Total Pageviews

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A little bit more of the story.

I'm sorry, I have been so busy these last couple of days and havn't had time to carry on with the story I started, you have all proberbly forgotten about it, so I have included below the links to the first  bit.

The Story so far:

Drifting off into a world of beautiful memories had become the norm for the past few weeks I had been there, I really didn’t expect to see anything of the home that my lovely wife and I had made our very own, a piece of heaven in a paradise of tranquillity set in the New Forest was a dream come true to both of us, but there was a peaceful acceptance in my days and especially nights that I had had my time, the care of everyone around me in that hospital made me, and everyone in that ward, feel special, they couldn’t do enough to make us comfortable. They were true angels, just sitting there sometimes, holding your hand until you drifted off into your dreams.
That night was no exception I remember, a pretty young nurse sitting by my bedside looked up from her book and smiled, lightly patted my hand and at the same time I could see her reading the monitors beeping away above my head, it wasn’t long before the whole episode with the policemen was left behind, as my eyes closed the faint smell of roses from my garden at home took over from the antiseptic smell of the hospital ward.
The following morning I woke to see the rain streaming down the windows outside, and that same young nurse standing by my bed with a welcome cup of tea in her hand for me. The past four weeks this same young nurse had held both cup and saucer as I drank, some of the precious liquid dribbling down my chin, “no matter” she would say, tenderly wiping it away and telling me not to worry, but that morning I felt quite capable of holding it myself and reached out to take it from her, a little shakily, but I managed it, I felt different, as if the life was surging back through my veins into my body, she looked up to the monitors and smiled again, and I could see she was anxious to leave me for some reason or another. Those reading were telling her something, what, I have no idea, but a change in her young attitude was obvious as she hurriedly took the cup from me and disappeared down to the office at the end of the ward.
Before any time at all there were three of them round my bed with the boss lady supervising, one pumping my arm up trying to rupture the little muscle I had left in it, another sticking something in my ear and yet another one yanking my Jim-Jam top open telling me to cough, again . . .. cough! I tried but couldn’t. Anyway what it all boiled down to was I had had a miraculous improvement that no one could explain during the night, and left them all scratching their heads for the reason.
(I always have said it was the sunshine the previous day)
Arnold’s shift started and round he came checking on everybody leaving me till last. He sat on the bed, something that they never did, but his weight pulled the covers tight as he sank into the mattress.
“Well, you look better,” stretching out a closed fist towards my chin in a mock action, “How do you feel this morning?” I forget my reply, but something along the lines of ‘a couple of rounds with you might surprise you’
“Right I’ll come back after breakfast and take you for a spin, and get a bit more fresh-air in those lungs, what do you say about that?” I nodded, because I felt a little bit emotional, perhaps this wasn’t the end of the road for me. There was that little bit of hope, as I began to realise, I may yet get out of there after all.  
Wrapping me up in blankets he bodily plonked me in the wheelchair later on that morning, and for the first time in weeks the outside world loomed up in front of me along the corridors of that large hospital. Through the big glass windows for the first time in what seemed ages I stared at the traffic whizzing along the dual carriageway half a mile across the fields. People, lots and lots of people, bustling around the corridors of a very, very busy hospital. I know it might sound strange but I felt alive, I was going to get out of there, but one thing I had to do before Arnold took me back to the ward was to see that young girl again.
I held up my hand for my chauffeur to stop by the flower stall in the foyer, telling Arnold there was money in my locker, could he buy a little bunch of flowers for me, which he did and we made our way back to the adjacent ward where I knew that sad young girl would be. 
Entering the women’s ward Arnold stopped and spoke to the nurse in charge, I had previously asked him for a pencil and paper, which he produced and handed it to me. I waited sitting there in my chariot; nothing happened, my chauffeur had disappeared leaving me to traverse the distance to her bed on my own, evidently he wasn’t allowed on the ward, or some such silly rule but they were making an exception where I was concerned under the circumstances, hoping evidently, I could make some progress where they hadn’t.     
                                                                                (to be continued)
Thanks for stopping by

Memories of a much loved friend.

Alright, alright, I won't be a minute Midge, just got to get this coat on and we can be off to see your girlfriend in the park!
Thanks for stopping by, a bit more later if I get time.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

I Love Sunday's, Roast, Yorkshire pud' & gravy.

There was nobody about today, not even the usual sea bird squawking up above to break the silence. Hengistbury Head; a beautiful piece of land untouched by developers, is usually teaming with walkers bracing the sea air with their pets on a lead; none today, not even a squirrel or any other wild life that this sanctuary normally is home to.
The bitter cold North Westerly wind carrying flurries of snow across the Solent making the scene bleak and desolate like the heart of a winter storm.
There wasn’t the usual weekend sailors out on the water tacking against the breeze either, it was clear of traffic right across to Old Harry Rocks in the murky distance.
So I sat in the warmth of the car, windows shut, heater on, burning the precious petrol that had just cost me £1 40 a litre and felt guilty.
“Lets go home pet, you can finish your sketch in front of the fire in comfort.”
I didn’t need telling twice.
Half an hour later, my booty slippers on, tucked up in my favourite arm chair that has seen better days, looking out of the window to grey heavy skies in the silence of winter, a pencil and pad on my lap and mug of hot tea by my side with the smell of the Sunday roast lamb drifting in from the kitchen, I realised, not for the first time in my life, how lucky I was to be so content. 
Thanks for dropping by.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Nothing on the tele, so I have drawn the cat !

Do you think they would like my Pussy cat Michael?
She was a bit bored with the result it seems by the look on her face.


What the Dress was for:


