23 November 2014


Blogging friend, Denise, recently posted a picture of her young son which instantly reminded me of an episode concerning my own son. 

This story began when I walked out of a marriage and into single motherhood.

Life as a single mother was hard. Now, now, no tears please. Yes, it was hard both financially and physically but I got by. I had a secretarial job with Imperial Chemical Industries and my little son went to nursery … he started there when he was just under a year old. The nursery was in league with the council in trying (and winning) to keep my purse empty, along with the cost of food and clothing. Jon was a rapid grower and ate like a young horse, so the pennies were few and far between when all purchases were made.

We lived in a ground floor flat, half a house to be exact. The upper floor was occupied by an elderly couple who were complete saints. She couldn’t do enough for me and her husband couldn’t do enough for Jon. Whenever he could he would take Jon into the garden to play, giving me some breathing space. I really appreciated them both. They were always there whenever I needed help or advice and in those uncertain days I needed both. They had no children, you  see, so Jon and I were more like family.

The nursery was good, too. The nursing staff would take toddlers out at weekends to give mothers a break or arrange a short holiday on a farm. Farm visits lasted about four days which I thought was ample time to do some decorating. I had saved hard so that I could buy wallpaper and paint and if the lad was away for four days I could decorate the lounge at my leisure and without interference from a demanding child.

It was with great pride that I set to work. Singing at the top of my voice I stripped and papered to songs of the early 60s, The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Dean Martin, The Beach Boys, Procol Harem. It was great. The finished result was good too and I felt SO proud of my first ever decorating achievement. Jon was due home the next day so I was pleased the job had been completed on time.  

It was lovely to hear his excited accounts of all the animals he’d seen and played with. He was hungry, as always, so the minute we arrived home I went into the kitchen to prepare some food. It was while frying bacon that I realised he wasn’t in his usual place, watching and waiting for extra scraps before he had to sit at the table. And it was remarkably quiet. The sudden silence made me suspicious. Yes, it was quiet. Too flippin’ quiet.

Creeping into the lounge I saw him in action, running up and down the three-seater settee and stabbing his little umbrella into the new wallpaper. He thought it was great fun ... while I looked in horror at the holes and tears along the whole stretch of wall behind the settee. Not pinpricks, great chunks straight through the wallpaper and into the plaster. The room looked worse than it did before I started to decorate. 

All that money … wasted.

All that time spent decorating … for nothing.

Will you believe me when I say I felt like choking him?

I was in such a rage I knew I had to get help or I would have killed him. So I thrust him into the care of my neighbour and asked her to keep him until I calmed down. Once I was alone I cried until the rage disappeared. It took a long time before I was able to rationalise that a young lad had no idea that he had done wrong. How WAS he to know, for goodness sake?

I think of this often when I read about parents who beat their children and thank the good Lord I didn’t go too far. But I could have done had it not been for my neighbour. It must be hard for those parents who have no-one to turn to.

I remember those days when I hear about parents ill-treating their children. I don't condone it, heaven forbid, but I am aware that sometimes ... sometimes ... unintentional things happen that set fire to the brain.

I can't find a picture of Jon as a little lad but here he is as a big one. As you can see, he was very into physical training. Of course this was many years ago, at a guess almost thirty years.  

21 November 2014

Ayers Rock shots

Here are some more pictures taken by our daughter in the Ayers Rock region, I wish I could show more but unfortunately I was unable to save them for uploading on the blog. I wish I knew more about saving pictures... although I've never had a problem before.

The first four pictures show some of the wildlife in the area, plus a caged camel that looks as though it was ready to give camel rides. The rest speak for themselves.

18 November 2014

COMPUTERS and a bit about shopping ...

I cannot go shopping without a list and I don't think I'm the only one. It's not about age and forgetfulness it's about being organised. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

When I was first asked if I would like a computer (let me think when that was, Hmm 20 or so years ago) I complained that if I had one I wouldn't know what to do with it. 

'What on earth would I do with a computer?' I asked.
'Well, you could... er ... maybe ... write your shopping list on it.'

I wondered what was wrong with writing one with a pen or pencil, I mean I'd been doing it for years and it never bothered me or made me yearn for another way of doing it. 

Secretly though, the thought of having a computer at a (fairly) late age was kind of thrilling. Of course, I wasn't to know the anxieties I faced once I had one. Anxieties like accidentally removing programmes by a mere touch of a key. But you know me, ever thorough, I didn't just wipe odd programmes I wiped the whole thing. Computers weren't like they are now, these days they come ready formatted. Trust me to get one too early!!

It was the day before going on holiday that it happened. Big Son had warned me never to touch the key with the word FORMAT and I did avoid it, honestly. Until the day before we went away and I hurried to close down the computer and start packing, accidentally, in my rush, touching the FORMAT key. AND LOSING EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING, OMG! 

I felt sick the whole of the two weeks we were in Guernsey (Channel Isles) and I didn't/couldn't tell a soul what I'd done. How I got through that holiday I will never know but get through it I did and the time got nearer when I would have to deal with my problem. It's difficult to describe how I felt but wretched comes close.

As it turned out the problem wasn't half as bad as I expected. All I had to do was phone the Help Line and speak to a nice young man who talked me through the problem and got everything back where it should be. I never found out his name but if he was to read this and recognise the silly woman who removed everything from her computer he would know how much I appreciated his help. If you're looking in, Mister, please know that on that soul-saving day I loved you to bits. 

It's been a one way trip ever since. I'm now known as an expert on the computer which is a load of rubbish because I'm anything but. I just have an enquiring mind. One thing I always tell myself is this: whatever happens, there's always a way to put it right. If you get into a mess, work it out, and put it right. Easy!

Anyway, back to the shopping list. Yes, I did devise one ...  and this is it. It contains everything I will ever want to buy at the store and laid out in appropriate sections like freezer section, bakery, fish and meat, fruit and veg etc. Every week I go round the cupboards with my clipboard list and check what I need or don't need. As I run out of things I tick that item on the list. It's a permanent reminder and a useful thing to take to the shops. All I do is print off a few copies and clip them to the board. When one is complete with a week's shop I cut it in two halves, then fold it like a book. It takes up no room in my bag and all I have to do is shop. Easy!

So, yes, I might have thought it a crazy idea all those years ago but where would I be without my computer now? Where indeed!

15 November 2014

The Best Christmas Present

On Thursday 13 November I received the best Christmas present ever. It was early, of course, too early to wrap in decorative paper and red ribbon but that didn't alter the worth of it. Actually the gift was too precious to wrap, it was the sort that needed to be shouted about from hilltops and roofs, unwrapped and open to view. Would you like to know what my gift was? Okay, I'll reveal all.

As I said, the date was 13 November but it certainly wasn't an unlucky day. It was the day Joe had the ALL CLEAR from the medics. There was no sign of the cancer that had troubled him for a whole year. That is certainly something to celebrate?
There are still a few things to be sorted but when we're told that the cancer had disappeared anything else can be taken in a stride. 

He looks well, is eating well, has put on a little weight, and is able to go out more ... and is rather jubilant about his new status. And why not? 
Our blogging friends have been so supportive throughout Joe and I thought we should impart the good news -  most of all he wants to thank you all for your good wishes and sympathetic messages.