Thursday, April 29, 2010

You are a Child of the Universe

Liam Summer 1970
    So, my dear bloggeroos, by now you know that if you read my blog - you will, hopefully, find something to make you smile.
    I have plenty more humorous tales in my arsenal, but today - I wanted to share something different.
    Please don't think I'm on a 'downer' cos I'm not. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have had tremendous support from family and friends since Liam's death.
    I'm now feeling strong enough to tell some of our story.
    This post is to reach out to anyone who is living with pain in their lives: physical or emotional.
    I follow many blogs and every day I read many examples of genuine pain.
    I read stories of illness, despair and depression. People, just like me, having to deal with the heartache and loss of bereavement.
    I see very poignant memories of mothers who have lost their babies and children well before their time.
    There are families worrying every day about their loved ones who are overseas serving their country.
    We all suffer life's problems.
    Most of us have lived through some very challenging times in our lives.
    Times we thought we would never get through. But, we DID get through them.
    Time truly is a great healer.
    We bounce back. We're not the same person, but we have to become accustomed to changes in our lives.
    We have to come to terms with life being as it is, not how we would like it to be.
    Life goes on, even life without Liam, so here is our story................................

    Liam, my late partner and I first met about 6 months after the above photo was taken.
    He was 16, I was 14.
    We had been friends for over 30 years, and then we fell in love.
    Over the years that followed our first meeting, our paths crossed on numerous occasions. A few times we worked at the same company. Another time I was freelancing as a Dental Assistant and he was living in the same building. As I've mentioned before, Liam was a singer, and our family would enjoy a great night out watching him perform.
    Many years passed, Liam had never married, so when his Mum had a heart attack in 1987, he returned from Texas where he was living and working, to keep a watchful eye on her. Once back in Blighty, he earned a living from his singing, but would never take a booking further than 50 miles away, so that he would be at home overnight for his Mum.
    To supplement his income he trained as a Driving Instructor.
    He had moved in with her,but in 1993 she had another heart attack and became housebound. Liam gave up his singing and driving instructing and cared for her full time until her death in 2000.
    Between 1992 and his Mum's death, we lost touch. We bumped into each other a couple of times, but I was dealing with my own life dramas.
    He rarely drank alcohol before his Mum's illness, but the strain of looking after her and the lack of support he received, resulted in him finding solace in a whiskey bottle. Following his Mum's funeral, he had taken a fall downstairs, breaking his shoulder and collarbone.
    I would visit him and try to help where I could, but he was a physical and emotional wreck.
    I tried so hard to raise his spirits, and although his depression lifted a little, he was still drinking quite heavily.
    One day, I was feeling especially stressed and worn out. (I was working full time and trying to look after both of our houses.) We had to face the truth. Liam was an alcoholic.
    I burst into tears and asked him,
    "Why do you want to die?"
    He stared at me in disbelief and answered,
    "Don't be daft - I don't want to die."
    "Look in the mirror, mate. You ARE dying, can't you see that?" I asked.
    He looked in the mirror, and without saying a word - he went to the sink and poured the bottle of whiskey he was drinking from down the sink.
    He went all over his house and found other bottles, half bottles and even a few miniatures - he began to pour them away too. I wanted to help him get rid of them, but he said,
    "No, I have to do this by myself."
    "OK, I'm done with that now - I'll never drink again." and he meant it!
    That was in March 2001, and with help and support from me and his GP he never touched any more alcohol after that day. Sadly, that was only the beginning of his recovery.
    We got him through the withdrawal effects, and he started eating again. A week later, following a blood test, he was admitted to hospital weighing only 7stone. He was 46, but he looked like a little old man. After being pumped full of fluids and vitamins for two days, he was sent home and not expected to live.
    Thank goodness the doctors were all wrong! He had to have liver function tests done for the first year, but he made an almost full recovery, although he still had trouble with his shoulder.
    We became a couple the following Summer.
    He never drank another drop of alcohol until his death in November 2008. He put on weight, his depression lifted. We had 7 very happy years together.
    Little did we know - the damage had already been done.
    Liam died from cancer of the oesophagus. Sad to say, this type of cancer is often a result of previous alcohol abuse.
    He once told me that throughout his life he had always got inspiration from this poem, and I share it with you now..................