Putting the emails and all the correspondence away in a folder I found this with my mum’s things. It was the night she first wore that beautiful dress that had been bought for her.
A demonstration that my young partner and I performed in the Granville Ballroom, it was the first time that they used what I think was dry ice to cover the whole floor giving the impression we were in the clouds, (which believe you me we were) I remember it being very cold on our feet, but it obviously had the desired effect on the audience that night. We were both fourteen years old.
(The following is an extract from one of the reports in the local papers. I think it was the ‘East Kent Times’ but I am not sure because it’s a bit scrunched up and my mum cut out all the borders to fit in her scrapbook. They called it ‘The Dream’) It must be in archives somewhere, but never mind, I have copied it word for word filling in only a couple of lines that have faded over time.
Dreams I have thought are made of moments in time, so this is not an explanation of what we all thought was reality, it is a reflection of a dream that reality must have caused, flowing from what happened, what could have happened and what did happen. It created so many emotions for everyone who witnessed it. The youth of two young people coming together as one, living out their dream that flowed from the dimension we live in to another that had no boundaries.
There were no hard footsteps making a noise, they seemed to float as they glided across the floor, each movement flowed to its destination without effort. There wasn’t so much as a sound either coming from the audience, everyone daring not to breath, as they watched in awe at what they were witnessing in front of them. The melody so soft it could hardly be heard only felt, the hearts of each individual bursting with emotion as the scene of unparalleled beauty unfolded in front of their eyes.
This would be undoubtedly everyone’s description of a dream. This was the fantasy world where winged gossamer beings flitted from one side of a young couple to the other lifting with effortless ease each of them as they floated on a cloud in front of us, no base to their world, no ceiling as they circled the heavens that engulfed them, round and round to a melody of pure singularity, each note lifting them higher and higher away from the reality we live in as they climbed into the clouds.
The young girl’s face seemed to be surrounded by a halo of light that reflected a pure unblemished skin, so soft and transparent it didn’t seem real, giving the impression of transparency.
Her lips slightly parted and moist, inviting imaginary butterflies to circle her red rose that had been placed in her hair, to settle, and to kiss those petals. They delicately sipped the dew in the flower that rested in those golden locks flowing out behind her.
One hand barely touching was the only connection between them as they floated past me.  She gently fell backwards from the waist holding the pure white dress with her other hand out to catch the sparkling drops of light from up above. Slowly, so slowly turning to face him again and in a continuous movement she floated up and over his shoulder, leaving her hand free to hold the other side of her dress with just two tiny fingers which made a butterfly shadow to catch more of the reflected light drops falling from the ceiling.
Sinking slowly as if in slow motion from her elevated position where she raised both her arms reaching to the heavens and touching paradise, her little hand closed around a star, which she clutched to her breast as she sank back into his arms.
Still gliding so slowly across the clouds in a movement of silent bliss she opened her hand and held it out to the light, their gaze followed her captive, as its joy in being released climbed upwards to rejoin its companions circling above them. Her slender arm retracted back and came to rest on his outstretched arm in an embrace of what can only be described as pure love, so gentle, so innocent.
 (By this time, there were tears even in this hardened reporters eyes, it affected everyone the same, and so beautiful to watch you felt privileged to even be there in the same space and moment in time they occupied.)  
Their dream continued, floating across the clouds, oblivious of the hundreds of eyes watching from reality down below them. Two white doves circled above with a ribbon of love in their beaks that joined them together. As if climbing up a gossamer ladder she reached out her tiny hand way above his head trying to catch the end of the ribbon only to fall again into his arms. Her disappointment showed on that serene little face as moisture started to form around her eyes. As the doves continued to circle following their companions across the clear night sky above, she once again reached up and with a thrill of joy clasped the end of the ribbon, and slowly began falling, she was falling into the clouds below, slowly disappearing back into reality, she had broken the bond between them!
Her partner started to drift further and further away from her, his arms outstretched trying to reach for his love. Nearly out of sight, just head and shoulders visible above the clouds she lifted her arm to the stars and let go of the ribbon. Stretching her arms to him as the doves reclaimed the link she slowly rose from the depths of reality again. The clouds parted around her and all the songs of night-time, so sweet in their harmony, started to sing their tune again. As their hands touched, the crescendo of emotion at the reunion they thought had been lost, burst into a flurry of spins and lunges of joy in their movement across space, each cloud dancing in their wake behind them joining in with their happiness that lovers of all ages of time have felt, falling into his arms, clasping him tightly and pulling him close, fearing if she let go she would loose him once again the kiss she gave him with the passion of true love would, without any doubt at all last them both a lifetime.
A night to remember and a performance that many will never ever forget from a couple so young.
I have cleaned it up as best as I could, it was all in columns when I copied it from the newspaper cutting, so the punctuation might be a bit squiffy.
I remember to this day the steps and routine of that night, we danced to the ‘Toselli Serenade.’ I have found a recent recording on utube by Andre Rieu
of this music with a very similar arrangement to what we danced to if you are interested.
As a footnote, Mr Taylor, who was a teacher at the school I went to and later became Mayor of Ramsgate was there that night. Many, many years later I happened to have the privilege of spending an hour with him in a deckchair on the West Cliff one afternoon. All he wanted to talk about after we had gone through the preliminaries of recognition was the night of ‘The Dream’ how proud he had been to tell everyone I was one of his pupils and how the memory had stayed with him all those years. I think I blushed at such a compliment. 
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Chronicles of my youth.

For those of you that are, (very politely I may add) taking me to task over starting another story, a little explanation perhaps is in order. Many have requested a continuation of the piece I put together about the Granville and the years of my youth that I spent ballroom dancing there. There have been so many questions, as to the outcome of that Saturday morning, when Mum sent me with my sister to dancing class. The link to that post for those that have not read it is below, just click on it and it should take you to that particular post.

A couple of years ago I started writing for the family, actual chronicles of those times and never thought for one minute they would be of interest, other than to my children and grandchildren, to anyone. But as one kind person so bluntly pointed out to me, “Alan, its our heritage and history of the town you purport to cherish, your chronicles should be available for everyone to read!”
An argument then commenced that continued over the next couple of weeks, myself coming up with different excuses each time, but slowly I began to realise, as the emails mounted up I could be wrong, even though I still consider the chronicles personal in many ways.
To protect the many people mentioned in the original chronicles, with the distinct possibility they, like myself, are still around to by chance read what I have written, I am having to change their names, turning it all into a story, rather than a factual account.
Because of my age I suppose, the memories I have of those times have gaps in, that have been blended with my story telling nature, making it more interesting for my children, but basically it all is how it was.
So be patient, there is a lot of editing to do.
To give you a taste of what took place, I will post today a very small part of one of the chapters, a couple of days before a demonstration, we were about fourteen at the time, my partner and I were presented each with a gift from our dancing teacher, the following is a reaction it created from one of those gifts:
extract from chapter nine
The dress, made from many yards of fine net and lace, had been carefully arranged and laid out on the bed. There wasn’t any colour; it was pure white, transparent; the net that the skirt was made of seemed to reflect a rainbow of hues that the light in the ceiling up above the dress cast down through all the layers, catching her eye as she moved from side to side. Walking round the bed fearing not to touch this beautiful creation, spread out in all its wonder that she had a tantalising glimpse of when walking past the door that was ajar slightly, just a few moments ago. Slowly she sank to her knees to be as close as she could and level enough to smell the freshness of the vision that confronted her.
Her hand was shaking as she carefully reached out to touch the sequins that covered the bottom of the skirt above the fur; there was a compulsive need to satisfy herself she wasn’t dreaming, each tiny stitch seemed to be magnified as her eyes travelled from one part to another trying to absorb what had been so delicately and caringly laid out, without a fold out of place or wrinkle to spoil the perfection that she had often dreamed of wearing.
In those dreams of the past, she had foreseen, in the drifting moments before sleep, the vision of beauty she was now looking at with misty eyes and also touching. Was this beautiful dress really meant for her? Had it really been laid out ready to be worn by her? Shakily rising to view it again from above, her young legs once more took her round the bed, not taking her eyes for one moment off what lay in front of her.
This feeling that was welling up inside she couldn’t come to terms with, her young body was fit to burst with emotion, every part of her was shaking, tears of utter joy started to fall from her young eyes, a little hand that was meant to wipe away the tears, instead, clasped her mouth to prevent a cry that was about to shatter the silence of the room. Still staring and trying to take in the moment, she literally fell into the small armchair missing the seat and falling against the arm, her focus couldn’t be dragged away from what lay on the bed.
She had sat there for what seemed an age, mesmerised, little sobs caught in her throat and her hand came up to join together the other one as if she couldn’t contain her emotion with just one. Staring at what was put there to cover her young body, never expecting to touch, let alone wear or even own such a beautiful dress, the warm excited blood in her veins rushed up her legs, creating goose pimples, and without moving from her seat she could feel the silk-lining caressing her thighs.
As she sat there a completely fresh dimension to her life took on a new meaning, the thrill to dance across a polished floor would bring, she knew, a completely different dimension to everything she lived for, to dance until she dropped with exhaustion. Just to feel the net that was lined with pure silk, not taffeta or cotton, but silk as it brushed up against her skin with her movement to that music, that wonderful, wonderful music. It would take her into that realm of paradise so often promised long ago by her teacher, that one day, one day in the future, her dreams would be fulfilled exceeding anything her young mind could imagine, this, she thought, had to be that day!
She was dizzy and couldn’t think of anything that was missing, the dress, the music, the story of love they were about to demonstrate this coming Saturday, with the partner she had found who thought the same as she did, everything was falling into place, her vision over the years had persisted each night and was finally, at long, long last being realised. Was this all real? She thought, was it a dream?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A midday trip, to catch a bit of sunshine.

