Tuesday, 31 October 2006

My dog, Billy

My little yorkie has a runny nose and is sneezing and snuffling.  He sometimes makes little snorting noises anyway but this time he seems like he has a full on cold, I am so worried.  It started Monday but seemed a lot worse when I got home from work last night.  Paul is taking him to the vet for me as I have to go to work today.  He is walking about ok and going out as normal and doing his business and eating his favourite treats.  Please keep your fingers crossed this is nothing too serious as he is 10 years old and my baby.

Terry x

Friday, 27 October 2006

Mummy's Memoirs Part 7

Here is Part 7, I hope you enjoy the read.

Grapes were grown all round Berndorff. At the end of summer the grapes would be harvested. In each village they would have a wine feast on different Sundays.

People would go to the selected village and there would be a fair and a market. The beer houses would be in full swing.

I loved the lottery best of all. It was like bingo. In the fair field a large platform was raised and above a large board with numbers coming up. Father would buy me a ticket for about sixpence. I had tremendous luck. I won little prizes but I also won for my father a bicycle, a sack of flour and a large ham.

But one rainy Sunday I got into trouble.

I had been down to the station. It was a new place to explore. Hunting around looking for anything worth finding I cam across a pair of clippers. Clippers for punching holes in tickets. I took them home, secretly using them only when Mother was not there. I knew she would not let me keep them. So I hid them from her.

When the weather was bad they liked going to bed on a Sunday afternoon. I did not want to waste my time going to bed. So I mooched around until I remembered my clippers.

I got them out and found quite a lot of things to make holes in but the trouble was I had to pick up the little rounds of paper that the clippers ejected.

So I left the apartment - I could not go out it was raining hard. I looked through the hall window hoping someone was out and as I did not mind the rain I would go and play with them. But there was no-one around.

All I could see were rows of potted plants people had put in the yard to catch the rain. I got a nice big leaf and pressed my clippers. It was even nicer to punch crisp leaves than paper. I thought the people would be quite pleased to find holes in a pattern on the leaves. They looked very unusual. They’d say, who made our flowers so pretty.

So I punched on to make everyone happy. Then I realised I was getting too wet. I would have to abandon my task, although there were still a lot of the plants left undone but if they found me wet there would be trouble.

Not long after I’d crept home and dried myself a knock came to the door. I opened it and there stood a group of women all looking cross. They wanted to see my mother. So I called Mother but Mother not speaking German got father out of bed too. The women were very nasty. I had been seen doing something to the flowers. I confessed under the duress of Mother’s shrieking and beating.

Father promised full restoration. So they got dressed and we trudged to the nursery and father bought similar flowers to the ones I had damaged. Mother took the damaged flowers and gave the owners the new flowers. One of the plants lived for about 20 years. My clippers were confiscated.

Mother was even nastier to me than usual. She would find fault with me the whole time. Once walking along a road I made her angry about something, so I ran away from her, she chased me. Across the road there was a barrier down across a railway line. It was two poles held together with lengths of ropes.

I climbed the barrier, the train having passed the barrier shot up and I was lifted with it high in the air.

Mother went wild. “Come down you little so and so”. I would not come down. After more threats and shrieking I promised to come down if she would not smack me. So she gave way, she would not smack me if I got down.

As soon as I reached the ground she pounced on me, slapping me all over. I got away from her, crying I shrieked I would take a knife to bed with me and kill myself with it.

Worse was still to come. When father came home he was told all about it. I had to bend over the chair, he took off his leather belt and gave me a stinging whack!

“Are you going to take the knife to bed with you and kill yourself?”.

“Yes, yes” and for every “yes” I got another one.

In the end I had to give in. I would not take the knife to bed with me.

“That’s what they think, I’ll show them”. I would take it this very night. They’d be sorry to find me all covered in blood and dead. Then they’d know it was all their fault.

But they watched me. I couldn’t get hold of a knife.

Now thinking about it, I can’t imagine why I had to it in bed, or anywhere else. I suppose doing it in bed was more dramatic.

Still things would go wrong. Mother once sent me to the butchers for beef. I looked at the counter and saw some beautiful red meat. When I gave the assistant my order she picked up some darkish nasty looking stuff. “No” I did not want that meat. I wanted the lovely red meat. So she weighed it up for me and I took it thinking how pleased Mother would be. What a clever shopper I was.

Mother opened the packet, looked at it and said “What’s this, this isn’t beef, this is horse flesh, take it backand get me beef. I can’t eat horseflesh. Horseflesh is only for the gypsies”. She packed it up shouting her head off. I tried to explain how lovely it was. It must be good. Better than the brownish stuff. She should try it, she would find out how lovely it was.

But she was adamant! Back it must go. I walked back to the butchers slowly. I was too scared to tae it back. Supposing they wouldn’t take it!

In the end I crept back to the shop, so humiliated I could hardly talk. The assistant didn’t seem surprised and to my relief she changed it without a word - whereas I had expected her to attack me too as Mother had done.

At school we were taken swimming into the open air swimming pool. I loved it. I found out you could go anytime but you had to pay. It was very difficult to get money out of Mother! Swimming - swimming what do you need swimming for? I have never been swimming and I am still alive. I had a money box, so I would put the knife in and rattle it and the money would slide down the knife and into my hand. Off I’d be. I couldn’t yet swim, so I would walk around the shallow end lowering myself in the water and pretend I was swimming. People would be walking around too. The latest style in swimming costumes was just one strap on the shoulder, the other would be left off hanging loose. I wore my strap down too - being very modern, wearing the latest fashion.

Then one day when my money box unbeknown to my parents was nearly empty, I was standing in the queue at the turnstile and I heard a boy say “I am with the school” and he was let in without paying. From that time on I was always “with the school”.

The money box raid was discovered. I did my bending over the chair but I had found a way to carry on with my swimming.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Terry x

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

A poem for my friend/Dentist

I have told you before about my dear friend Mary and how much I miss her.  A little while after she died I found this poem and it still sums up how I feel about her.  I found the scrap of paper I wrote it on tonight, I don't know who wrote it but I like it, so I thought I'd share it.

Once in a while you find a friend whos your friend right from the start

Once in a while the friendship's so strong it really warms your heart

Once in a while that friendship lasts your whole lifetime through

It only happens once in a while. Like it happened with me and you.

I am lucky that I have other good friends but she has left a big gap.

Anyway, onwards and upwards to more cheerful things.  I am off to another wedding this weekend.  Its a lovely girl I work with who is getting married in Surrey. 

Paul will stay home to look after Matthew and Rosie and I will be going on this adventure alone!  We have decided to book into a hotel for the night of the wedding, so I will get myself up early on Saturday to drive there.  The AA routemaster says it should take 1 hour and 20 mins, I think I will double that.  I always get lost and don't drive very quickly - I am a real weekend driver.  East Grinstead 'ere I come! 

