Monday, 27 August 2012

sad eyes tell a story, even if you don't know it...

These two pictures are decades apart, in the first I am in my mid thirties, and in the second it is today when I own up to being 67. I was trying to get a recent photo to juxtapose to the earlier one, and on looking through, I realise that despite the smile, my eyes give me away!

I was married the first time to my first love. I was 21 just and he was 20 and we had to ask permission from his parents to marry.. I left out telling mine until the deed was done, as I am sure that they would have tried to make me wait and take time to make such a momentous decision. I was three months pregnant and eager to be a wife and mother. I did have a good job, but was waylaid by the idea of marriage and babies.

Looking back, my husband was doing what he thought, was the right thing to do when you get a girl pregnant., but although I am sure I think he felt he loved me, the responsibility is only now seen by me after all these years. It might have been ok, if I had not gone on to have another four children within a 12 year span, putting the onus of finding money to pay rent or mortgage or food and all the other necessities of life with a family onto his shoulders.  He was already of a nervous nature if only I had realised, and whilst I will never regret having and keeping my darlings, the pressure on him was enormous and I was completely oblivious to it. I thought that my day to day running of the house and trying to make end meet was enough to worry about. 
Being parents at such a young age, I thought was advantageous as I've said in another post, I thought we could still be young and going out when the kids were older, but of course it never worked out like that. He found that using alcohol as a sort of escape was an easy choice and whilst we always seemed to manage to have just enough to feed and clothe them there were never planned holidays or much going out and socialising and I guess the extra money was going on the drink. Unfortunately as the years went, the booze intake got bigger and bigger the more successful he became, and eventually was the reason for our split as we could not go on hurting each other.

All the years I was with him I told no one of my difficulties ,and his drinking was never discussed although my parents had an idea that it was getting out of hand. I carried on and smiled away the pain, and just tried to make it alright for the kids... Of course I fooled not a single one of my children, they all knew what was going on, and still I made a stab at trying to keep the family together, because like many others, when he was sober and alert, he was the best person you would ever want to know.

But gradually as the years went it got too hard, it was now every night that we would have to put up with his rants and outrages and even though the children would be all in bed, of course they could hear him going on downstairs. To this day they all flinch at loud voices and I know that is a relic of those ugly times.

I have always been a positive person, and the best way I could cope was to focus on the kids and make sure they all got on ok.. Once we were called to one of the children's school to discuss behaviour and attitude, and we were asked outright if all was well at home, what else could be worrying this child.. So, what do you think was our  first reaction? Of course we said no... nothing we could think of that would bother the child so much that behaviour was questionable... what an outright lie, but this was what happened, you covered up, you dealt with it in silence.!

My husband's own home life was awful, with him being picked out by his father when he came home from the pub, to be stood in a corner and ranted and shouted at for all hours, even when he had school to go to the next day.[ His mother had reasoned, better one child took the brunt, rather that the other three..] so I had a lot of sympathy with him, but as it was replayed in our home, the structure of the drinking and the shouting and the going over and over of matters that he thought were important, became more and more harder to bear. In the end I put down unreasonable behaviour, as a divorce matter, but he wanted that changed to Adultery,, when I knew he had never strayed, but felt that it sounded better on the form..

Ah well, a long time ago now, but all that angst and hurt and destroyed love, left its mark in my eyes and now I see that as I get older I cannot keep a lid on it and my eyes are telling the world that I knew other times that were not the happiest..  I don't know how you get the sparkle back, because when you stamp on anything, that thing dies, and I think that inside my soul I did die a little bit... not enough to kill me, but enough to effect me and the life choices I have made since.

When you decide the second time around, if you do get the chance, I think you might go to choose just the opposite of what you have known.. I chose my present husband because he didn't drink much, was solid, dependable and reliable. However, I think I must be harder to please, because all the above good points over a long period of time develop into little quirks, like not liking travel or visiting places or people, or socialising much except with his own circle of friends, not being adventurous, not liking driving out for the pleasure of being in another place for a few hours.... these little quirks I have to live with and adapt as well as I can, but its been hard, and not the easiest of road... however, I must not get on the boring grumbling tract that would be so easy.

