Family history

‘I don’t want my Grannie to die, I would miss her too much.’

I was holding an ageing folder with the name ‘Mother’ emblazoned on the front in red felt tip capitals. Skater had asked me what I was carrying. I told him it was some of my Grannie’s writing. He gets a tad confused when I mention my older relatives. He asked was she Bill’s daughter. No she was Bill’s wife, my mother’s mother. My Grannie Pat, died aged 67 when I was just 21. This is what prompted my son to utter those words.

I am well aware that my mother is now 71, I assured Skater that his Grannie is going to live longer than his 21st year. Talking to my mother this morning I mentioned this conversation to her.

‘Tell Skater that I take better care of my health than my mother did,’ she told me.

Last night I was reading some of Pat’s work. There was a tale of a holiday taken with her husband and son on a narrow boat. She described the galley and how being of a round build she had to step out of the galley each time she needed to turn around, unlike the two males who were ‘beanpolish’.

This brought back memories of my favourite woman (after my mummy, that was). Throughout my life I have seen photos of my Grannie as a stunning young woman. A slender brunette, both as a bride and young mother.IMG_2045

However my memories are all of a short, cuddly, grey haired smiling woman whom I loved so much. I remember family walks with her and her much loved labrador cross (Candy), hours at her kitchen table making or drawing things. I remember the dresses she made for me. I remember the many friends she had in their small Essex village. The flowers that she arranged in the church when it was all quiet.

I  don’t have memories of her sitting writing, although I realise that this would have been something she did when we were not there. I don’t know when I first became aware that my Grannie was a prolific writer, both for the WI of which she was an active member, but also for magazines. I don’t think I ever read anything she had written. In my late teens I started writing too, nothing much, just for my own pleasure. When my Grannie died so did my desire to write. I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything, until about 2007 that is.

Today as I began to read some of my Grannie’s writing, I could picture myself in the places she described, whether it was a tale of a fox being hunted or the joy of her faithful dog when she knew they were going out walking. Those childhood walks on the common or along the tracks beside the farms close by, all came flooding back from that time more than 40 years ago when life was so much simpler for us children.

My Grannie loved life, it is just such a pity that her love of life didn’t include taking care of her own health. I remember that for some time she suffered from Angina which in those days was quite common amongst people who I realise were in the age group that I have now joined. She died in her sleep, after having a massive heart attack. I will never forget that morning when my grandfather phoned to speak to my mother at the crack of dawn on a Sunday.  Having answered the phone and called my mother, I sat on the stairs and just cried, I didn’t need to be told the news, I knew it in my heart that I had lost my adored Grannie.

I dressed and set out walking through the town inconsolable. Not only had I lost a beloved relative but I had also lost one of my greatest allies, my confidante.

Although my life has been without her in it, for far longer than she was in it, she has been one of my greatest influences and I shall never ever forget her.

Evelyn Patricia King always in my thoughts, I love you

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Valerie has got a secret

Earlier this week I was at our local writing circle, it was ‘Manuscript night.’ I am not in the middle of writing a novel, I have not written any short stories lately. What should I take with me? I could cheat and take along the folder that my mother had recently lent me. It contains stories that her mother had written.

My Grannie was my idol when I was growing up. I hadn’t read much of her work before she died way back in 1983 at the young age of 67. Before she died I had dabbled in writing short stories for children. After her demise I found it very difficult to continue writing. That is until about 8 years ago.  A month or so ago my mother handed me his folder containing some of her writing, much of it had won writing competitions in the WI, some had been included in women’s magazines over the years. I had brought the folder home anxious to delve in and read the gems within. Somehow I just have not been able to find the quiet time to devote to this. I don’t want to be rushed or interrupted while I handle the delicate sheets of paper, mostly typed but some handwritten.

I could take the file with me but firstly it wouldn’t be my work, secondly until I have looked through the pieces properly how can I choose which to read. Instead I picked up my hard backed A4 notebook that I had used during my creative writing classes with June Hampson 7 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since those classes. Among the worksheets and advice sheets were a couple of my old stories. I selected  ‘The New Receptionist’s secret.’ I hadn’t looked at it for years, this would do.