The wedding is being held at a big country house hotel and I am sure we are going to have a great time.  No, I am not staying there as it is £175 a night to do that.  I am in the cheapie up the road.  There are a few others from work going, so I am sure we will have a great time together.

We are being very dental in this house at the moment.  Matthew is due to have his braces off next week, with a follow up the week after.  He has worn them for 3 years now and its very excited.  He had very goofy teeth before and also a few too many of them, so has gone through quite a bit of pain and discomfort over the years sorting them out.  He has really been brave throughout it.  Anyway, he has come home today from Kidsclub having broken one of his front teeth - eeek!  This particular tooth is an old favorite, having now been capped three times since he dove into a swimming pool with his mouth open!  I know it can be fixed (although the first time I was really worried).  We are so near having lovely teeth for him and now this.  I hope I can get an appointment for him before he gets his braces off, so at least he will have a completely wonderful smile.

I am girding my loins to do battle with the local dentist tomorrow and to beg them to fix Matthew's tooth quickly and on a convenient day for me!! Wish me luck.  They do normally see children quickly but they too have all these new rules - they don't see children every 6 months, now its only once a year.

Still on about teeth (yawn).  Apparently Rosie has a tooth growing at a funny angle out of her bottom jaw, which has only been noticed on xrays recently when we went for her appointment to be assessed for a brace.  I was  told that she did not qualify for a brace for her twisted top front tooth and so we must pay £1300 to sort it out!  Apparently I can set up a standing order, how nice.  I wonder why I go to work and pay all these contributions.  Anyway, I have been waiting for an appointment at the hospital for her about this funny angled tooth.  In July, I got a lovely letter from the Health Authority asking me to choose which hospital I wanted to use, then I waited 2 months before I got a letter to phone up to sort out an appoinemtn, and now I have been told that I had no choice at all and I have to take her miles away to the only clinic for it to a far off hospital!  Its crazy, why not just give me an appointment there in the first place and not waste my time pondering as to which was the best hospital for her, filling in the papers and sending them back?  Is it a mad system or what?

PS: still on the dental front, guess which coward is going on 4th November after a 5 year absence and is only being forced there because her teeth keep playing up?

Catch you later.


Saturday, 21 October 2006

Part 6 -Mummy's Memoirs

I was very busy earlier today, typing up Mum's Memoirs.  It is really fascinating doing it and I am so pleased that she wrote them, they are a wonderful legacy for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Mum would be 81 now if she had survived.  It was so sad and shocking the way we lost her.  She was absolutely fine and was on her 3rd visit back to Poland since she had left when she was a child.  I got a phone call one Saturday morning to tell me that she was not well and had been taken to hospital, within an hour I had another call to tell me that she had gone.  To think of it now still takes the breath out of me.  She was vivacious and strong, I thought she would live forever.  I felt so helpless, she was so far away and it all seemed like a nightmare.  I had always envisaged her coming to live with me in her later life.  It was my stepdad who was the ill one,  not expected to live for that long.  Mum and I had talked and we were going to put an extension on our house if anything happened to him, so Mum wouldn't have to live alone.  In the end he outlived Mummy by almost 10 years.  Mummy died in the same hospital she had been born in, theres a saying and a song isn't there, "the circle of life".  Mum certainly completed the circle.

So, having completely depressed myself, I am now posting Part 6 - enjoy xx


Soon the children in my class were preparing for communion.

I saw a lovely pair of shoes in the shoe shop. They were patent leather with flaps coming together in the centre over a cut out and tied up with laces with knobbles on them. I would get mother to come shopping and drag her to the shoe shop. I would point them out, keep telling her about them but she bought me a dull leather shoe with a bar going across. I was very disappointed. I was broken hearted when I saw them on Gise. It spoiled all my communion.

I went to the altar rail knowing I was going to be pure, a different person. But all I could think of was those shoes.

After the service we were taken to the photographers. We would have a photo taken together - Gise and I to keep forever as a keepsake of our great and wonderful day. We would look back in years to come when we were both ladies and remember that we had even been friends when we were little.

My heart was not in it. She had my shoes on. She had a step-father but she still got those shoes.

Mother was quite cross with my sulks by that time. She pushed me to the centre with Gise who was happy and pleased. I tried to smile but then I thought I must try to make myself look good if I’m to look at this picture forever.

While the photographer was getting ready I had to decide quickly which of my faces I would have. I’d practised for hours in front of the mirror my faces. I would not do the smiling ones because I had no front teeth.

I had a whole collection I could go cross eyed and pull my lip under. If I squeezed my eyebrows over my eye lashes all my eyelids stuck up with the eye lashes curled in between the folds of my eyebrows.

I could do my side face, turn my whole face until my mouth was on the side and only the side teeth showing - and frighten myself my speaking in a hoarse voice. Even with full side teeth I don’t think my mother would have liked that one.

I would make a face mouth turned round in the corner like a frog, jutting my tongue out in flicks. [Oh, I do remember her doing this face for us]

After thinking over hastily my repertoire I decided to let my jaw hang loosely.

The photo came out with me with a lantern jaw and Gise with her shoes looking lovely.

I don’t really like to look at myself and her remembering our great day!


[Mum is on the left in the photo above]

After the photographs and dinner we  (the holy ones) all set off together with the priest and attending ladies for a picnic.

We were given a bag of goodies - rolls with garlic sausage, cakes, oranges and sweets. A nice time was had by one and all.


[Mum went back to Austria a few years before she died.  She made her way back to Berndorff to the see the old ‘block’ (house) where she had lived. Guess who was still living there in one of the flats … yes it was Gise. They had not seen each other for over 60 years. Gise had never forgotten Mum either. Mum was overjoyed to find her old friend and spent a day with her, it was lucky as had Mum been a day later she would have missed her friend as Gise was going away on holiday the next day - it is all fate. Anyway, Mum went back the next year and they had a few days together. The little photos at the beginning of my entry, show Mum and Gise together again and one of them outside the Block, the same place that Mum lived as a little girl when she was friends with Gise).  Mum took some pictures of Gise’s flat when she visited her and the walls were all covered with antler’s horns. Now I must really search those photos so I can put that one in too. ]



Mum and Gise outside the Block (Mum on left) - see the marks from shellfire sustained in the war on the walls


Ahh, heres Gise on the left and Mummy on the right, back on the streets of Berndorff.


Well, I have messed around with all sorts of things to get these photos on and the last two I have managed to do with photo bucket. 

Have a great day everyone.

Terry x

Part 5 - Mummy's Memoirs

Here is Part 5, hope you enjoy.

We children used to collect may flies in match boxes, hoping to find the largest. We would compare them with whose was the largest, fattest, whose could walk the quickest. They were like big beetles, brown in colour with large soft wings. They would fly around and it was quite easy to catch them, they were so large and clumsy.

I would be busy catching as many as I could. Mother did not like them, so I was not allowed to bring them into the house. I would let them go in the evening, so in the morning the work would have to begin again in case I met someone with a larger collection of may flies than I had.

