history, Home, Inspiration, Laughter, love, real life, Spirit and soul

Billy Joel

What evokes memories for you? For me its music and songs.

I hear a song, or a particular singer, and it takes me instantly back to a time when those songs were being
played on the radio, or on an old record player. It drags me back to a different time, and often a different kind of life.

I was washing the dishes today, when I thought I would listen to some songs by Billy Joel. For those of us of a certain age, those songs will take you right back to the 70’s & 80’s! His songs were so very innocent, to me at least. All about America and the different types of people who lived there, the Italians, rock and roll and Jazz.

In the early 80’s I shared a house with a group of people from all walks of life. A university student & a guy who was a small time drug dealer amongst other things. A chef and his girlfriend who worked in a restaurant in Putney, South West London- they lived a topsy-turvey life, working evenings, and late into the night. Coming home anywhere between 11 o’clock and midnight. We can’t forget they didn’t have those late night licences and opening hours then.  Neighbours would turn up – and the party would begin -the mad mechanic called Steve and the guy who was an artist and a writer who looked like cat weasel with his wild grey hair and beard and his amazing knitted jumpers, they were the few I remembered! Have you ever tried to sleep when there is a ‘party’ going on? Me neither I’m a very sociable person when I want to be.   Of course it was very bohemian life style – mattresses on the floor, and old leather sofas. The loud music and the ‘cigarettes’ being passed around. They soon got fed up with asking me to partake, I wasn’t interested. Very naïve of me their life style – but I was a 20 year old, not long out of the Welsh valleys.  In fact I have to say I had no idea about that life style.

What a short interesting time in my life that was. We all moved to the YMCA in Surbiton in 1981 after the lease of the house expired. A short life lesson learned for me I know. And as Billy Joel is still playing, it again takes me back to that house where I celebrated my 21st Birthday and learned to appreciate neat Jack Daniels.

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divorce, Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, marriage, New life, real life, Spirt and soul, women

Life after divorce.

I married relatively young. I was 22 when I married. I was 27 when I divorced.

I had known my husband since I was 19, and during those 8 years of marriage I had settles into a life of friendship and solidarity with those around me. They were mostly his friends. I made my own circle of friends with those I worked with. But we tended to socialised with his friends and their wives.

We went to weddings, saw babies arrive and shared their lives of both joy and sadness.

Then just like that it all disappeared. On 16th October 1987 our marriage was dissolved – as the official paper work says – and on 10th December 1987 that was it. Final. The final piece of paper was issued, and my marriage, and my life as I knew it was ended.

My girl friends who were married to my then ex-husband’s friends all disappeared as if I had never been part of their lives.  It was before the days of technology, if you wanted to meet with someone you rang them from your home phone. When they were home from work. There were no mobiles, no social media.  No easy way of contacting someone. So when I left my relationship – I left the old way of life behind.

Of course you have the wedding photos and holiday snaps in an album to look at. And that was the difficult part, as it was painful reminder of how full my life has been before my divorce. Those women had stood by me through the joys of wedded life and the pain and sorrow of infertility. Then after the separation – the breaking of ties with my past life.

How could I ask my female friends to stand by me, while their husbands stood by my ex. It was an impossible ask, and so they fell away like autumn leaves from a tree. I would not ask for divided loyalties. And they would not have to know the horrors of my final months and the sadness I had to endure.

Then 20 years later, when lives were very different and I had certainly moved on, a face from the past appeared. One of those lovely old friends of time from long ago, someone who had helped me to learn to drive, who sat with me while I drove us around for practice.  She was a friend of my new neighbour, what was the chance of that? As the time has gone on, we have met as a group, and I often talk of my ‘old life’. There is no animosity, only sorrow that things turned out the way they did. And shock that I had gone through my last year as a married woman to her friend in such harrowing circumstances.

