25 September 2016


Someone asked me recently how I had coped with the war years. My reply was that I didn’t, I was too young - at least at the beginning. 

1939! I was five so the outbreak of World War Two didn’t mean much to me. I remember my Dad picking me up and telling me we were going to spend some time in another place, the other place being an air raid shelter. It was very exciting but I worried about my dolls, thinking they would be lonely without me there to play with them. My Dad reassured me, though, saying I could take the dolls with me.

typical Anderson Shelter
The shelter was in our own garden, I still remember the name Anderson Shelters but other than that I don’t recall much else. Well, I was only five. I remember the alarming sirens and my Dad carrying me on his shoulders as if we were playing a game, but what made the adults cheer was what they called the ‘all-clear’. That was nice; it meant I got to sleep in my own bedroom back at the house. 

Dad used to go out fire watching which I thought was very strange. I mean, he didn’t watch our fire at home, he just sat there and read newspapers. We did have a man come round yelling ‘Put that light out’ which I thought was a bit silly when I didn’t have a light on. I didn’t understand but realisation came in later years when we had to change our pretty curtains for blackout material.

I forget how old I was when I was evacuated, short term. It really meant that when Mom and Dad were working I had to go and stay with a pseudo aunt. She was a friend really, but kids always called other adults aunt or uncle. Mom was a bus conductress simply because all the men were doing war work and women had to take over their jobs. Dad didn’t go to war, but the firm he worked for was commissioned to make parts for the fighter planes... did I say my father was a carpenter and joiner? Making plane parts was very much war work so my Dad did his bit for the country even though it often meant working late into the night.
piece of shrapnel

Since Mom didn’t want to go in a factory she opted to go on the buses which meant early starts. Often she would start out for work while an air raid was still on ... I still have a souvenir of those days, a piece of shrapnel that fell at her feet when she was walking to work. She was lucky it fell at her feet, imagine the harm it could have done flying down from a great height. 

1940. I was six. By this time I was at school and eligible to be shipped off to Canada. I would have been in the next batch but something terrible happened to stop the whole thing. The ship (City of Benares) was torpedoed and 77 children lost their lives. The tragedy ended that particular evacuation programme. Disappointing to the youngsters who were geared-up to go, but it gave me something to brag about, as kids do. My young mind couldn’t absorb such horrifying news.  Childlike logic made me brag that not everyone could say they missed being killed on a boat to Canada. 

The house where I spent most of the war years belonged to ‘Auntie’ Carrie and ‘Uncle’ Fred. They had a son, Gordon, who was a few years older than me. His age gave him the right to boss me about and play nasty tricks and blame me for them. I remember one thing he did and that was to fill the toilet with toilet paper (the whole roll) and tell his mother I did it. Another hiding! I got more there than I did at my real home, and that’s saying something!

Gordon was fun when there was an air-raid and we had to shoot off to the air-raid shelter. He would look after me then because he was older and in charge. I think initially he had resented my presence in his home. Unlike my Dad’s garden shelter, this one was a large enough to accommodate several families. As the years went by we had parties in the shelter. Gordon and I became friends and would spent hours planning and arranging in advance so that the shelter would be ready for us and neighbours to have a whale of a time singing and laughing and making the best of the upheavals of war.

These days people ask me about the war years and I tell them it was fun. For me, it was, sadly not for others. But then, I was young; five when the whole thing started, eleven when it finished. I still remember Churchill’s announcement that we were at war and never want to hear those words again. If there is a next time it won’t be fun even for kids, of that I am quite, quite certain.

18 September 2016



Charlie is endeavouring to rid the world of mice! Quite often I have to remove dead mice, some half eaten, some not. Fortunately I am not tickle-stomached. However, and I know this sounds daft, I am against having to chase after a live mouse. Not through fear, you understand, just that I can’t move as fast as a mouse. 

Early morning, just after waking up, I was obliged to investigate the ‘thing’ Charlie was playing with. Yes, it was a still-alive mouse. Fortunately my appearance caused Charlie to run and the mouse to freeze. Grabbing a paper tissue I managed to capture the mouse and, followed closely by Charlie, took the mouse into the garden. Of course, I tossed it onto the garden where the miniature animal raced off, chased by Charlie - in my direction. Luckily, I managed to capture the mouse again which made Charlie curious. Thinking cap on... where to throw the mouse out of Charlie’s way. Surreptitious moves on my part fooled Charlie into thinking the mouse was somewhere it wasn’t which gave me time to sweep the mouse out of sight.

Half an hour later I was still watching Charlie trying to find it.


Is it any wonder my back is killing me? I woke at around 6 o’clock. Charlie usually wakes me around 6.30. Apart from peeping at the clock I was reluctant to open my eyes. I mean, I don’t have to get up early. There are no commitments that require my attention at an unearthly hour but Charlie doesn’t believe in late rising. I can understand that, the poor animal needs feeding after all said and done.  Normally I wake in a sleepy daze but it felt different this morning. I felt alert but couldn’t think why. Only then did I realise that Charlie was running around. I could hear him slithering on the floor in an obvious hurry. Oh, I prayed, please don’t say he’s caught something.

I guessed right ... there was a A MOUSE in the house, a very much alive and kicking mouse. Usually they’re dead when I find them but not today. I didn’t stop to think, I shot out of bed to join in the chase.