Strolling players and gypsies would come round. They would come and play musical instruments. There would be bears on chains that would dance. Great big bears, their mouths all dribbling. We would stand around but watchful that the bear would not get too near. Sometimes big boys would throw stones at the bear. They would run behind it pelting it with stones. The bear would make horrible noises, and I would be sure somehow he’d loosen his chains and get hold of me. All the people in the house would come to watch these entertainers. Then one of them would go round with a hat for a collection .

The town we lived in was called Berndorff which means the village of the bears. In the place where the last bear had been caught was erected a stuffed bear in a cage.

The town was surrounded by mountains. There was a big mountain just past the town, it was mostly forest and at the top was a pub where people would rest for refreshments. Children were allowed in pubs in Austria, food would be served. In the evening there was singing and dancing.

Big groups of yodellers would sing and zithers and violins were played. It was very gay.

We would go out on Sunday and walk all day. Some of the mountains had caves in them and big boys would climb inside them popping out high above and disappearing again and then coming out again until they reached the top of the cliff. I would want to do it too but mother would not let me.

At the end of Summer the women in the block would take great bags and go together to the forest. In a clearing there were blackberries, miles of them it seemed to me. They would pick the berries for the whole day.

I would help too, eating and picking until I was tired, then I would go into the Great forest with my friends. It was beautifully shaded with big pine trees, some of the trees had little pots under them to catch the rubber, a hole was made and a ridge of the bark was cut up.

There were beautiful flowers in the forest, pink bells like fuchsias and mushrooms but without Mother I would not pick any in case they were poisonous.

Great deer could be seen, you’d come of them standing stiff with great antlers on their heads. I used to long to stroke one, but as soon as you even flickered an eye they would bounce off.

The blackberries would be cooked and preserved for the winter. I don’t remember eating any other jam but blackberry.

My favourite food was large slices of rye bread with pork dripping and paprika sprinkled on it.

We would cut off the green tops of onions, pinch some of mother’s washing powder, stir it with water in a cup and blow bubbles with the green stalk of the onion. We played with hoops, yo-yos, tops. I especially liked a top with a ridge in the centre which would be put on a string which was held with sticks and the string pulled up and down, the top would spin. If it spun quickly enough you could even throw it into the air and catch it on the string again.

I went to kindergarten too in Austria but don’t remember much about it.

At seven children went to school. I was very excited. There were the school books to buy, pens, pencils, a wooden pencil box with a slide top for the pens and pencils. Ink and books for writing in. But the best of all was the dark brown leather satchel. It had straps of leather at the back, so you put your arms through each of the straps and you carried it on your back.

Everything smelled wonderful. I sniffed and sniffed. The leather of the satchel, the smell of the books, pencils and pen and ink. I don’t remember all that much of school. It was a tall old-fashioned building in the town centre.

Before school Mother would send me in the co-op shop to buy crisp rolls which we would eat with cocoa made with milk. She would cook that on a small mentholated cooking machine. The smell of the meths and cocoa rolls with butter. It was lovely. Then I’d be off to school.

One day I was throwing snowballs, I hit a girl. She was very cross and threw snowballs back at me but we became great friends. Her name was Gise John. She was my very best friend. She lived in the next block in our road. We were inseparable. I used to sneak my sledge out in the morning and she would be waiting. We would ride the sledge to school. One would sit on, the other would push and then climb on the back seat when the speed was fast enough. We would leave the sledge in the bushes outside the school. Mother had said sledges weren’t allowed in the school, and did not know I took mine.

Milk was brought for break-time but I did not like it although the small bottles looked so nice, I could not drink it. It made me feel sick.

I soon learned to read and write, the reading book was mostly fairy stories - Hansel and Gretel, the goat with the seven kids and the wolf etc. I would read and read. I read everything I could get my hands on.

One day a piece of paper was put through the door. I read it eagerly, you could pay so much a week to be cremated. Easy terms. No worries to relatives when you died. It would all be paid for.

I could not understand it. What was cremated? I rushed upstairs to Frani - “what is cremated?”. Why would the relatives have worries when you died?

“Burn you”! I could not believe it! Supposing you were not really dead, what would happen then?

Even if you die your soul still lives, if they burned your body the would die. I was horrified. I went cold and numb all over. I had not thought of death for so long. I could not die. I would not be burned. I remember going to the cemetery, there were apart from the graves walls with little doors on them with the person’s name, date of birth and death engraved on them. A little stand or rack to hold flowers in. I used to wonder how small the little cupboards were but decided they must hold very tiny children.

Now I knew. They held ashes in a vase. If their relatives went abroad they could be taken out and taken with them.

I shuddered! For weeks after I used to lay in bed and think about dying and being burned. I’d see the coats at the back of the door moving and I knew it was the devil after me, trying to make me die. I’d scream and my mother and father would come and take me into the kitchen and give me bread and milk. Then father would carry me into the bedroom and put me into his bed.

I would turn my back to him and he would hold me. I would talk until I was tired then say “I’m going to dreamland, dream of me”. So I would fall asleep but every morning I would be back in my hated bed again. The clothes on the back of the door would be clothes again. I was very good for a long time, to show them if I died I was too good to burn.

It seems my mum was fascinated by death at a very young age!!!

Catch you later.


Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Paul O'Grady

As some of you noticed I deleted my entry about him last night.

I got an email last night from the TV company, and it said that Paul would not be doing any shows because he had a week off and that various guest presenters would be covering him.  The email didn't come until 10.30ish and I thought omigod, how could they let me know so late.  Poor Audrey over the road who I was going with was fast asleep and I was really dreading having to tell her that she would not be seeing her beloved Paul O'Grady after all the excitement and anticpation over the last few weeks.  She has not been well either and then her brother in law has taken ill, so its been up and down whether it would be ok for her to come anyway.  I knew she really wanted to go as he is her idol although it seemed like all the elements were conspiring against it.  But  ... when I last spoke to her last night, she was raring to go, had got her hair done and had planned her ensemble!  We had made our arrangements final and we were leaving early, so we could fit in loads of other things too as she hasn't had a trip up to London for quite a long time.

So, I sent a terrible email to the TV company, ranting and raving that we had been looking forward to it, how could they not let us know earlier, that my friend would be so terribly upset etc, etc.  I then sent my sister an email carrying on and also I then posted an entry on my journal ranting on and on!  My husband refused to speak to me any more about it as I was being boring - ooooh!!

Then .... I looked at the email again and then checked my tickets ... the dates they were talking about were next week.  Well my hot flush faded as quickly as it had come.  We were safe  ... it was next week that he wouldn't be there so we would see him after all.  Husband's comment was "silly cow".  I was past being upset by name calling though. 