And luckily she is still friends with another old friend from the group. And by the help of social media I am in contact with this very dear friend. We attended each other’s wedding all those years ago as young women and helped one another through the tougher times. And the first thing she said to me was ‘I have never forgotten you’. It brought me to tears, for all those lost years and lost laughs and memories.  

I won’t lose these friends again. We can’t catch up on my lost years of friendships – but going forward that friendship has a different feeling.  

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Families, Family, Inspiration, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever

It won’t be too bad will it?

In life we have so many decisions to make. When we are young, they are often insignificant, and won’t have an impact on our future, but as we get older we have to thinks carefully about these life changing choices.

Everything in life is a jigsaw isn’t it? Each part of our life fits together to make one big picture. Ourselves, relationships, work, money and health. Without one part our life isn’t complete.

How do you then make a decision to change one part of it, which will have a big impact on another? And how will you know if you are making the right decision?

My youngest son and his girlfriend both have long commutes to work. 3 hours each day for my son, not quite so long for his girlfriend. He works long hours, and often isn’t home before 8 o’clock, she works shifts often finishing work at 11pm. He now wants to move nearer to his work, and nearer to his girlfriend’s place of work too.  And although the rent will be marginally more, financially they will be better off taking into account travel expenses and other expenses of gyms etc.

The dilemma then is that they will be a distance away then from our loving family, and his friends. They are a doting uncle and aunty, and both have a great relationship with his brother and sister in law. They have movie nights, and princess parties. He is really close to us as parents and his grandfather, and often pops in at least once a week even if it’s for ½ hour, or to watch a football match with his dad. I’ve often gone to the gym with them for a swim and a sauna.

What they will gain on one hand they will lose on the other.

Everyone’s life changes, it very rarely stays the same. Perhaps now is the time to look at quality time and not quantity time?

It will be an opportunity for us to visit them every so often, they won’t be on the other end of the world, its 25 miles away, that is a 1 ½ hr in South London traffic. That’s not so bad?  His friends would love the opportunity to meet in central London for a drink I’m sure? They can stay on weekends for family get together? I know her mum would love the opportunity to stay in London and all the shops?

It won’t be so bad will it – if they decide to move?  

Who am I trying to kid…


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Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, history, Inspiration, Laughter, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Whatever, women

1st week of retirement

Well, I’ve got that first week over with! It was a little surreal I have to say. I have been planning this now for about a year, but because of COVID I put it on hold (together with anything real) until the planned date was the end of March 2021. So it’s been in the fore front of my mind for a long time.



How do you plan for these things? The first thing I did was to go on some retirement training provided by the organisation I worked for. I walked in foolishly thinking it would be all about the best day time TV programmes to watch, the best place to buy fluffy slippers and what is the acceptable time to open the wine and/or gin! Actually it was far more helpful than that. They spoke about investments and wills and protecting you assets for the future. Its sounds rather dull – and to be honest it was a little, but very informative. I did learn things I never knew before. It also gave you time frames for the agencies you needed to contact to start the wheels in motion for this to happen seamlessly.

My count down started in December – the day I wrote my notice, and handed it to my manager!

I have been working since I was about 16. This is the first time apart from a short period when I had my two children I haven’t had to go to work every day. Not that that was an opportunity to sit and do nothing!

My first Saturday job was in the good old fashioned shop F.W.Woolworth It’s a long disappeared shop from the high street. In 2008 the chain went into administration and all shops had closed by the following year. It was a well know shop famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets, and ability to sell just about everything. Vinyl records, books, garden plants and tools, ladies underwear. Tinned foods, paint, nuts and bolts, children’s books and toys. The shop I worked in was in a little Welsh high street in the Rhondda. At the time I worked there we were in the throes of some dangerous activities in the British Isles. They called it the ‘Troubles’ – fighting in Northern Ireland spilling out to England and to Wales. I add this to my story – as the first job each Saturday was checking under the counters and displays for bombs! Seems odd now when you say this out loud – but the organisation involved had been known for placing incendiary bombs in shops and places where crowds of people met. Luckily I never found anything like that – just a few Riley’s chocolate toffee rolls and jelly babies that had fallen off the plastic scoops the day before and rolled under the cabinets!

