Friends

21 May 2018

ARTISTIC TALENTS, a repeat from February 2010

Aren't old photographs fascinating? This is my Mom and Dad's wedding picture. Dad was the eldest of six, the last was yet to be born. Look at the outfits worn by granddad and grandma on the left. And don't they look happy? Only the best man had a smile on his face ... perhaps he knew something they didn't. Here's a more modern one, taken when I was a child. The rest of the grandchildren came later. I've added the names for ease of identification.

And here's Mom and Dad on their own, you can tell by the style of photograph that it's an old one

Whatever the character of the photographs, they elicit forgotten memories that are worth savouring. Here are some of mine for your amusement.


My family on my Dad’s side was both musical and artistic. Starting with my grandfather who ‘played piano by ear’ the family members developed their own form of music, playing the piano, dancing or singing. Most were artistic … woodwork, craft-work, art or dramatics. Only now, as I look back, do I recognise the surfeit of talent in the family.

In view of the fact that I was a downtrodden child, with a mother who offered no praise or encouragement and constantly reminded me to know my placespeak when spoken to, and what will neighbours think when they look at you? (referring to my habit of leaving coats undone) I went through life thinking I had neither appeal nor aptitude. Only now do realise I wasn’t too bad at a lot of things, especially craftwork and writing.

My Dad was an artist, too, but although he was good at drawing his imagination and creativity was not with the arts. He was a wiz with wood. By trade a carpenter and joiner, if there was wood to be turned he was your man. He loved to surprise Mom and me, doing things in the home when we were out. New bits and pieces would appear. I particularly remember door handles, big and extraordinary works of art that were the talk of the neighbourhood.

As a child I was the proud possessor of a magnificent fully furnished dolls house, a dolls cradle, pencil cases, 3-tier needlework boxes, and a wonderful desk and stool, tongue and grooved to perfection. When I married he delighted in creating things for my new home, a radio stand that was an exact wooden replica of the bird bath, a cork topped, carved legged card table that was the envy of the family and fought over when he died. I still have the desk.

(Norman)

The youngest sibling, my Uncle Norman, was musical. I don’t recall him ever playing an instrument but he sure could sing. He had a fine voice that reached the rafters in church. From birth he was a sufferer of osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as brittle bone disease. Judging by his stunted growth you would not have expected him to have such a fine singing voice. He sang with a well known choir for years and was a popular member of an amateur dramatics group run by the church drama group. Nearly always the star of the show, people would ask if Norman had a part before they bought tickets. They knew they’d have a good laugh if he was in the show. He is no longer with us but his memory lives on for many folk.

(Florence)

Encouraged by Ann, Norman’s wife, who is acclaimed for her work with oils, Aunt Florence took up painting. She delighted in transferring images of her garden to paper, with which she taught me everything I needed to know about plant life. However, her special talent was marquetry, producing wonderful pictures from different types of wood veneer.


Three Scottish cousins played in the National Youth Orchestra, but the one who shot to fame was Susan: noted concert pianist, writer, and pride of the family. She was the first girl to enter the music faculty at Kings CollegeCambridge, and is to this day a joy to listen to.

My musical career (said with tongue-in-cheek) started when Mom sent me for piano lessons given by an elderly professor of music, at any rate he seemed old to me. I did quite well, gaining two certificates from the Imperial School of Music. The third attempt would have been a doddle if the examiner hadn’t stopped me playing, pointed to a random piece in the sheet music, and ordered me to ‘start again from there….’ That’s when I realised he knew I was playing from memory. 

Reason?

I couldn’t read music … but my memory was fantastic.

Reason?

The Professor was a dirty old man. He would sit beside his pupils close enough for legs to touch. He liked to squeeze young girls’ thighs as they played.

I was very young and shy and scared of adults, always fearing what they would say. I couldn’t fight him nor could I tell my parents. Mom would just accuse me of lying. My immature brain decided that if I memorised everything I could get away from him faster, hence the discovery of fraud at my music examination.

In those days girls kept that sort of thing to themselves. I guess we were ashamed to admit, actually to put into words that a dirty old man was stroking their thighs. How embarrassing was that? 