I hastily deleted my entry with very red cheeks and then sent an email to my sister ... oh what a embarrassing moment, eh!  I then sent a really grovelling email to the TV company but checked the tickets and saw they had no numbers or anything to identify me personally, otherwise I think they would have said "stop that woman", she can't come in.

After all the excitement, I couldn't get to sleep so sat up until 1 a.m. and boy have I suffered today because I had to get up at 6.30 to get the kids organised for school.

And did we enjoy Paul O'Grady.  Not 'alf!  Audrey even managed to get his attention by waving her Liverpool Scarf in the break and he blew her a kiss, he made her a very happy woman. 

She did marvellously today - we have been to Oxford Street where she bought some new clothes from BHS and then had a little make over with make up in Debenhams. 

We then had coffees from a small cafe in a little side street off Oxford Street where they had the cheek to try to charge us a discretionary service charge of 10% (making the cost of two coffees almost £6 and the waitress said we had to pay it when we refused!  I pointed out the word discretionary and she didn't seem to understand it!  Then she got her revenge as she didn't bring the sugar I had asked for!! The ladies on the next table took the charge off too, we almost caused a mini revolution!  The other ladies gave me their sugar, so I was happy in the end.  Did we pay the charge, NO!  I would have probably given a tip if it wasn't forced on me. Hmmphh.  Audrey made me giggle when she asked those ladies if they were going to see Paul O'Grady too! 

We then took a taxi to Covent Garden as I thought it best to give Audrey a bit of a break from the steps in the underground but it was a bit of a problem getting her in and out of the taxi.  I never thought but if you are a bit stiff they are really hard to get in and out of.

We had a lovely meal at Maxwells, my favourite restaurant there.  We had seats outside and people watched.  We had a lovely waiter, who couldn't have been more pleasant and sweet to us and he was rewarded with a very nice tip.  See we are not that bad really.

We had a little wander round and I was surprised that not many entertainers were about, only a few jugglers and people pretending to be statues.  Even the little market that is normally full of bric a brack was full of punky things but I was pleased to find a little red and black jumper amongst them which I knew Rosie would love (she is a Beano fan).

We then made our way back to Covent Garden Tube.  Audrey was full steam ahead after her lovely meal and rest.  We decided to get off at Shepherds Bush Tube Station and to walk around to the Television Studios near White City Tube Stn.  We had a pleasant walk, stopping in a charity shop on the way!

We got to the TV Centre about an hour earlier and I was surprised to see a massive queue. It seemed we were the last ones there for a while and I wondered how long all these people had been queuing?  I was shocked that we only just managed to get in.  Some people were told they couldn't come in as the capacity audience had been reached.  I felt so sorry for them but when I checked the back of the ticket I realise they had covered themselves for the event of there being too many people.  So the golden rule is get there very early if you are going to one of these shows.  Apparently they want a full audience and always send out more tickets than seats in the studio, so there are always some disappointed people. 

Jade Goodey was on the show and I like her so was very pleased to see her.  She looked absolutely stunning, she is really pretty.  She has a cute new hairstyle and is really slim although she still has big boobs. I watched Jade's PA programme the other night and she really has lost a massive amount of weight.

There was also a chap on that does something called River Cottage and was talking about eating animals testicles but I found him very boring and could feel myself nodding a bit! 

Paul O'Grady was charming and he is a complete professional and I really enjoyed the show.  He has a sweet little dog who was on earlier in the show and it was wagging its tail enjoying itself.  I can't imagine my dog liking being on there when everyone claps and makes a noise.  He would be really frightened.  As I had never seen the show before I didn't even know how long it was going to go on for but I think we were there for almost 2 hours.  I also think the show went out live today so if anyone saw us we were sitting at the back of the audience.  I think Audrey waved her scarf around a few times and she looked very glam with her new make over!

We were really lucky getting home.  One tube to Liverpool Street and straight onto a train back home.  We were both back indoors with our feet up by 7.40 which is not bad going as we left the TV Studio at 6.15!

Anyway, off to rest now.  Next time I get an email from anyone about something I am going to do I will check the date carefully before I scream.

Catch you later.



Sunday, 15 October 2006

Putting the big photo on again

Hope this is clearer but as I can't control it, I'll delete this photo soon.  Mum is the one in the pretty dress, with lace on the collar in a v shape, third row back on the right, she is standing.  Ahh she was so pretty.


Mummy at school

Heres a picture of mum, standing three rows back, she is third from the left with the lovely patterned dress with lace in a v neck collar.

I tried to post this on the last entry but I just couldn't control it.  Thanks Linda for the new advice, it seems I am not that great at controlling anything here at the mo!!  I feel really thick.  Trying to put this one on and it just goes in a separate window and I can't get hold of the corners.  I thought it was because the last entry was too large that it went in the separate window, but here it is doing it again, so I am just going to do this as an add picture although it is harder to see. 





Mum's Memoirs - Part 4

I hope you enjoy this part of mummy's memoirs - I did.


The summers were lovely. I could not wait after the hard winter for the day when the sun came out and I could take my shoes off and go barefooted. It was so thrilling going down the freezing concrete stairs, the stairs growing colder and colder under my feet as I went down to play. Then the stones in the yard! Every stone seemed to cut a fresh wound with every step. I would stub my toes on anything but I would not put my shoes on. It would be heavenly to sit down and give relief to my feet but this was what I had waited for so long, pleading with my mother, refused so many times. The pain was really part of the pleasure.

After a few days I forgot my feet. I only put my shoes on to go to church. Then the shoes were agony, hot and tight. The relief of taking them off and letting the warm air flow and calm the ache.

The washing in the house was done in a communal wash room. Large concrete tubs with fires underneath would boil the clothes, then the clothes would be put in large wicker baskets and carried down to the river for rinsing. A hut ran across the river with half the floor cut out and a ledge. Ladies knelt along the edge and opened the clothes to let the river water rinse them. I wanted to help too but mother would not let me. I would fall in and no-one could swim to get me out. But I kept on trying to join in when she wasn’t watching. When she caught me at it I would get a big thump and I would run out of the hut screaming. One day after a extra hard wallop I ran out crying and bumped into a tree with my nose. I thought I’d broken it. I was stunned! I ran back to mother but she only gave me another smack for not looking where I was going. After that I did not bother going with the washing. It was useless, she would not let me help her and I got more smacks there than at anything else. Mother was always short tempered. She was not well, something to do with her stomach. She was always taking medicines. She could not go to the toilet. I think it was around that time she became a senna pod fiend. There were always cups of senna pods in water. She would not eat and was very thin.

[After granny died, we filled a whole dustbin with her prescription senna pods].

I was thin too. I was not interested in food. Lunchtime I was cooked special soup made from bacon bones and pearl barley. Pearl barley was good for me to restore my appetite. I just couldn’t bear it. The soup would be put down in front of me as first course. Great big plate of it. If I did not eat it I would not get anything else and I would not go out to play!