So having listened with interest to some of the other short stories that were read out, taken on board some of the comments it was now my turn. I must admit that although nervous and I could feel the heat in my face and my eyes did begin to water from time to time, I did find it easier now than I had done previously at the classes.

The comments I received were positive, although it was suggested that I should perhaps try writing it in the first person and maybe set it as a retro piece.

Today I have edited my story slightly, I might develop Valerie’s story further just to see where she takes me.

I wanted you to be the first people to meet Valerie. Tell me what you think I should do with this, even if it is just put it back in a box and forget it.

 

 

It’s nearly 5.30pm and I know it won’t be long before I’m released for the evening. Bringing myself back to the here and now, Julie is explaining how to turn off the switchboard at the end of the day, yes this Company is still operating in the past. Tomorrow I will be on my own. I had started this new job as receptionist at the Surveyor’s office a day early so that Julie could show me the ropes. Julie was leaving to have a baby. As we were putting on our coats we wished each other ‘good luck’ I’m not sure which of us will need it most.

I had done this kind of work before, but not in an office this size. Usually I preferred to work in a busy office where I wouldn’t have time to think. It’s good to have enough work to keep my mind active and my hands busy. You learn more when you are in a busy environment and I liked to treat each day as an opportunity to learn. But this time I know that I am not likely be busy in this office. There would not be many visitors and phone calls through the switchboard would be minimal. I knew a little about the Company before I got here. There are two senior surveyors, Conrad Jasper and Marcus Bentley, between them they own the majority of shares in the Company. Then there are the other surveyors, Davies, Wheeler, Thompson, Taylor and Cartwright. There are others but as yet I haven’t worked out what they all do. Oh well I will soon learn who they all are. One person I had come across very early in the day was Cora Baker. Cora was PA to both Marcus and Conrad, she was very protective of her two bosses and you crossed her at your peril. Julie had told me Cora has been here all her working life.
I had taken this job partly because I need the money to bring up sons Jamie and Tom, but it would also give me time to keep up with my studying during the quiet periods throughout the day. I have recently begun a proof reading course in the hope of increasing my income. There is another reason for taking this job in this particular office, but this is my secret.
Earlier in the day I had been in the post room sorting through the day’s outgoing post ready for collection. I had heard two male voices the other side of the screen separating the post room from the open plan office behind it. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I heard these two, as yet unidentified voices in hushed whispers. The younger voice was telling the other that he thought  

‘The new receptionist is hot. Those legs! Surely, they must be in stockings, not tights under that tight pinstripe skirt and those heels made her legs appear to go on forever.’

The other man, he had a much older voice told his friend.

‘You’re wrong, women in their forties don’t wear stockings to work. Anyway’

He told his younger colleague.

‘You don’t know much about women, it isn’t the legs you look at, you need to check out her breasts and if I’m not mistaken the new receptionist is all woman. Curvy in all the right places and those boobies straining against the buttons of her white blouse have just got to be fabbie dabbie.’

I cringed inside, I can’t abide words/phrases like ‘boobies’ and ‘fabbie dabbie’, they make me think of adolescent public school boys. Which I am sure Marcus was, still is in a way.

I am brought back from my wondering thoughts when I hear the younger man ask.
‘Marcus, whatever is the matter with Cora today? Did you see the looks she gave the new receptionist, Val, Valerie or whatever her name is, when she came in with the coffee this morning? That’s not like her.’

‘Oh you know Cora, how she feels she has to protect me and Conrad. She’s worried I will run off with the new gal, thinks my eye was on her too much, not like Conrad he hardly noticed her at all. Funny that, she is about his age. I guess he is settled at home, although I was worried about him a few months ago.’

‘Why were you worried about Conrad?’
‘Oh, you know when he sent all the staff a text wishing everyone a happy new year? He had got himself in to a right muddle, sent some of us the wrong message, including Cora. Upset her I can tell you. It would appear that our Conrad is not exactly all he seems to be. He had been having a steamy affair an accidentally sent us a text that should have gone to his mystery woman. Cora vowed to get to the bottom of it.’

I can’t help smiling to myself as I slide the crisp white envelopes into the sack ready for the post man to collect.

