Monday, July 30, 2007

And Baby makes three.

Story contd.

Thank goodness for Aunt Rose! She was the spinster sister of Dodie, William’s mother and William had always been her favourite nephew. She used to drive an Austin 7, on the crown of the road, at a steady 15 miles an hour, yelling ‘Road Hog!’ at every car that overtook her. Settled now in Worthing she acknowledged that her driving days were over and had given the car to us. William started teaching me to drive but I got so tired of him hanging out of the car window, apologising for me, that we decided to leave my driving on the back burner until it was a more suitable time.

Off we went to Epsom hospital - William driving very carefully as I explained the baby no longer had that great cushion of water to protect it. At the hospital William was told to go home and that he could phone in the morning. I realise that mothers now want a ‘birthing partner’ to support them during the birth but it was unheard of then, and all I wanted was a nurse who knew what she was about; I had a job to do and I didn’t want any distractions.

I was put in a quite a pleasant room and told to get into bed. Then I was left alone and was aware that, from time to time, people looked through the glass panel on the door. Every time I got a contraction I could feel my face flushing with discomfort. This went on for some time with me stolidly deep breathing, and trying to relax in between. Eventually a nurse came in, examined me and was surprised to find I was fully dilated. She said she seen me lying peacefully (as she thought) on the bed and assumed I was a long way off giving birth. I was rushed down to the labour ward where a doctor had just delivered a baby and was ready to go home. Tough!

Throughout the birth he and the nurse were chatting, in a playful way to each other, except when they gave me instructions. Finally when my baby was born I was so exhausted that I sank back when I had meant to look at the baby emerging. My relief was short-lived when the doctor said I was torn and he would have to put some sutures in. There was just time to get a fleeting glimpse of my son and then he was whisked away.

‘We won’t bother with a local – she’ll be numb down there.’

I had been so proud of myself and now this arrogant clot of a doctor put me through what I can only describe as medieval torture and I screamed and sobbed. I have been wary of male doctors ever since and will always choose to have a woman if possible. The anger is still there although I no longer imagine attacking his nether regions with a large cutting needle to see if he was ‘numb down there’

At last I was back in the room with my son in a cot beside me. I took him in my arms and gazed at him. It was instant, deep, everlasting, unconditional love. He was long and skinny, pink and white with a silken down on his little head the colour of golden treacle toffee. We stared at each other. Such a serious little face with navy blue eyes. I expected they would change, and he did eventually have a deeper version of William’s eyes instead of my green ones. He clamped onto the breast to the manner born – no problems there.

When daylight came I looked out of the window and there below, on the forecourt, was William. His face lit up when he saw me and he waved violently so I could tell he knew the good news. The nurse told me in a disapproving manner, that he had phoned three or four times during the night. And why not? Now he had to wait for visiting time in the evening to see our son.

I went back to bed and my favourite occupation; staring at our # 1 son. This little scrap had changed my whole life and I was supposed after six months, to leave him in the care of somebody else? Not bloody likely!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Are we nearly there?

Story contd.

I did as much work as possible the first month and then it became difficult to hide my blooming-ness. Also I didn’t enjoy racing round town with luggage, so I told Paula I was booking myself out until the expected baba was six months old. It was a time for reflection and for seeing the family. Gran was getting older and not so eager to visit her daughter and family in the States, so to give Mum and Dad a break, I had her to stay for a fortnight. She really was convinced that her natural life span was three score years and ten, and she was almost seventy.

Maddie and her husband had a party at their house in Caterham and I saw Liam (Jamie’s brother). He was over from the States and told me Jamie now had a daughter and was living in Essex. Jamie had dropped out of my consciousness although I still had the odd dream about him. Later in the year Liam’s wife was visiting with her child, who was getting over German measles. Maddie asked if she could bring them over – she said I should be out of the danger period for harming the baby. I couldn’t believe she would even ask. As if I was going to take the slightest risk with my baby.

We didn’t have much in the way of monitoring in those days but I did go to relaxation classes and became a dab hand at deep breathing. Now I was at home every day I got the chance to meet the neighbours. At first they treated me as if I were something from outer space but soon realised I was an ordinary young woman, excited about my expected baby and I made some friends. William was just as excited as I was and we found the long, last months dragged interminably

My increased weight gave me back- ache and when Mum saw me waddling with one hand behind me, clutching my back, she said I needed a corset for support. So I got a horrid pink thing with laces and it really helped. I did have a chat with a midwife and told her I was worried about my waters breaking. She roared with laughter.

‘They’re not going to suddenly break, and flood Epsom Market love!’

