Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Memories of WWII as a child

I haven’t written anything on this blog for a while but something jogged my memory today. We are on holiday (vacation) for a week but having what has been termed in the fullest sense a ‘stay-cation’ Usually we travel somewhere and rent a cottage or a caravan as we have a dog. As we live in a town considered a holiday seaside town and live in a nice modern cottage with all mod cons and kitted out just how we like it – we said ‘why go away?’. Petrol costs, the cottages and caravans cost and may not be as comfortable. So we have stayed home. It has done nothing but rain. Today was the first dry day so grabbing the dog by its lead we walked down town, about a mile away, sat in our favourite cafĂ© and had a coffee, booked to go to our local amateur theatre and then strolled round town.

In the centre is a lovely little park known as ‘The Lawns’ with a brook, full of ducks and black swans, running down to the sea. On the lawn they were holding a charity do with stalls selling anything they could. One had china and glass bric-a-brac and this is where the memory was stirred. Two wall plates depicted aeroplanes of the second world war, bombers a Lancaster and a Wellington flying over farms and fields with a child in the foreground running and happily pointing upwards.

Now my memories were not so idyllic as this but when I was just rising seven years old I was out on my own, I’m an only child, pushing my doll’s pram and generally playing on some nearby waste ground. I heard the roar of a plane coming and looking up a fighter was coming right towards me very low. I was terrified as I had already been machine gunned by a plane earlier in the war. I started to run home pushing my pram and I remember ducking as is sped over me. I thought it was a German plane but as it swooped over I saw the British red, white and blue roundels. It was so close I could see the pilot in the cockpit.

When I hear about wars today and children being caught up in raids I remember my time of fear. I was lucky, I lived in a town that wasn’t bombed too much as the Germans were saving it to take and use as a command centre to take London. We did suffer the flying bombs or doodle bugs as they were called. One never knew where they would land. If you heard the engine stop you stood still and waited until you heard it explode. If you were still there you breathed again and carried on with life. This was all part of my life from the age of four to ten. I still jump at loud noises and know if it is an explosion by the ‘woof-woof’ in the ears as the air passes. Yes I heard explosions since, in London, set off by the IRA.

I didn’t buy the plates but only because I didn’t have the cash on me to do so. I had enough to buy a pair of knitted mittens and a blue bead necklace. Probably better.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year for 2011

Started a new blog page today with the idea I have been working on of writing up today’s happenings as a history for the future. I couldn’t get any of the titles I wanted so had to go with historyin2525

Hopefully it will be a kind of social history for people in the far future to be able to see how an older person lives in 2011 or more.

I have got over my Gallbladder operation now or at least I think I have. The only unpleasant bit is a scar that is not healing well and hurts. Another trip to the docs. I haven’t been doing much except putting weight back on that I now have to remove --- again. I have been doing a lot of old lady knitting trying to keep my fingers working. Oh yes one of my knee replacements is playing up, another reason for a trip to the doctors. Other than that we, like the rest of the country have had snow and its been very cold even for Devon and particularly where I live which generally does not have snow.

Happy new year to one and all. Julie

Friday, 12 November 2010


      Having downloaded  Lord Alan Sugars book just out, ‘What you see is what you get’, onto my latest tablet computer sporting ‘Kindle’ its contents reminded me of my early assays into computing and the fact that without the then Mr. Alan Sugar I would not have had two books published nor have a very full computer life in my 75th year.

      My first introduction to using a computer was as an input operator in St Thomas’ hospital in London in the mid ‘70s. My terminal was all one piece connected to a giant mainframe computer locked away in the bowels of the hospital. Slow was not the word I would have used to describe the turn over rate, sometimes one would input a few details, press ‘Return’ and have time to do a full manicure. Having been a pretty poor typist I found the fact that you could undo and redo fantastic. If ever they bring out a computer to use at home, I declared to my husband, I am going to have one.

                            Me on my first computer at the hospital

        Home computers did appear but were way beyond my financial reach even if I had got to the giddy heights of £20.00 a week. A good wage for a woman in those days. Circumstances changed and it was many years before I heard about the Amstrad 8512 called by everyone ‘A Word Processor’. By this time I had moved to Devon and I knew I had to find a job to save up to buy one. Work was hard to come by and I managed to find a part time job in a pie factory. Six months later I had enough and with my husband went into Exeter to buy my first computer.

       I loved it – Locoscript, floppy discs and all. In no time I was writing articles, books, and much more. I had always did like writing but my typing and spelling were awful. I joined the local writing circle and sometime later I started writng a book that I managed to get published. At this time I became interested in Numerology and thinking it needed a hand book the ordinary person could follow I wrote that too. This I had published by Thorsons of Harper Collins. I am afraid that was the height of my 15 minutes of fame.

       I went on to use the ‘word processor’ to publish a local magazine and edit a national club’s magazine. I wanted to move onto a better computer and bought a 2000 Amstrad series. This was the computer that bombed for Amstrad although I found it fairly OK. It was a little light on power but it did have a Windows program on it. We tried it and sent a short letter to the printer. We sent it and sent it – until three a.m. when we gave up and sat taking for ten minutes. Then lo and behold – it printed! Windows came off and we went back to Locoscript. I even started a Numerology business sending out readings that I printed on the computer.

      Later we bought more and more powerful computers, not Amstrad. I even had a business teaching people Windows and Word. We are still very computer minded and have several different kinds around the house and touch screen phones that work like computers. Not bad for a 75 year old. Many thanks Lord Sugar, without you I could not do the computer art I enjoy so much – and a bit of blog writing now and then. Thank you.
      Some of my computer art. More on http://www.flickr.com/photos/philipjulie/

Friday, 5 November 2010

Another Operation

I've had another operation, gallbladder this time. At least it is not in an embarrassing place this time. A modern keyhole surgery op as well. I am supposed to get better quicker and the anesthetics are so much better as well. I used to feel like I was a piece of silver paper being crushed and thrown out of my body but now you just drift off to sleep. Wonderful and very little after effect. I don't know if I am getting better any quicker as I am in quite a lot of pain at the moment, sitting up from lying down is the worst. Best of all it was day surgery and I was home that day.
I have no complaints about our health service I personally think we are so, so lucky to have it. The people who looked after me on my day in hospital could not have been better or kinder, Thank you to all of them in day surgery, Torbay Hospital, Devon.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Battle of Britain Memories

I was only five but yes, I do remember the Battle of Britain in the air. I remember watching vapour trails and hearing the wine of planes chasing each other and having 'Dog Fights'. I was in Kent and it all went on overhead. I suppose I heard many thongs said by the adults in the family.

One Sunday we were all gathered at my Grandfather's house when a deep noise was heard of hundreds of German bombers coming over us. They reached from horizon to horizon and the men said things like

'London has had it this time'

Me on the terrace that Sunday

The droning noise gradually went away and I and my young cousins were allowed out of the Morrison table shelter. The noise started again but with the added whine of the fighters and bangs and crashes. Back under the table we went but the men of the family wanted to look so my memories were through them. They shouted and cheered for ages and watched planes coming down with trailing black smoke. My French Grandmother went hysterical trying to make them come indoors but they stayed out on the terrace for a long time. Eventually they gave in as shrapnel, shell cases and bombs began to rain down. Later we heard a nearby woof of a close bomb, no noise if it was close. And it certainly was. We were told later that a bomb had been watched coming right down on our house but a something made it turn and hit a house two doors up the road.

The next day the garden was filled with bits of metal any which could have kill somebody out there. Grandma was right. The formation so uniform in going to London came back in every direction chased by Spitfires and I suppose Hurricanes. So my memories are more of the sounds but I had a glimpse of those German bombers going to London before Grandma dragged us indoors.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Singing Wires

Today we were bowling along our local bit of the moteway and the air passing over the roof rack of our car reminded me of the noise one used to hear in telegraph wires. A soft moaning whine that rose and fell with the wind passing though the banks of wires. Today there are no more than two or three wires and mostly just one. But the old telegraph posts held multi wires.

I particularly remember them during the war when, with my mother, we were sent to Devon for a rest from the bombing. There was nothing to do in the daytime except go for walks. Many lanes had telegraph wires running beside them and in that very cold winter the wind howled enlessly.  I loved the singing wires although I was only four years old I can still remember and hear them.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Red Buttons

“I’m going to watch Red Button” said my husband as I disappeared upstairs to have a rest and write this blog  first. ‘Red Buttons’ the thought of an American comedian flashed through my elderly mind and I failed to see what he was going to watch that would amuse him. A funny man with red hair that appeared in every film at one time, not my husband’s sort of thing at all.

“What?” I asked stopping for a moment on the stairs.

“Red Button.” He replied to his non comprehending wife whose mind had regressed 30, 40 or more years.

“Grand Prix on the red button channel.”

“Ah!”  Comprehension dawned and I came back to the present.

I went to the internet on my notebook and looked up Red Buttons. Yes I was right, there had been such a comedian but I am not sure if it is the one I remember. He wore loud silly clothes and acted sort of clownish. This one had been an actor in many things quite serious. He died fairly recently. Something seems to stick in my mind that he did some film or show with Lucille Ball – another one now gone.

It is quite frightening to hear of all these names one knew in younger days passing on but I generally find they were some ten or more years older than me. When I was young people found fame usually passed their flush of youth and had to pretend to be younger in their films. Now the young get fame so early in life they are quite often forgotten before they are thirty. They turn up as ‘Grumpy Old men – or women’ and you think ‘my God, you’ve aged quickly’. I am so glad I am known by no one. Where the young crave ‘Fame’ I crave anonymity. Hence I write a blog that no one reads, not even my friends or probably my own relations.
Hey Ho!