Monday, 27 April 2015

I remember (bits and pieces).....

.....wearing hotpants and very high platform shoes, well it was the end of the 1960s start of the 1970s. My favourite pair of hotpants were heavy brown suede. Mini skirts could be a problem if you needed to bend over or go upstairs on the bus but hotpants gave us enough freedom and stay respectable. Platform shoes had to be the biggest for me as I'm so short, but I made sure my now Hubby didn't wear his so I could at least come up to his shoulder in our wedding photos. a young teenager having very backcombed hair and peel-off eyeliner over false eyelashes, very Dusty Springfield.

.....melting my plastic finger nails in the cinema as I carelessly flicked cigarette ash into the ashtray. The smell of melting plastic seemed to amuse my date while I was mortified. holidays by the's string at Canvey Island which was a free holiday for us as our next door neighbours and very good friends owned the caravan.

.....roller skating one footed as we only had one pair of roller skates, the sort that adjusted and strapped to your shoes. Wanting to play out as sisters together wasn't a problem as often two of us would have just one skate each and propel with the other foot like a scooter.

.....having to pull a very loose tooth before my parents went out and mum not wanting to get too close as she was all dressed up. I did it and they knew it was under my pillow. I can't remember what the going fairy rate was though, probably a silver sixpence!

.....having my one and only fight at school, think I was second year so 11 or 12 years old. Her name was Elizabeth Lockyear and she picked on me for quite some time, nothing major, nothing you would actually call bullying, but enough to chip away at my passive nature until one day in Home Economics class she got flour all over the walk in store cupboard and me then came out to tell the teacher I'd  done it. Her face was a picture when I whispered in her ear "that's it, playground after school, I'm paying you back!" I was shaking from then till home time, but I had a good bunch of friends supporting me. You know in the cartoons a fight is just a big ball of dust with the occasional limb coming out then going back in? Well that's how it felt. She ran off crying and I was left with a handful of her hair, so I considered myself the winner although parts of me were black and blue for weeks. She never bothered me again and thankfully neither did anyone else. greengrocer uncle coming over with dented food cans that had often lost their labels. It was kind of him, better than throwing good food away, but we did feel like the poor relations getting a charity handout. Then of course dinners were a bit of a gamble with mum opening peaches when she really needed peas. Never tasted or even heard of lychees till we discovered them in a dented tin and they were lovely.

.....getting a Saturday job when I was just 13 years old. It was an old fashioned ladies clothes shop (that's old fashioned shop not old fashioned clothes). I had to get two buses or a train and a bus to get there and I worked 8-9 hours, also would go in some school holidays and during sale time I'd go in Sundays to clear up and restock as Saturday would be too busy to get it all done. For a Saturday I earned £1 10s (£1.50) which was a lot more than my friend got at Woolworths.

.....sneaking out from the dress shop one Saturday, when I was asked to do a bit of shopping for one of the sales girls, and nipping into the jewellers and getting my ears pierced.

.....having a cat to keep mice away and having a dog briefly. The cat was actually a stray my brother at about 4 years old, befriended in the street and brought in. The dog was a pedigree minature poodle, chocolate brown so we called him Cocoa.  UncleM said it was a gift, but we found out that he'd actually bought it for himself and his wife refused to have it in the house. Unfortunately sisterP was terrified of dogs and the dog was terrified of the cat so uncleM was called back to find it another home.

.....Dr Rhodes Boyson was headmaster when  I was at Robert Montefiore Comprehensive School. He was later knighted and also an MP under Margaret Thatcher. He was very strict with all pupils and staff alike and we were all terrified of him. He always wore his masters black gown, which in an East London school full of children from very low income families l guess looked quite odd.

.....saving really hard from my Saturday job and paying it into the school bank for a school skiing holiday. My parents couldn't afford to contribute and I'd worked out that I could just about make the cost of the holiday and the cost of equipment hire there but absolutely nothing more, so I was hoping to beg and borrow warm clothing etc, however, just a few weeks before we were meant to go the UK devalued the £ making the whole trip so much more expensive. I couldn't go. I withdrew all my money and went shopping! I'd probably have broken my leg, suffered hyperthermia or something anyway!

