Nothing to do with Covid-19!

Last year, about this time, I decided I needed to go on a diet. I was very overweight (over 170 pounds/13 stone!!!*) and feeling very out-of-breath when I went for walks with Lola. I had a whole wardrobe of clothes I couldn’t wear and was fed up with looking at the large stranger in my mirror. I signed up, again, with Weight Watchers with whom I’d been pretty successful before, and had to spend some time working out their new points system.

Lola

Slowly but surely the pounds started falling off. Whether on a diet or just eating normally, I tend to find something I like and stick to it, and so for breakfast almost every day for a year I have had a small bowl of bran flakes with a bit of semi-skimmed organic milk followed by half a grapefruit, preferably red. I always finish with a nice hot cup of Nescafe instant Black Gold.

At first I had some sort of salad with a bit of bread and light butter but I found a recipe on the WW website for a bean soup. After making some minor alterations to their instructions, I came up with something so wonderful (to me) that I have eaten it almost every day since! The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped; 1 x400 g tin chopped tomatoes; 1 tin 3 bean salad in water; 1 tin kidney beans; 2 Knorr vegetable stock cubes; loads of chopped garlic (I use frozen for speed and because I’m lazy); around 1/2 tsp each of hot chili powder, chili flakes and cumin.

If the 3 bean salad, which I buy from Tesco, isn’t available I use 5 bean salad in water and, because of recent shortages, had planned, if necessary, to buy a dried selection and soak overnight before cooking for however long was necessary. Fortunately, so far, I’ve been able to source the tins. Or, I could have made a bigger pan of soup by using 3 more tins of various beans (cannellini, adzuki, navy etc) and used more of everything else – after all, it’s my recipe!

To make it – chop onion and fry gently in a small amount of vegetable oil. When soft add spices, garlic and stock cubes, put a lid on the pan for a few moments and then stir everything together. (It doesn’t seem to matter if the ingredients burn a little!) Then I add the tomatoes and beans; next I add as much previously boiled water as the pan will hold and bring the whole lot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for a while. I can’t be definite about times as I’ve eaten the soup when it’s simmered for a couple of minutes or half an hour….it doesn’t seem to matter.

When I deem it ready, I ladle out a good portion into a bowl and devour it! The remaining soup – about 4/5ths of it – goes into the fridge and I heat up one portion a day for the next few days.

My bean soup

With my soup I have usually had some thinly sliced toast, some light butter and, for afters, raspberries and yogurt – not that sour white stuff which I dislike but 50 grammes of full fat heavenly raspberry yogurt made by The Collective. It adds a few points to my daily total but I seldom use them all.

I’ve recently started making my toast from Tesco’s baked sourdough rye bread to which I have become greatly attached. At the beginning of my diet I was using their wholemeal bread and after a few months, their corn bread – which is totally unlike the corn bread of my childhood. This cornbread is made with wheat flour mixed with, I assume, a little flour made from maize. All of the breads made in-store by Tesco are so good!

For our evening meal I have had to branch out a bit as I cook for Julian as well. During the past year we’ve mainly had loads of fish, both white and red, seafood and chicken with at least two fresh veges and a small (for me) portion of potatoes. Normally, in non-diet times, we would have pasta at least once a week, and possibly go out to a restaurant or get fish and chips two or three times a month.

On Mondays and often another day or the week, Julian goes out to various functions (singing, art group, life-drawing) and I provide him with a ready-meal which he can shove in the oven or microwave, then I have a nice bowl of porridge or a couple of poached eggs on a bed of freshly wilted spinach and some cherry tomatoes. I looked forward to these evenings which were very useful for my diet. (During lockdown, I have tried to continue but it hasn’t been easy.)

A year has passed – a year during which I have slowly but steadily lost weight and am now around 10 stone (140 pounds). I would prefer to be at least half a stone lighter but, at the beginning of March, I gave in and ate several foods I shouldn’t have – more than my allowance of bread, the occasional piece (or 3) of chocolate, and half a lemon meringue pie! I haven’t gained any weight but certainly haven’t lost any.

