Anna's Progress through Life

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Happy New Year 1952

The 1950s

Image sourced from The Calendar Club

Numerology: Does your birth date decide your fate?

By Kaitlyn Kaerhart, 16th August 2020

Every one of us is born with a personal 'cosmic code', as unique as our thumbprints, says numerologist Kaitlyn Kaerhart. Decipher it and you can discover your life's purpose and even predict your future

3 The Communicator (Both Andrew and I are a 3)

Image showing how to calculate the birthdate equivalent

Image sourced from the Daily Mail (less image of the second-rate celebrity ex-royal)

2+7=9 +4=13 +(1+9+5+2=17)=30 = (3+0) 3 / (2+8=10)=1 +2=3 +(1+9+5+3=18)= 21 (2+1) 3

Key Terms: creative, enthusiastic, inspirational, motivational

Known as the 'sunshine number'** because 3s are animated, excitable and have an enthusiastic attitude that is highly infectious. These are the true lovers of life. The number 3 has always been considered sacred – so if your path is 3, mysticism could play a role in your life. The 3 can get caught up in negative aspects of self-expression, becoming judgmental and indulging in gossip. This Life Path tends to be more emotionally sensitive and highly empathetic, soaking up the emotions of all those around them and this can cause them to shut down. The 3s must learn the art of patience while dealing with conflict. Their greatest challenge is to remember to always shine their light and communicate their most authentic self, regardless of how it is received.

** Added bonus as I was born on a Sunday!

Polish Mum Tshirt

In the late 20th Century, meme T-Shirts became de riguer not so much in the late 1970s however when I had the first one I ever owned knocked up in some sleazy area of Soho proclaiming me to be a BBC Pygmy - in this instance, I pay homage to my 'Polish Mom' because she really was a phenomenon, a great influence on my life and this sentiment says it all!

Fact 00001 - I was born in the 20th Century in 1952 in my parents home across the road from a cemetery (and importantly a lido) in Carrington. It was a dark and stormy Sunday when I arrived and my sister had been banished to Wollaton Hall! My birth was a life-changing experience for my sister, not me though, I hadn't known anything different and so my family was always made up of those three most important people.

Nottingham Castle Poster

Very atmospheric poster of Nottingham Castle which has caught my fancy

Polish Stamp featuring Niedzice

Image courtesy of colnect.com

Niedzice Castle

Castles are always intertwined with my life and I believe Niedzice pictured here courtesy of zamek-w-niedzicy.pl was the basis for my perfect fairy tale castle - the stamp pictured above was one we received for years and years on letters and parcels - the stamp was issued into circulation in 1952.

Poster of Monaco 1952

Hedonistic and fabulous poster by B. Minnie for visiting Monaco in 1952 - image courtesy & © of Christie Auctioneers via the Daily Mail

Fact 00002 - I was born into a a loving Polish family and didn't speak English for the first few of my formative years. I was baptised and raised in the Catholic faith and was educated in two English Convent Schools until my 16th birthday. I also attended Polish School on Saturdays, was a Polish Brownie and eventually Girl Guide. Living in two cultures, which were honoured, fêted and given the same value, but nevertheless kept strictly apart was preparation-in-waiting (little did we know it) for the purest kind of 'political correctness'.

Fact 00003 - A very secret group I belong to on Fb (former/retired police staff uniformed and not) put out a little teaser : "This should provide some anecdotes. What was your very first experience of the Police? Should be good for a laugh." - It brought back this memory for me : Rumour has it that I was at an age when I discovered a) that I had two healthy legs for the use of and b) I could outrun my mother who having had polio as a child did not have two healthy legs. The scene of crime was the Old Market Square where pigeons flocked happily. I romped through the flock with my poor mother desperately trying to catch me, when out of chaos came a very tall police officer with a very big moustache and returned me kicking and screaming to the safe haven of my mothers' arms. Obviously the start of a recidivist career as something not dissimilar happened at the Palace of Versailles and the local gendarmerie a few years later ..... I would refute all this but there is photographic evidence somewhere in the family photo archives from the mid-1950s and early 1960s. I add the years as it might help to identify the big guy with the moostaches who manhandled me so shamelessly!

Fact 00004 - I know exactly the moment I discovered and fell madly in love with Ballet. IT was a pivotal moment in the late 1950s/early 1960s at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham where the Bolshoi was gracing us with a rare post-war visit. A love that would carry me through Sandy Wilson's adventures in 'The Secret Ballet School' in the comic Judy, through copious visits to see live performances of Coppélia and Giselle, (the other great classics I watched on television) until today. But it was in that very first moment that I knew I had come across something very special, with the very special person who had taken me, when the curtain went up and out of the dark leapt a ballerina, dressed all in red, moving faster than a flame! The image below is what I remember distinctly, a solo ballerina, entering the stage (from right to left looking at the stage) at speed performing a series of grand jetés across its at the speed of lightning - she was in a classic tutu but I could not find the right image to fully illustrate the grandeur and beauty of the movement! The image below shows an image from the Royal Opera House of a more classic view of the same ballet.

Solo from The Firebird

American Ballet Theatre - Natalia Osipova in Firebird. Photo:Gene Schiavone. © Copyright 2017 Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Duet from The Firebird

Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson in The Firebird. © Dave Morgan, by kind permission of the Royal Opera House

So who was the very special person who took me to see this ballet? I can only have been about 8 or 9 at the time. It was our lodger, Pani (Mrs) Pieńkowska who lived in the 'granny flat' on the second floor of the terraced house we lived in at the time. There were two decent sized rooms up there, a box room and kitchenette and a storage area (behind a curtain). I never saw her use the bathroom, but, of course she must have done. I can't remember there ever not being a Pani Pieńkowska living with us and her son Jan(usz) who visited about six times a year, he was very charming (I seem to remember) and an illustrator who lived in London. Pani Pieńkowska was someone I always felt comfortable with, she always wore black but that didn't bother me because she embellished it with wonderful strings of beads and bangles, there were always bangles which held down long sleeves. If ever a sleeve freed itself she became agitated until she had clamped it down again, it was the only time I ever saw her agitated and once I saw what it was she wanted, not so much to hide, but rather not to be seen - it was an ugly tattoo of a number. Pani Pieńkowska was a wartime heroine, a patriot, a freedom fighter - she survived the Warsaw Uprising but did not escape its consequences, she was sent to Oświęcim (more familiarly known as Auschwitz) where she received her tattoo and suffered unimaginable horrors of which she never spoke. She survived that place and made a new home for herself with us. Thankfully she did not forget kindness and beauty both of which she shared with me and especially in that instant that she shared the ballet with me for the first time.

Fact 00005 - Returning to the illustrator Jan Pieńkowski who, as stated in the previous fact, was charming and easy going (often reflected in his 1960s work) and very conscious of paying deference to the females in his life, his mother, obviously being paramount. Because of that I always remember his visits with fondness and on particular occasion I think he became my knight in shining armour for EVER! I was in a four year olds strop, mega strop not to put too fine a point on it! I had discovered that I had this amazing first name that wasn't being used! I think I was particularly incensed because I had just begun learning Polish history and the name belonged to a Queen of Poland, a very important one at that! As far as I knew, the British Royal family only had a princess with a similar sounding name to the one I was known as (with apologies in my more mature understanding of the situation to the Princess Royal) and she hadn't achieved anything yet being only a year or so older than me. I therefore devised a plan (as any bright four year old would do) and announced to the world that henceforward I would be known as and only answer to 'Panna Jadwiga'. The family occasionally remembered to humour me but it wasn't that convincing let me tell you! Then, Jan came for a visit and on being apprised of my newfound situation, made a great point of greeting me by taking my hand, kissing it, bowing to me and calling me Panna Jadwiga - you can see why he was so likeable! Mama (my mother) not to be outdone, dished out her own form of lesson and retaliated by referring to me as 'Anna Jagiellonka' (a lesser queen in the Jagiellonian dynasty of which Jadwiga was the first and only queen regnant). However, Anna Jagiellonka was obviously a true patriot and loyal servant of Poland as well as being a good seamstress - the Polish national symbol is a white eagle on a read background and Anna Jagiellonka produced a wonderfully rich variation pictured below.

White Eagle, Polish national emblem as created by Queen Anna Jagiellonka

Provenance of the White Eagle

Sixteenth century book cover embroidered in gold and silver thread and seed pearls by Queen Anna Jagiellonka and held at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków - image courtesy of interia.pl

Fact 00006 - Ballet! All things ballet and then a new comic entered my world called 'Judy' and it featured a serial called 'Sandra of the Secret Ballet'. Luckily the keeper of the website was able to date the first appearance of Sandra and so it follows, the date I became enchanted - 6th January 1960! Sandra of the Secret Ballet was my 'guilty pleasure' as a child, not that I knew what a 'guilty pleasure' was then. I gave up all my pocket money to be able to follow her adventures (in preference to sweets) because my mother had made it clear that she did not approve of comics except 'Look and Learn' and had only subbed my original purchases whilst the 'special offer' (can't remember what it was - maybe a free gift of some sort) was valid. She assumed wrongly (not realising I had an equal tenacity to hers and a stubborn streak to boot even all those years ago) that I would lose interest in buying a comic instead of sweets. (I used to go out to fetch my 'Look and Learn' and hide 'Judy' between the covers as it was a vastly superior publication!)