Waiting patiently for the Sunday travellers to load up all their picnic baskets in the rare sunshine this afternoon.
The smell, the noise of escaping steam, and coal smoke evoking memories of my childhood so long ago, looking up to see it pass over the viaduct in Margate road from our back garden, the mighty engines pulled their heavy load of passengers back to the city after a holiday on the beaches of Ramsgate.

It never moved for a good half hour, must have been a female, showing off as usual, in its fine Sunday best, soaking up the sunshine in the conservatory of the nursery gardens.
(I might finish this one and put a bit of colour on it later on)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Little Glimmer of Hope

(Contiued from Wednesday)
I learnt that afternoon from one of the male nurses she had, it seemed, lost her memory, nobody could make sense of anything she uttered, which was very little in any case. Coming in three weeks previous she had been retrieved from a multiple pile up on the motorway, they didn’t even know which vehicle she was travelling in, so bad was the state of the accident it couldn’t be determined in which direction she was travelling in or if anyone was with her. The police were baffled, and although they had not given up had stopped calling in to enquire of her progress. Waiting it seemed for someone to report her missing.
Being old and wrinkled I didn’t think she would consider me a threat and enquired if I could perhaps have the use of a wheelchair like hers and join her the following day out in the sunshine. I hadn’t been out of bed for what was now several weeks and my curiosity took over from the concern about my health and after a lot of pleading on my part the authorities agreed to let me out for a couple of hours.
The following morning I was anxious to get out, ‘boy’ was I wobbly, my legs turned to jelly as I swung them out and over the bed, if you have ever been laid up for any considerable time you know, I’m sure, that feeling. I felt sick, my head spun in a direction that can’t be described as I leaned against the burly male nurse who was sitting on the bed beside me. We took our time at his insistence and gradually the world around me came back into focus, and with a monumental effort on both our parts he was soon pushing me out of the doors into the garden.
It was about ten in the morning and the sun was shining down on me sending a feeling of shear joy at being outside as I remember filling my lungs with the fresh air, taking gasps like a child in a candy store, this also brought on the dizzy spells again.
I came to a halt as my chauffeur parked my buggy next to this young woman out there in the garden. The previous night I had planned for numerous scenarios, how I would approach this mysterious young lady and what I would say to her.
It didn’t happen, we just sat there in silence for a good half hour not saying a word. My head was getting uncomfortably hot from the strong sunshine by this time so I took out of my dressing gown pocket my hanky. Remember being on the beach and seeing the holidaymakers in deckchairs with their hankies tied in each corner to make a hat?
With a lot of effort on my part the said hanky took its place on my head;
She smiled!
In that instant out there in the bright glare coming from the sky, the smallest glimmer of hope passed across her once lovely face, and something passed between us both, a kin, like father and daughter would have, nothing else, it wasn’t pity but a small recognition of comfort as I just laid my hand on the arm of her wheelchair and she instantly took hold of it.
We had made contact, and it felt good, my mission had been accomplished without saying even one word to her. 
I closed my eyes and drifted off, revelling in the fresh air and warm sunshine, I’m sure it was doing me good to be outside because the next thing I knew was her hand squeezing mine to bring me back from where ever I was, it was dinner time and Arnold Schwarzenegger was taking the brake of my chariot, looking across to her I just said;
There was no answer, I don’t think she understood, but there was that smile again, faint, but definitely there, and it made a difference that was obvious to everyone watching.
That night after visiting, two ‘coppers’ appeared from nowhere and stood at the bottom of my bed and started to question me about my encounter that morning, that was until my mate ‘Arnold’ came and interrupted them, reading the riot act to the one who was firing questions at me. He politely told them to be quiet, and he would ask the questions drawing the curtains around me as he did so. You didn’t argue with ‘Arnold’, he was about 6ft 6” with not one ounce of fat showing from his large frame, a gentle giant of a man and to the patients on the ward a real friend you immediately took to, we were all under his care in that ward and we felt safe and he would do anything within reason to make us comfortable.
The upstart of it all was they were no wiser for their journey that night than they were before, but were very keen on the outcome if I could in some small way find out who she was and where she had come from. Which of course, I promised to try and find out.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                                             (to be continued)
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Gone Fishing ! ! !

Sorry, back soon.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

There was still that little glimmer of hope.


The sketch I have drawn, was done a few years ago now, but it has a significant reference to the story that follows, a vicarage of considerable size that I drew from a photograph that was shown to me one afternoon, sitting in the gardens of the hospital in Bournemouth recovering from what I thought at the time was close to the end of my days.
As many know, music is the lifeblood to the existence that I feel privileged to have been given.
Irrespective of the troubles around me in the world today and the sympathy I have for those not so fortunate as myself. The joy that music gives me in one form or another I sometimes wish I could pass on to those suffering hardship and sorrow from tragedies that have occurred to them.

One such time in my life, when hospitalised, broke my heart one morning as I looked out of the window in the ward I was in. The beauty that had been crushed, leaving a shell of a young person struggling to find reason to live was touching everyone that looked out of that window.
As I lay there in bed the ‘Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana’ was being softly played from the hospital headphones I had on.
I have tried to show and play the above video from utube on this Blog without much success, (I am still a complete novice with these modern gadgets) so all I can seem to do is link it for you to listen to.
Her pitch-black hair was a wonder to anyone looking in her direction, the long locks, braided and platted shone in the morning sun as if an imaginative artist had created it for a sculpture or picture, and you would be forgiven to think an expert coiffeur had spent hours that morning tending with the love and care of his or her creation at dawn before anyone opened their eyes.
Not so!
Her back to the window that everyone who passed looked out to see, a single forlorn figure in a wheelchair facing the lake, her black hair, by reason of her prominent position, challenged inspection from visitors to the wards or medical staff going about their daily duties. She never moved from the spot of grass in front of the hospital gardens, staying there all morning until the trolleys could be heard trundling down the corridors with lunch for the wards. When she turned, her dark sunken eyes for one brief moment met mine, at this time you would expect a beauty to face you, and such expectations are not usually a disappointment after seeing the illusion of obvious care her crowning glory presented to the onlooker from the back.
There had been beauty, that was obvious, but now the sadness in her eyes took away that beauty, there was an emptiness of life facing you, a resigned distant wretchedness to that face that had turned so many heads in the past. Pale without colour in any of the features, emphasized the pitch-black surrounding tresses that fell over her shoulders.
I had to find out more, without prying into her private life, I had to know her story, I had to talk to her.
That music created a resolve to some how cheer her up, to show her, if I could, the wonders still left for her to live for.
                                                                                (to be continued)
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sketch for the day.