Earlier this week I made the decision to (more or less) stick to my diet plan in the hopes that I can get that last seven pounds off, but I’m not being terribly strict and it may take some time. I’m wearing my ‘thin’ wardrobe, am really enjoying looking at my (clothed) body in a full-length mirror and have had loads of compliments from friends and neighbours about how the weight loss – and the clothes – suit me.

The whole point of this whole blog post was to tell you about something I discovered, as an old lady who has lost lots of weight. (I was 77 the other week which makes me pretty damn old.) When I was younger (in my 50’s) and lost a good deal of weight, my skin was still stretchy and I didn’t find loads of wrinkles. This time I have seen how my skin is no longer stretchy – just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. I have wrinkles where I didn’t know wrinkles could be – arms, both upper and lower; inner thighs; bottom edge of bottom. Luckily, I wasn’t planning on wearing a bikini or strapless evening gown and I feel the cold enough so that I’m unlikely to want to bare my upper arms in public, except in the hottest weather.

Let this be a warning to all my readers who are still young (under, say, 65)!

* Until I was in my mid to late 30’s I never weighed more than 8 stone (112 pounds)!

PS. I’ve mentioned several companies in my post. Because it is the shop I use, I’ve specified Tesco but there are many more which I’m sure make delicious bread. The Collective yogurt is wonderful but I’m sure you will know of others equally as good – or you might like that white, sour stuff! And, Weight Watchers is my chosen diet provider because I don’t have to go out once a week – I just refer to it and keep accounts of my weight and my food intake, online.

No one has paid me to use their name.

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Coronavirus Lockdown -2

Back in the 70’s, when I was much younger – and slimmer – we lived in the High Street of West Malling. Across from us was a greengrocery/cigarette/gift shop. The shop was run by Don Robinson, his wife, and his sister, Babs. Babs lived above the shop, Don and his wife (whose name I never learned) lived a short walk away past the cricket field somewhere.

I remember going to the greengrocers one day and getting into a conversation with Don. He talked about his childhood and youth and told me something I found extraordinary. He said that, when he was a boy, he used to roller-skate down the A20.

The A20, in the 70’s, was a very busy road going from Folkestone to south London, via Maidstone, West Malling, Brands Hatch, Swanley and Eltham. Many of the lorries which had crossed the channel from France used the A20 to get to London as well as commuters and other traffic. (I believe the M20 hadn’t been finished at the time Don and I chatted. Note – In normal times the M20 is extremely busy from rush hour a.m. to rush hour p.m. and beyond!)

As I was walking Lola today I was able to cross roads wherever I wanted – which is not something I would normally do being old and slightly doddery as well as totally risk-averse. I would usually find a zebra crossing or make several detours so that I would miss out the most trafficky, and therefore the most dangerous, roads. On Osborne Rd I was passed by a jogger running down the middle of the road and I thought of Don Robinson on his roller skates on the A20.

During this time of lockdown, the roads are quiet; school yards are silent even at lunchtimes; there are places to park on our road even at school-getting-out time and the main roads into Broadstairs are car and lorry-free much of the time.

Julian has been painting in the garden today and came in to say that he had been hearing loads of bird song today. I think it’s because he has taken time to listen!

We may moan about the effects of the virus on our lives but there are some benefits!

For those of you wondering about what Julian was painting, I’m adding a photo. If you are interested in seeing his other paintings, go to http://www.julianlovegroveart.com .

Looking a little ‘washed-out’, here is a photo of Julian’s painting.
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Coronavirus Lockdown

I, personally, don’t really mind staying home all day, every day. I think I’m probably a natural hermit. That’s not to say that I don’t like other people – I do. In fact – unless they’ve treated me really badly – I like most people I meet, but I don’t need others to make me happy. (Except for my daughter and grand daughter, without whom I could never be happy, though I don’t need them to be physically with me). And, of course, Julian, who pretends to listen when I chat, even though I know he’s engrossed in his own thoughts.