Sandra Secret Ballet illustration

I just love these group poses and the leotards and the rest - what memories they bring back! - image courtesy of comiconlinefree.com

That was when I asked Dad for a 'pocket pay rise' and was rewarded with an extra 6d (sixpence). My sister refused to ask for hers and remained on her usual rate even after I had soared (over the years) to the grand sum of half a crown! Dad upped my pocket money on my birthday so long as I asked for it and one day he asked if I would like more than a sixpence I couldn't believe my luck when the half crown materialised into a full crown (well 2 half-crowns to make up the 5/- or 5 bob!) When I reached the unheard of sum of 10/- he relented and brought my sister up to speed (no back pay though) so she never had to ask! But she missed out on quite a haul over the years!

Fact 00007 - Theatre and spectacle were ever in my blood from an early age, not necessarily from choice, but at school and in the Polish community we always had Nativity tableaux every Christmas and in the Polish community, sometime in the Autumn we always had a fancy dress ball for which my mother always made the most exotic costumes for my sister Marysia and I. One year I represented 'Autumn' herself, at another I was a embodiment of Królowa Jadwiga (after whom I am named) and Marysia was an exotic escapee from a harem one year complete with wonderful pantaloons and anklets - quite risqué all in all! But I wonder what it was that led me to shield myself from the limelight and seek to work 'backstage'? Last year (end of December 2016) I found a picture of a 1950s production of children in Shirebrook performing some sort of Nativity play and was struck by the 'resemblance' to Wilson, Keppel and Betty and reminded of my own personal memory of a special moment in my life.

The Magi School Play Image

Children perform a Nativity Play, Shirebrook - The Three kings pointing at the star of Bethlehem" - Image courtesy and © of Picture the Past

I placed the picture on Fb with a comment about them not being quite WKB which Alan Stafford quickly picked up on and my response (verbatim) was as follow - "Now, funny you should notice that Alan - reminds me of one of those piercing memories from my infant school days. It was the very first time I was directly involved in an English School Nativity play and was the understudy for Caspar (very progressive really if you think of the time, early 1960s - probably Christmas 1962 as I started at Loreto in 1963) although the original casting of the Magi was all boys. Without warning or even a rehearsal the original Caspar withdrew and I was ON! (See it doesn't just happen in Hollywood) anyway I knew the lines and the moves and being a kid was, I suppose, fearless to a degree. All went well until the Magi's big scene, we are travelling and using the stars to guide us, we stop atop a mountain and each of us has to pronounce some planetary configuration that will help us, of course each had a different course of action or direction and my line would have been something (meant to raise a laugh) like 'my word the stars/planets are very restless tonight' but that was the moment I froze. Luckily Alec (first real ginger copperhead I'd ever come across) came to the rescue said my line, had to then follow with his own so seemed to be a genuine lead and the rest must have gone down ok. So, maybe these three were doing the same play?" Could it have been the suddenness of being thrust into the limelight that made me determine never to go through the experience again? It's a possibility I suppose, but more likely the fact that I loved to 'create' art. It was nice to remember some of my (then) peers - I always got on well with Alec and there was also a pair of mixed-gender twins and I remember Jamie because he had wonderfully Byron-esque curly hair. Our form master that year was Mr. Ball who used to throw the blackboard (oh nuts to political correctness, that was what it was called then) eraser at us if he felt we warranted it - he also scared us into passing the 11+!

Fact 00008 - Friday, 22nd November 1963 - the assassination of President Kennedy; they say that if you are of a certain age you will always remember and yes, I do remember that whole evening with absolute clarity. It was a Friday night and I was washing my hair between 7.30-8.00pm because, at the time, I was forbidden to watch 'Emergency Ward 10' as it was deemed too adult. I can say, hand on heart, that I have never to this day seen an episode although my sister loved it as well as 'Dr. Kildare', featuring the impossibly handsome Richard Chamberlain. 'Bonanza'** was to follow at 8.00pm which I was permitted to watch, because together with the rest of the world inhabited by girls of my own age I was, of course, in love with 'Little Joe' and his Palomino pony. Not this night however. As I was in the process of lathering up my hair in our spacious bathroom I heard my mother shouting up to me from the ground floor - all I heard was 'President Kennedy is dead'. Not really sure what I should do - finish washing my hair (I was old enough to do that on my own but not yet to make decisions that fell out the norm for a Friday night) or go downstairs and ask what I should do? I ended up completing my hair and personal ablutions and descended to await the next step. As I entered the room, the television screen was black - not switched off, just black. In deference to the terrible news which had come via a 'Newsflash' all programmes for the evening had been cancelled. I cannot remember what followed, but I do know exactly where I was when I heard the news! **Update - I have now had the great pleasure of reading the biography of Chester Nez (a Navajo Code Talker) where he mentions towards the end of his story the existence of and his love for the 'Ponderosa' Pine. As soon as I read that my mind flew to 'Bonanza' and that momentous Friday .... how curiously things link up.

Fact 00009 - 1st April, 1964 - 'Lo'of Lirpa' - that well known travelling companion of Marco Polo or so our History teacher (dare not call him a History Master) would have us believe. I cannot remember any previous April Fool that had made any impression on me prior to this date, but for as long as I live I shall never forget this one from the year 1964. Obviously with better things to do than teach Form 2c on this date, our erstwhile male history teacher (we were awash with male teachers that year - physics, chemistry and English Language, in a convent school of all places, caused great excitement daily!) sent us to research one Lo'of Lirpa (note the clever use of the apostrophe) our only clue being that he existed around the same time as the great Marco Polo. Needless to say, we all failed miserably, except those that cheated and the humiliation made its permanent mark! One excellent feature that stayed with me was that however the words 'April Fool' were dressed up in future years, whether as anagrams or some other ploy, I never got caught out with them again. I enjoyed the infamous 'Spaghetti Tree' and the 'Marmite' lip balm for cracked lips made me cringe at the thought of such a thing, but they were transparent compared to that first experience. This years, featuring Downing Street (a brave move considering the ludicrous hype about Brexit - or the lack of it this year) and Larry the Cat is a great giveaway too - the 'mysterious' appearance of a cat flap at the front door was just too silly for words as was the quote from 'Spokesman Lisa Loporf.'!

Fact 00010 - December , 1964 - My first accredited artwork :
Today (13th August 2020) I was continuing to clear through the uprooted loft storage containers resulting from the hiatus of the electrical re-wiring we endured last year, and came across a wadge of greetings cards. I tend to hang on to the sentimental ones and then have a clear out again in a couple of years, in this instance found a Christmas card which could have had its origins in my original design :

Three Ships by Cathy Squires

'Three Ships' by Cathy Squires image courtesy of Image Source as it was reproduced on a Christmas Card.

Radio Times Radio Programme Live in ConcertThe pictures of the school programme of the play Noah by André Obey were my first foray into my future profession and my first accredited piece of artwork at the age of 12. I was amused to see the illustration in the Radio Times for Radio 3s Live in Concert of Peter Grimes. I e-mailed the BBC who told me that the artist was Joe Wilson and the illustration had been especially commissioned by them - anybody else see the similarities?

 

 

Joe Wilson's illustration for Radio Times

 

Original Noah design by J Anna Wariwoda

Front cover of the design for the school play 'Noah' by Andre Obey - this was a class project and my design was chosen - probably in 1964

Programme credit for 'Noah'

Confirmation of my efforts.

Fact 00011 - In 1966 I had a fantastic year travelling to Rome as part of the Millennium celebrations where I represented 'Poland' in the tableaux, celebrating 1,000 years of Polish Christianity, that was put on for our hosts. I met Erwin (a Frenchman) who was considerably older than my 14 years and who treated me like a princess and kept me out after curfew. I returned to England a virgin. In the summer I attended a Jamboree at Lilford where I met Rysiek from Cardiff, re-acquainted myself with two Brummy twins (who had also been in Rome) Eddie and Stan and came across a couple of guys from Manchester who were quite cute - there were plenty to choose from! We spent quite a lot of time dodging Rafał's night patrols to meet up - I returned from Lilford a virgin, but I had had an accident whilst there - I fainted. It was ignored.