I continued to gain weight. One was meant to put on a maximum of 21 pounds: 7 for the baby, 7 for the mother and I can’t remember what the last 7 pounds were for. At last the date arrived but no baby. By this time I was thoroughly fed up and wished I could change my mind and have it later on. After a further nine days I went to the hospital and they suddenly decided to weigh me – for the first time since the start of my pregnancy. They were horrified that I had gained over 4 stone and had gone from 7 stone 4ounces to eleven and a half stones. Clearly it was too late to do anything about it, but they said don’t eat any salt - and sent me home.

Mum had suggested I scrubbed the kitchen floor to bring it on but I was afraid once I got down I wouldn’t get up again. I decided to walk into Epsom from the hospital to get the bus home.

This was a strain – not only was I suddenly very tired, my stomach felt hard and tight as if it were going to burst and I found I was involuntarily grunting with the effort of walking. I got home about the same time as William and he told me to go and lie down and he would bring me some supper. We had an early night and I must have fallen asleep. Suddenly I was awake with this tight pressure feeling, pressing down on me and to my horror the bed was awash. The mid-wife was wrong – I could easily have flooded Epsom Market.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Cautionary Tale


I have just had the upsetting news that a friend who lives in the States has lost her retirement savings through a scam. Normally I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by warning you of such a thing; but everyone has their vulnerable periods and I have always thought my friend an astute business woman.

I think many of us in the UK have experienced the scam from Africa offering large amounts of money with certain stipulations and hopefully everybody kept well clear of them. It does help sometimes to have a healthy streak of cynicism. The mantra ‘Nothing is for free.’ And ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’ are wise words.

My friend believed she had won a large amount of money from an International Lottery based in the UK. There were no adverse reports on the internet. She was told the winnings were in the Netherlands and was given a contact name. It all sounded very professional. Over the next 9 months she paid various taxes and insurances, including certificates to say the money was not connected with drugs, terrorism or money laundering.

Eventually the money was transferred to an interbank in the UK and the final payment was required to cover ‘fluctuations in the exchange rate’ She asked her bank to check it out and make sure it was legal, and the answer was that she should deal directly with the interbank. Throughout she had been checking the internet for scam lists and now identified it as a Nigerian scam.

She has reported it to the Fraud Squad in UK but has heard nothing from them. She is not happy about the banks who, she says, seem to turn a blind eye to scammers. She has lost weight from the stress but is philosophical:

‘It could be worse- I count my blessings. I don’t have cancer, or a son in Iraq.’

Just be careful- it’s a jungle out there!

Monday, July 23, 2007

We’ll gather lilacs.


We'll gather lilacs in the spring again,
And walk together down an English lane,
Until our hearts have learned to sing again,
When you come home once more.
And in the evening by the firelight's glow,
You'll hold me close and never let me go,
Your eyes will tell me all I want to know,
When you come home once more.

Ivor Novello

Google can’t help for once. Who remembers the name of the Directrice of Pierre Balmain in the fifties/ sixties? (Daphne?) She was witty and friend to the rich and famous; Nancy Spain was a friend and Vivien Leigh used to stay with her and her husband Paul Emile, who Vivien dubbed ‘Polly Mill’. One of the house’s clients was the film star Kim Novak, whose favourite colour was lilac and Madame X – whose name eludes me said,

‘If she were sick she’d vomit violets!’

That’s an inelegant way of saying the theme of the wedding was lilac and it was so pretty. Fortuitously I had bought MTL a lilac silk tie so he blended in quite well. We thought the journey was bad until we heard about all those thousands of people stranded all night in their cars due to the floods. As it was, we arrived too late for even a bite at lunch time, so I braved the weather to buy a sandwich from a garage. Not what my hair needed just then. There was a jazz festival that evening with barbecue, so dinner was over an hour late. Not a brilliant start; we were the only wedding guests – the others were arriving on Saturday. We had a lovely chat with the bride and groom who were there preparing decorations etc. After a reasonable meal things got better and the hotel - which is family run -has its foibles but they really pulled out the stops for the wedding and all in all it was good value.

The weather did everything except snow and we were indoors most of the time apart from a photo shoot by the great cedar tree. The ceremony was non-religious but dignified and sincere and when the bride, dressed in ivory with an impressive train, walked down the equivalent of the aisle, there were quivering chins and moist eyes – and that was just the men. After, there were lots of photos and my heart stopped when the photographer fell heavily down the iron fire-escape. He carried on like the pro he was but I felt anxious about him. He assured me he was fine because he was a police dog handler!