So, social distancing, being in lockdown, is fine with me. But, I have noticed one thing about it which I will tell you about in this, my first LOCKDOWN post.

This morning I woke up early, something I rarely do – I am a natural late-sleeper. Anyway, I woke up and looked at the clock. It said 8:08. I thought, “Great, I’ve got another hour or two!” Then, I thought, “No, I’ve got a grocery delivery coming at 10. I have to be up and dressed. Oh, poo!”

I lay there, occasionally reminding myself that I HAD to get up for the delivery. My mind wandered to the glorious weather yesterday; the mini-amount I had done trying to tidy up the garden before my back had started hurting; Lola and whether she was feeling better, (she’d turned down food and treats and wandered around looking sorry for herself, before coming to me and cuddling close while I watched tv); and how many grapefruit I have in the fridge and if, with the new delivery, I’ll have enough for the 12 days till the next delivery.

Suddenly, I remembered! We haven’t eaten Sunday’s dinner yet, so it can’t be Monday! Oh, thank goodness, I can go back to sleep! But, of course, it was too late – I was awake.

How did normal people in the past remember what day it was? I suppose each day had its routine and there wasn’t such a thing as ‘being retired’. If you were old, I guess, you still followed the routine but more slowly.

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Why hasn’t she written anything for a while?

I doubt if anyone has been eagerly awaiting my next offering but sometimes as I sit doing nothing or playing with Lola or looking at Twitter, I think, “I could be writing something for my blog but – what could I write about?”

Sitting here this evening I decided to say hi to you all and sorry for not doing more. Truth be told, I have been far more interested (horrified, worried, etc) about what Trump is doing than in communicating with all my friendly readers. People this side of the Atlantic aren’t nearly so engrossed, for example, in the Impeachment Hearings.

It’s just over three weeks to Christmas. Last Christmas and the two or three months leading up to it, weren’t happy or jolly. There wasn’t really meal planning for the family, Christmas shopping for gifts and decorations, or carols, mince pies or mulled wine. My mother-in-law was going through an illness from which she didn’t recover, and Julian and I were doing our best to make things easy and comfortable for her in the home she’d lived in for around forty years.

This year we’re in our own, slightly expanded, home (more about which in the next post.) We’re expecting a few family members and a couple of friends to spend a day or three laughing, reminiscing and celebrating Christmas 2019. At some point, no doubt, we’ll raise a glass to absent family, particularly Angela (mum-in-law), who was always there for us when we needed help and was the person who kept me going with my painting when everyone else just laughed at my attempts. She is sorely missed and was much loved.

Thanks to all of you who have read and appreciated my posts. I hope your Christmas/holiday time is joyful and full of good cheer! And, even though it’s not happening for a whole month, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻 🤶🏻🤶🏻🤶🏻

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Getting old – more proof!

Specs

When I was a kid I was supposed to wear glasses because I had astigmatism in my right eye. The pair of glasses I was given made everything appear to be on a slope and gave me terrible headaches so I almost never wore them.

Seventy odd years later I am once again wearing glasses to correct the astigmatism. For the past sixty years or so I have been able to see distance really well, read bus numbers from afar, and spot the child in the back of the class who was fooling about and disturbing his neighbours using just my two eyes.

When I was in my forties I started wearing ‘reading’ glasses for close-up work and have found it necessary to upgrade the strength every so often. I bought those specs from drug stores, supermarkets and on-line and they never cost more than a couple of pounds or so – although one time, in West Malling, I misplaced my glasses and couldn’t find them anywhere, eventually having to go into the optician’s down the road and buy a really weird pair that had longish and very narrow lenses for an exorbitant amount (£17, I think). I rarely used those and finally found the lost pair several years later on a shelf in the wardrobe (closet) when we were getting ready to move away from West Malling.