So I do a lot of what I want to do, but do not expect him to be accompanying me every time.. solitary it might be at times, but at least I do get out from the house. I wish I could have told my younger self to listen to my parents, to take time to make big decisions, but then I wouldn't have my wonderful kids, and I would have missed so much joy that I have still when we are all together.... and my first husband, gave up the drink for a long while after I left, and gets together with me and John when we all have family get togethers like weddings..

 He will always be my first love, but the hurt was too deep for it ever now  to be anything but a distant memory.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

big families

What is it about big families that make it all so amazing when you meet up as adults and have so much to say!! My father came from 12 children who survived into adulthood, and my mother from 9 who also lived a full life. This meant that I had many many cousins that I never met, or rarely saw.

 I got to know my father's side much more, as his mother being the matriarch, would insist that all her children who were living near bye would attend her house every Sunday afternoon. We bought our own food, and the children all played together in the garden whilst the adults sat around and chatted freely amongst themselves.

 My mother's family lived in London and quite a journey by bus to get to them, so we visited infrequently and missed getting to know the many cousins on the maternal side.

I know that  from my paternal side I have 15 cousins all of whom arrived after me my brother and our older cousin Johny. He was the first, and how my brother and I looked up to him!.He lived with my grandmother who lived in a house bought by her son and daughter who were both single and lived at home. His own mother had gone to live in France and sent money home, but he saw her from time to time... not really often enough, so it meant that myself and my brother were his 'siblings in a manner of speaking.

 Being 18 months older than me, I iidolised him and thought him so clever and listened to every word he uttered... he must have liked being so adored.. he was close to me, and my brother being another 18 months younger was always the outsider in our little games. That, looking back was hard on him, but that was how kids worked out the place in their little gangs.

Every Sunday we would walk from the bus stop by the bridge down a long road to reach the house. It was a large semi-detached and would be waiting all quietly until Johny saw us and flung open the door to let us in... He was always full of stories and games to play and was the leader in all our games. As the other cousins were born and came to be part of the Sunday rituals, it was harder to be able to play on our own, and we would have to include the others who, in our eyes were babies!!

Once in a while my mother would take my brother and myself on the bus to London to see my other grandparents. Sometimes my dad came too, but more often it was just us and mother. This time the roles were reversed, as we were part of the youngsters now and not able to play with the bigger count these cousins.. I think there were over 20 many of them much older,  so we sat and listened as mother chatted to her mother and father. if her sisters were there, the conversation would be long and interspersed with loud laughter, my mother reverting to talk just like all the others in the cockney dialect... I hated that, as with us, we all spoke much more correctly, in my eyes anyway!¬!

Now with Facebook and other gadgetry I am refinding my maternal cousins and getting in touch with them, which is marvellous... we can exchange stories of our grandparents and they can fill in the gaps that I have, in the family histories, and its all wonderfully exhilarating..

 Today was such a day. My cousin Rita came for lunch with her husband Derek. They have been married over 44 years, like me, have five children, but opposite to me having three girls and 2 boys. Travel in England is so easy and it only took them just over an hour to arrive!
The last time we had met was over 9 years ago, and yet it seemed like yesterday as we got down to having cups of tea and talking and talking and talking all the time, as though we saw each other last week. The men went and chatted out in the garden and because its the August Bank Holiday Flower Festival at the church, Rita and I went to walk around... Lots of pictures were taken and the time passed in a flash.. what a super day to remember and one I shall treasure.. I am so happy to be part of this family as well as my dad's,. and the funny thing is that whilst we were going round the festival, we were asked if we were sisters!! I liked that, made me feel even closer...

So I am so lucky to be involved in big families either side of my genealogical tree, and next year I am going to plan to get them all together at my house to catch up on times lost..

 I really did have a lovely day, and the lunch I made went down well too..and the rains stayed away until after they left, what more could a girl ask for!!?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Today, a Wedding and four happenings!!