I would get a spoon, and in desperation put it into my mouth. The pearl barley would go round and round in my mouth but I could not swallow it. The strong bacony taste would make me feel sick. I would starting retching - father would hold my chin and command me to swallow it. The next spoonful would take even longer and tempers would get shorter. The soup would get colder, I would end up crying, looking at the pattern of the old table cloth I would blubber away. I still remember the blue squares of that cloth with flowers within the squares with wooden pieces nailed around it to keep it from fraying. I would sit there for hours, until I found they had lost interest and I would sneak out when they weren’t looking.

Their friends would praise their children to me. How much they ate, and how strong they were. They made me feel bad that I did not eat big plates of soup like their children. I’d think I can do it - until the next meal.

I was a great trial to my mother. She seemed to have no understanding, whatever I did, it was wrong, nothing made her happy. She was always downcast and miserable. She would not let me go out to play if she could help it. I used to look out the window after the rain and see the children making dykes out of the mud and die to get out, I’d beg her to let me go but she would get an old shoe box and pieces of material to make a bed of it and coax me to play with it. I’d sit at the window watching the children, pretending to play with the box. She would get flour bags made of cotton, on which I would draw flowers and patterns. I was quite keen on embroidering them and armed with the flour bags and embroidery silk would say I would much rather sew them in the yard with the sun. So she would come with me. There were wooden benches in the yard. The yard was big. The houses were built in a square around the yard. Around the outside of the houses there were gardens allocated to the tenants. In the road grew walnut trees and in the autumn whole families turned out to knock the walnuts down. These were gathered and shelled and stored for the winter in the lofts which were also used for drying clothes when the weather was bad.

We had two rooms, the windows were double. In the winter it was very cold. When we woke up in themorning the snow was higher than men. Tunnels were built where people could walk.

I had two great ambitions at that time. Wellington boots with zips up the side and a sledge.

I got the boots and the sledge for Christmas. I was so thrilled. I took the boots upstairs to show Frani. Her lover was with her. He too showed great keenness for my boots, pulling the zip up and down and making a great fuss of them. Then he asked me could he have them. I had thought how wonderful he was to appreciate them so much as I did but when he asked me for them I was stunned. How could I refuse? I said he could have them, hoping he was joking and would not take them at all.

He put on his coat and hat, put the boots under his arm and said “Good night”. I heard him going down the stairs. Would he come back? I waited listening for his footsteps to return. He did not come back. I shot to the door, down the stairs, out of the house and then I saw him, I was sobbing with fright that I would not find him or my boots.

By the time I reached him I was howling noisily. He turned round and saw me. I cried “I want my boots”. He gave me them back and we both returned to the house. They all thought it was very funny. I liked him.

On my sledge I would spend hours on the hills. At first even the smallest ride would fill me with fear. After a few rides I got better and bolder, higher and higher I would climb, until I reached the highest part of all. Even then the slide was not steep enough. I found another higher hill with dips in it and I would spend hours and hours on it. Once I crossed a lake with big hills surrounding it. I climbed to the highest hill, lay on my sledge and down I went. When I reached the lake the sledge did not stop. It carried me round and round. I clung to the sledge praying it would not overturn, I had never gone so quickly and I was very frightened.

After a few goes and when the sledge overturned I got a few bruises but even that became tame. But by the time that passed the winter would be nearly over. I was quite cowardly and each winter I would have to go through the same process. The courage I had had the winter before had gone, even the small slides would be frightening.

The spring would arrive, with Easter. In the shops on display weeks before were Easter Rabbits made from chocolate. Spring lambs made from white and pink sugar with sugared flowers on the lamb’s head, they were very beautiful. Small speckled eggs with cream inside were the only Easter eggs made.

Mother would boil eggs in onion skins - they would turn a beautiful orange brown. Easter morning the table would be set with the brown eggs in the centre, salt on a plate. The eggs were taken in the hand and we would crack them against each others. It was a great thing if you happened to have such a hard skinned egg that everyone else’s egg cracked.

Then after Easter on Sundays people would go for long walks into the country. Miles and miles. Then they would settle for picnics. Big baskets of food would be taken and lemonade for the children, beer and wine for the grown ups.

There would be music, harmonicas, zithers and even a fiddle. Most of the men wore lederhosen. Short leather trousers with embroidered braces, long grey socks and a pork pie hat with a big shaving brush on the side.

Everyone would sing. The yodelling was fantastic. I’d yodel as loud as I could but mother didn’t like me doing it, so I would keep out of her way. Later in the afternoon, rested with fortified wine and beer, they would dance.

In the early evening we all would wander home. Father would have to carry me. I used to be too sleepy to walk.

Saturday, 14 October 2006


Well, it still looks like a wedding photo to me.  Anyway, how can I make these pictures appear smaller as they are coming out bigger than the actual photos, so I need advice urgently.  Thanks a lot.


Photo mentioned in Part 2

Well, after a lot of fiddling and carrying on, I have managed to scan a few photos in.  Here is the one I referred to in part 2 of mum's memoirs.  Mum and her parents are on the far right.  I have searched the house for this and it was in my little girl's photo album .... argh!



Hope you find it as interesting as I do.  As I said before, I thought she was at a wedding.  PreviewShe is on the far right, leaning on her mother's knee.  Her mother doesn't look that thrilled either.  Her father is standing behind her mother.  Its all as she says, hair curled and looking a bit miserable.  Ahhh. 



Being technical

Linda has tried to help me on this as I am trying to insert photos with my journal.  Now I find my printer/scanner isn't working - arghh!  Oh, well, lets hope I can get that sorted out before I post the next entry of my Mum's memoirs.

Anyway, I have found a picture to try to put on here.  Its quite a sweet one.  Its me and my brother, Peter, many years ago in our little paddling pool.  The dog is Tammy, a dear little dog we had whilst we were growing up, who used to come everywhere with us, even up and down the big slide at the local park.  She used to be so funny, all the men would be playing football and in she'd go and steal their ball!  Ahh, happy days!  I hope I can manage to get this picture on.  Fingers crossed and here we go.







Catch you later,Terry


Friday, 13 October 2006

Reading and Liverpool

I am really a bit of a bookworm but nothing too heavy.  A War and Peace Girl I certainly ain't!

I do like reading autobiograpies but have a particular love of novels which take place from the 1950s onwards.  I am not keen on historical novels.

I thought I'd just mention a couple of books I had read lately as I would recommend them for a good read. 

Firstly  I read Olivia Goldsmith's "Wish upon a Star" recently.  I really enjoyed it, it was an easy read although a little far fetched at times.   The story starts off in Manhattan and then moves to London.  I was really sad at the end of the book to read that it had been Olivia's last novel as she had died shortly after completing it.  She was American and it seems she really loved London.  She wrote "The First Wives Club" and in total she wrote 11 novels, so I will have to catch up on the others.