Early pairs of specs

About two months ago I received a letter from my optician saying it was time for my yearly (free, because of my age and because NHS) eye check-up. I had noticed since my last check-up that my sight wasn’t as clear and crisp as it had been – I sometimes see a second image of something slightly above the first; for example if I look at a light, there is a second image of that light directly above and overlapping the first. And, in some lights I was finding it difficult to read individual numbers or letters if they were particularly small. So, I was pleased to receive my letter and duly went to the optician a few days later.

Before I was seen by the registered optician, a young woman took me into a little room and blew air into my eyes, taking photos at the same moment (I think). Then the optician, a very nice young woman, looked into my eyes, read notes on my previous eye tests, played around with letters and little lollipop-looking lenses-on-sticks, then gave me the bad news….I would have to wear glasses to drive and, worst of all, I seem to have a small cataract in each eye. She said I must wear sunglasses (which I hate doing) to protect my eyes when in the sun.

Afterwards, I left the consulting room and went into the body of the shop where I was shown a range of frames. It took me ages to choose from the quite huge selection. I have been buying reading glasses with colourful frames and not even the most expensive choices were particularly colourful.

My most recent off-the-shelf glasses

Then, I sat down with a young fellow whose job it was to find out what I wanted in a pair of spectacles – varifocals, bifocals, or two separate pairs; tinted lenses, colour-changing lenses or two pairs – one of clear glass and one of tinted; and, would I like an anti-glare coating?

All that proceeded, slowly but surely, and I ended up paying out enough to buy myself several hundreds of pairs of cheap reading glasses! I was sent home with a promise that the glasses would be ready within the next fortnight – and, right on cue, they were!

What I bought

I’ve spent the past weeks getting used to wearing glasses most of the time. I have found it really difficult to wear them outside as sunglasses but have, mostly, persevered. I have always felt ‘removed’ from the surrounding area when wearing sunglasses – I really don’t know why or when it started because I seem to remember wearing them as a youngster.

The trouble is, my sight seems to be getting worse! Especially in the evening I find it difficult to, say, watch tv then refocus on written words. But, last night I discovered something about my sight that really disturbed me.

I was sitting in the darkened conservatory, looking out through the roof towards the sky. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a star so switched my gaze to look at it straight on – and found it wasn’t there! I could only see it if I wasn’t actually looking towards it….I think I’ve found out where the cataracts on my eyes are – right in the centre of my vision. I went on experimenting with that star and another couple but it was always the same. I guess, technically, I’m blind in the centre of each eye although I can actually see things bigger than a pin-prick of light when I look at them directly.

It’s a scary thought, though and I really don’t like it! I am always saying that getting old is s*it but the alternative is worse, but now….well, I’m not so sure. I think I can see why nature doesn’t keep us alive for longer. Until we understand the ageing process a lot better, scientists really shouldn’t be working towards helping people to live into their hundreds!

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The really strange coincidence.

Julian and I decided to have a conservatory built on the back of the house, recently. We contacted four conservatory builders – a couple of nation-wide manufacturers, another which builds reasonably locally but Kent-wide and a local one to Thanet which had been recommended by a friend.

The designs and what they provided were similar but the highest and lowest prices differed by over £20,000! The two middle prices were a little above the bottom price and way less than the top price.

In the end we went with the least expensive because that company is local, they could start soonest, we like the one they did for my friend and it saved us quite a lot of money!

Yesterday morning the phone rang early. It was Dave S****d from our builder telling me that he would be coming round later with his ‘groundsman’ who will be doing some demolition, breaking up concrete and digging trenches, then building the ‘footings’ and the little brick walls that the frame will be sitting on. He said they would be starting next Tuesday, after the Bank Holiday. I said, “Oh, that’s great!” and, “See you later.”