    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    (Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.)
Twice in his life, I had looked after Liam, nursed him, helped him bathe, and bullied him into eating.

Both times were difficult and traumatic.

If I could turn back the clock, would I do that for him again?

You bet - in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Lie-in, the Ditch and the Wardrobe.........



Or...............the day I went missing..............

This story has almost nothing to do with Narnia, other than the fact that, as I was an avid reader as a child, and sometimes my imagination would get the better of me. (Nothing new there, then!)


It was the wonderful Summer of 1966 and England had just won the World Cup............

It was the six week long Summer Holidays from school.




My brother was almost 16, I was 10, and my sister, ("ickle ditder") was 5.

My brother, Les was an apprentice butcher but he had Tuesdays off.

Mumsie was at work, so we had a young woman called Georgina who came round to look after us.

I shared a room with Ickle Ditder, Mandy. She would drive me mad! I have always loved my bed - Mum never had a problem getting me to go to bed at night.

Not only was I keen to get into my bed - I was just as keen to stay in it too!



One day, I promised Mandy that if she went down quietly for breakfast, allowing me to have a lie-in, I would play hide and seek with her later.

When I eventually got up, Mandy, Les and Georgina were all out in the garden.

I crept down to where they were, hoping Mandy didn't see me. I wanted to go in and finish reading my book "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." Whenever I wasn't sleeping I was usually reading - Mumsie used to call me "Bookworm Belinda."

Georgina, Les and Mandy were all digging a ditch. Some of the other local kids were there too.



Three years earlier we had had the Cuban Missile Crisis, and there had been a genuine threat that we could have been involved in a nuclear war.

People were still worried that it may still happen. There were nuclear shelters featured everywhere - on TV, magazines and newspapers.




My parents have a huge garden, and we convinced them they we ought to dig a shelter. They were humouring us, of course, but at least it would keep us out of mischief!

We'd torn pictures and plans from newspapers, and so it was, that we began to dig our shelter.



Daddio showed us where we could build it and suggested that we should begin by digging ditches where we would eventually put the walls of the shelter. He knew that we would soon get fed up with this project.

The area just happened to coincide with the bit of the garden that he needed digging for growing potatoes. (Ooooh Daddio - you're naughty!)

Nobody spotted me behind the gooseberry bush, so I decided to leave them to it - much too much like hard work!!

I went into the living room where it was nice and cool and picked up my book.

Half an hour later, Ickle Ditder came in to find me.

"Come on then, play hide and seek with me." she pleaded.

I closed my eyes, Mandy hid behind the sofa.

I strung the game out a bit - she always hid in the same place.

(Except when she was three and sat herself in an enormous open drawer with her eyes closed, convinced that made her invisible!)


"You hide now" she told me.

I set off upstairs, "Where shall I hide?" I wondered.

Taking the idea from my book - I decided to hide in the wardrobe in Mum and Dad's bedroom.

They had an old utility wardrobe - the sort that closes with a key.

I studied it for a minute and realised that if I half turned the key, I could get inside the wardrobe, and then carefully pull the door closed and push the lock the rest of the way with my finger. This closed the door.

Never one to miss the chance of a good read, I had also taken my book and a torch in with me.

"She'll never find me in here," I thought.



This was a sort of 'spare' wardrobe, there was plenty of room for me as all that was in there was



Mumsie's fur coat. (100% Genuine Nylon)



Her one and only ball gown (This was altered slightly each Christmas, to make it look like a new one!)

And last but not least my ballroom dance dress. (I took Old Time Dance lessons in those days, eventually perfecting the art of curtseying in the Military Two Step without catching the heel of me shoe in me frilly knickers!)




Not only did she not find me, when she got fed up of looking, she went out into the garden and forgot all about me.

I was ok for about 20 minutes, then the battery went in the torch. Then I panicked, then I cried. Then I panicked again!

