Category Archives: Family Life

D Day Invoked Memories

Watching the D Day Commemorations encouraged my mum to share some memories I don’t think I have heard before. This is surprising, because she does share a lot of memories – a lot of times (joke Dad).

Mum was aged 14 on D Day. Her own dad, whom she always refers to in a rather Enid-Blyton-esque way as Father (and her mum as Mother), served in both wars. We children called our grandfather Bampy. He started out as Grampy but that was hurriedly changed when we thought it very funny to call him Grumpy.

I don’t know why we called him Grumpy. I don’t remember ever finding him so, although other members of my family may differ in their opinions of him. My memories of the man – a somewhat straight-laced fellow with a military air, who is now long gone, having passed away at the age of 99 – are of sitting on his knee while he pressed his warm, smooth, pocket watch to my ear to hear it tick. Later I recall his delight at my visits from Sheep Country, especially when I brought my new daughter toddling across his threshold (she is 30 now!)

In WW1 Bampy was at Ypres. I have a copy of the Wipers Times brought back by him when his time in the trenches was over. When he got home he stripped off and told Nanna to burn his clothes. He slept outside for some time. Perhaps the peace and birdsong acted as a balm.

In WW2, as an architect, he had a reserved profession so escaped active service. Instead he became part of the  Home Guard.

Because he had military experience he was made a Sergeant and found himself in command of a gaggle of men not unlike those in the 1960s and 70s TV series, Dad’s Army.

From what I can gather, the Home Guard was very similar to its depiction in Dad’s Army. Bampy’s men had little idea of what constituted a platoon, or indeed the meaning of discipline or rules. On one occasion they were given a rifle. I don’t know where it came from but Bampy was responsible for training his men in its use. One man held it to his shoulder and focused his eye through the sight at whatever he was aiming at. The rest of the group gathered around to watch.

At the last minute, one hapless (or is it stupid?) fellow, decided to check the view the gunner would have. He put his head in the line of fire and was shot through the nose.

Simon Drew picked up a tea towel, Simon drew.

On another occasion the platoon was to practice an assault on a neighbouring village. The plan was for Bampy to spend the night in a guest house in the village and creep out at night to meet the rest of his motley band. Don’t ask me why he had to stay in the village, or where the others were. Anyway, at the allotted hour he rose from his bed, dressed in camouflage and tiptoed along the landing, to be confronted by a snarling German Shepherd dog at the bottom of the stairs. This brought the operation to an abrupt end.

The family lived in Burgess Hill, which was within a certain number of miles from the sea. This meant that access was restricted. All the beaches were covered with loops of barbed wire, and some were also dotted with land mines.

Mum went to school outside the zone. She travelled  by train.  When she stepped onto the platform on her way home she was required to show her ID.  Bampy commuted daily to London and was subjected to the same rule. Their ID’s were different . His was for an adult and hers for a child.

Nanna’s sister, Gladys, was married to Clifford, a dim and alcoholic chap who also served on the home front as part of the anti-invasion force. His duty was to watch for enemy ships and planes from a pill box (Who knew there was so much to learn about pill box design?)

 

‘Father’ 2nd from left and Clifford far right. Sorry it’s a bit blurry.

One man stood on the roof while the other, in this case Clifford, remained inside. I don’t know if Clifford was bored, or perhaps he was practising his gun skills, which I doubt  he learned from Bampy. However, Clifford managed to fire his gun through the roof of the pill box, narrowly missing the poor chap above, who was minding his own business studying the horizon.

 

When at home, my mum, as a member of the Girl Guides, would carry out duties to support the war effort. These included delivering local mail and picking up litter. Knowing all these small details helps me to visualise her life and I am grateful that these moving D Day commemorations have allowed me to hear her stories.

Thank you Mum xxx

Luddites and Banking

Do you ever think about how long you have known some of your friends? Whizz and I have been married for 19 years, and my friendship with the couple we visited  the weekend before last, Cop and Tax, predates this by about 20 years.  In other words I have known them twice as long as I have known Whizz. Whizz recently referred to them as old friends of Lil’s, before realising that now, they are old friends of his as well. We are a couple of old gits… It happens.