Several hours later the door-bell rang. Julian, knowing what I had been told earlier, invited the young man in and took him out to the back. The young man then mentioned a ‘Victorian lean-to greenhouse’ which Julian corrected. I joined them outside and chatted with the young man who seemed a little puzzled. He said he’d have to show his dad the plot and that his dad only lives around the corner so they’d be back soon.

Back they came an hour or so later and we stood chatting about the conservatory. Julian said something about not understanding what it was they were actually doing here and I piped up saying they were here because Dave S****d had sent them at which point the older man said, “No, you rang me earlier to come about a lean-to greenhouse. We don’t work for Dave S****d, never have!”

To tell you the truth, I felt I had entered an alternative universe and stared at the two men. Eventually, I told them that I hadn’t rung them and asked if they were certain that they were at the right address, no. 21 S——d Rd. Yes, that was the right address. Then they told us our phone number – only it wasn’t our phone number!

The two groundsmen went off to find out what the correct address was and I sat in stupefied silence going over and over the whole thing in my head.

At 4:30 Dave S****d and his groundsman arrived. They, too, found the whole incident very strange.

I wonder whether the two men who came to our house got the job.

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Strange Doggy Habits

Why does Lola always follow me into the loo? Do all chihuahua-cross dogs do that?

Lola, our chihuahua-cross (not visiting me in the loo!)

It’s nine months now since Lola came home with us from The Dogs’ Trust rescue centre near Canterbury. From that first day Lola has followed me into whichever loo I visit for a sit-down. Typically, I open the door to, say, the downstairs loo and – from wherever she is in the house, Lola will join me within moments. At first I thought it was amusing, now I just wonder WHY? Was she some sort of helper-dog for someone who might faint when peeing? Often, she walks in, looks at me and walks out as if to say, “Okay, I see that you’re alright.” Once in a while she comes and puts a paw on my knee for a head cuddle (for her, not me), and, if I’ve finished and tear some toilet paper off the roll, she leaves me to it. I have only managed to sneak in a quick pee without her presence if she is outside in the garden or sometimes, in the middle of the night. When I want to be alone, I close the door and lock it!

My naked foot and Lola

Another of her strange habits is waiting for my naked foot to arrive out of the trouser leg when I’m getting dressed in the morning, at which point she sits near to said foot and stretches out her neck for a foot-cuddle! I didn’t teach her that but someone must have. She also enjoys a rub with my shoe-horn or her rubber-spiked ball.

Lola waiting for cats or dogs

Lola spends many minutes in the morning sitting on the back of the armchair in the front window. She watches all the children with their mums or dads walking to school but, what she is really looking for, is either next-door’s cat or any dog on a lead. For either sighting she barks quite noisily but it’s usually easy to tell whether she has seen a dog or the cat. If it’s a dog, she barks but soon stops when it is out of sight; if it’s the cat, though, she barks and her whole body moves, her hackles rise and she doesn’t stop – mainly because the cat really enjoys upsetting her and will sit on the pavement within Lola’s sight or even come into the front garden and walk along the window-sill or lie in the front garden and bask in the sun’s warming rays.

This is Burlap, not next door’s cat.

(Burlap was our cat before we left America in 1958. We had to leave him with a friend. I don’t have a picture of next-door’s cat so I thought I’d give Burlap’s photo an outing).

Despite her strange little ways, Lola is a great little dog who worms her way further into my heart every day.

Here is a sneaky photo, taken just now, of her enjoying the sun’s rays through the window.

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OLD FRIENDS – PART TWO

It’s 1961, the autumn, and instead of going back to Central High School at Bushy Park for my senior year, Judy, Jennie and I went off to Hammersmith to attend Mrs. Hugh-Jones Tutorial Establishment.

We had decided to stay in London for the foreseeable future and that meant doing O and A levels and going to an English university. Mrs. Hugh-Jones ‘school’ was a place where we could try to ‘catch up’ enough to attempt O levels. (These were exams taken at the age of 16 after about five years of secondary education – now called GCSE’s). Unsurprisingly, my education wasn’t up to the standard of O levels so I concentrated on English and French, with a bit of History and Geography thrown in but no maths or science.

At that establishment I met my first English best friend, Shaun. She and I were opposites in many respects – she was tall, I was short; she was bosomy, I was flat-chested; she was loud and out-going where I was quiet and rather introverted; we made perfect friends! Judy wasn’t too keen on Shaun to begin with. One day as we walked to the bus-stop, I introduced Judy to Shaun as ‘my sister’. Shaun asked, “What’s your name?” and Judy replied in a loud and gruff voice, “Fred.”

Shaun and I went through many troubled times together, then there were some periods of time where we lost touch, then we’d pick up where we left off, only to lose touch after some months or years when my life took me in one direction and Shaun’s took her in another. (For a description of Mrs. Hugh-Jones Tutorial Establishment and a little more about Shaun, see my blog post, Where Does SHE Come From (part 4))

Apart from Shaun, I had few girl friends until 1964 when I was pregnant so I’ll tell you about some of the ‘boys’ who were my friends.

Judy and I met brothers, Nigel and Paul when I was around seventeen. Nigel was slightly younger than I was but that didn’t put me off. Paul was older by a couple of years and both Judy and Jennie quite fancied him but they were far too young for him. We all went round as a group which also included Shaun and a young American boy called Happy. As often happens, I lost contact with Shaun, Nigel, Paul and Happy but am pleased to say that through such sites as Friends Reunited and Facebook, i was able to find these long lost friends. Of the four of them, two have died and one, Happy, lives in America. Nigel and I email each other once or twice a year and have met up occasionally.

[When it was Nigel’s 70th birthday, he had a party and invited all his old friends. Jennie and I made the trek across London and, coming out of the train station, met Happy and his wife, Becky who had made a much longer trek, all the way from Virginia! There were many people there I didn’t know and only a few whom I knew. Paul was missing, having died some years earlier, but his daughter was there and it was lovely to talk to her.]

After I left Mrs Hugh-Jones establishment, I went to an A level college. By that time I had met a young man who lived in the same block of flats, called Roger. We spent lots of time together and fell in love. We got engaged and were happy – but his mum wasn’t too keen. She must have cheered when I broke off my engagement some months later after I met a young man called Tim and fell head-over-heels for him.

Tim was intelligent and witty and reasonable looking. He and I went out for some months and when we couldn’t see each other, we wrote to each other. He lived with his mum, dad and brother in a small village in Kent called Wateringbury. (Years later, and not connected in any way with Tim, Julian and I went to the house that Tim had lived in to chat to the owner about furniture restoration.)

Tim and I went to Bath for a three or four day holiday. We both went to the same hotel but signed in at different times and had separate rooms – in those days it would have been totally frowned upon for a young unmarried couple to spend the night together! One or other of us would wait for an hour or two after ‘going to bed’, then sneak to the other’s room. Despite all the late-night sneaking about, we really enjoyed our holiday.

Tim’s mum had a lovely garden in which she grew the most beautiful sweet-peas. She would always give me armfuls of flowers to take home when I had visited from London.

After about a year, Tim broke up with me, having been lured away by a more glamorous woman and it broke my heart. It took me a fair while to get over that break-up but, eventually, I recovered.

During the summer after the break-up I went out with my friend, Chris whom I had met at college. We would meet in Sloane Square, near to the hotel he was working in, and go to “World’s End” at the far end of the King’s Road in Chelsea. There we had found a club we could go into for very little, or maybe nothing, and we could dance. (Surprisingly, in the London of 1961 it was almost impossible to find a place to dance to recorded music if you didn’t have deep pockets!)

End of Part Two!

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SORRY ABOUT THE LONG LULL

There has been a bereavement in the family and we have been very busy, first tending to the ill person then trying (sometimes not very well) to sort through the forty-plus years of accumulation that is in a house which must be sold for probate.