After a welcome Pimms we sat in our appointed places with pretty place cards and the menu each person had chosen. The table was strewn with purpley sparklies which will be living in and amongst us for some time. There were little boxes of goodies and tiny bottles of bubble blowing liquid so we were constantly admiring each other’s bubble blowing ability.

Time flies when you’re having fun and the nicest part was sitting with children and grand-children and catching up and reminiscing.

P at 3am. I don’t remember taking my make up off.

MTL You didn’t!

P Why didn’t you tell me?

MTL You seemed very tired.

Don’t worry girls – I did - better late than never.

Sorry the photos are haphazard and not the best quality but I was having too much fun to be


I wore my hat for the ceremony. The bride's father asked my D in L who the 'classy dame' was. Ha Ha! Beats 'that old bat'!
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The bride's mother spilt coffee on her original outfit and had a day to find something that matched her accessories.

the groom's sister fashioned a parrot(the other member of the family called Monkey who couldn't attend)to decorate the cake.

Step-grand daughter and step-great-grand-daughter
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It was raining!

the groom told us they were going to get married last year but this little one started to make her presence felt

The bride's sister
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Best man - my son


Another grand-son and step-granddaughter
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This little girl was from the North East and looked after everybody.

Son and granddaughter

Grandson. When his band played at the Field Fest a girl threw a scarlet bra which landed on the Judge's table. When the judge held it aloft she shouted 'Give it to Tom M!'
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Friday, July 20, 2007



We are off to Wiltshire for our step-grandson's wedding. Pray for a sunny day please. Back on Sunday. Have a lovely week-end.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another Tom.


Thanks to my friend Tom I can now show the award given to Sam, Judy, Hoss, GG and Anna. He has also fiddled with my side bar and, for those of you who couldn't access him in the first place, Tom's Band - Anything to do with Super Heroes - is now just a click away (that's the other Tom - my grand-son) along with more friends.

I'm very impressed with Tom, my friend. He leaves tomorrow to do the second part of the South West Way. He has already walked from Minehead to Port Isaac and the next 400 odd miles will take him to Poole. The first part he did with his dog but found the taking of dog food an extra burden so is going it alone this time.
P. Will you blog about it Tom?
T (With a big grin) Yes now I've got something to write about.
As soon as his blog is up and running I'll let you know.
Keep safe Tom and I pray the weather improves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blogger Reflection Award

I had this comment from Kim (see side bar)

”I've given you an award over at my site. If you like it you can pass it on to 5 others you think deserve it.”

The other meme was the Blogger Reflection Award from Jeff over at Big Dawg Tales. According to the blurb, “This award should make an individual reflect upon five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and who have provided a Godly example. In other words, five dear bloggers whom, when you reflect upon them, you are filled with a sense of pride and joy...of knowing them and being blessed by them.”

As most of you know I don’t do me mes but this isn’t about me and I certainly would like to honour some of the great friends on my side bar ( and there are some needing to go on as soon as I can manage it.)

My five are as follows. I could easily name five more but must stick to the rules. If you don’t already know them, they are already on my side bar.

Gene Maudlin (Hoss). I have always felt a bond – we were born in the same year and he is a remarkable man who lives life to the full. He left his retirement home, and enjoys life with his beautiful wife, ignoring his frail health and keeps his many followers in stitches. He’s the brother I lost.

Kenju (Judy) a blogging kindred spirit with a busy family and business life but makes time to keep her many readers interested and amused and will always take time to explain some of the American nuances I’m not familiar with.

. The Apprentice (Anna) I was much moved when I read her book ‘Peeling Onions’. She is a gifted writer and photographer and has the ability to make me cry. She sent me a CD which included a song ‘Jamie’- the name of MTL in my story and it never fails to make me boo. hoo!

Sam Problem Child Bride. This is like trying to catch a piece of quicksilver. She is like a brilliant daughter with an incredible imagination and the ability to take you with her on her crazy funny flights. You have to read her and as well as this she is a staunch friend.

Gyana Gyal (GG) Again a rare and beautiful writer. It’s impossible to read her without hearing those rhythmic phrases which reverberate in your head and which transport you to a distant land with rum and coconuts and high spirits and tragedies. All of life she’ll tell you.
My husband knows all of them from my talking about them – they are part of my cyber family.

And the ones I have missed – you know who you are and I love you also.

For the 5 awarded:

1. Copy this bit of the post.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Place the award icon on your site

I can't seem to get the icon on my post. Please see it over at Kim's
Twins or a baby elephant - about three days!
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ice cold milk and green apples.

Story contd.