The weekend with Cop and Tax , was as fabulous as ever. The couple, who many years ago, relinquished their unpopular careers in favour of self-sufficiency,  always provide a stonking dinner and a healthy country pastime. On this occasion the activity was a point to point.

Two Friends, Oil on canvas by Arthur Kurtz ‎

I will digress here to relate a tale about the last point-to-point I attended. It was with friends of Cop – some of the Hooray-Henries mentioned in this: past post. On that occasion, a rider in one of the races was known to my companions.

‘Never bet on him,’ they advised, ‘He always falls off his horse.’ (When I say bet, I’m only talking a couple of quid, probably less in those days). Needless to say, this ‘chap’ didn’t fall off, he stormed home in first place.

File:Cross country with horse and hound (1902) (14596537038).jpg

Cross Country with Horse and Hound, Peer, Frank Sherman, Published in Horse and Hound 1902

It was the memory of that first point-to-point that prompted me to attend an event of which, in truth, I disapprove in terms of its exploitation of animals. I don’t plan to do anything like that again. The occasion offered a viewing of the Grand National later on, but I’m afraid I refused at that jump. To me, the Grand National epitomises the ugly imposition of man(kind?) over its fellow sentient beings. Sorry race goers it is only my opinion and I don’t plan to throw red paint over you.

During my gambling life I have won nothing, hence, I hardly do it. If there’s a sweepstake at work or maybe a raffle, I invariably pick the option that arrives or occurs  last, or doesn’t arrive at all. The best thing I ever won was in a raffle, a bent, patent-plastic  belt. That is, until this point-to-point. For once I backed horses, to win, in three separate races, and two of them, ones with reasonable odds, passed the finish line in first place. Whoop Whoop, £7.50 profit. It may not seem  exciting to you, but it made my day.

Before we left for the races, Cop and Tax provided their usual, delicious, home-produced grub. Over lunch, Tax, at the grinning behest of Cop,  related her recent experience of banking technology.

Someone, I don’t remember whom, had given her a cheque. I imagine most readers will know that outside the Metropolis, banks are a rarity, and should you happen upon one, human cashiers are as common as elephants’ ballet shoes. Tax found herself at the mercy of a machine. She must insert her debit card and enter the amount, sort-code and account-number. This she did, and with a sense of triumph went home, confident that the total would somehow fetch up in her current account.

Days passed and the money did not appear, so she got in touch with a call centre – more buttons to press but at least she could talk to a human. The sum had not arrived, it must be assumed that it was one of those that had disappeared into the ether. Feeling justified in her mistrust of technology, Tax contacted the donor of the cheque, who checked their account to see whether it had been debited and reported back that it had definitely been through the account – in fact it had been through twice, once as a debit and again as a credit.

Poor Tax will never live down having carefully keyed into the bank machine, the account number and sort code on the cheque.

Someone else who will feel a bit silly, is the person who enabled this sign to appear across the country in a well known supermarket.

Stationary stationery!

It’s a MR E

I’ve always been forgetful and absent minded, but living with Whizz has made me more aware of my shortcomings in this area. It’s not that he ever criticises me, but he has such an amazing brain that I can’t help comparing my own to his. Lately, probably due to work overload, I have become TERRIBLE at keeping to appointments. I have an electronic diary, it bongs at me (when the sound is turned on), but somehow I still get things wrong. About three weeks ago I got home from work and was pottering around while planning dinner, when the phone rang.

‘Mrs Lil?’

‘Ye-e-es?’

It’s Tinkle Dental Surgery here.’

A pause then, ‘Oh my God. Am I supposed to be there?!!! I am aren’t I? I’m SO SORRY.’

The voice smiles, ‘Don’t worry. We can make another appointment.’

We did.

Now the problem with my dentist is that her days off coincide with mine, which means that I have to go to her after work, something I am not in the habit of doing. I made a new appointment on a Monday evening, and spent the next week terrified of forgetting it again.

Monday came and I was delayed slightly at work. When I escaped, I dived into my car, parked, sprinted across the car park and up the stairs to the dentist’s reception desk gasping for breath. ‘So sorry I’m late.’ I panted, ‘ I got held up at work .’

The young and very chipper young man behind the desk, looked at me over his computer monitor and asked for my name, then he stared at the screen for a minute and looked worried.