In the meantime, one of the lads noticed I was missing. With the precision of a Major General, Les organised the Search Party.

Dennis, Sue H, and two Kevins went to look for me on the nearby playing field. (I'm not sure where my BBF Carol was, I think she had the mumps!)

Georgina and Les went in to look in the house.

I was quite hysterical by the time they let me out of the wardrobe.

Still, at least I'd finished my book in peace, but it's no wonder that I get claustrophobia!

The Nuclear Shelter? We never did finish it....................................





.............................But we did have a lovely crop of potatoes!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

One Year On.....................


Hello my dear Bloggeroos, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the blogpost I wrote a year ago.

Those of you who were around then may remember that I had finally given up trying to tame my unruly hair, and go a little shorter.

You may also remember that in a fit of lunacy and lack of medication - I decided to cut it myself.

Never one to do things by halves, I decide to go very short.

With the help of my best wallpapering scissors.

I know, I know.......but it seemed a good idea at the time.

This resulted not only in the maddest hairstyle you ever did see, but also my best bra lost a strap as I got carried away and didn't steer the scissors as I should.

Still, at least I was well equipped to wear a dress like this...............................




I tell this tale in the hope that it will give you some idea of my family's ethos and culture. (Oooooh, don't I sound edukated today?)


The family Saturday Brunch takes place almost every weekend at my parent's house and is otherwise known as "Audrey's Party" (Audrey is Mumsie's name) .

It is a source of joy and merriment.

Their home is a haven of peace and tranqillity (but only when us lot aren't there.)

We support each other in times of crisis and despondancy,
we cheer each other up,
we lend each other money, (Did I just hear a violin?)

But for all that, we do love a good laugh at the expense of another family member.


So, following the crisis with my hairstyle, and the hairdresser being on honeymoon - I was not looking forward to facing the loopy loons the Saturday morning following the haircut.

I purposely went later than usual. I had hoped that some of the Smart Mouths had already had their fill of cheese baps and wagon wheels and gone home.

No such luck!

DAD :Ha ha ha! Do you want to take your hat off?

I wasn't even wearing one!

ELDEST SON:Who did this to you? Do you want me to beat them up?


ICKLE DITDER:Would you like to borrow my pashmina, it's got a hood? Ha ha ha!


ME: (protesting through me Kleenex) OK! OK! IT'S NOT FUNNY - YOU'RE NOT BIG AND YOU'RE NOT CLEVER

That was a fib actually 'cos my eldest son is both!


The nearest I got to any sympathy was when Mumsie cooed, : "Oh you poor dear would you like to hide in Dad's shed?"


Dad's Shed

DADDIO: Steady on there, Manageress (his pet name for Mum). She can't go in there. The finches are nesting and the red factor canaries are still settling in.


BROTHER NUT: Now then Our Susie, buck up. It's not like a whacky hairstyle will harm your youthful good looks. That already happened years ago.


This is supposed to make me feel better?


He continued "I've always thought you such a plucky old girl. You're brave - you open letters from your Bank Manager, you open the door to Jehovah's Witnesses and don't hide behind the sofa with the rest of us."


ICKLE DITDER: Would you feel better if you had a cuppa tea?


ME: (Wiping me nose on Mumsie's pinny,)Yeah that'd be great!


ICKLE DITDER: Oh well, in that case, I'll have one if you're making a brew.


BROTHER NUT: And me.


ELDEST SON: Go on then, you twisted me arm.


DADDIO: Did I hear someone's put the kettle on - I'm parched.


I'm standing in the corner where we make the tea, I have my back to them.

Do they really think I can't hear them softly whistling "Send in the Clowns".


Don't forget to scroll down if you missed my previous posts this week

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You're Never Too Old to Learn




Hello my dear Bloggeroos.

Once again I have been trawling the old memory banks to find a suitable tale to entertain you with today.

Growing up, I was always a late developer.

Don't ask me why, but it wasn't until I reached my thirties that I decided that I ought to learn to drive.

