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Ann’s Natter

I know that those of you who don’t share my passion for animals will be shaking your heads but of courses it’s our differences which bind us together. Wouldn’t it be an odd world if we all had the same interests and hobbies?  It’s how I imagine some robotic world of the future will operate.  Anyway, enough of the philosophising. Having lost her beloved cat, on the 3rd of this month, my daughter took yet another ‘broken’ cat home.  She always looks for cats that few people care to adopt.  This poor boy had been neglected and abandoned.  So now Bernie resides in the lap of luxury.  I think he’s still in shock at the change in his fortune.  I do love happy endings, don’t you?

And yet another celebration. Dorothy and I were singers with Birmingham’s lady barbershop chorus, Second City Sound, and have kept in touch since then.  On the 5th she and her husband celebrated their 75th, yes 75th, wedding anniversary.  She keeps her age under wraps and obviously she’s not in the first flush of youth, but even so, can you imagine anything quite as remarkable.  I did shop for a 75th wedding anniversary card but there’s no such thing so I bought a card and the numbers separately, so that worked out well.  There was a huge celebration but I wasn’t free to attend.  There were all sorts of family members celebrating the occasion; children, grand children, great grand children, all with their own families and in-laws, to say nothing of the friends gathered over so many years.

I’ve always liked knitting and it can be very therapeutic and challenging, depending how hard the pattern is.  I knit for Linus, which is a charity devoted to producing blankets and clothes for premature babies.  Usually, doll’s clothes knitting patterns are sufficient for this purpose and I often think about my own twins who were officially premature at birth, being 4 weeks early, but they were 5 lb. each which is large.  They certainly wouldn’t have fitted into the jackets, hats and gloves produced for the tiny new borns.  However, I’ve been on a blanket knitting mission recently.  My neighbours are expecting their first grandchild and my hairdresser is also expecting a baby so blankets it is.  Baby No. 1 is due next week so that one is ready to go.  I’m pushing on with the other one, not helped by the fact that the finger I shut in the car door some months ago is still being a nuisance.  I’m just glad I’m not writing this by hand!

The challenge set by the Creative Writing Group this month is to prepare a piece titled “My First Job”.  I think I’ve written before that memory plays tricks.  I often can’t remember what the date is but I can remember with clarity that occasion, some 66 years ago.  Back then, the Evening Standard, a London newspaper, had a daily supplement for job vacancies.  I wasn’t consulted, but then at the age of 15, I was considered to be a child.  My parents looked through the pages and chose a vacancy for an office junior at Godfrey Phillips, a cigarette manufacturer in the east end of London.  The headmaster gave permission for me to have the day off school; the interview took place where I must have appeared to be little more than a timid mouse (which of course I was!).  Having secured the job, the first day came and off I set on the bus to Gardiners Corner in Aldgate, across the road and there began my baptism of fire.  I had to walk through Spitalfields, the fruit and vegetable wholesale market.  I was whistled and called out at through the long road to the factory office.  My misery was compounded by the fact that this was the first time I had worn stockings which, along with my school shoes (all I had) and the day wasn’t a pleasant experience.  I was working in the Customs & Excise office and my boss, Mr. Baldwin, looked as though he had come straight out of a Dickens novel.  With pale blue watery eyes, extremely fat, I thought he was strange, especially as he seemed to be very shaky and he smelt rather odd.  I was too innocent to realise that he was, if not drunk, very tipsy.  Like most markets which opened in the early hours of the morning, the pubs had adjusted their opening hours accordingly and my Mr. Baldwin was drunk on a daily basis!!  My journey took me passed Itchy Coo Park (yes, it really existed). It looked quite pleasant with its white church at the corner as I scurried past it as fast as I could.  No, I didn’t think the name odd.  I took everything at its face value in those days.  I later discovered it was a place where tramps and the homeless gathered and slept. I worked next door to the snuff office and I remember the foreman used to walk through the corridor looking like a gingerbread man.  I just couldn’t understand it.  What was snuff, anyway?  Of course, it’s a fine powder and the foreman was covered in it.  Unfortunately, being so near to the source, although I didn’t smoke, my tonsils became badly affected and so I had to have them removed long after I had left that job.  I also remember the velvet boxes of rose tipped cigarettes.  These were for Princess Margaret and the best red roses were collected from Covent Garden and then the cigarette tips were cut out and add to the cigarettes, the box then being despatched to Buckingham Palace.  My £3 a week wages seemed like a fortune to me, never having had or handled money before. As I was saying, I often can’t remember what the date is today but ……….

I went to see the film ‘Edie’.  Perhaps some of you saw it too.  Although some parts of it were a bit far fetched, I thought its message was quite clear.  Sheila Hancock played Edie, an 83 year old who, having been freed from a long and nightmare marriage, decided to fulfil a childhood dream which she shared with her father, which was to climb a mountain in Scotland. After many adventures, she did achieve her goal.  We might not all be climbing mountains as mature folk, but it’s good to look for a manageable goal.  It’s such a good feeling when we can tick that box.

I hardly like to mention it, but I’ve bought a Christmas present this week.  It’s a specialist book and I know that it will save me hours later in the year hunting it down. Still, I feel as though I’m falling into ‘the early bird’ trap which I said I would never do. I do like to plan ahead but that’s a bit too far, or is it?

I’ve chosen 23rd July for Awareness this month when it will be National Parks Week. I can’t imagine a world without a garden of some sort.   Not everyone has or even wants a garden but having a green space to visit, especially in urban areas, is a real boon.  Perhaps sitting with an ice-cream or sandwich, chatting to people, parks can offer something for everyone.

So here we are, that’s June galloped passed us when we weren’t looking. At least it’s ended on a summer high.  Let’s hope July brings us more sunny days.

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