.....having lunch with Cliff Richard, but this is now quite a long post so I'll leave you guessing on that one and post again when I have another page full starting with my lunch with Cliff :-)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Home alone.....

Last Sunday, early morning to Wednesday, late at night,  Hubby was away at Son's house so they could rebuild the bathroom together.

So many people asked if I was ok alone and am I lonely!
Lovely that people care but actually I enjoy pleasing myself sometimes and I had lots I wanted to get done, as for lonely I wasn't really alone for long.

When we were clearing out some rooms we asked our Son if he wanted his big punchbag in his own home and he said that it was in fact his friend's on loan (has been here about 15 years). So I contacted his friend who said he would come and get it. Two months later I reminded him and said if he came early Sunday morning he would get to see our Son in person (been years since they've seen each other). So soon after 9am his friend arrived with his two small children (and breakfast for them) as his wife is working a long shift (she's a nurse). They really enjoyed their buddy catchup and promised to be more active at keeping in touch. I really enjoyed playing with the children who are 4 and not yet 1 years old.

Hubby and Son headed off about 10am, his friend packed up the children and left about 11:30am.......we both forgot about the punchbag so it's still here doh!

Barely half hour on my own when Daughter and O turned up. O was desperate to show me his new green scooter that he got the day before for his birthday. E had stayed at home.  They had lunch with me and O was building a willow sticks den in the garden and rode his scooter then left in time for Daughter to do the long drive to collect R from her dad.

Monday I got loads done with running the dishwasher unloading and reloading it,  gardening, washing, pegging out (and bringing in when dry of course), repairing some earrings, ironing and vacuuming our bedroom plus lots of pottering between jobs and of course keeping up with all my online scrabble games. And my neighbours knocked to check I'm ok.

Tuesday I was back out in the garden, the weather was really lovely again, I'm struggling to clear the weeds from between the patio slabs (I'm trying salt water weed killer at the moment) and I have to feed the fish twice a day in Hubby's absence and they are fascinating to just stand and watch, so that always takes a lot longer than expected. While I was over by the pond I picked the first of this year's rhubarb.  Daughter and O came over so he could have a bath. The girls chose to stay at home which they are doing more often these days. O loved the rhubarb fool I'd made he even had thirds!

That evening friendM and I tried a Chinese restaurant we hadn't been to before. ......their  food was ok but we were the only customers they had all evening but even so they weren't that attentive and I even had to shout 'hello' for someone to come out and make up our bill, which included a service charge already (don't like that) and we didn't get the discount from offering a'Gourmet Card' as she said they don't take them, funny that as they had the right sticker on the front door saying they did! It must be so hard running a family business especially when we were their only customers, so we didn't complain, however, friendM has complained to 'Gourmet Society'. Needless to say we won't bother going back again.

Wednesday night I was out with my usual friends in our usual pub and Hubby was home and asleep in bed when I got home. Unfortunately they had had problems with the plumbing and had left the bathroom finally leak free and mostly tiled but still without the bath and shower fitted and working. Son had to be in London Thursday and Friday on a course he couldn't get out of.

Thursday we had O and R here for lunch while E made use of the empty house for percussion practice and help from her mum. When Daughter arrived to collect her two she found us all in full party swing.

R made party hats. There was loud music.
Monkey party guests definitely look worse for wear!

Party food was appreciated.

While he's home Hubby wants to get lots done. Freshly mown lawn today looks so much tidier. Sunday we will be out all day at my friend's dad's stone setting (in London and then Herts),  hard to believe it's been a year since the funeral we couldn't go to because we went on the cruise without these friends. I'm guessing we will get home about 6pm then soon after Son will arrive to take Hubby back to his home in Wiltshire to spend another few days finishing the bathroom.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I remember youth clubbing.....

From the age of nine till I was 19 Brady Youth Club was a huge part of my life.  It was situated in Whitechapel in the heart of East London.

It was a Jewish youth club as the Eastend at that time was home to a very large Jewish community, mostly coming as immigrants pre and post first world war. There was a very open Jewish culture in the club, observing all the holy days and religious rituals, but I don't think non-Jews who wanted to join were ever excluded, friendships and supporting each other were always important.