At the moment I am reading "Kitty and her sisters" by Maureen Lee.  Maureen Lee came from Liverpool and all of her novels are based in that area although I believe she lives in Colchester, Essex now.  I first bought one of her novels when my husband, Paul and I took a weekend trip to Liverpool.  It was great, we had afternoon tea and cakes at the Adelphi, which is a very famous Liverpool hotel and then we took a ferry across the mersey from Albert Docks - just across the way from the famous Liver Bird building, which I think is the headquarters of an insurance company.  Of course I had to sing that song and then to my surprise they played it over the tannoy too.  Paul and I are such Beatles fans, and it was such a thrill for us to be there.  We went on the magical mystery tour bus with a lot of Japanese tourists and we went to all the houses where the Beatles had lived and had a wonderful tour all round, past "Penny Lane" and then on to "Strawberry Fields", each time all trooping off the magical mystery tour bus (of course it was bright yellow!!!) and then back on again.  Then we took ourselves off to the Cavern, where I almost fell down the stairs.  It was a tiny place, and it stank of pee! Mind you, we can say we have been and it was a wonderful weekend.  Anyway ... I have gone off the track here.  Maureen Lee - her books are wonderful.  I bought my first Maureen Lee book at Albert Dock from the RNLI shop where they were also selling other things from Liverpool apart from theRNLI stuff.  It was called "Stepping Stones".  I knew from the first few lines that it was my sort of book.  She is one of my favourite authors and I can highly recommend her.  I am thoroughly enjoying "Kitty and her sisters" and keep nearly missing my stop on the train. Be glad when I blimming finish it!

Coincidentally, my good friend Audrey (she is a bit of a mum figure to me and has been like a gran to the children) is from Liverpool.  She is 74 and is mad keen on Paul O'Grady and I have managed to get TV tickets for next Wednesday at White City to see him record the show.  I haven't seen his show as its on when I am at work but she watches it faithfully every week.  She says she is going to make a big badge so he will notice her!  She hasn't been too well lately and I hope she will be well enough to go as we'll have to take the train and tube.  She is a great girl and I am sure we will have a great laugh.  She is very loud and I bet if we do get there she will make sure he stops and speaks to her.  I think the show is televised a week or so later after recording so I'll let you know when it will be on.  I do hope he is not too up himself and is nice with the audience as she will be disappointed in him otherwise.

Catch you later.


Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Mum's Memoirs, Part 3

Part 3 of my mum's memoirs

I'd like to say thanks for the comments.  As I have said previously I know my mum would be thrilled to know that others are enjoying these.


Mother would spend hours gossiping with the neighbours. She liked Mrs Shefayk best. They had several daughters who crocheted for a living and made hats in a room at the top of the house, they would let me watch them. They had models of heads without faces and draw the crochet work over it and stretch it, pressing with an iron on a damp cloth.

Frani and Sofie did not earn much. Frani had a lover. A married man who was always visiting them. His hair was thinning and the front had long bare ridges going up. I used to wonder about his hair. Perhaps he was born with it like that or perhaps it was shaved. If I were him I wouldn’t have it like that. I couldn’t think why a pretty girl like Frani would want a lover like that. He was quite old, nearly as old as father.

I was quite fascinated by hair at the time. Mother wore her hair in a bun at the back of her head. She would take out all the long pins, and comb it, then plait it, then fold it round and round until it was a bun. Then those pins would go in. But where? After giving the matter a lot of thought I decided she must have holes in her head where the pins would fit.

At Xmas time there was great activity. The ladies all went round to a woman friend’s house who made chocolate for them. The chocolate was cooked from cocoa in a big pot. A large zinc bath would be brought into the kitchen and filled with snow. Little fancy forms would be laid in the snow and the chocolate spooned into the forms where it would soon freeze the chocolate. When it came from the forms it was lovely iced chocolate, cold and crisp.

St Nicholas and the devil would come around before Xmas. The devil was terrifying. All black fur with horns and a black tail, so long it was held up in his arms and chains to chain bad children to him to take to hell! He also carried a bundle to twigs to beat the children if the parents told him they were naughty. St Nicholas was all golden and white with a long white wavy beautiful beard, a bishop’s cap on his head and a staff like a shepherd.

The devil came first rattling his chains shrieking “Are there any bad children in this house?”. I would shake with fright! Mother would push me to him and he would ask me had I been naughty? Had I not listened to my mother and father? Did I swear? Hadn’t I gone to church on Sunday? He would try to take little swipes at me with the birch. I would solemnly swear that I had been very good, always listened to my mother and father and went to church and loved God, as I had been taught to say.

Then St Nicholas would push the devil aside and praise me for being so good. He would not let the devil take me. I was too good for him. So good had I been that he gave me apples and oranges and sweets.

Then he would tell me to be very good the next year, or even better, for next year he might not be able to stop the devil taking me.

It was quite an ordeal. Not like the tame English Father Xmas.

At Xmas we would decorate a large Xmas tree, right up to the ceiling from the floor.

Next morning I found a doll in a box beneath the tree. She was beautiful. Her name would be Emily. The most beautiful name for the loveliest doll. She had a china head with real hair. In fact mother’s black hair that she had cut and made up into a wig by a hairdresser. She had beautiful blue eyes that closed, a red open mouth and white teeth. Mother would not let me play with her all the time. I would have to put her back into the box and put it into the wardrobe.

I would remember her sometimes and with a sinking feeling think she must be dead. I could not remember when I had last fed her. I would get her out of the wardrobe and stuff food down into her mouth - eggs and pieces of bread. Then I would pour milk into her and I would feel at least she would not die.

Hope everyone has a nice week.


Sunday, 8 October 2006

Mummy's Memoirs - Part 2

PART 2 - Elfreda Robak - born 5.4.1925

I had another day off school. I had bought my cake, a little girl I knew bought one too. So, we sat on a seat outside the bakery and ate our cakes. We decided it was too late for school. So we wandered around. was When we came into our yard we noticed the big rubbish bin. It took up one side of the yard. There was a ladder up the side and a chute for the rubbish to be thrown down . We climbed the ladder and slid down into the rubbish. We discovered all sorts of treasures and foraged around for hours.

It got quite dark, we had been sitting ‘reading books’ when we heard the shoutings. They were calling us!

My mother had told me not to go near the rubbish dump. We were both very frightened. Too frightened to let anyone know where we were. So we id in the darkest corner so no-one would see us. The shouting went on and on.

Then someone came down the chute and we were found.

Mother made an awful fuss and escorted me to school for a long time.

I must have been a great trial to mother. I used to go to the church where a lot of old women sat begging. I made them come home with me, telling them that mother had invited them to at. Mother would be quite shocked on finding me with these dirty bedraggled ladies on her doorstep. I’d say “I’ve bought Granny home to tea” but she would make them tea and give them something to eat.

What used to annoy her most though was when we would go to Mass in our best finery. I used to call out to the old women “Granny, Granny”. My mother would try to tear me away in case anyone thought they were her mother.