Charlie and I chased the creature, what a sight that must have been with me still in nightie and bare-footed. No wonder the mouse ran and, boy, could that mouse move! He darted about in all rooms, at the back of radiator, successfully avoided my grasping hands, back to the rooms, then back into the hall and under the radiator cover which inconveniently has spaces for the mouse to go in and stay in. I got the walking stick and prodded but of course the mouse shifted to the other end. I tried to lift the cover away from the radiator but it wouldn’t budge - it needs two people to shift it.

I needed time to think about this so I ambled into the bedroom to get slippers and dressing gown but only got as far as picking up the slippers (actually, for slippers read sandals) when I heard another scurrying sound. Sandals in hand I hurried back to the mouse’s hidey-hole and started poking about with the walking stick, an instrument far too long for the job in hand. Looking round for something with which to hit the mouse, if I should ever get near it, I remembered that in the next room - just feet away - was a long handled shoe-horn, made from bone and purchased in a far off land, and perfect for the job in hand. Hurriedly I went to get it. Little did I know that the mouse had jumped into one of the sandals and I was carrying it around. I think it was the scream that made him jump out and head back to his shelter.

That was where he met his end. When he ventured out of the hole I was ready for him. The minute he tried to come out I hit him with the newly acquired weapon. Wham! Actually I don’t know if it stunned him or killed him. Gathering the inert body into a strip from the kitchen paper roll I took him into the garden and threw him into a patch of long grass and weeds – while Charlie was still searching the house!


I was sad to find a dead bird, a baby greenfinch. The chore that time was to sweep up the feathers and discard the body. So sad. LIFE IS NEVER DULL IN MY HOUSE. I have since barred Charlie from certain rooms. Of course, first on list is my bedroom! I thought barring him from some areas might save energy - mine!

11 September 2016

The Phantom Ball Snatcher

Charlie - sunbathing
When pussycat arrived he was bombarded with toys, gifts from friends, neighbours and, of course, me. Some he liked, some he didn’t touch. Balls were his favourite playthings and I loved rolling them for him to chase after. But he always lost them. Truly lost. Cleaners and I have hunted every room in the house but can’t find them. 

I can see them now... one small red ball that had a flashing light inside, a fair sized furry green ball that had come loose from his scratching post, and a black one detached from a scratching play thingy, one he could get inside.

But the latest loss is a real life tennis ball which is an aid to killing pain in the bum. Seriously! Years ago a chiropractor recommended using a hard ball to kill a particular pain so Joe bought a pack of three yellow tennis balls. It did the trick and the balls were put away in a kitchen drawer for possible future use.
'yellow' ball

That time has now arrived.

The idea is to sit on the ball which has been strategically placed at the point of pain. It hurts but strangely enough it’s a nice hurt – if there is such a thing – and it works. Last night I sat on the ball until it ‘worked the pain’ and I almost forgot it was there. Then it was bedtime so I put the ball away ..... somewhere. Yes, another ball bites the dust!

I have searched every conceivable place where a ball might have rolled or been put but no joy. Every drawer in the house has been ransacked. The other two balls that Joe bought are where they should be and I would have thought I’d have put the one now in use in the same place. No!

the black thingy that
is scratching post and hidey-hole
All furniture, cupboards and pockets have been searched. Nothing! So it rather looks as if the phantom ball snatcher has been at work.

Dear phantom ball snatcher

Please note, I shall be using one of the other yellow balls for the purpose of killing pain, so if you have the audacity to steal that as well I promise there will be trouble.

Yours, frustratedly

PS ... and if you think I don’t know your real identity you are sadly mistaken.

The only bright side to the missing ball problem is that I don’t need it now. Chiropractor has diagnosed my problem as sciatica and the ball would only exacerbate the pain. Under these circumstances I forgive Charlie for losing the balls. However, I shall keep the remaining two balls safe in a drawer so that neither of us can lose them.

04 September 2016


Not only are my new neighbours the talk of other residents in the road, they are uppermost in my prayers. Yes, every night I pray that they will stop what they are doing and leave us all in peace.  Sadly, that is now impossible.

Two ladies, sisters, bought the bungalow next to mine shortly after Joe died and they couldn’t wait to make alterations. Three days after moving in they had all the lovely trees removed – not just cut down but REMOVED, roots and all. The hedge that divided our properties at the front was also removed, with lots of drilling and digging in the process. What was responsible for my privacy was removed and there was nothing I could do about it since I didn’t own a single leaf.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, work began on the actual building. The idea was to turn the loft into a bedroom, extend the kitchen, scrap what was adjoining the house and replace with a small conservatory type construction. What they didn’t tell me was the intention to have a window/door on the ‘loft’ reconstruction which meant my privacy would completely disappear. At one time I could have sunbathed naked in my garden, unseen by any neighbours. Now I can’t be so bold even if I wanted to – not with that window/door people can look out of and no trees to hide me.

I can see it with my own eyes now that a lot of the work is done, almost six months of it, and I can tell you that I am not a happy bunny. The bungalow no longer exists in its former state and I have yet to learn what the folk think on the other side of the house.

Every day we have been surrounded by workmen’s high-sided vans that park here all day. And cars! Some cars are parked all night and we have no idea who they belong to. Our road used to be so quiet, too ... but things were like that 25 years ago. Anything goes now!

An interesting point was raised by a few neighbours ... had planning permission been obtained for the work? Of course, I can’t answer that question but the view of many is that neighbours are normally consulted if work of this sort was given permission. Well I certainly wasn’t informed and according to neighbours neither were they. 

Oh my goodness, think of the upset if they were right. The intolerable noise that went with the alterations was bad enough, I can’t imagine how awful it would be if they were forced to tear it all down.