I next worked for a few weeks before Christmas in a fruit and veg wholesalers, making up orders, weighing fruit and veg, and packing them into large cardboard boxes ready for deliveries. Problematic? Yes  – I didn’t know the difference between a Satsuma and a Mandarin orange. Or the different cabbages and potatoes. I soon learned!

My next job was as a waitress for a catering company. They generally did weddings, and anniversary celebrations. A great place to work as a 17 year old. Lots of banter from the ‘older’ waitresses – who were probably only a few years older than me – but seemed so much wiser on how the world – and the minds of men – worked! An eye opener to be certain. I worked here most of the time I was in college, it gave me the money to be able to go out and party. It was hard work, trying not to tip plates of food down the dresses of brides! The wedding venue was above a row of shops – the kitchen was at the back of the shops- a logistical nightmare. Although there was a dumbwaiter lift that took the food from the ground floor to the venue, the empty plates were carried down by the waitresses!  One advantage was that at the end of the night – the company took everyone home in a mini bus, more opportunity to listen to more about these young women’s lives. And I saved money on bus fare!

I left home the day after my 19th birthday, and moved to London as a nanny. I’ve worked in a makeup factory on the production line,   I then moved into the offices sales. From there I worked for an insurance company in the sales office – before computers – manually working on their sales cards. What a job!

I tried working in a pub – but that only lasted 1 week! It was too complex for me to remember the drinks, the prices of each drink, and then using a manual till and giving change- all while smiling and looking like I knew what I was doing – no chance…  I’ve typed architectural reports, sent messages on telex machines for the tax office, worked for a local hospital in the Nurse education department typing and preparing exam papers, I’ve typed meeting minutes as the secretary to the chair of the board of governors at a local school, produced a newsletters for the local scouts and organised fund raising events. I’ve been a pot washer and a waitress in a local restaurant.   I’ve cleaned offices, and polished brass handrails. And I’ve sold eggs on my own market stall! Whew! Lots of those job gave me the money to put down a deposit on a flat with my boyfriend.

I’ve  worked in a stationery company as an import sales clerk, a PA to the operations director, and then a computer operator – all for the same company over a span of 5 years. I them moved to an insurance company where I was an assistant manager.  

Then I had my two babies. But I didn’t give up work, I was my husband’s book keeper, and I did regular deliveries across south London while carrying my babies in their little carry tots in the car.

When my youngest was 4 weeks old- I went back to work as an early morning cleaner in the local Beefeater restaurant, while my hubby looked after the two boys until I came home and he went to work.  I’ve worked in Waitrose as an early morning cleaner and in a private hospital as an evening cleaner and seamstress.  Things were tough and I did what I had to do to keep food on the table and to stop us from going under.

I’ve worked as a book keeper for a carpet shop, and managed one of their shop. I’ve worked in a centre for Adults with Learning Disabilities, a fruit & vegetable import company as a sales clerk, then an Office manager in a team that provided wheelchairs. Finally I’ve spent the last 17 years &  ended my career as a Lead Administrator for a mental health service! Although during those 17 years – I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet – I was offered two secondments. Firstly within the performance management team – looking at data and how to improve things. And as a project manager working with a team who were undergoing change.  I’ve also done my sons paper rounds when they were ill, and to give them a weekend off every so often.

Is it time for me to hang my gloves up? No chance – I’m not ready to stop yet. My brain is still active, and so are my fingers. I’m looking to start some training that will allow me to go into schools and read with young people. Reading – whatever it is – is the way to learning, and independence. And as an avid reader – it hasn’t done me any harm through my life has it?

For someone who didn’t do very well in her exams, didn’t go to university – I’ve realised that life hasn’t been about learning on paper- but learning through experience. Maths isn’t my strong point. But working in retail has helped, especially when the business is yours- you don’t want to give the wrong change it’s your profit! I had an amazing accountant who helped me understand VAT when it was 15% then 17.5%, and suddenly the maths fell into place, by using it for practical matters! Making what little money you have go round also sharpens your sense of budgeting, and with it – maths!