Me and Mrs Kaczorowska

Lilford Park 1966 - 'Poland' being fêted by the wife of the Polish PM in exile - Mrs. Kaczorowska

In September of 1966, just as I was becoming aware of my sexuality I became a victim of bone cancer - this event was the first great shaping in my life. I would never be the same again, I would never again be normal. A bitter pill for a 14 year old to swallow.

Fact 00012 - I discovered the duplicity that existed in the world and came across my first conscious experience of discrimination and prejudice in British society. My family GP was Polish and a dermatologist by specialism. I believe he had a vocation despite a somewhat (occasionally) brusque bedside manner; nevertheless I hold his memory in the highest possible esteem. On returning from summer camp in 1966 he took one look at my leg which was beginning to exhibit specific deformities and without hesitation arranged for me to be seen by a bone specialist at the Nottingham General Hospital. As 'luck' would have it, I got the 'main man' - well, 'luck' is maybe an irony too far. It was fairly apparent that although I looked the part of a nice white English child and spoke fluently in his language, he obviously had misgivings about my origins and gender, it boils down to the fact that he discriminated against non-British and was a misogynist - needless to say, I didn't see him in this light as a 14-year old but I did form an opinion of immense dislike of this individual and how he treated me. I remember his appearance to this day, he was balding, had slicked down hair, dark rimmed glasses, very ruddy cheeks and always wore a white coat which, of course, made him look large, looming and wide. He confirmed what the x-rays showed and despatched me to Harlow Wood Hospital. After a biopsy which identified my particular ailment as a giant cell tumour he calmly informed my parents that amputation was the solution. My parents refused to accept this pronouncement and contacted the surgeon who had operated on my father during the war and who happened to be working in Leeds. He in turn, and much to my consultants 'incandescent' anger had me referred to Professor Smithers at the Royal Marsden. After my visit to the Marsden I was returned to the 'care' of the Nottingham consultant who was to make no further independent decisions on my treatment and would remain under direction of the Professor. Unbeknown to my parents or sister, I had read my hospital notes and knew about the potential amputation so it was somewhat of a relief when the pronouncement given to me by the consultant was that I would have (he then paused for an interminably long time) to stay in hospital for at least 12 weeks. That then started my next period of hell on earth! For four weeks, I received deep irradiation treatment on a daily basis, being transported by ambulance from Harlow Wood to the General. By the end of the 4th week I was semi-conscious and bleeding from every orifice imaginable in the female body. I don't remember being seen by the consultant until after the treatment, I can't remember whether or not he told me the tumour had been successfully dealt with, I know for a fact that he didn't tell me that the bone as well as the tumour were dead! I discovered that years later in 1984. X-rays confirmed that the hole left by the tumour in the base of my femur (just above the kneed cap) was slowly filling in. And so it was decided that I would be returned home in time for Christmas. I was placed into a non-weight bearing caliper and given wooden crutches with butterfly screws for balance. The caliper would be taken off at night and my leg placed in a cradle to keep it straight and stiff. I was therefore returned to the 'real' world and with that came a return to school. I was a freak! I was 4 inches taller than I had been as the non-weight bearing caliper meant that my shoe had to be built up on my right leg so the left would be left 'dangling. I used crutches and most mortifying I was ferried to school by taxi where I had to lie across the back seat to accommodate the added length. After six months the non-weight bearing caliper became a weight-bearing version, the stilts were taken off my right shoe and the caliper drilled through the heel of my left shoe and the crutches shortened by reducing the notches held in place by the butterfly screws. A year later my consultant decided I should try to walk without the aid of the caliper - as I was stealing myself for the 'leap (or rather step) of faith' he pushed me forward. It's a miracle I didn't fall over and break something - it was brutal, thank goodness my mother was waiting for me to reach her and somehow between us we kept me upright. Satisfied with his actions and obviously itching to get back to his more lucrative work, he was after all the consultant to the more important football team in the city, he told me that as the leg had healed I would now need to attend physiotherapy to start building up the strength in my muscles to reach full weight-bearing in due time. He also told me as a parting shot not to try to claim any disability benefits as he would not endorse my application. With that ringing in my ears, knowing my mother had not understood a word, he departed. The first time I told anyone about his final words to me at that time, were to my sister a week ago (November 2016). At the time however, I told my mother how the remainder of my treatment would look as he, the consultant, had outlined to me.

Fact 00013 - This then constituted the start of the rest of my life and in celebration of being freed from the constraints of this appalling consultant, in 1968 I travelled to Poland to stay with my family, to experience the fleeting friendship of a remarkable woman, see the mother of all storms which caused a total electrical black-out in Zakopane whilst watching Angélique Part II, to have a truly narrow escape* and to experience the greatest potatoes ever! But, before the experience in Poland :

Fact 00014 - Somewhere around this time I discovered I was a palindrome! "Palindromes - The word palindrome is derived from the Greek palíndromos, meaning running back again (palín = AGAIN + drom–, drameîn = RUN). A palindrome is a word or phrase which reads the same in both directions." Source : Fun with words

List of palindromes

And look what's first when you 'Google' palindrome - me of course!

Fact 0015 - Caroline McLean introduced me to puppies and Wimbledon (Tennis) 24th June 1968 – 6th July 1968 and the rest as they say is history and this is a taster of what I experienced :

1968: The first Open Wimbledon - The excitement surrounding the first Open at Wimbledon in 1968 was immense. For the first time some of the great players of the past were to tackle the challenge of Wimbledon once more. Back came Rod Laver after a five-year gap as a professional and with him from that same previously excluded grouping came Pancho Gonzales, who had not played at Wimbledon since 1949, Pancho Segura, Lew Hoad, Andres Gimeno, Butch Buchholz, and, of course, Ken Rosewall, who had been runner-up in the singles final in 1954 and 1956. In an all-Australian final - not exactly a rarity at Wimbledon - Laver would face Tony Roche, with the winner to earn £2,000 in prize money. In a final between two left-handers, Laver won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and Wimbledon's first open tournament was over. The Ladies' Championship was a triumph for the American Billie Jean King who won for a third year running. King was seeded to play another former winner, Margaret Court of Australia, in the final but instead played another Australian Judy Tegart who beat Court in the quarter-finals. Elsewhere, John Newcombe and Tony Roche won the Gentlemen's Doubles, Rosemary Casals and Billie Jean King won the Ladies' Doubles and Ken Fletcher and Margaret Court won the Mixed Doubles. Source : Wimbledon.com

*Fact 0016 - the night of 20th/21st August 1968 - when Czechoslovakia was invaded! 2018 brings us the 50th anniversary of this event, one in which I was an unwilling participant and remember with pinpoint accuracy! Before returning to the actual date this is how the invasion has been covered 50 years on!

"Crucial scenes we've wiped from history

I am puzzled that we have done so little to mark the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (as it then was) 50 years ago. The arrival of tanks in Prague was, and remains, one of the most poignant and shocking events of modern history, which I remember very well.

Invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968

Poignant: Protesters confront a Soviet tank in Prague in 1968 - image sourced from the Daily Mail and © of Joseph Koudelka / Magnum Photos

To see the iron crudity of Soviet power crushing liberty in Europe's loveliest city was especially painful. It was also, though we did not know it at the time, the beginning of the end of Soviet Communism – and the start of a new and far more dangerous version of Marxism, which got loose at the same time and now infects the once-free West. Written by Peter Hitchens"

So Peter Hitchens remembers this too, but he wasn't there, I was though! For anyone thinking it is far-fetched to believe that memories of 50 years ago can be etched so clearly that it still seems like yesterday and that I am 16 again needs to know that senility does not go after the age of 65 (official retirement age) and that long-term memory is oh so much sharper than short-term. And so to that night - it was the end of a long and varied holiday spent in Poland. Some minutiae of little importance are not so clear, but it was either a four or a six week stay. I was recovering from my 'successful' diagnosis and rudimentary treatment for bone cancer and after two long years in non-weight bearing and bearing callipers I was finally free of all walking aids with the exception of one walking stick. My parents decided I should go away and savour a completely different atmosphere for the duration of the summer holidays and as my sister, Marysia, who was honing her linguistic skills as a courier for a travel agency that supplied transport to Poland they decided to send me on an extended holiday to my ancestral homeland. I didn't mind at all as I had been to Poland before and liked the family that lived in Kraków which is where the bus was scheduled for and there would be no requirement to visit the family in the North and Central Poland. The route for the bus was from Harwich via the Hook and Czechoslovakia into Poland and alighting in Kraków. (The first time we visited the only route available then was via Belgium, the two Germanies and 'Checkpoint Charlie' to Poznan - from Poznan my Uncle Tolek had to meet us and we caught the train from there to Kraków - the entire length of Poland). On this trip over I met a lady called Mrs. Jones and we spent a companionable couple of days and nights travelling as co-passengers. On our inbound journey we stopped off in Prague and had one of the most delicious meals ever! The highlight of which was some golden brown, melt in your mouth, buttery potato balls! The hotel in which dined right royally was right on the main square all bathed in honey coloured lights giving the impression of peace and serenity with no clue to the coming events a few weeks later.