I think there was a pre-school nursery run there during the day, but I can't quite remember. There definitely was an after-school club for infants as I remember often helping to go and collect them from school and walk them round. As a teenager I used to hide at the club during the day when I skipped school so was there to help (don't tell my grandchildren *wink*). Next group up was split into 'minors boys' and 'junior girls' which was when I joined, then I think we moved up again at the same time as moving from primary school to senior school. For me school was the comprehensive round the corner from club.

The building was amazing, it was huge inside, with offices, canteen and kitchen serving food as well as soft drinks (egg and chips my favourite), there were two big halls one of which had a stage and all the sound equipment and lighting etc available at that time (we are talking about the 1960s) and backstage dressing rooms for plays and shows (I've a photo of me as Christabel Pankhurst when we did a musical play about suffragettes but I can't find it). The other hall a well equipped sports hall with changing rooms and showers (can't find the photo of me on the trampoline either which I know is here somewhere). That was the ground floor. The basement and first floor had more rooms where we would have various activities like drama and table tennis and debating and one with the snooker table where I mostly sat on the window sill and chatted to the boys playing. The long basement corridor was ideal for archery or target practice with .22 guns neither of which I did. And then above all that on the second floor was a self contained flat where a family lived (I think it was one of the club directors, wife and children).

Our youth club also owned a country house in Kent, Skeet House where we would have group holidays and weekends away. When we were there we enjoyed all the outdoor countryside activities you just don't do in London. In the winter if it snowed we took all the tea-trays to Lullingstone golf course so we could toboggan down the hills. At Christmas we would volunteer at the local hospital. People really believed the house was haunted but I never felt spooked there.

Other club holidays were usually camping, a summer camp would have to cater for about 300 people with huge marquees for dining and big bell tents for sleeping, latrines were massive ditches covered with a wooden framework with flimsy doors and wooden holes in planks for loo seats. We affectionately called them the Austin Suite as Frank Austin was a famous furniture maker and director of the club.

 As club members we were always encouraged to help others so aged 15/16ish I joined Jewish Youth Voluntary Service and went out with the St Mungo charity for the homeless on their soup runs, taking soup and rolls out all night to the tramps sleeping rough on the streets or in the railway arches of Shoreditch or under empty stalls in Petticoat Lane. Most had very sad stories but some were there as a definite life choice! It taught me a lot!

There were many very famous visitors to our club, Prince Philip came in the 1950s, the Beatles came in 1964, I can remember meeting Fenella Fielding, Ronnie Corbet and Frankie Vaughan. Celebrities would often be a guest for our annual awards night when they would be entertained first then give out our awards and certificates earned throughout the year. I was in quite a few of the plays and shows, as well as the suffragettes I've been the devil when the angel and I had to decide the fate of Henry VIII while his life was acted out behind us, there was the French Apache dance still vivid in my mind where Kelvin did the acrobatics to my seductive temptress (don't ask hahaha), and a play we called "out of the dustbin and onto the stage" where we managed to turn Chekhov into farce! Even remembering now I'm giggling :-)

A regular club night Monday to Thursday was meet up in the canteen and have something to eat and drink as most of us came straight from school,  then we'd go off to various activities. All back in the canteen for an assembly with relevant announcements and finishing the evening with disco. Sunday evenings had live music socials, dancing to lots of bands we'd barely heard of who later became really famous, like Jimi Hendrix, Procal Harem, Pink Floyd, Gino Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound  and lots more. They were fantastic nights.

I had the honour of being voted Girls' Club captain for one year, and I got to carry a clip board, which was considered a true badge of office as all the managers tended to carry clipboards hahaha. The climax of that year was being awarded a place on a four week youth holiday in Israel. I celebrated my 18th birthday in an air-raid shelter right on the Lebanese border! I'd never been abroad before that.

Members had to leave at 19 years old but they could come back as staff when they were 21. The enforced break was to ensure we didn't all become totally reliant on the safety of the institution. None of us ever wanted to leave but agreed it was the right time to be pushed into the real world and so many of us never went back but stayed in touch with friends in other ways. I actually married and moved out of London not long after that.

