I have to start this month with some amazing news. Julie, bless her; not only heading up this growing organization but she has been Chair of a voluntary charity group in the West Midlands for Breast Cancer Now in memory of her sister-in-law who sadly died from this disease. Julie started out to raise £1,000 in 1995 but since then has continued to raise funds by doing golf days, skydiving, park walks, coffee mornings, flower arranging, Pilates, bag packing and so much more. This month saw their Gala Ball at which the grand total raised since 1995 totalled £1,027,060. What a wonderful tribute, not only to her sister-in-law and all sufferers, to but Julie and her team who have made this happen. She is stepping down as Chair but I know she’ll be busy as ever, supporting this cause. Thanks from all of us Julie – who knows how we might benefit from the work you’ve been doing.
14th Half way through the month already! I’m trying to concentrate on the 5 birthdays in November and who would like what as a present. It’s the usual challenge, isn’t it? Of course Christmas isn’t getting in the way but it just feels like it. TV advertising has much to answer for; have you got your party outfit, settee, cards, gifts, makeup, perfume, boiler and much else in time for Christmas? No, neither have I!
Haven’t we moved at a fair old pace with technology? The hot water tap in my kitchen broke but I managed easily with boiling the kettle until the new tap was fitted. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have piped hot water. As a teenager, I remember my mother had an Ascot fitted over the bath. We became a bit of a tourist attraction. Where we lived no-one had ever had hot water in their bathrooms so there was a constant stream of neighbours, all wanting to see this innovation for themselves. Talking about technology, some of the clever facilities on my car started to fail. To be honest, there’s a menu on the dashboard offering me all sorts of things but I just keep to the basics. I’m really fortunate because the repair garage owner lives in the village and he takes the car from my house, repairs it and brings it back. On this occasion it was the body module (what??) so the electronics had to be re-wired. I was car-less for two days but I use the bus when I can anyway. The weather was fine and I enjoyed the additional walking. Again it took me back to my childhood when we didn’t know anyone with a car, there wasn’t always money to spare for the bus so it was walking – and running very fast to get to a shelter if the air raid warning siren sounded. Funny that; my long term memory seems to be much clearer than my short term.
I’ve just been outside in the sunshine sweeping leaves. It’s more or less a permanent job this month but it’s a good excuse to be outside and just think of all the exercise that goes with it. I keep reminding myself how lucky we are, certainly where I live, that we’ve escaped all the extreme weather that’s been on the news.
Our speaker at the U3A meeting this month was Tim Coltman, the subject being World War 1. I did wonder whether we were going to hear anything new or different on this subject – we certainly did! The speaker was the great grandson of William Coltman VC who was the most highly decorated soldier during that war. He only just made it into the army, the minimum height requirement being 5ft. 3”. William was 5ft. 4”. What made his story so unique was that he never held or fired a gun or fought in any battles. Because of his strong Christian faith, he said he would be a stretcher bearer; not only that but he said he didn’t want to involve another soldier (it takes 2 to do that job) so he rescued injured and dying soldiers throughout the war by carrying them on his back from the battle zones to the relative safety of the trenches and field hospitals. After the war, he returned to his home in Burton on Trent, put his medals in a drawer and continued his work as a gardener. He never spoke of his war experiences but he’s remembered in his home town where several roads and buildings bear his surname. I was so glad to have had the opportunity to hear all about this man.
Continuing that theme, I’ve chosen 10th November, Remembrance Sunday, as the awareness day for November. There can’t be many people who haven’t been touched by war events in one way or another and it’s right to remember people like William Coltman VC.
We’ve been given the challenge at my Creative Writing Group to produce something to do with Christmas food. I suppose I am cheating a bit but there’s one item on my menu which I have to offer at every family meal. It’s the same basically but each time I make it I try to add something to show the theme so when I make it at Christmas, I’ll decorate it with small edible Christmas trees. I didn’t think that just presenting the recipe was going to impress so guess what: yes folks, it’s another darned poem!
BRING IT ON
It’s years ago I remember clearly
My family said (and I love them dearly)
“If you don’t make that great dessert
We’ll all be really very hurt”
The deal is done, the dye is cast. I can’t let any meal go past
Unless I make the magic sweet
It’s almost ready now to eat
With spoons all poised, they’re sitting there ranting
They’re licking their lips all dribbling and panting
Never mind the table groaning
With starters and main courses I’ve been honing
Picking at the main course food
So that they don’t seem to be rude
“Just bring it on – don’t tease us so
We want it now or off we’ll go”
No need for anyone to drool
It’s here, it’s here
It’s HONEYCOMB FOOL