Me and the Bear in Zakopane 1968

Here's me and a friend or maybe a Yeti in Zakopane in 1968 approximately two weeks or so before heading into a historical and never to be forgotten experience in my young life!

I think my contemporary cousins, sons of the above mentioned Uncle Tolek must have been on their obligatory summer holidays somewhere as they don't seem to be around and most certainly I wasn't staying with them. There are some gaps in my total recollection of the holiday itself but there are various vivid memories as well. I stayed with my mothers' cousin Basia and her husband Tadeusz, their daughter was also on an obligatory holiday somewhere. My sister stayed with the great aunts on her stop-overs in their new* and cramped flat. The one on Dzierzinski where we stayed on our first visit was positively palatial in comparison. *New only in the sense that they had moved out of the accommodation that they had lived in since before the War. I spent a lot of time scouring around Kraków loving the freedom the tram system gave me and visiting this most beautiful city on sunny days gorging on newly discovered wild strawberries! I had to buy 2 kilos worth as 1 kilo was inside me by the time I got back. I had an interesting encounter that year with an African student. I had never seen a black-skinned individual anywhere in Poland, but I had a friend Pamela who was of mixed race in the Girl Guides at home. As it happens she went on to become the star of 'Hair' many years later. So, I didn't have any worries when he hailed me in the street to ask directions. He spoke Polish beautifully. I explained that I was visiting too but that I had my trusty street map with me so we could probably work out where he wanted to be. I seem to remember it wasn't a complex assist. He laughed at my sturdy and limp bags of wild strawberries, told me he was studying in Kraków and had had to learn the language to be eligible. I had to cut our chat short as there would be no wild strawberries left to take to the Aunts. I think we did get some odd looks whilst we were talking but it made no difference to me, by today's standards I expect the locals behaviour would have been deemed positively hostile. Anyway, sometime later Great-Aunt Jadwiga and I set off for Zakopane for 10 days I think. The first thing I did was to search out a hairdresser and had my hair chopped off and dyed a lurid platinum! Luckily my great-aunt who was nearly blind by then didn't really notice. I think we were waiting for Basia and Tadeusz to join us but in the meantime I prowled around Zakopane and came across a familiar face - Mrs. Jones. I think she was glad just to be able to talk to someone in English, so perhaps Polish wasn't her first language? She was full of surprises. The first being that she had a daughter and, that her daughter's best friend was the actress Julie Christie. She wanted to buy Julie something quintessentially Polish, she decided on one of the beautiful embroidered blouses, she didn't want the colourful ones, just the ones embroidered in several shades of blue - the size she bought was tiny, so she must have known JC well! The second surprise was that she always treated me as an adult when we were together and when we got caught in a storm she dragged me into a pub and introduced me to beer! It just so happens that we were both served 'Żywiec'. How that was possible I do not know as this was 'export' beer and not available to the locals .... and finally she took me to the cinema, where by seer coincidence they were showing a film I did not realise existed - it was 'Angélique, Le Chemin de Versailles' - there were English sub-titles but it was dubbed over in French. How could she have known? I'm not yet sure I was that big an aficionado as I am now. I never saw Mrs. Jones again after Basia and Tadeusz joined us and we returned to Kraków to prepare for my departure home. I had one last run to buy wild strawberries for the farewell party and also bought masses of flowers for all my female relatives as a thank you. I had to go back into town to fetch a litre of ice cream to go with the fruit. I came back with whipped cream ... There was no atmosphere or any sort of hoo-ha on the hours leading up to our departure, a strange one, it was a late start out of the country. Also, we were going back more or less to Zakopane to get over the border into Czechoslovakia - I suppose I could have stayed and got them to pick me up? On the other hand, considering the debacle of the last holiday and the lost passports in Poznan perhaps that was not so great and idea.

So I wrote this on my Fb Page as a taster - 50 years ago today the invasion of Prague (still in Czechoslovakia then) and my sister and I were there literally escaping seconds after, yes, after the borders closed. We were travelling home on the coach from Kraków (Cracow to the uninitiated) overnight. Our driver was a heroic German called Manfred (well he would be wouldn’t he) although ‘Maniac’ might have been more accurate. He manoeuvred the mountain pass on ‘two wheels’ as the tanks under camouflage nets were backed up for miles. Our courier (my sister as it happens) tried to hide the spectacle by pulling down the blinds). We got to the Polish Czech border by which time she had gathered up all passports. She yelled to the Poles through the window xx number of passports xx number of bodies, they waved us through warning us we only had until midnight to get out of Czechoslovakia. Within sight of Germany and the border posts coming down Manni put his foot down and klaxons on and literally scared the bejeezus out of the border guards who raised the barriers. We stopped beyond the border and presented the passports to the guards. They took Manni off and we had a difficult two hours as we awaited his return. Then like the proverbial ‘bat out of hell’ he got us to the port to get over the channel back to a civilised country and home. To be continued ...

Fact 0017 - June 1969 - Caroline continues my education, or rather her sister, who had now moved to London to become an actress, continued my education. Julia sent Caroline a Biba Catalogue! I'm not sure I was into 'buying' fashion per se as my late mother (Mama) had become a seamstress and was able to copy anything from magazines that we told her we liked. I don't suppose, for one instant, that we thought of words like 'copyright' or 'plagiarism' if you can apply it to dressmaking, but I suppose there was a certain element of theft of original ideas. Anyway, somewhere along the line, it will have been mentioned that Barbara Hulanicki was Polish, and two and two put together, that I had Polish origins as well. All that apart, I just happened to like the designs and the first of the catalogues that I received after applying for one featured the herringbone tweed suits. I invested in my first purchase, the trousers, waistcoat (or jacket) and blouse. The blouse was lovely and warm, the tweed scratchy. I can't remember the circumstances that took me down to London that year, but I took the opportunity of finding the Biba Boutique which was housed on Kensington High Street. I had come to exchange the tweeds as they were unwearable, but I clung to the blouse which eventually gave up its threadbare life after a year or so. I mourned that blouse to such a degree that my mother took pity on me and said she would recreate it for me. Amusingly, she recreated it from the bright yellow material used for Leonard Rossiter's Richard III costume at the Nottingham Playhouse. The Wardrobe Department was selling off its off-cuts and as I worked there on Saturdays, I was classed as part of the staff. I loved the material but not the feel but even so I wore that blouse out as well! Biba 1963 - 75 I had already missed 6 years of its influence but I was there at the bitter end!

Fact 0018 - June 1970 - Hooray, the end of 'A'-levels, Clarendon College of FE and the 'deflowering'! Cry 'shameless hussy' if you like but hey, it's a rite of passage and this page is all about influences on and how they shaped me. So here goes. The nuns wouldn't let me progress to 6th form at Loreto, until I had repeated the 5th because I had missed so much schooling during the cancer years. Luckily, Clarendon accepted my application with the proviso that I would re-sit any 'O'-levels in my first term of studying for A-levels. Because of the extra curriculum impacting on my A-levels I was only allowed to take two subjects, English Literature and Art (non-academic). On passing the lower level examinations, I was upgraded to Art (Academic) and had History of Art 'A'-level added, thus giving me three potential academic qualifications. I was also advised to take typing classes to boost up my hours. By the end of the first year I had licked the Art 'A'-level and was ready to take it early and gone through all the levels of typing I would ever need, leaving me with plenty of time to complete my two remaining 'A'-Levels. Just as well really as our half of the English Literature class were given an new lecturer from the second year. As with all change, it was unsettling, especially as my curriculum had already changed three times and now someone new whose style, would of necessity, differ from our dear old 'Clarkie'. The new guy didn't help matters by being a bit of a hippy, obviously gorgeous and if I didn't know better I'd say Johnny Depp styled himself on PL in the 'Ninth Gate'. Mind you, having just found some student ID cards of myself, I was pretty gorgeous too!

Me at about 18

Me when I was with the Johnny Depp lookalike - pretty gorgeous eh?

Johnny Depp in the Ninth Gate

Johnny Depp (without round horn rimmed glasses) in the 'Ninth Gate' - image Celebrityorcelebrities

Me at 19 or 20

And me after I got dumped - blonder and even more gorgeous and looking a lot happier - eat your heart out PL!