I got that sinking feeling. ‘Have I missed it again?’

‘I don’t seem to have… Oh wait a moment, here you are… Your appointment’s next week not tonight.’

Dammit!

The following week  I managed to arrive after the poor Hygienist had gone home. ‘I hate my life,’ I moaned to the amused receptionist, and banged my head on the desk several times.

We decided that Monday evenings wouldn’t work for me, and then it transpired that I could have a weekend appointment – who knew?’

My new appointment will be on 29th December. Lovely way to spend part of the Christmas break.

Despite my mental shortcomings, Whizz and I get along pretty well, mainly because, in some areas, our interests collide, and we share the same, sad sense of humour. When we walk the dog our discussions can be quite lively as I have reported here in the past.

On a recent tromp around the quarry I remarked that historically, love songs by men about women have focused on their looks only. I didn’t quote it but in fact the worst case of this I can think of, came from a childhood  78 record called The Girl That I Marry, who, according to the lyrics, ‘…will have to be, as soft and as pink as a nursery,’ and  ”stead of flittin’ I’ll be sittin’ next to her and she’ll purr like a kitten.’ Yuck. I wonder if he found her and whether she became suicidal after a week of marriage.

Anyway, Livin’ Doll is pretty naff: ‘Got myself a cryin’ walkin’ sleepin’ talkin’ livin’ doll.’ and Poetry in Motion, walkin’ by my side,’ etc. I felt that things have changed for the better until Whizz pointed out that in modern times, women  say or rap about men in a similar way. Could they not sing about their partner’s brains for a change? I need another walk with Whizz to devise some lyrics.

(By the way, I’m not old enough to have purchased 78 records. We had a collection of 78s handed down by my grandparents. The collection shrank each time we moved house, when many were broken.)

Back to our walk. I started picking on Happy Families – you know -the card game. I realised the all the men had the jobs, and the women were their wives: Mr Bun the baker, Mrs Bun the baker’s wife, and so on.

Happy Families - Family Fun Playing Cards

Whizz and I began to explore what a modern Happy Families pack might comprise, and this kept us occupied for ages. Here are some of the cards we came up with:

  • Master Race, the Neo-Nazi
  • Miss Tified, the Quantum Physicist
  • Major Cost, the plumber
  • Mrs Singh, the choir leader
  • Dr Facts, the US President
  • Professor Doubt, the Consultant
  • Councillor Couple, the Sex Therapist
  • Pastor Sellbydate, the Health Inspector
  • Mr Call the contact Centre Operative

Then Whizz got that twinkle in his eye. ‘And not forgetting,’ he grinned, ‘ Mrs Appointments, the Author?’

Haw haw, very funny.

Tripping (not the kind that takes you up, but the one that plummets you down)

I found this post in my drafts. I’d written it a couple of months ago. I am no longer taking Warfarin, but a new drug. I am still going to the gym though and have lost 1st 3.5 lbs in weight.

Recently, through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I determined to change my eating karma and lose weight. This declaration of intent was partly because of a second pulmonary embolism and the subsequent need to take anti-coagulants for the rest of my life – I am now on Warfarin.

For the uninitiated, Warfarin, as well as being rat poison, makes you bleed more easily. Ridiculously, since I have been on the medication, I have tripped and fallen three times (I can’t remember anything about the first fall now). It might be true to say that the Mystic Law intervened to protect me when I had the second two falls.

Fall number 2:

Because of my tablets, and because it makes me fat, I am told to drink only in moderation – well that should apply to us all but I’ve never been a great one for listening to advice on what is best for me. To paraphrase the doctor or at least to translate to something more acceptable to me: Ideally don’t drink, but if you must drink then don’t fall over.

The occasion was a funeral wake. The deceased was a lady of nearly 101 years, and her demise was not a shock so there wasn’t an enormous amount of sadness. We all sat in the garden, and the sun shone. Children played, wine flowed and I, who was ‘trying not to drink too much’, accepted a large glass of wine. Later I agreed to a top-up, and when a second top up was not forthcoming and the alcohol had its grip on me, I decided to help myself to a third glassful from the fridge in the kitchen (hangs head in shame).