Four  things happened today..

Well, it was such fun getting ready and being at the Bride's mother's house, getting all the makeup done, the endless cups of tea whilst the hair is being teased into shape... playing with the youngest member of the family who keeps telling everyone he is going to be married today.... in fact it is his mother who will be the bride, but he thinks its his day anyway!!

I left my house earlier, and had the gift all wrapped up with the card attached to the front, saying Nicole and Paul... . I needed to adjust the boot cover, so opened the car door, made the adjustments then drove off out of our drive.  A couple of miles or so down the road, I arrived at the house, and looked in the car for the gift I had bought for them... No gift... Thinking about it, I rationalised that my husband would surely have stopped the car because if I had left the gift on the roof of the car he would have seen it? So I thought that I must have left it in the hall, and so could get it another day to give to the new married couple later.

Sitting in the front room sipping slowly a flute of Champagne, there was a knock on the door and a man holding my present!! He had been driving along and seen something fly off the roof of my car, and stopped to see what it was, then he had lost me as I drove along the road out of sight. This man, a complete stranger to me, had seen the card saying Nicole and Paul and thought that the only Nicole he knew was getting married today was the girl who's mother lived opposite him, and so here he was hoping that his instincts proved right!!!!! 

What were the chances of this little inexpensive gift being delivered to the right address after flying off the roof of a stranger's car!!  It would be difficult to calculate I am sure, but the odds would be many many millions of times over !!

As I noticed one of the younger aunts was rushing around getting her children ready, and also the baby of the happy couple, and was looking a bit flushed, I sympathetically said to her' You'll have a minute in a moment to get ready' upon which she said,' I am dressed already!!' Did I wish the ground to swallow me up? You bet!

Finally the bride is dressed and comes down the stairs looking wonderful in a long flowing ruffled white gown and veil... the special vintage car awaits her, and off we set.
I don't know the way, so I am following the bridal car... leaving the village it turns up an alley way and of course I follow it, only to see it turning round... as it comes closer to me, the driver winds down his window and says he has to return to the Post office we have just passed, as he has to collect his pension!!! I am utterly lost for words, this is not his day, but the Bride's...... however I turn around too and wait for him to complete his pension collection and then follow him all the way to a wonderful open countryside golfing retreat and hotel.

By this time we are so late, that they had all thought the bride had got lost in her vintage car, and of course I had to scuttle in before the bride, and was the last guest to arrive!

Rain had been forecast for this Tuesday, so I had put an umbrella in my handbag...but it was not needed at all.. the ceremony was in the open, just like in a Hollywood film, and a red carpet where our lovely bride and her bridesmaid, the mother of the bride and the uncle who was giving her away, walked to where her new husband to be was waiting. They all looked so smart and the colour was purple accents and it looked stunning..

The Aunt of the Bride who is a registrar, delivered the ceremony and her husband, Nicole's uncle, gave a short reading on the meaning of marriage.. Nicole and Paul's  little son who is only 2 and a half, was so good during the actual giving of rings, and then turned to everyone, and said he was married now!!

 Instead of rain, the sun blazed overhead,  drinks were served whilst we waited for the photographs  to be taken. There was about 35 people there and it felt charming  and intimate, and the whole affair was utterly lovely in its simplicity.

Inside the hotel, the meal was served in great style and the speeches afterwards made everyone laugh and feel so happy... it genuinely was a super day to celebrate a wedding between two young people who had their son to keep them on the straight and narrow, but the joy of it all was delightful.. I am so glad I went.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

104 years ago today

In the August of 1908, on this day, my maternal grandparents were married in a church in London. She stated on her certificate of marriage that she was already 18, but I know that in fact she was 16 nearly 17 when she married my grandfather George who was all of 21 years old. His father thought he was much too young to be thinking about settling down and told him that he was on his own and that he would not help him in the future if he stumbled on hard times... In those days, parents were very vocal in what they required their children to do., and my great grandfather felt that his son should work in his business and get some money behind him until he could afford to get married.

 Of course, being young and totally besotted by each other, they did not listen and so today one  hundred and four years ago, they were married and by this time, 8.30 in the evening, I am sure they had celebrated well with their little family gathering and tired out were on their way to spend a couple of days in Rochester in Kent for their honeymoon.

My great grandfather had a market stall selling fresh vegetables in the Portobello road of London. A very famous market, and where it was common for many generations to be working  on the stalls.
 Returning from their honey moon, the young people were given a stall by George's father selling water cress of all things! For a while all went well, and they could afford to rent a little place and think of starting their family.

 However after a few years when they were blessed with two children a horrible experience nearly broke the family apart.. there was a fire, and their first two children died in the blaze.  Bereft and unable to focus on selling face to face with their customers, the young couple decided to move away and for George to get a job where he would not have to meet face to face with people.

 It took them a long while to get over their loss, but eventually Martha Patricia was in the family way, and every year after, she gave birth to a succession of boys and girls, until there were 9 little ones to feed and clothe.. They lived in very cramped quarters, where if the drains flooded, the house kitchen filled with water, or if there was heavy snow, the snow would seep inside, but despite these hardships, the family thrived and they had such a sense of humour, that my recollection of any of my aunt and uncles was of loud laughter and jokes!

 My grandfather had found a job with the newly created Gas Board, and his job was to operate the tall cranes that filled the London skies at that time and after the war, when there was massive rebuilding going on. He worked at such great hights all on his own and then walked all the way home covered in grime to his home.. when it snowed and walking was hard, my mother told me he had crawled in places just to get to work, as he was determined never to be out of work again... He worked for the Gas Board for over 40 years and never missed a day off work.... leaving the stalls had cost him dearly and it took a great deal of time to find work, and so he tried his hardest to feed his family and see that they had the food and clothing they needed.

 Over time, they managed to be able to set aside money to try out day trips to the seaside and they loved to go and return to Rochester and walk along the promenade with the children alongside.. In later years, they went with their children who had themselves now got children, and their needs were simple. A vist to the seaside, a walk, some hot fish and chips washed down with a beer, who could ask for more*

 After work on a Friday George would have a pint of beer with his friends from work, then return home to wash down the grime  and dress up again to take my grandmother out to the pub for an evening to singsong and drinks.

The house where  I got to meet and grew to know them, was a tall dark halled house on three floors.... there was a basement, which was  let out to one of their daughter, her husband and the children,.my grandparents had the ground floor leading from the front door, there was a large basic kitchen and the front room was used as their bedroom.. The upstairs was also being lived in by their youngest daughter and husband and children.

 Looking in my memory to see the decor, it was all old and brown and linoleum on the floor, no carpets anywhere, and in  the kitchen where they spent most days, they had an old fashioned grate and stove, a window overlooking the long back garden and the railway lines where trains travelled endlessly up and down..the sink and small table where we would seat our selves for a slice of bread and butter.

Outside the window, my grandfather had his pet canary, who would sing all the time.. grandpa had his chair, big and broad, and no cushions.. and he would sit by that window and smile and chat to us and be so loving ... he spoke as a real cockney... we could understand every other word and get the gist of it, but his speech was far different to ours and the people we lived amongst.. My mother had decided to improve her speech  and spoke with a lovely clear diction, but when she returned home, it was back to cockney which mortified me at the time!!

He also had a clock on a long chain which he would bring out to look at the time... his hands were worn and his thumb  curved over  in a strange shape- a sign I have noticed in many actors, they all have a bent thumb.. I think my mother was the only one that inherited it from him.. His chin was always stubbled and his hair had gone but there were still a few wisps to comb over. he wore a shirt that had no collar, the collar was attached with special pins when he went out.. he also wore a waistcoat and in the winter he wore long johns under his trousers... we would see them hung up over the fire to dry......His eyes were very bright and he smiled and joked a lot. My grandmother was also small, but the years of childbearing had taken its toll on her figure, but how jolly she was too.. Their house despite being dark, was lit inside by the happiness of that little couple all the years they lived there together.