That’s day one in the new job over, this could be interesting I tell myself as I climb behind the wheel of my aging black Ford Focus and start the engine. In ten minutes I will be through the door of our new flat. I should just about have time for a shower and put on my favourite new sexy, pale pink lingerie before he arrives.

Standing in front of the mirror I can’t help grinning to myself, I had known as soon as I heard the voice this morning that it had been Cora who had called anonymously last week with her veiled threats.

Well Cora will not get intimidate me. After all Conrad is not Cora’s husband but he is my lover.

On other news I have seen Robin a few times today but not close up, I have been busy pretending to be domestic.

We also have yet another person interested in our car, we now have to wait until after work tomorrow to see if he actually turns up to have a look at it.

Saturday surprise

This morning I was making my breakfast when I saw my friend Robin swoop down into the garden. He was feeding when I went outside to greet him. I thought I would sit in the garden to eat my breakfast, just to see if the Robin would come any closer. He flew  away but I stayed where I was, drinking my tea, munching on my marmite toast, reading my book. All the while my phone on the table set to camera in readiness for that photo opportunity.

I must have been out there for about half an hour but there was no further sign of our Robin. Eventually I gave in and took all my breakfast paraphernalia indoors. It was when I was at the sink that I noticed a movement in the corner of the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hurriedly I grabbed at my  phone. Skater came running into the room to see what was going on. Being taller than me he was able to get closer than me to take this photo.Indoor Robin Yes this was our Robin, not in the garden where I expected to see him but in the corner of our kitchen. He panicked and tried to get out of the window which was closed. He must have come in through the open sliding door, but I hadn’t seen him even though I was sat just a few feet away from the door. I went outside to see if I could get a better photo from the outside, this must have spooked him as he then managed to fly towards the open door and escape.

 

I can but wonder what my next Robin experience will be.

Dealer-offer.com aka fraud

Late last spring Owl bought our beautiful Vauxhall (Holden) Monaro.monaro 1 I had never driven a car with a V8 engine before so I was quite apprehensive. However as soon as I started to drive her I fell in love with her. I love the smooth lines of her shape. I adore the comfort of her immaculate soft black leather upholstery (even when the backs of my legs stick to the leather). The way she holds the road even on bends, is a delight to this woman who had always thought yada yada whenever petrol heads talk about cars in this way.

It wasn’t long before I was claiming her as my daily drive to work car. The comfort, the sound, the feel, she is just the perfect drive. A little heavy on the juice but you can’t have everything.

Fast forward to this spring, our circumstances have changed, Owl was on the way to getting his licence back after losing it last autumn for drinking two pints then driving. We realised that we are never going to be able to afford the insurance for him to drive this car again. We decided to sell her, although we will both be sorry to lose her.

First we had to get her through her MOT, which was not too much of a problem, apart from replacing the tyre that had blistered following my encounter with a pothole. We did need to replace one other part, which led to an extensive search to find the right part. My car might be badged as a Vauxhall but it needed a genuine Holden part. This was located and collected by one of my colleagues who lives in the same city as the garage where the part was.

MOT passed, the next thing was to get a minor scratch repaired, an unknown hooligan in charge of another car had at some point (car parked it). It did take a while to find someone who was willing to undergo this work. By this time another month had passed. I took some photos of our beloved vehicle, composed a couple of ads to go on different websites.

The first website we used was gumtree, a number of people had advocated this site as the best place to advertise. Within a day or so I had a message from a prospective buyer. I replied, but when I received their next message it became clear from what they said that this was not genuine.

 

Hankeen Gabriel (hankeengabriel@gmail.com)
14/08/2014
 
I really appreciate your response to my text message, i am presently working on the sea as a marine engineer  which enable me not make a call that is the reason  i try to send a text message to you via the sms web.i am satisfied with  your ad as it was listed on the site  and am ready to buy for my Dad,i will not be able to come take a look due to my work. I will have the shipper to come pick it up from you and delivered to my dad after i have made the payment to your account.i will make the payment to you via paypal and i hope you have a paypal account  so that you can be able to received the payment, If you are not a paypal user you can set up a paypal  with your bank account you will just go on www.paypal.co.uk and attached your bank account  to your email using paypal so that you can be able to get the money on your bank account .After the payment has been cleared and you have your cash in hand i will have my shipper to  come shake hand with you and pick it up to deliver to my Dad.I will be waiting to have the necessary details to make the payment to you.
Your paypal email..
Price Amount…
You Phone number..
Hope to have a reply back from you
Did you notice that not once did he mention what car I was selling, indeed he didn’t even mention that it was a car.
A few days later we had another enquiry.