Yes, he really looked like that although the hair was a bit longer and flopped more, he also wore boots which invariably caught the hem of his trousers (never jeans). It never dawned on me that I might have caught this man's eye. In the second year, there were so many things going on. Having become accustomed (now) to the mature students I wasn't in awe of them any more. I became close friends with David, who incredibly asked me to be a bridesmaid at his wedding, in actual fact he chose both of the bridesmaids and I hadn't even yet met his fiancée at this time. I celebrated my 18th birthday in April and was taken, legally, to the pub by my classmates and it was David who looked after me as I got drunk as a skunk for the first time! Two of our group, the real movers and shakers had decided that they would get engaged on her 21st birthday and invited me to the do at a very posh out of town restaurant. I remember them well, Carolyn wore a great big silver ring on each finger and as she had large hands they looked very well, Phil was always a bit of a beatnik and had an impressive moustache. Caroline (and I) had always been the babes of the group. My other close friend, Linda, was in the other English group and we kept close because my mother was tailoring her wedding dress (I was to be a bridesmaid at that wedding too!) for her. She went on to work at Debenhams between end of college and her wedding and I bought my 'mosaic' cutlery there which I still possess today - beautifully made and still as fresh as it was then. Towards the end of the second year and after the exams, 'Clarkie' asked me to baby sit for him one night. Weird or what? But as he had asked and was a lecturer I couldn't very well say no could I? I think he must have picked me up as he lived on the other side of town. Anyway, they showed me where the tv was and obligingly provided a Radio Times, the kitchen and the slumbering babes. I had no idea he had young children. I was beginning to get bored as the music selection wasn't great and the kids were fast asleep every time I looked in and I was on about my 4th coffee when the doorbell rang. OK, we hear a lot about 'grooming' these days, and I certainly would not append that to this incident but it was a classic 'set-up.' In all honesty when I realised who was at the door I had no intention of letting him in, this was not my house, the children were entrusted to me and I dreaded what the Clarks would think on their return. But PL was not about to give up and nearly gave me the proverbial 'foot in door' treatment and I relented but told him I had a duty to the children. When the Clarks returned, there was no hint of a surprise on 'Clarkies' face and he immediately offered both of us a lift home. So anyway, that was it, the start of the pursuit and I was quite happy to be caught, being a naive but sensible 18 year old. We did the social rounds so that people got accustomed to us as a couple, he took me to see M*A*S*H which despite everything has always been one of my favourite films; the only fly in the ointment was the divorcée PL threw over in his pursuit of me. He had to get out of her house quickly and found a nice little flat behind some shops not that far away from where we lived. There were scenes and unpleasantness but I didn't really appreciate the trauma - but even today I wince a bit when I hear Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May'. And so, having waited an appropriate time, we sealed the deal in his new flat on a mattress on the floor. As I was completely naive about the sex act I looked to him to be my teacher, all I remember him saying was that he was only 'a once a night man' whatever that meant! Later he criticised my technique ....... anyway, I went away to Lancaster and although we wrote and I saw him on the weekends I came home, by the following summer it was all over and I had had my 'Dear John' letter.

Fact(s) 0019 - 1971-1973 relating to the very many 'firsts' I encountered whilst in the employment of the Nottingham Playhouse as the Saturday Stage Door Keeper which gave me a steady income to supplement my grant. I also filled in for the absence of the 'Night' Stage Door Keeper when he became ill, so all my evenings and a good part of my weekends were in a nasty little cubicle at the Stage Door entrance with only the 'passing trade' and a switchboard for company AND all the excitement of LIVE Theatre routines, adventures, escapades, (some good some not so good) and biting into the forbidden fruit!
0019a - One of my greatest disappointments at Nottingham Playhouse was meeting my idol Tom Courtenay. (They say you should never attempt to meet them as you will be disappointed, but had I heeded that advice I would never have met Anne Golon in 1991 and been enchanted by her!) TC was touring and NP was en route! (I honestly cannot remember which show it was but possibly Captain Bluntschli, Arms and the Man for the 69 Theatre Company at ‘the Tent’ in the Royal Exchange, Manchester (1973). Whatever it was, I will have purchased tickets and gone to see the performance despite my disappointment in him as a person.) I had planned and dreamed of this meeting from the moment a notification had been placed on the backstage/stage door notice board. I was quick to draw several hearts around the name of TC and I think everyone in the theatre knew about my 'grande passion'! I dressed very carefully for the occasion, a black sweet-heart neckline T-shirt and fabulous gingham panelled skirt which my mother had painstakingly made for me, the skirt was made up of alternate black and yellow (large not fine) gingham panels which created a swirl and had an asymmetrical hem. If I ever find the official terms for this style I will add them. Unfortunately at the 'meet and greet' in the upstairs bar TC clamped himself in the furthest corner and refused to leave his bar stool. I wouldn't have dreamed of foisting myself on him and his whole body language warned everyone to keep away. I seem to remember Peter Gilmore (all bustle and preening from the success of the Onedin Line) taking up enormous amounts of space by just 'being.' Later, I was told by more than one of TCs company that he was 'incredibly' shy and not to take it personally. Incredibly shy? He'd just married that popsicle Cheryl by then, he was completely spoiled in my eyes. But, first feelings do take time to die off and in my case never have, I still religiously went to see everything of his that I could in theatre and film and on television. Lucky for me I did or I'd never have seen the divine 'Charley's Aunt'! I haven't enjoyed his latest performance (I write this in hindsight) as he now seems to play them all identically - a far cry from the heights of comedy and high drama and near-soliloquies of the past, but then we're all getting older. I shall always have a warm place in my heart for you TC.
0019b - The reverse of the above 'disappointment' was the intrigue of meeting 'named people' and finding our how exceptionally nice they were. Four spring to mind without hesitation - Gordon Jackson, who shared a dressing room with John Mills (whom I was 'dressing' - interesting isn't it? Tom Courtney made a film with Albert Finney called 'The Dresser'. TC played the dresser and AF the ageing star). Many years later we met up in the BBC Canteen at Television Centre and he greeted me like a long-lost friend, can he possibly have remembered where he came across me? Another was Robin Bailey (who just happens to have been born in Hucknall) who was always polite and charming and came in one Saturday carrying a bundle of cards from 'Focus Gallery' he showed them to me and said he loved them and was going to give them out a 'First Night' cards. Imagine his and my surprise when I told him that I was in fact the artist (I always signed my name as 'Hanka'). The cards themselves were called 'Macbeth' (not 'The Scottish Play' as used by many a superstitious actor - who am I to scoff at superstition or coincidence?) The design was quite simple I used a number of circles (made from leather off cuts from my mother's leatherwork) in a graduation of colours from beige to brown and interspersed them with brass coloured tacks designed to look like swords or shields Very simple. Jenny Agutter and Jane Carr both equally known for their appearances in 'The Railway Children' and 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' also shared a dressing room at Nottingham Playhouse and I was assigned to them. It is weird to consider that we were all very close in age, Jane being a little bit older, as they were both so sophisticated and poised. I've always remembered them both with affection and remember that they encouraged me to to 'go out and conquer the world.'
0019c - Going back to some other unsavoury occurrences, which as it happens probably made me a bit more cynical than I should have been at that age, but it opened my eyes and prepared me for certain scenarios on my road to independence. The first, which was the most impactful I think, was the discovery of sex games. All of the Front of House Staff (Usherettes and Door Men) and I were a friendly lot and very down to earth where actors were concerned, many a laugh was shared. Our Managers looked after us well and we had no cause for complaint, nor they with us as they recognised we all pulled our weight and were happy to be part of a team. Whenever possible they would arrange for late night finish transport home or we worked it out amongst ourselves. Although Stage Doorkeeping was not taxing, a 9 hour shift did leave you buzzing a bit and as a result of which I often took John our doorkeeper home and was glad of a chat in the car to wind down. He was a few years older than the rest of us but it didn't affect our relationships. I remember well the Friday night I took him 'home' well, it wasn't home, he said he was going to visit a friend and could I drop him off on Derby Grove just off Canning Circus, as My friend Julie lived on that street and I knew it well and it was on a direct route to home I had no problem and didn't ask any questions although John was not as lively as he usually was. The next day I had the full Saturday shift and was surprised when Caroline (usherette) came down at around 8pm and told me Stephen FOHM) wanted to see me. I was always paid after the shift and when we had locked up the theatre. I bounced into Stephen's office and was surprised to see two burly blokes there with him (his office was the size of half a wardrobe). Stephen told me they were the Police and that he was going to leave me to talk to them privately. I was bewildered but not scared, by the end of the interview I was totally confused. Long story short, having given John the lift the night before established me as being the last person to see him alive ..... Stephen explained to me later that the Police believed it could have been suicide or death as a result of a sex game being enacted. Apparently in this case he had possibly attempted to reach a sexual climax while attempting to hang himself and it had all going horribly wrong.
0019d - The next really unsavoury experience was my first STD given to me by an Irish actor (we had a full Irish ensemble for a series of plays by Irish playwrights)! This man, whose initials are the same as the current leader of the opposition, looked very much like the despoiler PL, thin and with long dark hair, a bit swarthier than the original and definitely more 'angsty'. I don't think his regular girlfriend was an actress and so he only saw her when she came up at w/ends. In the meantime one of his fellow actors in the ensemble decided to make a play for him, she was quite large and rather hard faced (I'm being accurate not bitchy) and her presence was certainly tangible. He didn't want her and she took it hard (in later years she married a schoolteacher who became very very famous as a lead singer and dumped her for a woman with whom he enjoys tantric sex - I still don't really know what that's all about!) Anyway the 'angsty' one decided I would be his partner of choice for his stay in Nottingham except at weekends when his girlfriend (who apparently never wore underwear) would be there. He has one redeeming factor and a unique experience where I'm concerned. One evening after the show (I was now a nominal member of the Irish ensemble) I was literally a falling down drunk - no, I have no idea what happened, it was a 'lights out situation' and I woke in his garret. I don't remember anything about getting there or anything in between. He drove me in my car and safeguarded Thibault Charlie Brown until I came around, but nice as that was, he was still responsible for giving me my first STD which made him reprehensible! Oh the unique experience? That he drove my car, with the exception of mechanics, nobody else does!
00019e - I'll conclude this little section with more reprehensible behaviour by two actors on my car! I think they were doing rep rather than being with a visiting company and it was during the power cut years. Like a lot of these lesser known types they puffed themselves up and had roving eyes. One was short and dumpy and went on to gain fame by consorting with screen rabbits, the other was thin and had an incredibly large nose and went on to appear in 'Poldark' (the original serial). They liked drinking together in our infamous little Playhouse bar and came out one night to discover that they couldn't get out of the car park and so shunted my car (with theirs) decimating the front grill and surrounds and left it there without any thought that further damage could have been inflicted by anyone careering round the corner and not stopping in time. For the next 10 days or so I parked in a prominent spot and made sure I loudly lamented my bad fortune. Eventually one of them, the Poldark one I think, asked if it was my car and confessed that he and the dumpy one were responsible. They stumped up for the repairs but only after I told them I had reported the incident to the Police and could now give them their names. Nasty oiks the pair of them but they remained loyal to each other as they appeared in 'Mrs Henderson Presents' which happens to have been directed by Stephen Frears whose dad had been the Playhouse doctor and who had spotted my STD! A pox on them both! Actually it's quite therapeutic getting this down on screen!