“ and what did you do today Betty? “
“ I took Henry for a walk Daddy”

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Gas? I remember The Gas Geaser.Mrs Plumbing.


My dad it seemed, always acquired, one way or another the latest gadget for Mum, when we were quite small the latest thing back then was a twin tub, it never seemed to be in the same place as before when we came home from school, dancing around the kitchen, it was a permanent joke with mum, she would shout out “Shut the door, the washing machine is loose” expecting it to escape I think down the road to freedom.
There was the ‘Hoover’ as well, but that is too long a story to account here, perhaps another day.
In the bathroom, was what we called ‘IT’ nobody ever referred to it as anything else!
Every Sunday, my Dad would venture into that little room at the top of the stairs and with courage and fortitude far greater than anything he had to muster up during the war, would place the plug in the bath outlet, stand back, take a deep breath, then at arms length would turn on the tap.
The contraption that heated the water was hung on the wall, I kid you not when I tell you the screws that held it in place were a good six inches long, they had to be.
It was about three and a half feet in height, two feet wide, nearly a yard deep, (that’s just under a metre to you lot) gleaming white and looked more like a refrigerator than a boiler – which it was supposed to be.
‘IT’ was the greatest spreader of alarm and despondency in our house when I was a boy, with the exception of a certain television set which reported such great TV occasions, like the coronation, with nothing more than a thin, bitter, horizontal line across its sneering face.
This particular Telly, which even its despairing manufacturers called ‘a rogue-elephant set’ put together last in line on a Friday, had nothing on ‘IT’.
‘IT’ made hot water and was stuffed with British Thermal Units, electric eyes, thermostats, switches, and fed on gas of some sorts pumped in from huge great cylinders at the bottom of St. Luke’s avenue in the middle of town, it smelt like low-grade sump oil.
‘IT’ sat there all week silent and aseptic like one of those operating theatre cabinets full of long knives and oval trays for swabs that were meant for the men in white coats (sometimes green) to leave inside you. (This I am an authority on.)
Then as if disturbed from its idol life on each Sunday morning, after Dad I think must have taken a little Dutch courage, ‘IT’ erupted.
There was a sudden Kerrrrrrrr-UMP! Like a two-thousand-pound bomb going off in the middle-distance followed by a deep, guttural roar as the low-grade gas burst into life underneath its belly.
If you had the radio switched on it would twitch, and if you had the TV on, the blood would run from its electronic face, completely.
My Brov’ and me, lying on our beds in the adjoining room would count it down like ‘Journey into Space’ on the radio every Saturday night :
The house would tremble and we waited expecting ‘IT’ to rise slowly from its launching pad as the blast-off reached its mighty crescendo, then roaring off into the morning sky leaving a hole the size of Vesuvius’s crater in the ceiling.
I remember one such Sunday morning in particular; we always seemed to have a cat in those days and the particular little feline we had then was normally a confident, insolent animal happened to be passing by when ‘IT’ first exploded into action.
So did the cat with a vertical take off that a Harrier pilot would have been proud of.
Forever after, that trembling psychiatric case feared to pass ‘IT’ by day or night and took to staying out all Saturday night until dinnertime on Sunday when food was on the table, but that poor pussy was never the same after that, when it wanted feeding, instead of the normal meeee ..owes it would kind of stutter m-m-m-m-mee-mee owe, or something like that.
Anyway, Dad had it taken out in the end, (IT I mean) for fear it would one day bring the house down around our ears on one quite Sunday morning, he had a back boiler put in to heat the water, now that suited us two boys to a ‘T’. During the summer months we could get away with just a ‘lick and a promise’ because it was too hot to light a fire to heat the water. I know all our nerves took a turn for the better though, Brov’ and me found there was a lot more room in the bathroom to float our model boats in the bath after that…….good days.


Thanks for stopping by.

A bit of Humour today


“Don’t let Mr Snodgrass get to close my dear, he has invested all his fortune in beef, remember what Papa told you, horses my dear, horses, they are the future.”

Saturday, 9 February 2013

An Oldies slant on the beef thingy.

Rain stopped play so I came home early.

I’m not one to voice an opinion on politics or current affairs in the news, but this business with the food that I eat has caused me concern. Due to my age I suppose, I can remember the abattoir in town, the cattle walked in one end and came out the other on hooks ready for the local butchers in town, my uncle was one of them.
The fish came into the harbour in boxes still wriggling and was sold on the dock for the many fish shops in the town to lay out on their marble slabs, it had been caught either in the channel or the north sea, we knew where it had come from.
The vegetables were grown in the field opposite where I lived, or on the allotment that Dad had and us kids were tasked to do the watering and weeding while he was at work.
The cornfields stretched for miles out in the countryside supplying the windmills that ground the corn into flour that went to the many bakers to make the bread and so on and so on. We knew where our food was coming from, we knew it was fresh; we knew it wasn’t contaminated by foreign hands. The funny thing is very little was wrapped in boxes with pretty pictures on to entice Mum to buy it, there was no need, she knew what was wanted for the meal and where to get it from. The only things I can remember in boxes were the cereals:  Cornflakes, Shredded wheat, Wheatabix and the like. The milk was delivered every day and if you didn’t drink it all, on the following day it was hung up over the sink and mum made cheese out of it. (Don’t ask, I don’t know how it was done, all I know it was very tasty.)
Just after the war everyone kept chickens, so there were always fresh eggs in a bowl on the kitchen table. Fruit was grown in orchards where we went scrumping on many an occasion, strawberries had their own patch at the bottom of the garden under the cherry tree’s and woe-be-tide any grubby little hands found to have the tell tale red marks on from the juices of either of them.
I know the younger generations get fed up with us oldies ranting on about the good old days, but I for one will admit, that the progress that has been made over my lifetime is for the better in most things, except the food! It’s tasteless; the flavour has been frozen out of so much in the food chain. I was always being told off for eating too many potatoes, I loved them to bits as the kids say nowadays. I can’t bear to eat them now, they are sweet, sugary, because they have been washed and frozen, causing a chemical reaction that converts something in them to turn to sugar. As one of the youngsters said the other day when I had a Marmite butty: Yuck!
Anyway, there is nothing wrong with horse meat I am told, and if a chef wants to put it on the menu, so be it, but for the Supermarkets to sell it labelled as beef, doing our farmers out of the sale of their cattle, and no matter what their excuse is, it seems to me a bit like the banks perhaps, because they make 76% more profit.
That is when I would fully support the much aligned legal system we have in this country, to sue the big cats that run them, bringing them home from the Cost Del …….whatever and put them where they would put us customers if we were caught fraudulently behaving or stealing in their big stores.
Behind bars for a spell!
But as you and I know, that will never happen, like always a rule for the little guys, and a rule for the big guys. But please don’t make excuses for the big guys, they would never even let you try to explain before you found yourself in custody for some considerable time.
I heard somewhere didn’t I?
Ignorance is no excuse for guilt in law.
Wanna bet on it!
Thank for stopping by.