I jumped from my garden chair and hastened to the doorway, whereupon I tripped on the threshold and pitched head first onto the kitchen floor. My glass shattered and everyone rushed to my assistance as I lay, winded and prone (prone to accidents, ha ha).

Be Careful What you Wish For
What else would I use as an image for spilt wine than my book cover? Click on it to buy it

 

This fall  was clearly intended by the Universe, to help in my quest to cut down on my drink. It did. I had the only big glass in the  house so I had to move on to a smaller one (boom, boom).  Also, I had forgotten to take my Warfarin the evening before so bleeding was not such a danger.

Fall number 3:

Since that fall and not because of it, I have joined Mince Monde. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have run the gauntlet of diet writers and organisations since I was about 16, so I’m not going to reiterate my much repeated determination that this time it is for life. Anyway, my membership of the slimming organisation is free, thanks to my local NHS authority, who want to help the overweight for, I assume, preventative reasons. Not only have I received 12 weeks free at Mince Monde but am entitled to 3 free sessions with a personal trainer and reduced rates, at a local gym – also for 12 weeks.

determination.jpg
Tried to find the source of this image. Thanks to this website https://www.nationoflights.com/the-shift-blog-2017/2017/11/20/ohhh-the-rat-race-i-am-in-and-the-greater-understandings-thru-it and also this video maker https://veblr.com/watch/361d909a7938/rat-gym-workout-most-funny-video?lang=mr. Many thanks to its creator.

The gym was the scene of my next tumble. I started my exercise session on the cross trainer. After the recommended 5 minutes, and breathing a little more heavily,  I dismounted and headed for the weights. Sadly, I failed to notice a small step down from the area where the cross trainers and treadmills sat, and crashed to the floor. There was more concerned rushing to help, with suggestions that I sit for a while and drink water. ‘I’m absolutely fine,’ I insisted, oh my ego, and scuttled off towards the location of my next activity, round the corner, to examine the damage.

I had bashed my knee, and my shin had landed painfully on the edge of the step, but I was still standing. I did worry a bit about the potential size of the bruise, and the impact on my already over-worked knee. Amazingly, when tested the following day, my INR (clotting rate) had dropped to 1.8, too low. I had been protected again.

The most ignominious part of the above tale is that the following day, when my knee felt as though I should be a bit careful, I went to the pharmacy to buy a tubular support bandage. They had many sizes, the largest of which, was XL. I rolled it over the damaged joint and pulled down my trouser leg to cover it. Through the fabric could be seen the deep channel encircling my lower thigh, where the top of the bandage dug into the fat and, it has to be said, it was bl**dy uncomfortable. Many thanks to the staff at Windmill Pharmacy for letting me try it on then refunding my money. Oh well, this time next year Rodney…

I hadn’t made the connection before but I started falling over in November 2015, see this post. I think this was about the time when I had my varifocals upgraded because my eyesight had become significantly worse (sigh).

I insist that alcohol and age were not factors.

Child Quote 15

I suppose, really, that Mavis should no longer be called a child, now that she is 18, however she is still my child and this is my blog so I’m continuing the Child Quote theme.

We are in the Easter holidays; both of us at home. This is a rare opportunity for me to have some quality time with Mavis – when she gets up, and doesn’t have her nose pressed to her phone. Today we went out for lunch and then to see The Greatest Showman. The film was not my favourite, but it entertained me enough to keep me awake, and Mavis enjoyed it, which is enough for me.

It was while dining that conversation led to my proposal that, as there was a bit of time, perhaps we could browse around a couple of clothes shops. ‘I feel like a change of look. Give myself a bit of style,’ I said.

‘You already have a style,’ Mavis replied. Aah, was this daughter of mine about to pay me a compliment?

‘Do I?’

‘Yeah, Batty Old Teacher style.’

I paused, thinking that I rather liked the idea of looking a bit batty. ‘I don’t mind looking like a batty teacher,’ I said. ‘Like Mrs Slopes?

‘No,’ Mavis corrected, ‘A batty old teacher. Mrs Slopes looked like a batty teacher, but you look like the kind of teacher that makes the kids wonder if you’re a witch.’

I think I prefer her when she’s ignoring me.