For me retirement is about doing things at my pace, and if I want to work on days it suits me. I’m lucky to be able to do this now, and not when I’m too old to enjoy the choices.

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Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, real life, women

Mother

Tomorrow we say goodbye to my mother-in-law Maureen. She has been with me through the fun times, through silly times, the sad times of loss and the happy times of marriage and children.

I knew her longer than I knew my own mother. My father in law graciously gave me away at our wedding as I had already lost my dad and my lovely mum. We are a family unit and always will be. I wanted to write something for her funeral to be read out, but didn’t have the courage to do something, so I wrote something for my hubby – her adorable son – to write on the card for her flowers from us.

You will always be my mother
and I’ll miss you every day.
I’ll miss your disposition
and the thoughtful things you say.

Your gentle touch and shining eyes
will just be a glimpse away.
I won’t ever forget you mum -
here in my heart each day.

And of course I write this for my mother – who I miss every day.

<a href="http://<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Francesca Ho</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a&gt;http://<span>Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Francesca Ho</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Unsplash</a></span&gt;

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Inspiration, Laughter, love, mental health, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Whatever, Writing

The Wordsmith

 

The Wordsmith is a solitary bird

Imagination jumping from rock to boulder

Sadness to sunshine

Reflecting and refracting.

A colourful imagination

And maybe a darker soul.

A quick wit with a slow burn.

Seeing things other see

But in a different language.

 

How many of us hide a Wordsmith in our heart?

 

Thinking, writing, re-writing

Paper, scraps or brightly coloured pages.

And pens or stubbly pencils

Or a simple keyboard.

The end is nigh and peace comes.

The jumbled thoughts march,

March in lines across the page.

Uniform only in colour, no rhythm

No rhyme, or regimented and lilting.

 

Written in private, written for reading

Written for The Wordsmith, or the extended Family.

Does it matter?

It takes two!

The humble Wordsmith and the reader

Read with passion and tears and laughter.

The reader putting soul into the bones of the words.

 

Enjoy – go forth and share,

Or keep privately in your heart and your head

And in your note book with flowers on the pages.

 

 

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Families, Inspiration, love, real life, Soul Mate, Spirt and soul

My soul mate

There is nothing more amazing than your lifelong partner and soul mate telling you how special you are to them.

I’ve known this special guy for 41 years. This year we will have been married for 30 years. He hasn’t always been mine, and I haven’t always been his. But from the beginning we have had a special kind of relationship. He was better than your brother, better than your best friend. As a group we shared life and laughter, and when the time came he shared my tears and finally after a long time – my love.

I’d made a bad mistake and chosen unwisely, but he waited patiently in the wings never imagining that one day I’d be free to love someone else. And when that time came – he was there to sweep my up in his arms, and be that person.

We always had this feeling we had been here before, been part of each other’s life. It wasn’t something we could explain, but we both felt the same thing. Perhaps we will never find the answer to that one – until next time. Perhaps that is the true meaning of  a soul mate!

We have had good times and bad. But we have ridden them with a smile. And are armed and ready for what the rest of our lives together throw at us.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.

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COVID-19, Families, Family, Inspiration, love, real life, Uncategorized

For my grandchildren

I wrote this in the middle of the Covid Pandemic. I shouldn’t have been concerned. They came to visit us yesterday and we hugged and squealed with laughter. As the time goes on they will forget what it was like, and I will be glad.

Will you remember who I am
after all this Hullabaloo,
will you let me hold your hand
just like you used to do?

Can I whisper in your ear
tell you stories or two,
walk down the street together
Just like we used to do?

Will you want to come and stay
as you often used to do,
or will you insist I stand
6 feet away from you?

How long will it take to remember
the fun I had with you,
to go back how it was together
after all this Hullabaloo?