Friday, 8 February 2013

A sketch for the day.

        An early morning struggle up the gradient in the 1950’s
Sorry to all, no post tomorrow, perhaps Sunday if I get time.
Have a good weekend.

Thoughts of 'The Turner Contemporary'

I still remember reading the diaries of Ruskin, about the time his young mind observed and studied paintings especially Turner. It seamed he (Turner) was his idol at the time of his young life and inspired this great man to become the art critic that everyone respected. One of the first paintings I ever saw that Ruskin painted was a copy of ‘The Bridge at Terni’ that hung on the wall in his study at Brantwood, it could have been the original, but I doubt it.
I made a copy of his notes one summer, which I found the other day amongst many of my papers that I kept from those times. I wish I had made more, but I was eager to read rather than copy what he had written. I envisaged the quill and ink that was in a glass case in the cupboard opposite his desk; that was the original!
I will copy on this Blog what Ruskin wrote about Turner in his diary, it is dated 22nd of June, now I am not sure if that was the date I copied it or it was the date in his diary, it could have been either:

Introduced to-day to the man who beyond all doubt is the greatest of the age; greatest in every faculty of the imagination, in every branch of scenic knowledge; at once the painter and poet of the day, J.M.W.Turner:
Everybody had described him to me as coarse, boorish, unintellectual, and vulgar.
This I knew to be impossible. I found him a somewhat eccentric, keen-mannered, matter-of-fact, English-minded gentleman; good-natured evidently, bad-tempered evidently, hating humbug of all sorts, shrewd, perhaps a little selfish, highly intellectual, the powers of the mind not brought out with any delight in their manifestation, or intention of display, but flashing out occasionally in a word or a book.

Since those days all Ruskin’s writings and artwork have found their way, or most of them, into libraries of universities, hidden away from view, only for the privileged to treasure and read.
Visiting the Ruskin museum in Coniston last summer I was so disappointed with the few exhibits on display, all behind glass, a sketchpad opened on a single page, the treasures in those hidden pages obscured from view.
Is this what is destined for the future Heritage we so treasure, of the great men of learning from our past, how can the budding artist of today read and discover what was meant to be by him (Ruskin) read by the people of this country? 
The same goes for Turner, his great works are mostly in private collections and some in galleries, but the majority are where? He was, according to writings of the time a very prolific artist and when I viewed the video that Michael posted of ‘The Turner Contemporary’ a couple of days ago I couldn’t believe what I was watching and hearing on the exhibit they were showing. There are explanations on all of his work from art critics of the time, many of which I have been fortunate enough to read, some I agree with, some I don’t but that is the point, it is all open to discussion if notes are studied before a discussion of this kind is held. (That’s if you can find them!)

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sketch and watercolour wash.

Tried a bit of watercolour on a sketch yesterday, finished it off this morning. a couple of cottages up the road from us, just outside of Ringwood in Hampshire.

'Cuold do better' as reflected on some of my school reports.

More memories of the Granville

Can I go back to a time when elegance permeated through a class of individuals that required pampering from such splendour when it was first built? There was, no doubt poverty we can’t imagine in the time of Dickens, he has described it in a way that has made his stories popular to millions over the years, leaving the reader of his books a clear picture of a time in our history of inequality and hardship for the many that was ignored by politicians and the upper class. I sometimes think that things haven’t changed much when I watch what our elected representatives get up to, bickering like children over who did what instead of getting together and trying to better our lovely country. No chance of that!
An article that I read in ‘The Granville News’ from way back at the turn of the last century, describes the luxury of that sumptuous lifestyle the few took for granted. We can only imagine what it was like.
For me, a half-century later or so from those times, that hostelry being what it was then, was I realise now, the foundation to a life that has been so full of lovely memories.

So, to answer a lot of questions, the following is how it all started.

The Granville and how it was back then.

In the very beginning, from a day so long ago, that changed my life.

I have been asked about the Granville Ballroom and how it was that I went to dancing class so young, some not believing to some extent how grand it all was back in my time there. I have tried to think of a comparison to the interior of that beautiful building, but can’t. I have travelled extensively throughout my life, being privileged to visit and be surrounded by luxury that can only be described as extravagant in the extreme, but nothing has ever compared to those first impressions of the young boy that I was, walking into a different world so long ago now.  
I often considered how unfair certain reprimands were when I was young, and I am sure I wasn’t on my own in this respect, but as I started typing away this morning trying to remember how it all started, I smiled and marvelled at the consequences of that morning, now, well over six decades later, of one such chastisement. Could my mother ever, in her wildest thoughts, imagine what the outcome to a simple flash of desperation on her part would be? I don’t think so; in fact I am absolutely certain she couldn’t have done.
If I remember rightly I was being a pest, like we all are at that age, under mum’s feet one Saturday morning, and she turned to my elder sister, who was getting ready to go out, and told her to take me with her;
She was going to dancing class!
I was about 9 years old;
The thought of me, the oldest at that time, of the street gang going to dancing class evoked all kinds of unjust feelings, then anger, and then sheer disbelief that mum was serious. Girls were meant to dance, I had visions of tutu’s and tights and all kinds of feminine attire. Boys were meant to rule, have punch ups, get dirty, go race the dreaded hill with the latest banana box Ferrari down Woodford Ave., not go dancing. I’d definitely be drummed out the regiment we all belonged to, banned forever from the gang. The thoughts that rushed through my tiny mind even to this day were terrifying. But I went, because that’s what you did in those days. You didn’t argue with your parents, mum said go; that was the end of it, you went.
I do remember walking down to the bus stop that morning with sis, I was praying as hard as I had ever done that none of my mates would see me, because everyone knew that my sister went to dancing class on a Saturday morning, and caught the number 71 bus at 10:30 from the Derby Arms. Would I ever forgive my mum?
The classes were held at a very grand hotel up on the cliff, and as we walked through the revolving door into the foyer the smell of a lavish luxury with highly polished furniture even to someone so young took me by surprise. If class had any meaning to me in those days this made an immediate impression, I was, I remember, bewildered, I was entering a world I had not dreamed of or known about, the high ceiling and marble columns, plush seats covered in a deep red velvet fabric that, I thought, you surely were not supposed to, or allowed to sit in, were all round that foyer. Highly polished tables that you could see yourself in reflected the wonder on my face. I can remember thinking, ‘who lives in a palace like this? Kings and Queens? The fear of the unknown soon evaporated, and my boyish inquisitive mind began to visually investigate where I was, my feet sank into a deep red carpet that covered every inch of the floor, all thought of giggling girls and ridicule at school from my pals lost all its meaning. I swear to this day that I grew a good couple of inches and walked a little taller that morning.
What you didn’t do, (being a boy, you understand) was hold your sisters hand, not the done thing unless you were a whimp or a bit of a sissy. I gripped my sister’s hand as if my life depended on it that morning; all cares of who was watching went right out the window.
As we moved along the corridor we passed a great big room that later became known to me as the banqueting hall, there were tables with pristine white tablecloths, shiny knives and forks and bunches of flowers on each table that seemed fit for the king to sit at, there were very smartly dressed men arranging and laying out these tables. I stared and stared at this spectacle but was soon pulled away with a jerk by sis’ who didn’t seem to mind me gripping her hand so tightly, but hadn’t time to waste it seemed.
What was to come as we walked through that hotel surpassed anything that had gone before as my sister pushed open the double doors at the top of a sloping corridor lined with photographs of men and women holding big silver trophies dressed in fine gowns and bow ties and tailed suits. I was walking into another world, a world where the floor was so highly polished it mirrored my dirty knees, in fact the reflection of the ornate ceiling up above was so clear you wouldn’t believe. Crystal chandeliers hung from this ceiling, which were all lit up making the reflection dance around the floor in a thousand tiny specs of light. There were those chairs again, all covered in that posh fabric, and the big tall windows on either side were curtains of the same red velvet, and then my eyes looked round at the walls, the pattern of the paper was raised and also covered in velvet, I was transfixed and couldn’t move until I had taken it all in, I just stood there rooted to the spot, marvelling at the splendour, the grandeur of it all.
That morning I took my first steps onto a dance floor; the beautiful polished Maple floorboards of the Grandville Ballroom became ‘my home from home’. What I was to learn over the years that followed, was a confidence that has stood me in good stead through my life, being able many times to stand by the side of dignitaries of a station in life far above mine and my humble start, I was never in awe of their position. Finding they would want to listen and put into practice the knowledge I had gained in my work over the years.
This is what my dear mum gave to me that day, so desperate for a bit of peace and quiet so she could, no doubt, carry on with her daily chores of keeping the house clean from the clutter and half the wreck dirt I brought home with me.
Thanks again for stopping by.