Re: car

Nice Hearing back from you..I’m quite satisfied with the condition and price..I want you to get back to me with your PayPal email so i can start with the Payment now….mind you, you won’t release your ad until PayPal credit your account before you will release it so it can be pick and my shipping company will be coming for  pick up so you don’t need to worry about pick up okay. I will need your home address for it to be Picked Up by the Shipping Company.
Both these enquiries appear to have been written with the English that you get when translated directly from another language. Needless to say we didn’t respond to either of these.
By this time we also had our ad on Autotrader. (over the three weeks our ad was live we had over 4000 views). This was surprising when considering the rarity of our car in UK. We did have a few enquiries, one man even came to see the car but his 6’10” frame made things a little difficult for him to get comfortable.
Our good friend (L0rd) came round to take some better photos and make suggestions on selling our car. He buys and sells second hand cars frequently. I replaced some of my photos with his and adapted some of the wording. A new ad went on a more specialist website (Pistonheads).
We had another enquiry from a local man but unfortunately he was about to go abroad with work.
Just 2 days after our ad with Autotrader had lapsed I received a call from them pleading with me to renew our ad, this time with the premium package for 6 weeks. I managed to get them to reduce the price slightly before agreeing to go ahead.
This weekend I had an email through Auto trader from a local man interested in our car. Several emails later we agreed to drive over to his house on Sunday morning so he could see what we had. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to have one last drive out in her before we sell her. Anyway, after a discussion about the cars he and Owl have owned over the years, we left, with him saying he would let us know. Even though I got the impression during our short test drive (OK, he actually said that he liked the sound and feel of her) , I had this feeling that he wouldn’t be buying her. I was right.
So here we are on Monday back to square one. During recent weeks I have received a number of messages from dealers wanting to buy our car, their offers have been just over 50% of the asking price. Today I received an offer which was 95% of our asking price. This would be great if it is genuine, we are open to offers and this is not far short of our price. My instinct though was to check out the website first. I found the website http://www.dealer-offer.com within a couple of clicks. What I couldn’t find were any reviews on the Company. I tried to click on the facebook icon nothing, I tried the same with the Autotrader icon, again nothing.
I decided to call Autotrader as the website claim to be working with them. I had just missed their opening hours by ten minutes. Next I went onto the website for AutoTrader and clicked on the heading Staying safe on AutoTrader. The first thing I saw was this warning.
Beware of Fraudulent Website
Monday 15 September 2014We have received reports of customers receiving a text message asking them to visit http://www.dealer-offer.com to sell their cars quickly for cash. Customers are asked to pay a deposit in order to secure the sale of their vehicle. This website is not genuine and in no way affiliated with AutoTrader. We are currently working to have this website shut down. For more information please contact our Customer Security team on 0330 303 9001.
I am so glad that I followed my instinct to check them out.

I am sure that eventually we will find a genuine buyer for our gorgeous electric blue charriot.
Please if you find yourself wanting/needing to sell or buy a second hand car privately, be aware of the fraudsters out there.
We have since had the same text from a another Company using the web address http://www.best-cash-deal.com. looking them up they appear to have the exact same website as dealer-offer.com, I don’t think I will bother looking into it.

Just an hour

Yesterday I spent an hour in my garden watching and talking to a particular feathered visitor. Here are some of the photos I took.

1  hello 6   I’m under the hydranger7 now I’m feeding.    10  13I like playing hide and seek beside the geranium. 15  I’m getting closer 18 I can’t see you now.21 can I take this?

At one point when I was sat on the decking just 2 feet away from the geranium I thought the robin was going to come right up to me. When he was on the grass he was only about 8″ away from my knee.

Just a little sunshine

They promised us a warm September week, which to a degree it has been. The temperatures have hovered at around 20 degrees for most of the week. The skies have been more grey than blue. I have though found a couple of things that have brightened up my days.