In 1988, I 'phoned round a few Driving Instructors. In those days, this wasn't an easy task. Everyone wanted to learn to drive, and there was even a 4 month waiting list to take the Driving Test.





I eventually found this guy who could fit me in and set up some lessons. Before I started, I had never had a lesson in my life. I wasn't too nervous, although I was very cautious.

What a rubbish instructor this bloke turned out to be. He wasn't at all patient and I felt he rushed me to try new skills before I was ready. By my fourth lesson, I was a quivering wreck.


I decided to cancel my lessons and try to find someone who would better suit my driving skills or lack thereof.

A few weeks later I bumped into an old friend. She had recently passed her test.



I asked her if she'd had a good instructor. She told me that Liam had taught her and that he had returned from America the previous year, and had trained to become a Driving Instructor to supplement his earnings from his singing.

(For those of you who don't know, a little back story here...........Liam was eventually my life partner from 2001 until his death in November 2008. We had first met as teenagers, and were friends for 30 years, before we decided we quite fancied each other, and might make a great couple!)

So, anyway, I 'phoned him and he said that he could fit me in. He was a wonderful instructor. Some instructors teach you just enough to pass a Driving Test. Not Liam - he taught me to become a good, courteous, safe driver. He also took his time to show his pupils how to check the oil, top up the radiator, and change a wheel.

After about four lessons, I became ill and had to have an operation. I was advised not to take up driving again for 3 months.

The day of my first lesson after my op, I asked my son to look outside the house to see if Liam had turned up yet.

Ali didn't want to and said,

"Mum, can't you look? I've not seen him for years - I was at school when you had the other lessons. I can't remember what he looks like."

I replied, "Oh for goodness sake! He'll have a car with L plates on, he's got thinning hair and he's got a beard."

Ali looked out the front window, "There IS a car out there with L-plates on, but the bloke hasn't got a beard."

I went out to Liam and got in the car.

LIAM: "How are you now, OK?".

ME: "I'm fine thanks. What are we doing today?"

He turned to look at me, watching for my reaction as I hated reversing,

LIAM:"We'll do reversing round a corner, and I want to go over observation with you."

ME: "I'm good at observation. For instance, didn't you have a beard?"

LIAM: "Yes I did. I shaved it off 'cos of the hot weather."

(I thought to myself, 'What's he talking about, it's February. Has he been on holiday?')

ME: "When?"

LIAM: "Errrr, 1983, six years ago."


Liam 1983



I didn't argue when he wanted to go over 'observation' at the end of my lesson!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Seven Things You Don't Know About Me......








WOW! the lovely lady at ted and bunny has given me this Kreativ Blogger Award - I'm so chuffed!

I now have to 'fess up to 7 things you didn't know about me..........



The last time I watched a TV soap, Annie Walker was the landlady of the Rovers Return.





I've never seen the film "Titanic."




I don't understand ladies buying loads of shoes.






In 1992 I was offered a promotional job wing-walking on the Crunchie plane. (They withdrew the offer when they realised I was over 30!)




I was once mistaken for Linda Bellingham by a Daily Mail photographer. (Cheek! she's 10 years older than me!)





I've never seen Big Brother, only mine!


Ickle Ditder, Les and me

I used to do Amateur Dramatics. My "Bottom" was huge and second to none :O)


I award





Monday, April 19, 2010

There's No Smoke Without Fire............








TODAY IS MY FIRST BLOGGIVERSARY!

I found this pic by accident when I was googling for a pic of a cake.

So terribly naughty - and yet so funny.

I'm using it as today's blog post is kind of smoking related.

Before I begin my tale, I would just like to thank my bloggy friend Taz at Ratbag for my award...........




Taz always leaves such lovely comments on my blog.

In time honoured tradition, I now pass this award onto.............











I'm not sure of the 'rules'. I think you ladies are supposed to pass it on to 10 of your followers.
(Don't worry though, I won't check up on you!)

This is a TRUE story.

Before I begin I would just like to say that it's not that I have more funny things happen around me than most people - it's more a case that I remember them. I have an 'eidetic memory.' (It's what used to be called a 'photographic memory.' It's sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse!)