Monday, 4 February 2013

Another sketch today, and a bit of history.

Quatford: The Church of St Mary Magdalene in Shropshire.


Travelling north a few years back we had to break our journey and stayed overnight just west of Wolverhampton. The countryside that morning when we had eaten breakfast beckoned my camera to be rescued from the suitcase, it was a beautiful day, and as some of you would know the structure of a church and its surroundings I find is compelling to me to reach for my sketch pad. All these months later I found the pictures I took that day, and the above sketch is the result.
Legend has it that Adeliza, the wife of Roger de Montgomery, founded this church.
Montgomery had come to England with William the Conqueror and been given control of Shropshire.
When his wife travelled across the channel to join him there was a terrible storm. Terrified and soaked to the skin on deck of the vessel she was travelling on, Adeliza prayed on her knees to God, and that, should she safely complete her journey, she would build a church at the place where she first caught sight of her husband. This took place under a nearby oak tree (which still survives to this day! but I have left it out of the sketch I have made) Montgomery then built the first church on this site.
The church dates then from the Norman period (1066-1154) I think I have got that right.
The church’s nave and tower I was told at the time by the curate that showed us around was later rebuilt in 1714. But much of the interior remains from the original construction all those years ago, although off the beaten track, much of our heritage is hidden away like this church, in the small villages and countryside, very little is mentioned in our history books, but the stories are sometimes told by enthusiastic locals creating for me a fascination to the past that I can’t get enough of.
Knowing the squalls the channel can produce, a young woman on her own in an open boat, just the crew for company in a vessel that would not be allowed out of the harbour these days; can you just imagine the terror she must have felt, only her trust in her faith to keep her going. Such courage is incomprehensible to us in this day and age; I think I too would have fallen to my knees.
Thanks for stopping by.






Just a quicky before I go out.

I love gadgets! They fascinate me. Yesterday I found a mechanical rubber! ? ? ?
I thought, what an unbelievable saving of energy, to not even have to push a rubber across the paper to erase a line I didn’t want.

Wow! It’s a must have.

Six quid, without any batteries to make it work, I won’t go down that road, but never the less a pet hate of mine, you buy it for your budding artist in the family only to find they can’t use it until you are out at the shops again.
In very small print on the back of the packet amongst the German and French instructions the words Batteries Not Included’ so I couldn’t try it in the shop.
I had to get round to the coffee shop to try it out. 

Do you know its brilliant!

To start with it was worth the six quid with all the humour and curiosity it caused. You can afford to sharpen the end of the rubber to a point on one of the small rubbers it comes with, and another to a chisel end.
Might be a bit bulky for a youngster’s hand, but there again the batteries have to go somewhere.
They could also have put a pen clip on it so you could put it in your top pocket, but never mind.

Made by ‘Derwent’

Best buy for me this year, so far anyway, highly recommended.

Thanks for stopping by, be back tonight perhaps.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A little nostalgia, and my sketch for the day.

A bit out of Puff
I stood there in the doorway, the frame of which was obscured, covered in ivy. A dog rose was trying to compete and little white petals peeped through the mass of green foliage, . . . . the door opened.
Her hand was outstretched to me.
“You are Stanley’s friend, Alan I presume” I just stared!
“You would do well to learn to relax and leave all your hang-ups at the door my friend” she carried on. Closing my mouth I followed her into the front reception hall.
“I am Trish, we are all in the lounge, come on in.”
As we passed down the hallway the walls had been painted by the likes of Quentin Bell or even perhaps Duncan Grants who had invaded the cottage up on the hill.
Either the Bloomsbury Set had been revived in some form or another or this enchanting place had been preserved from those times. It all reminded me of the Arts and Craft Movement.
Trish walked ahead of me, the sun was bursting through the large windows to my left of the passage, the strong rays of light shone on her long golden hair that reached to the base of her trunk, her young body was covered only by a thin chiffon smock that reached right down to her ankles, you could see right through it to a figure that could only be described as a beautiful female form.
The late fifties and early sixties was a time of flower power, of love, of concerts on the fells that went on through the night till breakfast time. We didn’t sleep, there wasn’t time and anyway we might miss something if your eyes were closed. Listening to one of us reading or reciting poetry, painting outlandish canvases, drawing what we saw and surrounded by copies that hung on the walls of the lounge of the likes of Turner, Ruskin and Millet giving inspiration and a thrill of the life we had been born into.
I had found the next stage of my life purely by accident, answering an advertisement for help at ‘Brantwood’ in the heart of the Lake District. This beautiful property, high up on the hill overlooking the banks of Coniston Water with Old Man Coniston in the background (that is a high fell or small mountain for those that are not aware) had once been the home of John Ruskin, I had never heard of him until that day, but as the weeks went on turning into months my inquisitive mind couldn’t get enough of what he had written. Turner originals were all round the lounge on the walls, and in the hallway hung a portrait of a group by Millet. Original manuscripts in Ruskin’s exquisite handwriting, hundreds of sketches and drawings from his travels were there to leaf through with gloved hands in the library that he had sat and worked in all those years previous.
The intellect that reverberated round the rooms from the many students that visited encouraged a learning process that had lain dormant in me from birth. This was a heaven I didn’t know existed, and it wasn’t long before I was accepted into the set of young people in a little Hawkshead cottage not far from Brantwood, knocking on the door that day to see the vision of Aphrodite in front of me.
I felt then ‘I had arrived at my Mecca.’ What followed was an understanding of this life in all its forms, I realised quite early on, my education had been severely lacking in a lot of respects and there was so much more to this existence than purely self.
So this is probably the reason I get so much enjoyment out of sketching, and a lot of other things that I do as well, a spark that was first ignited all those years ago in the beautiful county of Cumbria, it gave me so much that I have been grateful for over the years, I only wish I could in some small way enlighten the youngsters of today, of the beauty of it all, but sadly, I don’t think they would listen.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 1 February 2013