Fact 00120 - 1973 the first (and only time) I was sacked from a job (redundancy doesn't count and that only happened to me in 1984 when, as a result of my leg breaking and my being absent from work, I was made redundant by Fluidrive - hope they are eternally proud of themselves!) and it was from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). So what can I tell you? I was doing a good job as the East Midlands News Clerk - my duties were primarily to accept calls through our small switchboard which sat on the desk beside me and the reception window, filter the calls accordingly, cover a lunch break for the education secretary, make teas, lark around with the sound recordist and camera man (a two man team) and type up the script for live output. There was only one thorn in my side; without exception everyone in the place was friendly and approachable except the sound and recording technician a right 'likely lad' if ever there was one - your can choose if his name was Terry or Bob. We had the same bosses and the same colleagues - the bosses all had their own kudos and pecking order for me it was the permanent reporter Bruce Myles first, the Education Manager (can't remember his name) next, then Dennis McCarthy our itinerant reporter who like every freelance was always in a hurry to sell his story! I had more to do with the Education Secretary and the Camera Team than I did the Technician whom I really only ever saw if we happened to meet in the kitchen which led to the ladies loo or if I came up the back stairs and dared to cross the threshold of his inner sanctum. I'm guessing the nasty little oik didn't like me because of my disability or my name which pointed at my origins or he was just a misogynist - as you can see, he still evokes certain negative emotions in me. Well anyway, after I had worked there (better mention I was there as a temp - not so much covering a vacancy but a 'need') for around a year or so, the BBC decided to start streamlining and rumours of redundancies or re-locations (not something I knew much about then but found out a lot about after starting to work for the Police) started circulating. Someone from London was to lose her job and wanted to come home to Nottingham so I got the order of the boot. I have to say though, I did get a nice send off from everyone except the Likely Lad although I'm sure he was delighted I was going and Bruce Myles gave me a couple of Albert Camus short stories to read ....... what? Anyway, so I left, sacked, unwanted. But, I got my revenge - about two weeks later I received a telegram from Pebble Mill asking me to ring them (and reverse the charge). We didn't have a phone yet so I toddled off the the red telephone kiosk just beyond the Carrington Lido entrance gates. It was well after 6pm and Michael (?) was waiting for my call. He offered me the job permanently at a starting salary of £1116.00 per annum and a proviso that I did not attempt to seek employment elsewhere in the BBC for at least 12 months. I said ok, took the money and fled after three months, I owed them no loyalty, I was beginning to learn fast. I was sorry to leave Bruce and the camera team, the Likely lad actually behaved when I came back but I didn't care, I applied for the job in London bypassing Birmingham knowing that it would be logged in London and then sent back to them. That, is exactly what happened and by the end of June of the same year Caroline and I were ensconced in our little flat in Isleworth just behind Kew Gardens.

Fact 0021 - Funny Lady, 1975 - Barbara Streisands costume towards the end of the film influenced me to such a degree that I modelled my (second) wedding outfit on it in 1994! As I keep saying I love the way things happen (to me) whether by accident or design, coincidence or some form of (usually positive, occasional negative) influence. In 1975 or thereabouts I think my deep rooted love of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne must have kicked in big time! Although released in March 1975 in the US, I must have gone to see Funny Lady quite soon after that, after all I was living in London, working at the BBC by day and the Royal Court Theatre by night, visiting Wimbledon during the best fortnight in the year, travelling up to Kensington to spend all Saturday in Biba every week, haunting Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square on the evenings I wasn't working and even occasionally allowing myself a visit to the National Theatre (when Beryl had a spare ticket and her regular partner couldn't go with her) so to the cinema I certainly did go - a lot! I remember seeing Salon Kitty in Leicester Square but the less said about that the better! (I had a crush on Helmut Berger at the time. I remember going on my own (no-one else was interested) and coming across for the first (and last) time men in brown coats who 'groaned' and pleasured themselves throughout the film - well it was an education of sorts I suppose. Anyway back to Funny Lady which was not as good as Funny Girl and there was very little evidence of Omar Sharif so in all it was a bit of a long and disappointing film but the end hour or so brought me to the Pan Pacific Auditorium and that dress!

Colour version of Streisand dress in shades of taupe

Black and white version of the dress Streisand wore in Funny Ladu

Streisand images sourced via Pinterest

I don't know what it was about this dress that so 'hooked' me, it was the antithesis of anything I was wearing at the time, after all I was a Biba girl who loved her plums and purples! I've managed to find a tiny little bit of the colour version, but I do remember that it was shades of what is now fashionably called 'taupe' or 'mushroom if you prefer with a main panel of cream - I still love this dress and paid homage to it and the designer by basing my wedding outfit (for my second wedding) on my memory of the image!

Me, Marysia and Mama at my 1994 wedding

l to r me, my sister Marysia and my late mother (holding a confetti box in her hand)

Even the untrained eye can see the influence other than the colour scheme which of course was my own, a grey-toned purple and two shades of silver grey, trust me, there were two shades and they took forever to find! Needless to say, there was participation from our late friend Anna as I went to Paris to find the fabric. I nearly drove the vendor crazy (it was in an enormous warehouse type of market) in the North of Paris as I needed to see the colours in daylight to make sure they worked. I had hoped for two shades of purple (taupe) and one silver-grey (cream) but couldn't find any that worked together so compromised with the reverse option. Funnily enough, Anna did end up in taupe and cream although she bought the same grey material for trousers to be made up for the day. The grey was a nightmare too as too many shades were veering to yellow instead of the blue I needed to complement the dusky purple. Happily, although it took most of the day and most of his stock I found what I needed! My clutch bag was made of the same material as was my corsage as I don't believe in torturing flowers. Andrew spent considerable time finding a shirt and tie to match and Dad, or course had a bow-tie made out of the dress material! Eventually I will write up the day on my personal page as it is a happy event and didn't do much 'shaping' and I remember it as if it was yesterday, even after 23 years or thereabouts!

Fact 0022 - 5th July, 1975 Arthur Ashe wins Wimbledon Mens Singles title. Link Well yes, I did predict the win!

Fact 0023 - 4th September, 1975 Biba Closes! - Yes this was a real shock to my young system, however, 44 years later I'm still as avid a fan as I shall ever be - in case you haven't already, please visit my joint Biba/Barbara Hulanicki section. This was a magical time in life mainly because of the advent of Big Biba and the fact that I nearly lived there during all the weekends I didn't go home. In the weeks leading up to the closure I used to hop onto the tube at White City and alight at Kensington High Street every weekday lunch hour to see what bargains I could pick up. Certainly I had a stash of Biba tights primarily in Blueberry, Biba Brown and Plum!