We went to a wedding. I met a little boy, Lusiek, and we decided we would get married too. We walked around with our arms around each other telling everyone that as soon as we were grown up we were going to get married. They all would come to our wedding too.

Lusiek and I would often meet when out shopping with our respective mothers. We would always assure each other about our marriage. I often now wonder what really would have happened if I had stayed in Poland.

It was not to be. When I was five great plans were soon in progress to go to Austria. Father went six months before. He was accompanied with a friend of his, Joe Mendrys.

When the applications for passports etc., were underway it was found that I had been christened Alfred, sex-male, there was a terribleto-do.

All boys had to register for military duties at 18. It took a long time to get the records straight, In Poland births were registered in church during the christening. The sacristan made out the birth certificate. He was a friend of the family who had started the christening celebrations at our home before the christening, so must have been quite drunk by that time. Where they got the name Alfred from, I don’t know and haven’t been able to find out.

[I think mum glossed over this a bit. I wouldn’t know but I would have thought her birth certificate more important than her christening certificate. After her death, I actually managed to get her original birth certificate (bit of a story there too) which showed no father, but had the adoption details on the back - it was an official document and strange that they went to through official channels considering it was 1925 when mum was born and that Granny was illiterate, it must have been my Grandad behind it. Her birth mother’s name was given as Kazimiera Jarzinska and my mother’s name as Alfreda. On the back of it, it shows the adoption details but also amends my mother’s birth mother’s name as being Helena and not Kazimiera. How strange is that?] My mother had never seen this certificate but on that club wrapper when she wrote her birth mother’s name it was “Helena Jarzinska”. She was given this information by her cousins, and they certainly knew their stuff, didn’t they!  When I came out of the Polish Embassy with that precious piece of paper, I held it to the sky in the hope that mummy could see it for herself.)

They would see if working conditions were acceptable to them. If everything was in order the families would join them. Mr and Mrs Mendrys had only recently married. She kept a sweet shop in the town and lived across the road to us.

I remember some of the train journey to Austria, going over bridges would fill me with great excitement. Some of the rivers would be quite long, and I was sure we would end up in them. So as soon as we were on a bridge, I would have t go to the window to make sure we had crossed safely.

Austria was very beautiful. We lived in a small town, Berndoff. Again, we lived in a block of flats on the first floor, Anersberg Strasse.

My first word in German was Haase. I was going through a field with a man, someone to do with father’s works. We were going to visit the director of the firm and the man was taking me. Hehad bought me a rubber rabbit that blew up, so he told me it was a Haase.

The director and his wife lived in a whitewashed cottage. They had a daughter who shortly afterwards married a German. Mother and Mrs Mendrys had the latest style of dresses, just below the knees with the hem cut up and down all round. With large flowers made of the same material on their bosoms. Mother had her hair all frizzy and wavy. They even curled my hair!

When the photographs were taken mother kept banging me because I would not look up. I was too shy! The photos came out with me with my head bent and I got a good telling off for it.

[I think I have this photo somewhere and will try to scan it in, I never realised where it was taken before, I thought it was at a wedding as they were all dressed up to the nines.]

We had to spend the night there. I was to sleep with a big boy of nine. I was very excited, sleeping with someone. I eagerly looked forward to it.

I was taken upstairs. The boy was already in bed and asleep. I was undressed and we went towards the bed, the lady lifted the bed clothes, and then I saw it!

The boy had his back to us, his clothes up to his waist, and under his bottom was a big bump. I would not go in that bed. I screamed and screamed. If my life depended on it I would not go in the bed. I clutched at everything when they tried to force me into it.

I made such a noise, most of the wedding party had come to see what had happened.

When they had calmed me down I pointed at the poor boy and said “he’s got something awful in between his legs!” Everyone screamed with laughter. The poor boy who did not know what the fuss was about started crying and so did I.

I don’t know where I slept but I know it was not with him. I kept out of his way, I thought he was going to do something dreadful to me for telling everyone and making him cry.

If I saw him approaching, I’d flee like from the devil. Poor boy!


I have added a few comments in square brackets, hopefully be able to put some photos on here when I understand how to do it properly!



Sunday lovely Sunday

Yesterday was busy as usual.  Rosie had gone to her friend's house for the day, so Matthew and I had an afternoon alone together.  His older brother Martin was at home and could have looked after him but the wonderful Julia appeared again on Friday night and they were both otherwise occupied (lazy so and so's still in bed at 3pm when Matthew and I went out).

Matthew had decided he'd quite like a new bycycle pump (for his footballs) today - that was his mission to try to get one out of me!  I was determined I would not surrender and I am pleased to say that I was the winner!  Last week he persuaded me to buy him that DS game Brainpower - I think Chris Tarrant is advertising it on the telly at the moment.  He won that round.  Anyway, it can't be Christmas every week for him, so I stood firm. 

I took him to our favourite little cafe and he did manage to get a Knickerbocker Glory out of me.  We used to love them as kids, it was always a treat.  My mum used to drag us to a Polish dentist who lived at Shepherds Bush when we were young and the only way she could persuade us to go was to promise a trip to the wimpy and a knickerbocker glory afterwards which was nearby to where his dental surgery was.  Yes, we always fell for it ... we never used to remember that the last time she promised that we couldn't eat anything, let alone have a knickerbocker glory, if we had had to have a filling as our mouths would be so yucky after having an injection.  I can always remember not being able to feel my lip afterwards and not realise it was bleeding because I had chewed on it without realising.  He must have used some strong stuff - probably laced with Vodka!  Mum had absolute faith in him because another (English) dentist had told her that she had to lose all her teeth and he saved them, so he was her God.  I must admit he was ok but it was always a torture going to see him, not knowing whether you'd get your wimpy and knickerbocker glory or not.

Anyway, I digress a bit ... I am going to post a bit more of mummy's memoirs on a separate entry.  I had a little boo hoo last night because I had spent some time typing more up (this time in word, so I could spell check, god I can't believe that I do this for a living when I see some of the typos I make).  Anyway, Rosie came in and asked to have a little read and I was explaining to her how wonderful it was that she could maybe get to know my mum's personality through her writing about when she was young and how I had concentrated a lot more on what she was saying when I was typing it up and didn't remember taking it in when I was reading through it when I was a lot younger.  Rosie never met Mummy, as she died a year before Rosie arrived and Mummy never knew that Barbara was pregnant.  Anyway, I said to Rosie that I hoped she would keep it and show her children too, so they could know their great grandmother.  Anyway, all of a sudden waves of grief for mum hit me ... I am pretty contained usually ... I hold a lot in and I know its not good ...  I had to go outside to boo hoo and then try to compose myself.  Mummy died in 1994 and I suppose I have tried not to focus on it too much as its painful and  typing up her memoirs up make me feel so close to her.  I know she would be thrilled that I am doing it and I am keeping a separate copy, so I can let the family have it. 