In our back garden we have two yellow standard roses. One of these has been flowering on and off all summer the other has done nothing. Yesterday I was gazing at the flowering rose and noticed that one of the new flowers was not actually yellow. apricot rose  closer standard rose doesn’t this bring a smile on a grey day.

There is one other little bit of sunshine I would like to share with you.

When I came home for lunch earlier in the week we were standing outside chatting about our morning when I noticed we had company. On the flat roof of the extension was one of our little feathered friends. He/she was singing away almost within  touching distance. As I watched he/she flew down onto our table before running around on the decking. Finally he/she came to rest on the corner of a plant pot. Would you like to see who our visitor was?

Robin  I waited a few seconds before taking this next photo. Robin 1 Can you believe I was standing just a few feet away from him/her. This will give a better idea of how close we were.Robin 2 I am hoping that over time we will become better acquainted.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that the other morning we had another visitor. It was Owl who spotted it first, just as he called out ‘look’, I saw a flash of yellow landing briefly on the rail by the shed. I didn’t have time to take any photos before it flew off again. I did get enough of a look to be able to identify our new visitor as a gold finch. The first I have seen that close up.

 

Boxes

Today I am thinking about boxes.

Today Statto and Miss Effervescence are moving into their new home together. They will be sharing a flat in London with a friend of Statto’s from school (Skye) and his girlfriend Kat. I hope that the four of them enjoy their new life together in The Big Smoke. I spoke to Statto briefly a few days ago, he was getting quite excited and had done his packing. So I expect that he is now surrounded by boxes. I have had a box of his belongings, in the back of my car for the last year, since he moved into the house he has been sharing with friends for the last year. This box (I have never delved into it to see the contents) contains items (including family photos) that he had with him at University. Statto will be the third out of my four sons to have moved home in the last four weeks.

Today my living/dining room is littered with boxes. But these boxes are different to the ones Statto will have. These are box files. A few months ago I got fed up with our filing system which consisted of piles and piles of papers all over the office. Owl began to sort the papers into piles.Office So one day I gathered up all the piles and filed them into  boxes according to what went together (in my mind).box files There were some things that I didn’t file as they didn’t quite fit any of the categories I had sorted. Owl in the mean time (being a graphic designer by trade) had decided to design labels for the box files. It took him a long time (several months) to get all the graphics exactly how he wanted them. I could never do what he did, I wouldn’t have had the patience to spend so long on it even if I had the know how.

Finally the graphics were completed, with the utmost of care they were then applied to the spine of each box. The boxes were then transferred to the office shelf where I was sent to admire his work. filed The graphics are brilliant but what I hear you ask are the pink heart shaped post it notes stuck on each box? When I looked at the inspired graphics I had to write out my own translation of what should be in each box. Unfortunately, Owl’s idea of what should be in each box didn’t quite tally with mine.

I have been putting off, what I knew would be a mammoth task, checking each box to ensure that they all contained what the label said should be in them.

Because I have advertised my beautiful car for sale. my carwe spent yesterday making sure that all the paperwork was together. Most of it was but we couldn’t find the latest MOT certificate. There were box files on the dining table, coffee table, dining chairs and sofa. One by one I went through each file, whilst Owl went through stacks of loose papers. This was when I discovered that when Owl labelled the boxes he didn’t look inside them. He just stuck labels on random boxes. I don’t think any of the labels had any relevance to the contents. After about four hours the missing MOT certificate was located. It wasn’t in the box file for Car documents or the one for car insurance. It wasn’t in the one for utility bills or the one for bank statements it was in a file marked up for general household things.

At this moment in time I would say that two thirds of our paperwork is now filed properly.  Later after I have finished working in the kitchen and the house is filled with the aromas of bleach and baking, I shall get around to completing the task of filing all our papers so that I can lay my hands on anything easily.

Once this has been achieved the files can go back into the now tidy office which Owl worked on a few days ago. I don’t believe it has been so tidy since we moved in. office Not only can we now see the floor, I can now also see and best of all actually get to my desk.my desk

Now before I do anything else I shall just check what new emails are in my  Inbox. Then I shall be all boxed out.