I was nervous about the visit of Paula and her husband. Quite apart from telling her I was pregnant and would have to break my contract; it was the first time she had visited and I had never met her husband. I wanted everything to be perfect. I had an excellent cleaner, so the house glistened with lavender polish, the brass and copper gleamed and the table looked a picture with starched napkins and most of Dodie’s silver. William was looking reasonably respectable in a laid back ‘I’m in the garden rather than the office’ way but when I came to get dressed I couldn’t do up my skirt. Panic!

The only thing I could think of was to safety pin the skirt and cover it up with one of William’s white shirts loosely belted over the bump. It wasn’t supposed to show for ages yet but no-one seemed to have told it. In my mind I was sure ‘it’ was a girl. She would be small, blonde and feisty and I called her Emma. Such a poppet!

When the car rolled up I got a shock; Paula’s husband was not at all what I expected. He was a good ten years younger physically, but looked like a man who worked in the City - with a tooth brush moustache, and had left his bowler hat and furled umbrella at home for a day in the country.. As it was the week-end he was immaculately dressed with discreetly checked shirt, cravat and camel waistcoat, thorn proof jacket, beige cord trousers and suede (brothel creeper) shoes. What was odd was the fact that they all looked brand, spanking new. I remembered that he was her second husband and she had had three or four children with her first husband.

Paula was her usual chaotic self, but she had made an effort with a hat, heels, fur coat and a voluminous silk dress. An odd couple. We greeted each other warmly, made the introductions and got them drinks before the inevitable gap in the conversation. I had seen Paula’s piercing look and as soon as she had tasted her G & T I blurted out:

‘We’ve got some news to tell you. We are going to have a baby in November.’

Paula roared with laughter and gave me a big hug and there were congratulations all round. Lunch was a success with wine flowing and the men talking about cars and how to get to A from B and MPG and bottle necks. After lunch it was sunny so we sat in the garden and I told Paula I planned to work as long as possible and after the baby was born nurse it for six months and then go back to work. We agreed that my contract would lapse during this time and then start again; Paula said she would vet carefully, any jobs in the coming months to ensure I wasn’t overdoing things and the day ended very happily.

I think, at the time, we both believed this would all come about but I had a faint worry about the fact I was showing so soon. Was I having twins or a baby elephant? I started to prepare a layette and bought tiny Vyella nighties (that opened down the back – of course), stencilled designs on the bodices and embroidered them, sewing lace round the neck and wrists. Suddenly I could knit and sew. Fleur came up trumps. With all her wealth she had stuff that had been in the family for years and I was now to use them and then hand them back again. There was a lovely cot covered in pink and white organdie, ancient cot blankets which I renovated with new ribbon, a lovely piece of swaddling cashmere and a playpen. It was the time of very smart prams a la ‘Princess ‘Grace of Monaco’ so I couldn’t face using the pram she offered which looked as if it dated from the year dot with a cavernous body and tiny wheels. Not in Epsom – I just couldn’t! Dear Fleur; I know for a fact her grand children are still using the ancient layette

William and I were blissfully happy – for the very first time. My only problem was indigestion which may have had something to do with my propensity for drinking ice cold milk and eating green apples at bed-time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007



Don't want to boast but I'll give you the toast of...Hertfordshire: 'ANYTHING TO DO WITH SUPERHEROES' WON THE FIELD FEST LAST NIGHT.

Tom M is my grandson.

Pat: Did Mum and Dad and A stand waving their arms in the air.

Tom: No they weren't allowed to - health and safety!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Here you have my dream in a nutshell; the simplicity, the Byronesque sea, the boat, the distant mountain - it's just so GREEK! How often have I sat on that spindley chair sippimg village wine and gazing at my spiritual home.

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I saw this on the island of Kythira. It's an ancient door panel which a local artist painted. It is now on the wall in Lottie's room - along with lots of icons. Lottie was my dear late sister in-law and was the first to sleep in that room after we moved here.
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I looked this up and it is Apollo offering a libation.
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Marbles

(This is Friday’s post early – family arrive tomorrow.)

One morning in Ithaca I suddenly found I was losing my balance. Clutching the sink where I was washing up I realised the dishes and the floor beneath me were all gently shaking. It turned out to be an earth tremor which measured 5.5 on the Richter scale. This was in the nineties; in 1953 the earthquake measured 7.8 and three quarters of the buildings were destroyed but only one person killed.

‘All the water was sucked out of the harbour and then a great wave came and we thought we would be drowned. I was a child and I did not mind when the ground shook- but when it jumped up and down…’ words failed Yianni; Ithaca’s most famous taxi-driver.