In the 1990's I worked for our local newspaper. I worked in the Advertising Department on the third floor.

Although there was a lift, at the end of the working day, most of left by the stairs. The lift only held 8 people, so the staircase was a much quicker 'escape' route.

We finished work at 5pm and from 4.55pm we would all sit at our desks, coat on, one eye on the clock.

Whilst we were running down the stairs, all of the smokers were fumbling about in their bags and pockets, eager to get their nicotine fix as fast as possible once we had all spilled out in the Car Park below.

One particular day, I was running downstairs with my colleagues Colin and Teresa. Colin smoked hand rolled cigarettes and he used one of these contraptions.




It would be in his pocket, ready primed, so that all he had to do was lift it to his lips and moisten the ciggie paper, with his tongue, left to right.

Colin had the fag tin in his hand and shouted, "Hang on a minute!" We all ground to a halt behind him. He lifted the tin towards his mouth put out his tongue to lick the paper. At the very same moment his mobile 'phone rang.

Teresa only half saw what was happening out the corner of her eye and didn't realise the noise was his 'phone.

Teresa is from Ohio, and with surprise and awe in her voice said..................

........................................................................................................

........................................................................................................

"Gee Colin! I didn't know you could play the harmonica!"



Sunday, April 18, 2010

And Now for the Bad News.................


Some of you will remember that a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my Best Friend Forever, Carol.

Now in our Fifties - we have been friends since we were three years old.

Most Thursdays I go round to Carol's house for lunch. We love each other's company and we always find something to laugh about.

After we've swapped family news, we enjoy a good old gossip.

Over the last few years, we have noticed just how much we are turning into our own Mothers.

Nothing illustrates the point more than the following conversation we had.

Sometimes we drive each other mad. The reason I exasperate Carol is because I remember everything; people we knew years ago, places we went, what we did, all down to the last detail.

Carol's memory is like most normal people, but I get frustrated when she doesn't remember things that I'm talking about. I will go to great lengths giving hints and tips until I unearth the memory.


Carol: What's new?

Me: D’ya remember that lass called Brenda that used to knock about with us at the Teenage Disco?


Carol: Errr, no.


Me: Yer doooooooooo! She had that sister, Barbara who would show the lads her knickers for a suck on their Juicy Jim.*
(*Juicy Jim was a pyramid shaped ice lolly.)

Carol:(thinking "Oh God, Here we go again") You always talk about people I don’t remember.

Me: Yer do know her. Her brother used to play in the cricket team. He walked with a limp.




Carol:(eyes glazing over) I still don’t know who yer on about.

Me: (with a little sigh) Their Aunty Joan worked in the Chippy - always wiping her nose on the sleeve of her cardy.





Carol: Nope - still no idea.

Me: (with a Big Sigh) Her husband used to go to the pub on his bike. We used to pinch it and ride it round while he was having a pint in the Wagon.

Carol: D’ya mean The Wagon and Horses Pub?




Me: (excitedly) Yesssss!

Carol: What about it?

Me: What?

Carol: What about the Wagon and Horses Pub?

Me: I'm not talking about the pub. D’ya remember that bike we used to pinch from outside?




Carol: Oh yeah.

Me: It belonged to that bloke who was married to Joan in the Chippy.

Carol: (nodding her head) Oh - I know who yer mean. Didn’t she always wipe her nose on the sleeve of her cardy

Me: Yessssss!

Carol: What about her?

Me: I’m not talking about Joan. D’ya recall her nephew who played cricket?

Carol: Oh yeah. Didn’t he have a limp?

Me: Yesssss!

Carol: What about him?

Me: I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about his sister.

Carol: Wasn’t she called Barbara and used to show the lads her knickers for a suck on their Juicy Jim?



Me: That's right! Well she also had a sister, Brenda. D’ya remember her?

Carol: (excitedly nodding her head) Oh, Brenda! I know who you mean, now.

What about her?

.......................

.......................

Me: Well, she’s dead.



Carol and me 1967, aged 11. (I'm the one with the monkey)

You can read my previous post about Carol here