One of the Ramsgate Characters I Remember from Long Ago

The meeting with Miss Beaumont
There were many characters in our town that I remember from my youth, all, no doubt if truth were told, had their own story to tell. Many seemed a sad representation of folk in their appearance. Some had their obvious poverty imposed on them through no fault of their own. Never the less we didn’t pay much attention to what you might call these colourful individuals; they were a part of the life around us. In fact it was customary, and perhaps wise for some reason or another to give them a little distance on the pavement. These days there are probably medical explanations, but you will find on your travels, no matter which town or city you visit in any part of the world those same characters.

The tale I recollect started on one winter’s day, and concerned one of those perhaps unfortunate people that attracted a little pity by some folk in the town. A lady, and she was, or had been a lady, there being no doubt about that when I met her, or realistically became acquainted with would be a better description of my encounter and subsequent friendship in a small sort of way. Upon reflection, we would today call her melancholy in her demure behaviour, and would probably feel a little sorry for her ourselves and walk away if circumstances had been different.
But then, because being so young I didn’t understand the rigors that life could throw at you, to call her anything other than what she really was, a fine and upstanding lady who had fallen from grace from her family and friends, which I found out later, because she wanted and did follow the ambition of her youth decades previous to when I became au fait with her. 
It must have been a mid term holiday of some sort, because we were off school in the middle of the week. It was without doubt a very cold, wet and windy day and we had taken shelter in our usual coffee shop. When I say we, I had my girlfriend with me at the time. Everybody in the town seemed to have the same idea that day and the place was full; all the tables had somebody sitting at them. The only seats were at a table right in the front looking out onto the street with a lady sitting on her own. After purchasing our beverages we approached her table and Jessie politely asked if she wouldn’t mind us joining her. There wasn’t any answer to our request, just a distant look as her eyes scrutinised the two youths in front of her. After what seemed an age she raised her arm and with an outstretched hand that had two enormous rocks on two of her fingers beckoned to the two empty seats in front of her.
Around her neck was a fox fur stole, and underneath many large pearls in numerous strings. The fur was wet through and bedraggled and must have been cold and damp around her neck. I thought then it was strange she had journeyed out in the squally weather without an umbrella. I had taken one from the hallstand from home, and I opened it up to dry and placed it in the corner out of everybody’s way.
“Bad luck, tch’ tch’ bad luck, my, my such bad luck, shouldn’t open it indoors, very bad luck, have to go now, bad luck.” Came the response from this lady, her hand noticeably shaking holding her half full cup of tea as she said it.
I glanced at my companion, “Close it Al’, close the umbrella, please.” she pleaded, which I instantly did, and she turned to the lady and said;
“Please forgive my Al’, it was very thoughtless of him, he should have known better, please don’t go, it’s quite awful out there this afternoon.” 
I sat down again, quite humbled by both my female companions, not really appreciating the error of my ways, but submissive never the less. 
Taking a little more notice while my Jessie consoled her, the dress and clothes she had on had at some distant past been very fine, in fact quite expensive. But as I sat there scrutinising this lady’s appearance it was obvious to me she had fallen on hard times. Her dress wasn’t moth eaten but in places very threadbare, but obviously costly at the time of purchase as was her numerous items of jewellery. She held herself upright and proud with eyes that seemed to take in everything in the angle of her vision without moving one millimetre to either side of her sockets, a bit unnerving to anyone caught in her gaze.
Both of us had been providential over the past few years we had known each other to hold a dialogue with dignitaries and people well above our situation in life without being ‘tongue tied’ so to speak, with the many functions that we had attended and been to. As I have said on many occasions Jessie could hold her own with the best of them, and as I sat there nurturing my wounds from the rebuff I had just been given, the two of them were deep in conversation over something or other that didn’t involve me at all.
Her black woollen wrap that covered all of her upper frame was obviously damp and clung to her shoulders and arms and had been no protection for her from the inclement weather that was now lashing intensely against the glass frontage of the coffee shop. I started to feel a kind of warmth and a little sorry for this lady sitting next to me. Her little hat matched her swathe, with what had once been fine black lace, but in a couple of places the thread to the lace was coming undone and hung down over the fox stole in a wet tangle of fur. I realised just in time my eyes began to portray my feelings for this grand old lady and excused myself as I asked if another cup of coffee was wanted, turning to her with a little trepidation of her answer, asked if I could perhaps get her another cup of tea and perhaps a cake. 
Her gaze as she looked up from her seat at me I will never forget, so sad, so full of emotion, seemingly astonished that someone could offer with so much respect to join her in tea and cakes. Once again she didn’t answer me, just handed me her empty cup with the faintest of smiles that had a profound effect on me, seeming to strangle something inside of me.
The relief to get away from the table and talk to the chap behind the counter was I remember, a saving grace for the way I was starting to feel. One of my faults, and perhaps still is, that I have a very inquisitive mind and so many questions were forming in my head, why was this lovely lady so sad in her manner as well as her attire? Why did everybody ignore her presence?
I asked the guy serving for a pot of tea and cakes, and could he put them on a tray with plates and cake forks and bring them over to us. I’d seen him do this quite often when we had called occasionally on a Saturday afternoon.
“Sure I can sir, didn’t know you knew Miss Beaumont.” I paid him and went back to my seat. Jessie looked up with a quizzical look wondering where her drink was; I just winked at her and in no time at all this chap was fussing over us with the tray full of goodies. He had done me proud, a proper milk jug and sugar bowl with sugar lumps and tongs. Plates were placed in the correct manner as if he was waiting-on in some fine restaurant.
“Shall I pour for you Miss Beaumont, or would you rather…..?”
She didn’t bat an eyelid, just waved him away with those rocks I first mentioned and continued with an air of grace that obviously she was, or had been accustomed to, pouring the tea in a manner that surprised even me. Her hands didn’t shake this time as she raised her cup to her lips, and for the first time that afternoon her demure carried a smile that spoke volumes. I had touched the heart of this lady’s reason for living. Fine manners and etiquette had surfaced from her past to put her in charge of entertaining, albeit two youngsters she had only just met, but she was in her element and revelling in it.
“Miss Beaumont is a dancer in the theatre Al’” Jessie informed me.
“Was my dear, was a dancer a long time ago.” She corrected her new friend.
“At the Palace theatre, just up the road here,” she continued.
I knew the Palace principally as a cinema although in the past I had been to the Christmas Pantomime with my parents quite a few times, so I knew there was a stage behind the screen. I ventured “In the Pantomime’s at Christmas?”
“No, long before that young man, many years have passed since I danced on that stage, there were no pantomime’s in those days, it was Opera and Drama and sometimes the Circus, then Variety Shows took over just after the first war. Her face changed to a distant look that can only be described as serene and beautiful, her youth, long gone, briefly returned, as the lines of age seemed to disappear. A slight smile appeared and there was a look of striking serenity on her face. Her eyes began to glass over with moisture forming in the corners, nodding her head slightly there was a whisper, barely audible “They were the good times” as her hand, thin and full of veins that protruded above the bones and skin reached out to touch my girlfriend that held her coffee. She turned and looked up at a picture on the wall above the counter, and stared for a while as the sun began to burst through the glass of the front doors. The rain had stopped; the thought then occurred to me she knew who we were. We were not the strangers we thought we were to her.  
“Treasure your memories my dear, when you get to my age that is all you have left. Remember these times, remember the beauty that shines in the sunlight there above the counter for all the world to see, because you can never go back to recapture that magic in later life.”
Our newfound friend gently touched my hand as she stood up to depart our company. What seemed to be an after thought when reaching the door that I held open for her, she turned back to face Jessie sitting there in her usual engaging manner, bent over and kissed her on the forehead;
“I would have loved to see you dance my dear.”
Turning back to me, there was a smile on her face, those staring eyes looked at me for a moment and I saw a twinkle of humour, “Thank you.” Were her passing words and she swiftly disappeared into the street joining the many shoppers trying to catch a glimpse of the sun on that cold winters afternoon.