On this day, over a century ago, they had said their vows in front of a priest and their families, had promised to love and cherish each other through sickness and in health until death parted them.. and they stuck to that vow through all the hard times and painful times ,

I am not the only person who remembers their grandparents, but mine got married today 104 years ago.. Bless them they never asked for much, just to rear their family see them grow into adult hood and be grateful for the happiness between them and the small luxuries they could save up for.. A simple couple a simple life, but priceless and richer than any amount of money could make you feel.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Different choices change lives

Not always for the better either*

 I have been in recruitment for over 40 years and in that time have helped change many candidates lives.. mostly for the better, but sometimes other things happen when they make the choices that differ from mine....

Two days ago I was looking on the web for news of various candidates that I had had the pleasure of meeting and discussing their future career plans with.   To my shock and horror, I found that one person who I had kept in touch with over the years, and who had at the last moment turned down the offer of a job with my client, so giving me a loss of many thousands of pounds in placement fees, and embarrassment to the company contact I was dealing with,

had died!

This person  was so clever, so warm and delightful to converse with, had chosen another path than the one in England and had gone off to work in a very far away hot country. Of course he was highly thought of and esteemed in his new company, and like I knew he would, he made friends of so many people and did very well for the company. However , after just over one year with them doing a job that he loved, he died..

What more is there to say...

 maybe if he had stayed in England with fellow colleagues he knew and appreciated, his life would have been less complicated, [as he had had to leave family behind], his life stresses would have been different and allowed him to  still be alive...?

Its quite a question isn't it? The choices that we are given all through our lives really do impact on the way that we live, and our health and sanity too.

Its such a funny thing life.. we are only here one time, to try and make the differences that count.. we have to be alert and ready to be taking that special step  that would take us forward to a better place. I think one is in the mid forties before you really realise that this whole life thing is not a rehearsal.. that everything you do, or choose to do impacts on your life and those who live with you.!!!
 Its a very big step taking charge and deciding not to be involved with people that might damage or use up your own energy. that in order to survive you have to put yourself in front, and not at the back anymore..

It doesn't mean that you should ignore all advice, but take it on board, sift it through and then make your choices.. hopefully you will make the right turn at the right time.. however if you do not , and land yourself in some poo poo,, then that's the time to set matters straight- after you have dusted yourself down and got up again.. time to have another go, maybe from a different angle, but hell, its all a learning curve after all..

I came to the knowledge of my poor candidate a whole year later than his death, because at that time last year, I was slowly recovering from my spinal ops and really wasn't doing much reading on the professional front... but the sadness is here and now , and I feel very sad that he left us too soon, and all his energy and great brain is silent forever...

I am not for one to sit and moan and think about all the mistakes I have made in the many stages of my life, but I do know that we only have one stab at it, and we should attack with all our might to do what has to be done..

 I know a person who all his life never had a serious relationship as his mother took precedent in all that he did.. His poor father was sidelined and ignored, and his mother took over the son, making him her priority.. He was clever and not bad looking and had a good career, but his mother dominated all his spare time.. they went away on holidays together, and went out and about together...After a few years, the husband gave up and died, and this boy grew into manhood caring for his mother until she died recently.. he is now 68, still never having had a friend of the opposite sex, and actually quite lonely now his mother has gone..
 He would love to meet a good woman to settle down with, but for me I see it as such a waste of life, but selfishness of his mother who chose never to let him go and kept him by her side for all those years...

 I wish I could wave a wand for him to find a close friend, maybe now I've sent my wishes into the ether, I could be able to.. who know?

You see, really it is all too easy to take the safest and quietest route in everything that we do, when really we should be turning matters on their head in order to find out the right way to get up and running...

I think the candidate that I mentioned above also took the safest route in choosing to join up with others rather than choosing to go with my clients. that the other job was  less challenging and maybe still within the comfort zone, so he went down that road...