He took us on many exciting expeditions and although I had found Homer dull at school here the myth and legend became real. He had had many illustrious passengers in his Mercedes including Winston Churchill and Aristotle Onassis. He told me how two years earlier he had driven two British archaeologists, Sir John Cook and Miss Helen Benton who had returned to the scene of their fantastic discoveries after a gap of 56 years. He was in his eighties, she in her nineties.

‘Everywhere I took them’ said Yianni ‘they wept!’

Seventeen years later I understand how they felt.
The Charioteer with cute little bum.

Head of Charioteer. His eyes follow you everywhere
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These plates live in the kitchen

I'm Pisces so had to have this.
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This and the one below remind me of Picasso's girl with a pony tail - wonder where he got the inspiration?

This is a frescoe from the Palace at Tiryns. Lives in the back porch and is a bit battered

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I’m glad I’ve got my Marbles.


My Greek marbles that is – not to be confused with the sculptures the earl of Elgin removed from Athens to Britain in 1806. He was said to have rescued the sculptures from further risk. When the Parthenon was being converted into a church in the 5th century AD the whole of the middle section of the east pediment was removed causing destruction and many of the statues were deliberately defaced. Years back an Athenian shop-keeper demanded of me, that we British should return the marbles and I think he had a point.

My marbles were legitimately bought over the years and are treasured mementoes of a much loved Greece
Hygea - Goddess of Health. On our first trip to Greece we visited Loutraki on the mainland . When I saw her I had to buy her but was nervous of taking her through customs. However there is a metal tag attaced to reproductions to prove they are bona fide. Years later I saw the original in Athens Museum . Isn't she lovley?
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I love this boat. It is etched on a tile.
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My American sister in law asked me why I kept a hand made vase decorated with 24ct gold int the loo. It is now in the family room
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This has a Minoan feel so I probably bought it when we viited Knossos Museum in Crete

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Glad Tidings
Story contd.

So the resolution was made; a baby or bust in 1956. William was in complete agreement- by no means an every day occurrence – and we set about bringing ‘it ‘to fruition with gusto. We didn’t have pregnancy tests for years and years so after I missed a period I trotted down to the local hospital. Eventually they told me I was pregnant and then gave me a resounding telling –off; I should – they said – have waited at least a couple of months. I explained that, in my job, I often had to chase round London carrying cases laden with accessories and I didn’t want to risk having a miscarriage. They looked rather surprised that someone should actually answer back. Tough!

A month or so earlier I had had a shock when I fell backwards off a table. I was working with one of my favourite photographers; he was an expert colour photographer who had come down to London from somewhere north of Watford and we bonded. Sometimes he was like a bull in a china shop, but I found that quite rare and endearing. He told me that he and his wife used colour transparencies of me to put round their lamp-shades.

I can’t remember what the shoot was for but Jim persuaded me to wear shorts and sweater and balance on a chair which was balanced on a table As usual he was darting between me and the camera; tweaking and rearranging until he got the right shot and suddenly I felt myself going A over T backwards, crashed on the floor and passed out. I was taken to the nearest hospital and felt such an idiot, dressed as I was.

I was seen by a sweet doctor and I remember he had dark curly hair, freckles and a club foot - so I wasn’t completely out of it. After X-rays he said I had bruised my coccyx, there would be no permanent damage but I should rest for a few days. These were not litigious days and I don’t think it would occur to Jim that I could sue him; it certainly never occurred to me. He did however show me the series of photos which illustrated how he had pushed the chair closer and closer to the edge of the table with the inevitable results. The studio insisted on paying me the equivalent of two weeks work which I happily accepted.

Now I was pregnant I would take every precaution to make sure the little thing inside me was safe and sound. I was so happy I wanted to shout it from the house tops but Mum said not to - as nine months is such a long time and people would get bored with the idea. So it would be a secret. Ha! Fat chance! Overnight my whole metabolism changed and my personality. From being a nervy, edgy highly strung girl I became a placid, docile, happy cow. With the serenity came the avoirdupois and William had the wife he’d always wanted. If we could have lived on a boat his cup would have runneth over.

It was time to break the news to Paula. She had news for me. Ben Lyon - a famous American actor and his wife Bebe had a very successful show – ‘Life with the Lyons’ and on the strength of the Spotlight photo, wanted me for Richard Lyon’s girl friend. At the same time H M Tennant a well known London theatre management wanted me. Oh dear! I decided to invite Paula and her husband over for the day, the next week-end. Paula was delighted; she said they would love a day in the country.

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