So, that was how we met Miss Beaumont, the meeting in the coffee shop all those years ago with that lovely lady who everyone seemed to ignore and avoid had a profound affect I think on both of us. We sat there talking about her for a long time afterwards, sipping a lot more coffee than normal. There were periods that afternoon when we fell silent, the lovely face of my partner deep in thought reflecting upon our short journey through life up until then. What it all had meant to us, how each day our characters and opinions were developing in a way that would never have come to the fore of our personalities if either of us had taken a different course. The people that we met who were willing to talk to us both, because of our prominence in the town where we lived, everyone seemed to know who we were. The joy and thrill we both experienced in each other’s company, doing things not even our friends could ever hope to achieve began to dawn on our young minds that afternoon in our favourite coffee shop. Looking out at the rain pouring down again outside, holding hands across the table watching the glass frontage of Pellosi’s steam up, the smell of peculating coffee bubbling away on the counter behind, gave both of us a sense of belonging to something bigger than what all of our friends at that time had any hope of seeing. Both of us coming from working class backgrounds, we had moved into the realm of opulence and luxury, mixing with people who had obvious wealth from one source or another and been accepted as their equal, in fact they seemed to want our company.

A couple of weeks later coming home from practice late one night I saw Miss Beaumont struggling up Victoria Road as I was cycling down, carrying what seemed to be two heavy bags. As you know doubt know Victoria Road is very steep and it took me all the effort I could muster to stop my cycle from shooting across the lights at the bottom that were actually on Green. But stop I did with the back wheel locked, it spun furiously round to face the opposite direction as I slammed on the brakes making her jump.
“They look heavy Miss Beaumont, may I assist and carry them for you, at least to the top of the hill?” I enquired pulling up beside her. It was quite dark but fortunately we had both stopped underneath the street light, never the less she had to peer quite close to see who had made her jump and was offering some assistance.
“Oh, . . . . Hello young man, you are out late! . . . . But that is my good fortune, my good fortune it is, you are so kind, so kind, thank you so much, thank you so much.”
She handed me her bags to balance on the handlebars, they were heavy too, but I didn’t look to see what was making them so weighty, and we started our climb up that steep gradient of one in five that I had previously flown down in just a few seconds. Turning into Arklow Square just before we reached the top of that steep hill she stopped and offered to take her bags back off me, “You have been so kind young man, so kind, so kind. Thank you, thank you so much.” As she opened a gate at the top of the steps to one of the basements, “I can manage now, thank you so much.” And she went to take them from me holding out that hand again. The rings were still on her fingers, the numerous strings of pearls were still around her neck and that little hat was exactly in the same position as when we met her that past fortnight, nothing had changed, not one iota of apparel even the fox fur stole, although dry now, draped round her neck had changed. I propped my cycle up against the kerb and lifted her bags off the handlebars, they were heavy, very heavy. “Can I carry them in for you?” I asked, “It will be no trouble because they are very heavy.” She stopped, pondering on my request, as if she was weighing up a situation that was concerning her if she accepted. “It’s alright young man, I can manage now, I can manage.” and she took one of the bags from me using both of her hands, the other one I placed on the top step for her to collect. As I put it down the weight made the contents flatten the bag and the top gaped open. It was full of coal.
My good deed done I turned around and bent down to switch my back light on I remember, the damn thing must have had a faulty switch or something because it was always turning itself off. As I stood up it was my turn to jump, standing in front of me was one of Ramsgate’s finest. He didn’t come out with the now familiar opening we laugh about today, namely ‘Hello, hello, hello, what are you up to?’ or something like that. But instead, “That was a commendable thing you did there son, but I was surprised she let you do it, do you know Miss Beaumont?”
After gathering my composure, which I can tell you was in somewhat of a state, I proceeded to inform this ‘Officer of the law’ who towered above me and was shining his torch in my face, how I had become acquainted with Miss Beaumont, and I had seen her struggling at the bottom of Victoria Road with her bags.
“Yes, I saw you and have followed you up that hill. What are you doing out so late.”
Another explanation followed, but he stopped me with a hand held up in front of him when I was half way through my reason to his question.
“You’re Harry’s lad then, mmmm… well be on your way then, and be careful going down that hill.”
As I reached the corner I turned and saw him carrying the second bag I had left at the top of her steps down into her little flat.
To put into context how we found out what had happened to Miss Beaumont is another story (perhaps tomorrow). But first of all when I told my parents about our encounter, what I had done that night and my brush with the local law they were, to say the least, very displeased, in fact quiet angry and I was torn off a strip for consorting with strangers of her kind. I was forbidden in no uncertain terms to ever go near her again. I went to bed that night very confused I remember, my parents reaction had upset me and I couldn’t understand, and neither of them gave me an explanation, why. What had I done that was so wrong?
From that day on, I became very cautious, and for some time afterwards quite secretive in some of the events that happened to me, not telling them anything that was out of the ordinary everyday goings on. Sometimes feeling guilty, and very often sad I couldn’t share with them the thrills of growing up just in case it met with their disapproval.

Thanks for stopping by: