Sunday, 24 May 2015

Dads Army and Children's Hour

We turned the TV over in time to catch the last part of one of the very first Dads Army programmes in black and white. It was when they were waiting for uniforms and only had arm bands to show who they were. They were practicing their drill with broom handles and longing to have real riffles. Just near the end they played a voice over of the Children's Hour presenter saying
"Good night children, everywhere".

I was back in our house, a child of about 7, sat on the floor listening to a large wooden Pye radio with a fretwork front of a sunrise. The surrounding room was in gloom with curtains shut early for the blackout regulations, electric light bulbs that never gave out much light and dancing flames from a small fire. The walls were papered in pattern of close dark brown autumn leaves which only added to the atmosphere. For a moment I was safe, I had listened to the stories and songs, the night's bombing hadn't started, I'd had a nice tea and father wasn't home yet to chase me off to bed. He came from a generation of children being seen and not heard. More often with him it was both.

But Dad is my connection to the TV Dads Army for he was a member for a while of The Home Guard as it came to be known. Dad had fallen between two stools, too young to fight in WWI and too old for WWII. He tried to join the navy but after an accident on his motor bike - literally on the day war broke out - but they refused him. So he worked in factories as an engineering inspector and joined the local Home Guard. He had a uniform and I have a photo of him somewhere, but his platoon had only one riffle between them and as he said, nothing up the spout.

The platoon patrolled a hill on the outskirts of town where a cathedral was going to be built. Only the foundations and the crypt had been built and this was where they met. In turns they went out to patrol the hill passing on the useless riffle to each other.

Many years later dad recounted this to me but with a chilling addition. Just after the war they published the master plan of the Germans to invade Britain called Operation Sea Lion. Dad said the hairs on the back of his neck stood up when he read that the plan included a Parachute Regiment being dropped exactly on the hill he guarded with one riffle and no bullets.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Biscuit Tins

I saw an old biscuit tin on TV and realised they were a thing of the past. They were not the posh, Christmas bisuit tins of today, all flash pictures and bright enamel colours. Don't get me wrong, these tins were around in years gone by but I mean the cube shaped tins ordinary biscuit came in at the grocers.

I am not sure but I suppose they were about 12 ins square, may be more. You went to the shops to buy loose biscuits and they were served from the tin and put in paper bages. As a child I loved the biscuit counter in Woolworths. These had glass tops and you could see all the lovely biscuits inside. A shop assistant would serve you and weigh out the biscuits you selected. If you were lucky they remained in one piece. If you were short of money you could buy a pound of broken biscuits which were fun as you didn't know what you might get.

I suppose biscuits barrels and tins come from this era. If you didn't put them in something air tight they went soft. Ugh! Tasted horrid. I have a feeling these cube tins came from the time biscuits were shipped out to the colonies, India and so on. Cubes would be easy to stack.

One last memory. As I got to the last days of my schooling I lived in Reading, UK, which was the home town of Huntley and Palmer Biscuits. They always brought the children on a trip round the factory in the hopes of recruiting workers. We were told we could eat as many bisuits as we liked on the way round but not the chocolate ones. This was just post war and there was still rationing and shortages. If there was not much money in the family like ours were were always hungry. It was a heaven sent oppotunity. We crammed our mouth full and made ourseves sick. But as for going to work there, I observed a young woman sitting by a conveyor belt that flipped the biscuits over. She had to pick out bad ones. I knew that was not for me let alone the poor pay.

Now I am sworn off biscuits for health reasons.


Monday, 18 May 2015

In Starting Again


I have to say again that this is not a journal or a diary. My idea was to notice something that reminds me of a past memory. I'm now entering my 9th decade so with 8 to play with I have plenty to choose from. Born in1935, dare I say it, the same year as the King of Rock and Roll, I have lived through a war, a cold war and now a war on terror. All of them except the first nominally named Peace Time. Some hopes, somebody has always been fighting somewhere.
Today I have been musing on this and my other blog, History for 2525, on the changes that there have been in my life since I last wrote here. One, my husband has now retired and, bless him, is home with me all day. He is quite a bit younger than me so I have had some retirement on my own doing my own thing. No more. I have also gone back to real painting, watercolour and pen &ink, as versus digital virtual painting. I now work on an iPad, don't think I had it before, so time is limited. Plus I am doing lots of online university courses at Futurelearn.com. Can't recommend them highly enough. All to keep this old brain working.
This is all so different to old age as I observed in my youth. A few, very few, managed to keep lively and life expectancy was far less. Only my mother manage what is now considered almost normal and died aged 93 but father popped off at 77. My grand parents were in their 50s. So that is back to being born late 1800s. My great Grandmother, so I'm told, came downstairs on her 30th birthday with a black shawl over her head and announced she was 'now old'. Me, I remarried in my 30s.  Still going 44 year later.
I can't recall people talking about dementia, strokes or many other illnesses such as cancer. Now its pushed at one everywhere you go. Well I'm fighting it all the way. Though have to admit my short term memory is shot. So I am off and running again, I will write here when some memory hits me.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Back Again

I see I have not written anything since 2011! That is terrible and a shame. So much has happened since them. I am going to be 80 in three days time. We have just seen the 70th anniversary of VE day, the end of WWII. I now work on an Apple iPad and an iMac. Gone are Micrsoft Windows. And I am doing actual painting rather than virtual and this weekendI won a first prize for drawing. I am going to put this up on my other blog and then try to resume them - because they are worth it.


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

HOMAGE TO LORD SUGAR AND HIS AMSTRAD COMPUTERS.


      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/