stars.

Andrew Marvell 1621-1678

After the phone call from Jamie I was shaken out of the dreamy state I had been in since his letter. There was no problem about the date – it was one of my days when I didn’t need to go into the shop and I had often spent the day in London – not so often recently as I became less enamoured of city life. But the thought of Jamie seeing me as a middle aged woman unnerved me a little. Thirty years ago I had been young, gauche, quite pretty and innocent. Now I was middle aged. Two years earlier I had visited a health farm and started to take my own health seriously. I stopped smoking, ate healthily, cut down on alcohol and took up Yoga.

I let my hair go back to its natural colour – deep honey- and now looked more healthy than glamorous. I don’t care if it was vain: I wanted him to see me looking my absolute best. What to wear? As an actress I knew how one could so easily change the impression one gave. I had a very pretty pale orangey- coral, fine wool dress I had bought for # I son’s first girlfriend’s wedding. It was feminine and showed off my figure. It was a very cold January so I just stuck my mink on top. This was the seventies remember, and I had earned it by years of hard work in the shop.

I had mixed emotions travelling on the train and kept trying to curb the sudden thrills of wild excitement. Just remember, I told myself, the years of unhappiness and guilt you have felt because of this man. You are in charge, you are your own person and you have managed to live a perfectly good life without him.

We met at the Charing Cross Hotel - right next to my station. He was leaning against a pillar – apparently absorbed in a newspaper just like he had been when Maddie and I met him outside his college in Oxford– decades earlier. He looked nice in a blueish suit with a blue and white checked shirt. His hair was still dark and curly but when I looked closely my heart went out to him and I could see the lines of stress and grief etched on his face. (When I first met his doctor he told me Jamie was a saint and he was Saint Jamie for some time after that.)

We repaired to Eleanor’s Bar in the hotel, where he was staying. He had a gin and I had a scotch or two. He said he liked scotch too much. We talked – he said I would find he didn’t talk much and from then on I could hardly get a word in edgeways. He had a quaint habit of using a note book to illustrate what he was saying and I could tell from the tremor in his hand that he was even more nervous than I was.

We had lunch in the large formal dining room and both had fish but it might as well have been cotton wool. We were in a sort of bubble - cocooned from the rest of the world. Still talking we walked down to the river and when Jamie was greeted by an acquaintance, I could see by the man’s face that he was aware of the bubble even though we weren’t holding hands. There were no silences and we flitted from the present to the past, carefully skirting round potentially difficult subjects. I do remember saying that I believed it hadn’t been the right time for us or one of us would have tried harder to keep us afloat.

After tea we went to his room to freshen up: he told me he had to shave twice a day and we continued chatting through the bathroom door whilst he shaved and I powdered my nose. All we did was talk; there was so much to catch up on. Neither of us were hungry so we continued walking and talking until it was time for my last train.

At our meeting we had given each other an ‘old friend type kiss on the cheek’ and at the end of the evening we again exchanged an O.F.T.K.O.T.C. but he hugged me and held me close and sighed ‘Oh Pat... ’ and as I rested my head against his chest I felt a momentary panic. Supposing it all went wrong again. He was so vulnerable. Was I about to leap from the frying pan into the fire? I knew this was not an ending but the start of something.

Jamie asked for a photograph so Mary, my partner in the shop took these in Southborough Wood.
Pat middleaged - more healthy than glamorous.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008



Reading the post Vanity Sizing by

  • Eryl
  • I was reminded of how one sometimes buys them a gift with lots of loving thoughts only to find – at worst the gift goes down like a lead balloon, or at best is looked at once and then left to moulder. Like the little book I bought MTL: – homage to husbands – ‘To my Husband – with Love’ a selection of quotes by Helen Exley. Here are some of them:-

    Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to man who makes you laugh every day, ah , now that’s a real treat.”

    I hope her husband Paul Newman recovers and they have many more years together.

    Anna Quindlen wrote: _

    “An enormous part of my past does not exist without my husband. An enormous part of my present, too. I still feel somehow that things do not really happen to me unless I have told them to him.”

    I particularly like this by Charlotte Gray:-

    How very new you were. How could I have known, or guessed, what you’d become? I loved you dearly- but you I see now, were half unmade. And surely, that is the joy of marriage – to see Time shape the stone, to watch it carve the man. I look at your dear face, your hands, and know each stroke that made them as they are. I love each line, each altered plane. How good it’s been to share these years with you.”

    A little more acerbic was the retort of the wife of John Hughes:-

    Coming across the word ‘infanticide’ in my newspaper, I commented to my wife, who was knitting and trying to follow a pattern, on the different words used to denote various types of murder – homicide, patricide, matricide , and so on. I then asked her, ‘Is there a special word used when a wife murders her husband?’

    Without missing a stitch she retorted:


    Ring a bell?

    Useful advice from the late Anne Bancroft married to Mel Brooks:-

    “The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they are too old to do it!”

    Here’s a Wodehouse for Shane (sidebar):-

    " He’s a chump, you know. That’s what I love about him. That and the way his ears wiggle when he gets excited. Chumps always make the best husbands. When you marry Sally, grab a chump. Tap his forehead first, and if it rings solid, don’t hesitate. All the unhappy marriages come from husbands having brains. What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.”

    Stevie Smith:-

    “There you are you see, quite simply, if you cannot have your dear husband for a comfort and a delight, for a breadwinner and a crosspatch, for a sofa, a chair or a hotwater bottle, one can use him as a Cross to be borne.”

    Tee Hee!

    Here’s a heartfelt one which resonates. Catherine Cookson wrote in her book ‘Let me make myself Plain.’:-

    “Don’t leave me, beloved, on this plane

    Without your hand to grasp in the night

    And your voice to wake me from sleep

    And your love to wrap my day in kindness,

    Fold on fold,

    And tell me I’m young,

    And that age

    Could never make me old”

    Louisa May Alcott who wrote my favourite book when I was a child, said in ‘Little Women’:-

    “To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing that can happen to a woman.”

    BUT Louisa – you have to be in love with him.

    One last one – for now- by Erica Jong from ‘Fear of Flying’

    “Two people holding each other up like flying buttresses. Two people depending on each other and babying each other and defending each other against the world outside. Sometimes it was worth all the disadvantages of marriage just to have one friend in an indifferent world.”

    Who said you had to be married to have a husband?

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Quelle Jour!


    One minute I'm merrily visiting cyber friends and answering comments then bingo I get a message:-

    Firefox can't find the server at

    and I can't even access my own blog. I started investigating in my blind non- tech way but when they started on about servers I flummoxed. I know I am connected with Firefox, Blogger. Free serve, Orange, Wanadoo and Norton but I'm hazy about what they all do, apart from Norton who I pay to keep me bug free and each year I swear it will be the last.

    Finally I did what I always do in these circs:- switch off, unplug and go to the hairdressers. After a comfort vanilla pastry and a cup of tea I switched on and voila! Back in the land of the cyber lives. Deep sigh of relief.

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Harleys in Minehead


    We had a Harley Davidson Parade in Minehead and our Sussex granddaughter took pictures . Lots and lots. Here are a small selection and darling - next time warn me that one of them has sound- Grandma nearly jumped put of her chair. The concensus of opinion was that bikers are generally very nice people.

    Very nifty!

    They have come a long way. The man in the red t shirt gets more excited later and the little boy doesn't like the noise

    I think he's from Wales

    Under cover Police?
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    I like this luggage space.

    You looking at my granddaughter?

    I could be comfy on this.

    I think this could be a girl
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    Aren't the children sweet?

    Is that a child deat at the rear?

    A White skin.

    Green is very in this season.

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    I think the photographer is starting to wilt.

    Why does this remind me of the Kaiser?

    Beautiful bike - but a bowler?

    Camouflage ? On an orange bike?
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