The stroking didn’t stop at the thigh. I remember my skirt being pulled right up and fingers tugging at the elastic round the knicker leg. I remember making the excuse of wanting the toilet in order to jump off the piano stool and get away from him. 

I began to miss lessons, played truant, naively thinking no-one would notice. One day I caught a bus into town, while at home the police were organising a search party. Oooo the hiding I got for causing everyone so much worry! None of that ‘are you all right’ rubbish.

But that, as they say, is another story.


15 May 2018

TALE OF THE RAGGED CARD

(photo by thepartyteacher.com)

When I was a five-year-old child (yes, I remember) I had to be farmed out so that my parents could go to work without worrying about me. An incident happened that I have never forgotten. Actually, it was the start of WW2 so for seven years I spent many happy hours playing with their son.

Don’t worry I am not going to labour on about those years with Carrie and Fred, just one incident that happened during a weekend spent back home with my parents.

It was Christmas and my mother gave me the job of opening the Christmas cards and displaying them on our piano. On one ‘opening session’ I opened a card from Carrie and Fred, a pretty card if I remember rightly, one that had a sort of rough edge to it. My mother, always one to speak her mind, labelled it as a second hand card that had once had an inner page on which to write a greeting.

‘It’s one of last year’s cards’, exclaimed my mother. ‘She’s torn out the middle pages and used the card again’.

I thought it was a clever idea.

The card had arrived in a parcel that contained a Christmas gift for me which necessitated a thank you letter. I wrote my thanks in my best handwriting and in my innocence included a ‘Mommy said…’

The two women didn’t speak for a long time after that and the feud went on for years. All arrangements for my time with the family were dealt with by my Dad.

I guess that was the time I learned to keep my mouth shut!

13 May 2018

ODDS AND SODS



1.   Google is trying to get me involved with all sorts. Conversation with man/photo, known as Google Hangouts.  Apparently to stop this happening again I have to cancel it on Google Profile which is…. where?

2.   I have frequent conversations with Charlie but he never answers back. Can I take it that a loving nuzzle is a replacement for ‘yes’?

3.   Having lived through WW2 is it reasonable to feel scared at the way our politicians are behaving?

4.   Never call a cat ‘Marmalade’. A neighbour once had a ginger tom, a cat who loved being out at night. Neighbour used to go out and call him no matter what time it was. Marmalade! Marmalade! Her voice would shriek through the dark which either annoyed or amused her neighbours.

5.   And now, in keeping with the current breakdown trend, the bottom part of my double oven has packed up. Next….

6.   Next is good… £10 refund on a grocery order because one item wasn’t right. The refund was more than the original cost. Also found two incorrect items because there wasn’t time to check whilst delivery guy was there. Sent email. Reply stated that the driver hadn’t enough time so they were going to increase it by adding extra seconds! I shall definitely continue shopping at that store.

7.   When I was a young girl my aunt religiously taught me the names of flowers but now I’ve grown old I can’t remember them.

8.   Got thanked by refuse collectors for stacking unwanted cardboard in a way that made their job easier.

9.   The bottom half of the double electric cooker has given up the ghost. To join in the fun the large freezer is bleeping at me, which indicates old age. Mustn’t grumble. Decision, buy smaller one. Anyway, the tall one costs too much since it only has to freeze a few things. We bought it around 25 years ago which proves it was a good buy. Good buy or not, I am still going to say goodbye to it.

10. That’s all… it’s respite time!

12 May 2018

ANONYMOUS PHONE CALL

Phone calls from ‘unavailable’ are usually from people who either have nothing better to do or selling something I don’t want. I do NOT answer calls with no name or number. I’m referring to the land line, I never got funny callers on the mobile phone, until now, and this was a real beauty! Read on…

THIS IS HMRC (Her Majesty’s something or other). WE HAVE FOUND AN ARREST WARRANT IN YOUR NAME. PRESS 1 IMMEDIATELY TO SPEAK TO YOUR CASE OFFICER

Well, I would if I could remember doing something wrong but honestly I plead NOT GUILTY of ANYTHING. If you don’t hear from me for a few years you’ll know I was arrested and locked up. I worry about Charlie if I do get locked up for something I didn’t do.

Seriously,  isn't it time phone companies put a stop to these pests?