I hope I’ll be back, some time after the funeral next week, of a dearly-loved member of the family.

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OLD FRIENDS

Judy, centre, with two of the neighbourhood kids.

Lots of you readers will have friends that you’ve known all your life. If you are still in the same country you were born in, if you live in the same area, if you went to the same primary school for six or so years, the same secondary for five or six years and, maybe the same college for three or more years, you probably have old friends.

As you may have read in my earlier posts, we moved around a lot when we were growing up. I think I went to somewhere between six and ten schools from the age of four to seventeen then to an A-level college for two years. We moved from Zanesville to Cincinnati, then went on our ‘divorce trip’ out west, back to Zanesville, then to Columbus, back to Cincinnati and then to London by the time I was fifteen. All that moving meant that I lost contact with almost every childhood friend.

When we were whisked to London we hadn’t any time to say farewell to the friends we had at school in the year or so before leaving. I did keep in touch with one or two but eventually even those fell by the wayside and most had no idea what happened to us. One of the people I kept in contact with was called Bob. He and I might have become girlfriend and boyfriend if I hadn’t left but we exchanged the occasional letter for four or five years. He joined the Marines in the early sixties and was learning to speak Vietnamese. I have always assumed that he must have been one of the many casualties in that disastrous war.

Occasionally I looked at Friends Reunited (when it existed) and have looked at alumnus sites of the various schools I attended, as well as Facebook. I was surprised and delighted when I found my best friend in the eighth grade, Sylvia, but when I wrote to her, her reply made it clear that she wasn’t interested in renewing our acquaintance – which is a pity, but understandable.

I often wonder what happened to the boys and girls I remember from my days at school in America, some of whom are pictured in anonymous photos I took and forgot to write names on. I have several photos of neighbourhood friends whom I remember very well from my life in America. In one I appear with my sister, Judy, and Barry, Billy and Dave. We are all so young and smiling not knowing at all what would become of us. In this photo, which was probably taken in 1957, we are posed in my grandmother’s garden. I was about fourteen, Judy would have been thirteen and the boys about fifteen. I know that Judy has died at way too young an age but I don’t know what became of Billy or Dave.

Barry was the boy that I ‘went out’ with. In those days life was very innocent – or at least I was. ‘Going out’ with Barry meant being in a group of friends but holding hands with Barry; writing letters to Barry when I lived in Cincinnati and he was in Zanesville and kissing each other with closed mouths (which was very daring!). Several times Judy and I sneaked out of our grandmother’s house where we were staying, either late at night or early in the morning. If it was midnight or so, the group of us,plus a boy called Bert, Judy’s beau, would wander the streets, then find a place to sit and smoke cigarettes. If it was early morning we would be going on Barry’s ‘paper round’ with him. That was the only time in my life I have willingly got up early!

I did find out, via reading old Zanesville newspapers, that Barry subsequently married a school friend of mine called Lee. They divorced not many years later. (I have just found a site which tells me that Barry died on the 1st of November, 2013.)

Candy, Judy, Barry, Billy and Dave circa 1957

In London we went to the American schools at Bushy Park USAF base with boys and girls who had probably been to almost as many schools as Judy, Jennie and I – they were mostly the sons and daughters of air force and naval personnel as well as a few from diplomatic families. There is a monthly emailed magazine produced by people who attended Central High School and it is full of articles from others who attended. Occasionally I see a name I recognise but there are so many who are never mentioned – Dan and Mike Katz, whose father was a professor (?) and who came from East Lansing, Michigan; Dennis McGrath, whose family were sent by the Air Force to Turkey; Eddie Noce, who was a year older than I was and who, with a group of his friends, rode the same bus as we did and who kept us amused with funny stories; a boy and his sister whom I won’t name as he is some big Admiral in the Navy and wants nothing to do with his old school friends and so many others whose names I barely remember. I wonder how many of them went off to the war in the 60’s and how many came back.

End of Part One

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