Memories of the early seventies – Arguments and a giant chair

It was December 1972 and Pappy was ill. He’d caught a cold from me, a cold I’d brought home from school and, as always, it had gone to his chest. He only had one lung after all. For days he’d been coughing and wheezing. My own cold had turned into a chest infection and I was off school myself which was almost unheard of. Mother made me go to school no matter how sick I was but they’d promptly packed me off home when they saw my feverish face and I’d been sent to the doctor for some penicillin. The little capsules proved impossible to swallow  so Pappy opened them up and I had to take the bitter tasting powder on a teaspoon. Continue reading Memories of the early seventies – Arguments and a giant chair

Bright Islands in a dark sea – first published 31 July 2014

The week after we lost Commando Senior was difficult to say the least. For a start there was the task of letting people know. This was hard enough with the family members we speak to regularly but Commando Senior had so many friends outside of the family circle and these were mostly people we didn’t know. We also didn’t have contact details for all of them. After some discussion on Friday night we decided we would have to go to the house and see if we could find an address book or contact list. Continue reading Bright Islands in a dark sea – first published 31 July 2014

Goodbye to fluffy the cat – first published 2 April 2014


If March 2014 was the month of new beginnings, with a new job for me, April was a month for endings. On 1 April the lovely little black and white cat who thought she belonged to us even though she didn’t, was run over. Sadly, she died. She may not have actually been ours but we were all devastated. Continue reading Goodbye to fluffy the cat – first published 2 April 2014

An island in the clouds – first published 11 december 2013


One of the hardest things about losing my job at Silver Helm was walking away from the wonderful views over the city from our office on the fourteenth floor. In the penultimate week a foggy day brought some of the most breathtaking yet. They were all the more poignant because I knew they were going to be some of the last.  Continue reading An island in the clouds – first published 11 december 2013

Wake me up when September ends – First published 30 September 2013


September 2013 was crawling slowly to an end, at least that’s how it seemed. The last week had been stumbled through in a dream like haze, or maybe that should be a nightmare. The last September journey to work was a morose affair, walking towards a job where most of what I should be doing had been rendered pointless and the empty day stretched ahead gloomily with way too much thinking time for my liking.

30 September 2013

Half way to the lift I heard, “You grass!” it was Dave, the cheeky, chirpy security guard on reception. Puzzled I turned back and walked up to his desk.
“What have I done?” I asked racking my, admittedly rather addled, brain for anything that might possibly have warranted me being called a grass.
“Taking photos of that car in the car park,” he said with a wink.
Even then it took me a moment to work out what he was talking about, after all I’m always taking photos of things even if cars don’t usually feature high on my list.

Then it came back to me. Yesterday afternoon Howard had come back from lunch and asked, “Whose black BMW is that in the car park?” No one knew. We have a limited number of parking spaces for our little office. There are only fifteen of us when every single one of us is in, and that’s a rare day, but there are nowhere near enough to go round. Most of us don’t come by car so, quite often, our spaces aren’t used but they are reserved for our office. Obviously none of this matters one jot to me. What does matter is that some random stranger has parked in one of our spaces. We haven’t gone yet! So Noel and I went down to the car park to have a look and I took a photo as evidence.

Dave was actually quite gleeful about the whole thing. “Fancy getting that poor man in trouble for parking in the wrong space,” he chuckled. Turns out the driver, a member of staff on another floor, keeps sneakily parking in other peoples spaces. He’s been warned about it before but, as our spaces are round the corner out of view of Dave’s security camera, he thought he was safe.
“I’m not a grass, I’m a detective,” I said.
“Banged to rights,” said Dave.
Now there’s a thought, maybe that would be a new career direction for me. Have phone, will take incriminating photos.

The empty shopping mall opposite the office is in the process of being demolished. The builders (or should that be demolition men?) who have been milling about putting up barriers and drinking lots of tea for the last few weeks started work on the actual business of pulling down this morning. Between looking at all four emails that had landed in my inbox and having a long war meeting where those who still harboured some hopes of changing the office closure decision cooked up plans and proposals, I looked out of the window. The speed with which the buidling is disappearing is quite phenomenal. Much like the speed with which my job is disappearing really.


