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Showing posts from October 21, 2007

When things got better

By the time my twin and I were aged 4 or 5 we would receive weekly “pocket money” - thru-pence each from Dad. Sometimes we would have to pry it out of him. Off we would trot to Mrs. Higgins’ shop to buy sweets, measured out by two ounces.

Some sweets were forbidden by our parents. No chewing gum. No “sherbet” dabs or “sherbet fountains”. I cannot for the life of me remember what were my favourites.

On one occasion my older sister Jean (maybe aged 11) elected to buy some “Dolly Mixtures” - a sweet generally associated with younger children. Dad reamed her out for this choice, and even then I thought that he was being unfair.

I also remember from this time that we were sent to buy half a pound of “Custard Cream” biscuits, (still the most popular biscuit in England) And Mum sat in our kitchen with the bagged biscuits in her lap, handing us each one at a time.

Then things started to get better. First my two older sisters, then my twin and I began our jobs, and “rent” was required …

Silence equals consent.

I often wonder what was happening to a nation’s conscience when the N-zi’s were coming to power, and then took power in Germany.

‘Tis true that the N-zi’s came to dominate the media and that they were past masters at intimidation of their opponents (to say the least). Dachau, the very first concentration camp was built for political opponents of the regime.

‘Tis also true that some brave women and men resisted that tyranny right from the beginning, and paid for that resistance with their lives.

But the vast majority either actively supported the regime, or supported it with their silence. That silence was deadly.

Loyalty to the Fuhrer became the dominant national religion and creed.

The whole weight of the N-zi propaganda machine was placed into action to vilify and demonise gypsies, communists, gays, and most especially Jews. They were portrayed as rats and vermin.

That vilification paved the way for anti-Jewish laws, which in turned paved the railway to the death camps.

America’s dominan…

Three wise men. Three birds

Ray Grills is one of the volunteers at Resurrection House. He is there three or more mornings each week, always the first to arrive at about 7:00 a.m.

Ray is the breakfast man. He makes the coffee; sets out the cereals, milk, juices and foodstuffs ready for our 8:30 a.m. start. He is usually around until 11:00 a.m.

Ray has been volunteering at Res. House for more than 20 years. He started volunteering the very week that Res. House opened.

Ray is a retired DuPont chemist - he worked on the Manhattan project. He is a widower.

Ray Grills is 92 years old.

His son Dennis Grills lives in Charlotte, N.C. Even as I write he is volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rico.

And Ray has a grandson, Dr. Brian Easton. Today he is in El Salvador working as a volunteer in a Health clinic.

Like father, like son, like grandson!


It’s been raining all day - thank goodness. I saw a hawk (not sure which kind) swoop into our lake and fly off with a fish in her/his talons.

But hawks are no match fo…

Toi-luts, lavs and chambers

I have described our home, in a five house terrace at 47 Devon Rd, Bristol as a “three up, three down” house. Well, that’s not entirely true.

The front door led into a small area which we called the “Porch”. It was maybe 8’ long, and contained the electricity and gas meters high on the wall.

Then there was another door, which we called the “glass door”. Indeed it had some rather nice stained or painted windows dating from the early 20th Century when the terrace was built.

Passing through this door led us into a long hallway. Immediately on the right was the “front room” with its bay windows.

To the left was the staircase which led up to the three bedrooms. And on the right of that was the “middle room” (where our lodgers, the Whitfields had lived, and which much later became my bedroom)

Continuing down the narrow passage way we would encounter the “cupboard under the stairs” where Dad kept his tools. Then we would pass through yet another door into what we called the kitchen. This…

My blood boiled today

Condominium and Housing Associations in these United States have various tasks, rules and regulations “for the common good”. These associations elect representative and volunteer Boards to help the Condo’ or Housing community owners maintain some agreed norms.

I live in the “Glen Oaks Ridge Condominium” neighbourhood, and we have an elected Board of seven owners.

Our Board makes sure that bills for common services (in our case:- water to each condo; maintenance of the clubhouse and swimming pool; cable T.V; and landscaping) are paid. They also make sure that each owner pays his or her monthly fee.

In our case the monthly fee (I pay $330) also covers all exterior maintenance of our condo’s - repainting and roof repairs for example.

Owners have known for at least nine years that the mansards on each condo’ are in dire need of repair and/or replacement. Boards during those years have put off the decision to replace or maintain the mansards. (Oh, how familiar I am with “deferred maint…

A house filled with babies

My oldest sister, Maureen Joy was born in 1937. (How did I ever come to have a 70 year old sister!). Dad chose her first name (remember, he loved the Irish) and our next doors neighbours, Uncle and Auntie Charlton prophesied to my Mum and Dad “she will always be a joy to you” - hence her middle name. And their prophecy was true.

Then in ‘38 or ‘39 came my second sister Jean Diane. When Jean was 12 or 13, and at Eastville Girls School she was asked to write a poem. Jean came up with

“She coughed, and coughed
‘til her hat blew off”

Now why do I remember that?

Our sister Sylvia was born in ‘41 or ‘41. She is the child who died soon after birth - of what I now believe was “spina bifida”.

My twin sister Elizabeth and I came along in 1944. I often wonder what the heck my parents were thinking to allow Mum to conceive in 1943. If WWII had gone the other way I might have been raised as a little “N-zi.

When I was five I was at Nanny Povey’s home. My three sister were “picking on me”…