Oh happy memories of very happy days and I'm still in touch with some very lovely special friends from way back then :-)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

It was one of 'those' nights.....

Our usual "Wednesday crowd at the pub night" which we've done for years changes week-on-week very little, however, nothing was usual about last night!

For the past few weeks I've been taxi to friendDJ as he's unwell and constant morphine means he can't drive. I hadn't spoken to him all day to make sure he was still ok for our night out and that he hadn't forgotten either (morphine does that to him) but when I was going up to get ready and Hubby had left for bowling there was still plenty of time.

FriendH was coming but didn't want me to pick her up as she needed to leave early so was taking her own car, she'd also offered to pick us all up but as friendDJ is more comfortable in my car I said I'd pick him up and she said she'd pick up friendsM&P to save me stopping again.

Hubby then text to say as he'd crossed the bridge there had been a 5-car accident and he had just managed to get through as he was on his motorbike. From our bedroom widow I can see the bridge in the distance and half an hour after hubby's text the traffic was still at a standstill. I text friendH to warn her then text friendDJ but didn't get a reply. I needed to leave myself a lot more time to cross town, as every time the bridge has a problem (it's on the main A14) the whole of Ipswich seems to have traffic problems.

I phoned friendDJ first on his mobile and then on his landline without any success, so I rang his daughter-in-law but the number she had given me wasn't right so I rang another daughter-in-law who had also given me her number and she said she would investigate and ring me back which she did, seems he had been taken out by another son and forgotten to take his mobile with him, but he had remembered he was being picked up at 7:30pm so had just been brought home (it was now nearly 7pm).

Jumping in my car about 20mins earlier than I would have normally left home, I headed off to go round the dock to avoid town centre. .....but all roads heading east were a nightmare! It took me 50mins to travel as far as I could have walked in 20mins! My main progress was when cars decided to break from the queue and try an alternative route, I stayed put as previous experience has taught me that it really doesn't help and it just drinks up a lot more fuel.

While in the queue my lovely next door neighbour phoned to make sure I knew of the problem and was ok. FriendH also phoned to say she was stuck, had text our other friends to let them know and was going to try an alternative route. I let friendDJ know I was going to be really late....and I was, eventually getting to his at 8:20pm.

I parked below his first floor window and saw him turn his lights off so guessed he was going to make his own way down, however, he has recently been a bit wobbly on his feet (also the morphine) so I've been going up to get him, using the keys left in the key safe by the back door of his block. I thought I'd do that anyway and meet him halfway. Well it was lucky I did as opening the key safe with the magic code (which often doesn't work first, second or third time) revealed no keys!!! When he came down I wouldn't let him close the door until I'd told him the problem, he'd phoned his son who had to pull over and discover that he had driven off with them in his pocket by mistake, worked out together how he was going to get them back (he lives about 20 miles away) and then me checking with friendDJ that he had the right keys on him to get back in after our night out.....finally we headed off both starving.

When we pulled up at the pub, nearly an hour late, FriendH pulled up too (guess her alternative route didn't help as I'd also made my delayed pickup and she hadn't). Our other friends were already there of course and had made sure the kitchen would stay open for us (that would have been dreadful if we'd got there and couldn't eat). FriendH bought us drinks and we were all shuffling around getting settled at the big round table when over goes a full drink! More chaos! Lots of mopping up but nobody soaked this time. Then we ordered food, it's now just before 9pm. Food arrived (takes time) with mine and friendDJ 's coming last, he laughed and said "it really is one of those nights", then he ate all his dinner and fell asleep for almost all the rest of the evening (morphine does that to him too ).

And I'm pleased to report nothing else went wrong after that, I played taxi to our lorry driver friend as usual, I got DJ home and saw him up to his flat and he said he'd had a really lovely evening despite the mishaps, then got myself home.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Theatre: The Secret Adversary.....

A Tommy and Tuppence Thriller
Presented by The Watermill Theatre
Adapted from the Agatha Christie novel for the stage
by Sarah Punshon & Johann Hari.
Agatha Christie's gripping thriller follows the daring and dizzying adventures of Tommy & Tuppence through 1920s London.
Home from the War, flat-broke and unemployed, our twenty-something heroes embark on a daring business scheme: ‘The Young Adventurers Limited’… willing to go anywhere, willing to do anything. But their first assignment plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined and they quickly find themselves sucked into a perilous world of political intrigue, criminal conspiracy, murder and mayhem.
Launching as part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of the author’s birth, The Secret Adversary takes to the stage for the very first time in this inventive new adaptation shot through with fast-paced action, comedy, live music and a dash of romance.

Not totally sure about this one, I certainly didn't dislike it as there were some very good bits like the clever use of the stage with minimal scene changes created by hanging a cloth or rolling out a carpet etc. Lots of fast paced activity and a comedy script that had my friends laughing out loud in places.....unfortunately not me, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for it. I found the intrigue and drama of this Agatha Christie play totally watered down by the song and dance bits and magic tricks. Thriller adapted with comedy and farce I usually find very entertaining, however thriller and music hall together? What do you think?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

I remember my first home......

Nissan hut, that's what these little buildings were called. Larger ones were barracks I think or some other use as they were quick and cheap to erect with just a brick front and back and corrugated tin bolted on over the top.

Smaller ones were used as temporary accommodation post 2nd world parents were eventually rehoused after 15 years in one of these so not as temporary as they were led to believe. This isn't a photo of our house as it looks like open countryside and we were in very built up London's East End.

I remember our street had about eight of these down one side with very little front gardens and a wooden picket fence with a front gate to separate them. Behind each one was the outside toilet. Inside was front door straight into the lounge with a kitchen area at one end and two doors into the bedrooms. We either used the tin bath in front of the fire or we had to visit the public baths (which I hated).

I can remember with a shudder how we were so scared of hail storms because of the noise made on a tin roof which was like being under attack. It also felt like living in an oven during hot summers.

By the time I was six years old there were seven of us living in this small two bedroom hut. Parents and our clothes storage in one bedroom and us four girls in the other bedroom and our new baby brother spending nights still in his pram in the lounge area.

To fit four beds into our room there were two singles and bunk beds. If you slept in the top bunk you could look through the crack in the door and watch tv so we organised ourselves into a weekly bed swap. Often the week after top bunk meant suffering conjuctivitis for a few days which seemed a fair trade off 😉 When I had chickenpox mum banned bed swapping as the sheets were getting covered in calamine lotion, so I got two weeks in the top bunk and loved it hahaha

I can remember the rehousing started at the other end of the road and as each hut emptied it was demolished until eventually we were the last one left and travellers had moved onto the waste land in their caravans and a few times we found a stranger using our outside toilet.

We were so excited when we were given a four bedroom house and I can remember my sisters and I moving our belongings one box at a time on the back of our three-wheel bike. Can't remember furniture moving day but I guess there was a van. Lovely to see our little baby brother having a cot to sleep in.

I'm the little curly one in the romper suit nearly two years old. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Don't bother reading......

Really nothing much to report!

Last Wednesday/Thursday I had to wear the dreaded blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. It actually hurts each time as I've big arms so it blows up really tight and it pinged then buzzed and squeezed every half hour all through the day and every hour from 10pm to 8am then back to every half hour. I also found it really difficult to bend my arm with the cuff on so had to do most things one handed like brushing my hair and slept in my bra as I couldn't reach to undo it and Hubby was fast asleep when I went up. When I was finally released from it and the nurse downloaded the readings the average was pretty much normal.

So this is Easter weekend with two bank holidays but mine has been quite boring. Bank holidays mean nothing now we're retired. R is spending it with her dad. E who didn't feel well enough to go is at home with M. Daughter and O are being Tudors for the four days and Hubby is mostly playing with his new no egg painting or garden egg hunt this year, I'm catching up with the ironing!

Tonight E is coming for a sleepover and tomorrow will be our monthly coffee morning so maybe there will be a bit more to blog about....but this one wasn't worth reading!