Biba Tights AdvertBiba Closes Down Sales

Tights & Underwear as advertised in the free Biba 'newspaper' promoting the move to 'Big Biba' and a view from the last days when piles of anything were strewn along the ground floor sales area! The image sourced from MessyNessyChick is entitled 'The Last Biba Sale!'

I also bought quite a few 'lengths' of material, two of which I remember with fondness. I chose them because I had never seen them made up into any store bought items, the first was an off-salmon pink with a delicate designed traced into the weave. My mother made it into a beautifully tailored dress with a sweetheart neckline, elbow sleeves, fitted bodice and very flared skirt - I remember wearing it to a friends chapel blessing where I was the only 'bridesmaid.' The other, both a sort of flowy crêpe de chine fabric, was so unlike a Biba design it caught my eye. It was a deep royal blue (not quite navy) background with a large floral pattern, predominantly pink with white and green accents, which I had made into a smock type dress with bib and long sleeves. I wore that one to death, the 'bridesmaid' one was a poor fabric for a fitted ensemble and wore out as quickly as upholstery fabric when made into clothing (I used to wear a lot of tapestry material made into jackets and coats.) During those lunch hours, and especially at the weekends when we had more time, gangs of us would just sit outside the store and stare into the shop with melancholy eyes. You could no longer make it a joyous day as the whole of the 'magic' had been destroyed. Years later, when the internet was still a newish concept I became friends (via the ether) with a like-minded soul. As we reminisced we found we had many shared experiences - whose to say we didn't actually meet and chat on one of those 'end of Biba glory days'?

Another view of the end of Biba featuring Mini

Well - who's to say that's not my Mini 'Thibault Charlie Brown'? - Customers at the closing down sale at the Biba fashion boutique on Kensington High Street, London, 4th September 1975. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) via flashbak.com

Fact 0024 - In December 1976 (TX dates 10th, 17th and 24th January 1977) I became the 'BBC Pygmy'. I say 'I' instead of 'we' because my really really nice boss, Louis Marks, who indulged me a lot, was certainly not going to stoop to my callow tactics to ridicule 'The Morning Star' using humour. The Morning Star was the Socialist rag 'du jour' and normally they would ignore 'elitist' BBC Drama on principal.

1970s BBC Logo

Morning Star Logo

However, for 'Eleanor Marx' they made an exception and came to the preview/launch of episode 1 which like all the others in the trilogy was held at the BAFTA headquarters in Picadilly. Quite a coup really, especially as Christmas was approaching and all the 'specials' would be jostling for the chance to have their shows aired in such prestigious surroundings. The Morning Star's preview revue did not conform to the many and usually praiseworthy pre and post transmission previews that followed. The Morning Star accused the BBC, and writer Andrew Davies (yes, that one : House of Cards, War & Peace, Mr Selfridge, Vanity Fair, Little Dorrit, the Austens .......), director Jane Howell and my producer Louis Marks not to mention the cast members lead Jennie Stoller as Eleanor Marx, Alan Dobie as Aveling, Nigel Hawthorne as Engels to name just the principals of selling out! Of re-writing history, of making Eleanor weak, of devaluing all the progress made by socialism ..... in short we were all BBC Pygmies and what did we know anyway? Oh come on - you can't throw down a challenge like that without repercussions! On the day of publication, after work I went down to Picadilly to the T-shirt stall that printed any logos you wanted. I asked them to produce two T-shirts with the legend 'I'm a BBC Pygmy' (by the way the spelling is the one used by the Morning Star.) I had them printed on red t-shirts! Louis laughed when he saw them and told me I could wear mine if I wanted but he would decide later. I never saw his T-shirt again but wore mine to the preview showing of episode 2. Shaun Usher of the Daily Mail stopped me and asked me why I was a 'BBC Pygmy' so I told him it was retaliation for the negative review they had given episode one. Little did I realise that Mr Usher would chuckle his way through his own review that week and make more of the 'well-endowed' Pygmy and the reason for it than reviewing episode 2. I have the cutting somewhere and will scan it in when I find it!

Great 2014 Daily Mail review of new book about Eleanor Marx here

Fact 0025 - Friday, 1st July 1977 - The Women's Singles Final at Wimbledon - I'm not sure if I already knew that this would be my last Wimbledon in London or whether I changed jobs and went to Derby Playhouse quite quickly as they will have wanted me to work out my notice of 4 weeks so things could have moved swiftly, I doubt I'd have given more than the statutory notice - so, a Brit in a Wimbledon Final!

Virginia Wade wins Wimbledon 1977

Virginia Wade v Betty Stove - 1977 Wimbledon Championships Ladies Final
"LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 1: Virginia Wade of Great Britain celebrates with the Venus Rosewater Dish after defeating Betty Stove of the Netherlands (not in picture) in the Ladies Final during the 1977 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club on July 1, 1977 in London, England". (Photo by Eamonn McCabe/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Having not been able to watch the previous two years finals 'live' I was determined not to miss this one. The Producers' secretaries were quite autonomous really and few, if any, actions were questioned. I had some time ago put a plan into action, I was going to book the viewing room for the Friday afternoon. Most people had long left the building by 2pm as a rule and just us serfs were left to work. The viewing room was exactly that, it was to view the final cut of any programme we were working on prior to transmission. In my case I could easily pass it off as an extra viewing for our trilogy of 'The Lost Boys' about the relationship between J. M. Barrrie and the Llewellyn Davis boys. Just before two I strolled over from the East Tower to the 5th Floor of Television Centre, strode passed the various officers, making a mental note of how quiet it was and how few people were around, all playing into my hands. I unlocked the door to the viewing room and promptly locked it behind me and switched of the television monitor which is what it was supposed to be, a monitor for the VCR machine. I actually got away with it for about an hour, not many calls interrupted me (I had transferred the office phones over) and then came the banging on the door - it was Mavis, our feared Organiser, right I thought, I'm for it now .... luckily she had also had a similar idea but had noted that the room was booked and so decided to honour the sanctity of the occasion. Most of the others left in the department were either listening to the match on the radio or using the telephone score hotline that I always used for hours at work! Seriously we were all underworked in those days, but the 'Boys' had to have their secretaries and I appreciated Louis after having the unpleasure of working for Irene Shubik (but that's another story and told elsewhere - boy did she teach me a thing or two about distrusting people!) So, anyone who was left in the department piled in, all transferring their phones over but I think the nation had gone on lockdown to watch Virginia and we were well rewarded! The atmosphere in the room (which had no windows and was little larger than a cupboard furnished with 3 chairs and a screen) grew a bit steamy but oh the joy, in the end of sharing that final with everyone there and the crowds at Wimbledon made it one of the most joyous of occasions for me and paved the way to a good send off before I left in the late autumn - hurrah for Virginia!

Virginia Wade presented with the Dish at Wimbledon 1977The Queen looks on as Virginia delights in her trophy in 1977

Queen Elizabeth II presents the trophy to British tennis player Virginia Wade after she won the Women's Singles competition at Wimbledon, 1st July 1977. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Fact 0026 - July/August 1977 (TX date 22nd December - in production in the summer) - Meeting Louis Jordan at the Acton Rehearsal Rooms

Caricature of Louis Jordan

Image courtesy & © of Tom Richmond and Richmond Illustration Inc.