Saturday, 7 October 2006

No more worries about typos!

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it

My week

Well this week has been a sleepy one.  I have woken up twice on the settee in the early hours of the morning!  God knows,  I only have to lay down to watch the telly and I am gone.  I did it again Thursday night and woke up at about 3 in the morning, went upstairs to bed and then woke up at 7:40.  I wonder if I'll win an award for getting myself and 2 kids out the door 25 minutes later?  Poor kids, its an awful way to wake up with someone screaming "get up now, we are really late".  I know I felt really out of sync and I bet they did too.

Work has been really busy, we never finish what we have to do, which is basically filing all day.  Emails have a lot to answer for.  I quite enjoy it when I get a bit of typing to do.

I work with some really nice girls.  C has just come back from her holidays.  She is a tiny little thing and recently married D who is American.  She is a mini property tycoon.  She has bought 4 properties in the last year or so and is renting out 3 of them.  It seems a really common thing to do now.  One of the other girls I work with has 2 that she lets out.  I don't know what I am doing wrong here, I only have the one place and thats enough to keep up.  C is the nicest of girls,  I have never heard her say a bad word about anyone.  She told me once she walks so fast because her mother was about 6ft (she is only about 5') and she used to have to do that to keep up with her mum!

We have a temp working with us for a few months.  She is quite sweet, she comes from South Africa and is a born again Christian.  She is not completely holy though as she smokes and drinks.  I think she has had a bit of a life in the past and now being born again feels she has more control of her life.

My other friend is S.  She has 5 dogs and 2 cats!  The dogs are border collies and need a lot of walking.  She really loves them to bits.  She has just started riding again and that is keeping her busy at weekends.  She hasn't got any kids but would have made the nicest of mums.

The highlight in our office is when someone has a birthday and then they get cakes!  Everyone haunts the cake desk even when we haven't got any, hoping we might have something stashed away.  Sometimes when birthdays are close together we get sick of them and then when its all quite we get those longings for something sweet.  A lot of the fee earners bring sweets back from business trips too, so we can normally come up with something but its a sorry day indeed when the cake desk is bare!

Omigod, Matthew has just come down.  Its very early for him, so peace in the valley is about to stop.  No doubt Rosie and him will now start their arguing, ahhh!

Washing machine is whirring around, its going to have another busy time this weekend.  I really need one of those American-style washing machines, it would make it much quicker to do.  I really liked the washing machine when we rented a villa in Florida - now thats very sad!   

I am taking Rosie round to one of her friends later this morning.  Her mother was a teacher at Rosie's old school and Rosie finds it hard to get her head around the fact that last week she saw her old teacher in her nighty.  Kids hold their teachers in such awe, I don't think they realise they are normal people, who wear nighties!

I have a little dog here, Billy, who keeps trying to jump on my lap.  Now he is barking at me because he wants something.  This dog thinks he is the king in our house - he probably is.

Anyway, off for now to do some jobs.  Have a nice Saturday everyone.


My Mum's memoirs CHAPTER 1

I'll write more about my week later but after writing last week about my grandparents and my mum, I thought I'd start transcribing a bit of my mum's memoirs, I think mum was quite good at writing and sometimes it makes me giggle a bit, she was a bit prone to re-writing or re-telling history but I think it makes interesting reading about her life.  I know there is quite a bit that is typed up somewhere but in front of me I have a rather old, red hardbacked notepad, full of her handwriting and memories which she started to write in March 1969.  I won't change anything, it tells of her life growing up in Poland, Austria and then in England.

So let us begin ...


March 1969

I was born in Katowice in Poland but we lived in Myslowice, a small town nearby.  I had no brothers or sisters.

I remember still crawling around.  I was very late in walking.  I remember coming down the stairs the first time.

The houses were large flats, mostly very old and rambling.  I think we lived on the third floor.  My mother was friendly with everyone and we spent hours in other peoples' flats, mother talking and me crawling around.  On one of these visits I remember the lady gave me lemon tea in a high glass in a silver holder.  I got a splinter in my bottom on that visit.

When I was 2 and a half there was great excitement in our 'haus'.  Everyone was preparing for the Sacred Heart processions.  Baskets were brought, lined and flowers were to be put in them to scatter in the street before the priest.  I was coached for hours how to take the flowers out of the basket and how to throw them.  Mother made me a beautiful white dress, white stockings and shoes, also a headress of flowers.

It was to be a great day, all the little girls in the town under 5 were in the procession.

It was a sunny day, but chilly, the flowers smelled beautifully.

A few days later I was very ill.  One night I was all hot.  Mother and father kept washing me, putting rolls of cloth dipped in water with vinegar in it around my body.  I didn't want them to do it but all night they worked.  As soon as I was tired and hot, they would take off the cloths on me, and put on freezing stinking cloths again.

Next morning I was very weak.  The doctor came: he could not believe I was still alive.  Many little girls had died that week. They had all been in that procession!

Gradually I got better.  At first after that night I would think I would die.  I wasn't frighted, they would put a head dress of flowers on my hair, and bury me in the garden.  I was quite content.

I was given hot water to drink in the mornings.  I thought it was horrible.  The only thing to eat was some sour milk which I hated too.  But they must have done me some good.

We had two large rooms, a bedroom and living room.  I remember one night I woke up and there was no-one there!  I screamed and cried but no-one came, so I went to the window and opened it and screamed!  Mother had a collection of potted plants - so I threw them one by one out of the window!

They had been in the flat below.  The noise of the flower pots had drawn some attention and mother came back.

When I was three I was taken to the kindergarten.  The nuns taught the children.  We were taught to do handiwork, weaving with coloured strips of paper, making little trays etc.

We were all taken to the toilet several times a day.  The girls wore knickers and vest combined, made of cotton with a flap buttoned up on the waist which was let down, as we could not manage the buttons at the back the nuns had to do it for us.

In the morning mother would give me a Groshen for a cake.  In the bakers housewives would take thier baking, bread which had been done at home, and large sheets of cake.

One day  decided  did not want to go to school.  I bought my cake and wandered into the city streets looking in the shops.  Then a great figure stood before me.  It was my father.  He was not surprised that I had not gone to school.

We went through the town, then we went into a cellar where there were men playing cards.  I sat beside my fater, he too played with them.

I felt a searing pain on my head.  My father had burnt me with a cigarette.

Father was always in a lot of trouble with mother.  She would shout at him, he was always very quiet.

In the cellar of the house was kept barrels of sauerkraut for the winter.  When the cabbage was large it was bought and shredded.  It was then put in barrels with salt and two people would get into the barrel with bare feet and stamp on it.  One day father was stamping the cabbage with a girl from the upstairs flat, Marynka, and mother came in.  I was there and  was terrified.  Mother made such a fuss I thought I had done something wrong too.  There were terrible rows, mother bought up Marynka's name for years afterwards.


Hope you enjoyed it so far.