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Adoption, Families, Family, history, Inspiration, love, New life, real life, Spirt and soul, women

Healthier babies, happier parents.

I found a book this week while clearing my loft out! It was called ‘Healthier Babies, Happier Parents. A practical guide by Specialists’ First published in 1959, which fits in with when I was born.

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What is most poignant about this book, is not so much the book itself, but the fact that in the front cover of the book is a note book with lots of handwritten pages lovingly written by my mother.

How do I know it was written lovingly your probably thinking? Surely each and every mum who is able to – takes love and care over things that concern her child.

There are 3 sets of notes. 5th Months old, 6 month and finally 7 months. It’s really poignant to me as I was adopted at 6 months old, and these notes show that perhaps initially she wasn’t sure when I would be coming into their lives. She wanted to be prepared I’m sure, and be ready for me when I arrived.

When I found the book, it was instantly recognisable as something that had been around me when I grew up, but the note book at the front brought me to tears as it was something I don’t remember and was so very personal.

My parents had always told me that I was a special baby, one who had been chosen from lots of others, and when I look at this snap shot from my young life – I know deep down in my heart I was so very much loved, and they wanted to do their very very best for me!

All the love they showered on me over the years, and the kindness they showed me at the darkest times of my life culminate in this simple book of handwritten notes produced even before I became part of their life.

 

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Families, Family, history, Inspiration, loss, love, real life

Saturday Girl

I’d heard about Doreen long before I’d met her. And I think the Angels of fate allowed this to happen. Let me tell you why I think they were involved.

I’d been going to a relatively local Hair Salon for a number of years, and I felt really comfortable with the hairdresser who cut my hair. Then they closed the salon, and she moved to a different branch, so I moved with her. You don’t give up a hairdresser do you who makes you feel confident? The other branch was based in a sports complex, and was full of young vibrant students who washed hair, and changed the towels, brought the tea and coffee and swept the floor. A busy place.

Then suddenly it started to get quieter, there were less clients there, the Saturday staff became less and less, and the hairdressers were leaving. I was told that salon too would be closing. The next time would be my last time.

I went there with a heavy heart, knowing I’d have to look for somewhere else.

The last time I went there, I think I was the only one there. The young girl who was given the task of washing my hair, I struck up a conversation with her. She said that she did this job as a Saturday girl, but really she wanted to become a photographer like her granny, who had worked for a newspaper, and took photographs of famous people. She was pretty, young and bubby and enthusiastic about what direction she hoped her career would go in. What a pleasure to talk to someone who was so proud of her family that she wanted to follow in their footsteps. I remember saying she should follow her dream – It’s how I think anyone of us should progress in life- if we can. We only have one chance. And I wished her luck.

Soon after this the salon closed, and I found somewhere else. But I always remembered this young girl who was so enthusiastic and vibrant.

A few years later our paths crossed again, but I wasn’t to know it. We were at a New Year’s Eve party at a local club with my two teenage sons. She was there with her friends.

Then one day my eldest son brought home his new girlfriend, Millie. And as the months went on, we found out a little more about her. And lo and behold- it turned out that she was in fact this young saturday girl in the hairdressers, whose enthusiasm had shone through when talking about her granny the famous photographer.

As Millie firmly embedded herself in our family, and our son became a big part of hers, we met Doreen on lots of occasions. I could see why Millie wanted to follow in her footsteps, she had a love of her family and photography.

Oh yes, that New Year’s Eve party! Some photographs surfaced of our sons and their friends, and who was in the background? Millie as if she was always meant to be there!

We have recently said goodbye to Doreen this lovely lady of 92. To most people she looked very ordinary, well dressed, white hair, standing proud and chatty to those who want to stop and talk. But to others she holds a special place in their hearts. During the times of great change in the world, she took on the men in a business that was primarily for men, and put a different slant on it.

She will be missed, but her legacy lives on. Not just in history, but more importantly in her family.

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