Arabella came in at about eleven so at least I had something to do. She wanted some projected costing spreadsheets created. For someone who doesn’t really like numbers I’m actually quite good with spreadsheets and it did keep me occupied for the rest of the day.
Lunch time was even gloomier than the walk to work. Alice was off at an interview with the agency I went to on Friday so it was just me trying to fill an hour somehow on a damp, slightly drizzly afternoon. In the spirit of finding something interesting to occupy my mind I decided I’d walk past the demolition site and have a nose at the work up close. This turned out to be a pointless exercise because I’d forgotten that, although we have a great view from our penthouse suite, the barriers the builders have been errecting mean nothing at all can be seen at street level. Doh! Apart from the crashing and clanging of bulldozer against concrete you’d never have known anything was going on behind the big blue barrier.


Feeling a little disappointed, I wandered past, wondering what else I could do to fill an hour. Then I spotted the cobwebs. The humble cobweb can be a thing of beauty, especially when glistening with sparkling drops of dew but who knew a coating of concrete dust could have the same effect? Ok so there was none of the sparkling, but the dust highlighted every strand of the lovely webs and I used up some of the available time taking photos.


Around the corner different builders, ones actually building something rather than knocking it down, were playing a Kevin Little song that I quite like very loudly on a radio. The song made me smile and the workmen, seeing me smile, smiled back. A little more aimless, lonely walking took me to the parks where I sat for a while watching the lads in the skate park whizzing up and down the ramps and flipping their boards three hundred and sixty degrees like experts. I guess they are experts. Two lads who’d obviously had enough of showing off their skills for the day picked up their boards, then surprised me by linking arms and skipping along the path towards me singing, ‘we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.’ It really isn’t what you’d expect from grungy looking teenaged boys dressed mainly in black but it was one more thing to make me smile.

Dawdling back to the office I could hardly believe it when I was joined at the pedestrain crossing by none other than Alice Cooper. Really, you don’t expect to be standing next to 70’s rock stars of that magnitude on a gloomy Monday lunch time in Southampton. Goodness knows what he was doing there but I have to say he was far shorter than I expected. Come to think of it, he was also quite feminine and there were no snakes, top hats, bats or swords in sight. Still he was dressed completely in tight black leather and had the raven black mullet hair, that rather distinctive nose and lots of black eyeliner that have been his trademark since I watched him perform School’s Out on Top of the Pops in 1972. Then again, I could have been mistaken, maybe it wasn’t him. Still, it made me smile and I need all the smiles I can get right now.

When I went out at lunchtime I noticed a missed call on my phone from the agency I interviewed with last week. The cruise company they sent my CV to are interested in me. They aren’t interviewing yet but they aren’t saying no either so I’m taking that as good news. It’s a much bigger company with more room for development but there will be less fun, more spreadsheets and probably a more dour atmosphere. Still any job’s a good job right now so fingers crossed.

To counterbalance the good news there was some bad news. It came in the form of an email and, when I say bad news, I mean news that made me angry. This was an email from the new Head Office to everyone and I’m not going into what it said but suffice to say staff who have shown unconditional loyalty are being very badly treated and what is being proposed contravenes employment laws. How nice of them to put it in writing then.

As I walked along the river path on my way home tonight there was one last thing to lift my glum mood. For some reason the sky was teaming with seagulls. Despite their bad press, I love seagulls. Usually this many means one of two things, flying ant day or storms. On the last day of September flying ant day is long past and, although there was a slight drizzle in the air, no more than soft sea spray, there has been no sign of a storm so far. Maybe they knew Alice Cooper was in town and were gathering to get a glimpse of him.


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A shining light extinguished

Percolator 2.4 (2.4) Grind: Extra Fine (Tiny Circles & Effect: Auto Adjust), Brew: Ishihara (No Pic & Full Blended Circles), Serve: Stirred (Spectrum Tone & Smooth Texture)

6 December 2015

The last time we saw cousin Katie she was in her bed at Maggie and Alan’s house in Gravenhurst surrounded by beautiful things to make her smile. We knew then that it would probably be the last time we saw her. Last March she was given the wonderful news that the cancer she’d been fighting had gone into remission. It seemed like a miracle but, sadly, the joy was short lived. In just three months the cancer was back and the prognosis was not good. Now it was all about buying time with chemo. Continue reading A shining light extinguished