Louis Jordan the great on-screen French heart-throb and lover who had felled my sister Marysia many decades previously especially in 'Gigi'. At that time in the mid-1970s in London he didn't do anything for me. In fact if anything I was slightly alienated towards him because I knew that he was the reason our preferred director for 'The Lost Boys', Philip Saville had been 'poached' to direct the great 'star.' Philip knew that he had disappointed my Louis (Marks) who was still quite new to producing and I felt Louis' disappointment keenly. Interestingly enough (it's all about coincidence isn't it?) my former boss Gerald Savory of 'Churchill's People' infamy had adapted the original story for this version of 'Dracula' but then Gerald was accustomed to being covered in glory and basked in his historical reputation - what Gerald wanted, Gerald got! Anyway, Louis and I were busy with 'The Lost Boys'; I had finally asked him to get Irene (Shubik) off my back (she was still phoning me to do her 'little favours' - I think I was the only one at the BBC speaking to her by then) and was ready to enjoy my final drama plays experience with the nicest man in television, a fantastic story, great cast (Ian Holm [pre-Hobbit fame] made a great Barrie although I had wanted and we nearly got Anthony Hopkins), great script (eventually), notoriety in the form of Andrew (yes brother of Jane) Birkin and the most fabulous and friendly production team you could wish for. Because the Acton Rehearsal Rooms are where you will meet anyone on any given day it was inevitable that some of our rehearsals (as a trilogy we commanded more space than a single production) would clash with the highly publicised 'Dracula'. I can't remember why Louis sent me up there, it may have been some script changes (Andrew needed a lot of help with his enthusiastic scribblings and Louis, of course had years of Script writing and editing experience behind him) and inevitably I walked into Philip Saville who asked me if I was still feeling a little grumpy towards him? I acknowledged that yes, I was disappointed that he had withdrawn as I'd enjoyed working with him on 'Churchill's People' and thought that we'd come to respect each other, he was always charming and kind, which in the main, many BBC people were not. Whether joking or not he said 'Come on let me make amends, would you like to meet Louis Jordan?' would I heck as like - whatever for? A decaying old Frenchman who must have been as desperate as hell to take a part in a BBC Drama production? But there was not much I could do, the corridors in the block were a bit like in a train, you had to keep going forward to your destination and our rehearsal room was at the end, the Dracula one was closer to and people were milling around making it busier than a tube in rush hour added to which I seem to remember that I was clutching the scripts or re-writes or whatever they were to my bosom - I was trapped! Then the parting of the red sea (or so it felt) and Philip steered me towards the light - it was extraordinary! Louis Jordan was ethereal, he was tiny, compact, oh so elegant in his pale blue v-neck and black slacks which matched his eyes, brows and hair and a luminosity in his eyes such as I had never seen in anyone, with the exception from a distance of Pope Paul VI, so close up. I was paralysed, rooted to the spot, describe it any way you like, it was a phenomenal experience the charisma positively oozed out of this being - he was surely not human and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was playing 'Dracula'! I can still remember that feeling today, 40 years on. He must have been told thousands of times the effect he had on people so he was prepared to help me, remember I'm standing in a corridor, frozen to the spot with my arms clutching swathes of paper, I'm paralysed. He kept looking me in the eyes, somehow extricated one of my hands from its paralysis, kissed it in the French way never moving his eyes away from mine, smiled (meltingly of course) uttered 'Enchanté' even as I heard Philip introduce me and mention something about having been stolen from our production. I have no idea how I didn't fall down, scream, have hysterics or whatever else my body was feeling - I had just experienced real charisma and it's an experience I never want to forget. The man still doesn't do it for me on screen - but he gave me a wonderful legacy and experience for which I shall be forever grateful. I never saw him, Philip or Gerald again and was more than glad to return to my cosy existence with Louis Marks until I ended my career at the BBC on my way to start a new job and way of life at Derby Playhouse. IMDB | Blog

Fact 0027 - 16th August 1977 - the death of Elvis Presley (and 41 years on to the day the death of Aretha Franklin in 2018) - as the news of Aretha Franklin's death came through on the 24 hour news I remembered a night 41 years ago when, in an age when news didn't travel so fast and 24 hour news was a long way off from becoming the domain of the future! I was very close to leaving my employment at the BBC, I may already have been offered the post at Derby Playhouse and so was finishing off my time in London in style. I remember coming back to the bedsit I occupied in Acton at the time and it was very, very late. My landlady and her partner were fast asleep as was the delightful and irrepressible young boy that was her son. I was glad to have shared time with Jasia (my landlady) and her son Marek. Really, if J. M. Barrie had wanted a modern day duplicate of Peter Pan, then Marek would have been his boy. Five of us shared the house, Jasia had the top floor with Marek and three of us shared downstairs, except Jasia and Franek had a sort of Sgt. Wilson and Mrs. Pike arrangement (Franek had the 'garden' bedsit and I had the front of the house), and don't get me wrong Marek was no Frank! Not only was it late, but I must have been terribly hungry as I used to drink without sustenance in those days and it was an incredibly warm night. All this leads up to the fact that I left the bottom half of my window open despite it facing right onto the road, I didn't take my plate back to the kitchen and tidy up, I had the radio on to help me get to sleep as there was an odd electricity in the air. I was dozy and I was probably slightly inebriated and nothing made much sense at 2am or even 3am. I was acutely aware that I could hear my cutlery dancing on my plate and that all the radio seemed to be playing was Elvis Presley. Naturally I was listening to one of the commercial stations, probably Radio London as they still operated on a similar style to the pirate stations of long ago. The cutlery was driving me mad and I wished it would fall off the plate and stop making such a din so that I wouldn't have to get up and move it! But the cutlery would not stop, I opened an eye and saw a shadow - a cat had got in through the window and was finishing off whatever I had not finished - curious as I don't eat meat or fish, maybe it was some butter, a cat can feast on a sliver of a taste for hours. Well that woke me up and having asked the animal to vacate itself and closing the window behind it, I tried to get back to sleep. Perhaps we had reached the top of an hour, I'm not clear but the music stopped momentarily and the DJ announced the death of Elvis and that his songs would continue being played, as a tribute, throughout the night ......

Fact 0028 - 1st March 1980 - My first marriage to David (note the date - St. David's Day - he was no saint but it was definitely his day) and an exercise in 'no regrets' at the end of 13 years - but I think we both would probably have agreed we had rather it had not happened - but there's always benefit with hindsight isn't there, oh isn't there just?

Fact 0029 September 1980 - Forming of Solidarity

Fact 0030 - 13th October 1984 - Honestly, fancy this not being at the top of my list! I'm remembering it today because I've just done some work on my '6 Degrees / Coincidences are Signposts' page which is still under construction as is this one! Anyway, having lived with the aftermath of the 1966 diagnosis of a 'giant cell tumour' this day (Saturday) and date really started shaping the remainder of my life. My first husband and I were both actually at home on this day, he had not travelled to a home match in Sheffield and as he was not employed in the theatre at the time actually had time off that the weekend. I had just changed my car from the ever faithful Teal Blue 'Thibault Charlie Brown' (named after Charles M Schultz's characters) to new boy Opaline 'Brucie Baby' (named after Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys). The number plate also influenced the choice of name. Brucie had come with a factory fitted alarm which was ultra sensitive and for the umpteenth time that day had decided to go off - I went to switch it off (again) and as I stepped off the pavement my leg gave way and I must have fainted. I knew instantly that something was very wrong even though I wasn't in any pain that I remember - as a Supracondylar femur fracture there was no trauma associated with it, not that I knew that at the time. A neighbour noticed me, raised the alarm with David and they carried me into the house. The doctor duly arrived, I refused to have my jeans cut off and he was astonished that a) I was able to wriggle out of them without passing out and b) that Taree was able to bounce around the bed, again without me screaming in agony. She had been asleep at the top of the wardrobe and as was her wont dropped down from on high using the bed as a landing pad. Once the trousers were off I could see the egg was at a peculiar angle, well at least more peculiar than usual. The ambulance men arrived, both were enormous and filled the room with their presence and a very orange splint - I was informed that it was a new invention used for the first time the preceding day in the aftermath of the Brighton Bomb attack on the Conservative Party conference. Once in hospital and on the ward, my Registrar and SHO (Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee) showed me the x-ray of my leg) the morphine and shock of the day's events precluded my registering what I was looking at - I could identify my bone (very distorted since the treatment in 1966) but I told them it couldn't be mine because it was broken - I had never seen my femur other than intact.

Fact 0031 - 7th February 1985 - I won a competition!

I was indulging my favourite past times too! Imagine winning a perfume just because I wrote about my favourite soap characters (you'll see my loyalty to Cliff Barnes stretches way back judging by the mark I gave him!

Competition winning articleCompetition winning article naming winners

Winning entry NEP Competition 1985

It looks as if the judges went for the 'unusual/individual' aspect rather than herd mentality which is gratifying, the lady who wrote the poem deserves a special accolade (poetry is beyond me) but I mimicked the original article by scoring the characters in my own fashion (I was not a big fan of Dynasty so it serves me right that I won the 'Forever Krystle' perfume rather than Joanie's 'Scoundrel' - yes, I still have the bottle untouched and unused.

Fact 0032 - On 19th July 1995 - The Pensions Act 1995 received Royal Assent and most of the contents were implemented from 6 April 1997.

Little Old Ladies depicted as born in 1953

This illustration is oh so wrong on so many levels as any woman born in 1953 or earlier will tell you that she may look like that on the outside and the public perception of an over 60 (by those of all genders who have not yet got there) female may well be a twin-set and pearls or Peter Pan collar but actually we all prefer to wear jeans and stilettoes (those of us that can that is!) But the discrepancy in date of birth and date of retirement is absolutely accurate. I was unable to find an equivalent for my birth year of 1952 so this must needs suffice. Image sourced from gransnet.com (give me strength!)

One Voice - Back to 60 - 1950's Women are being cheated out of their expected pension entitlement.

As usual I didn't expect anyone to notice or care except for the women who were affected by this latest discriminatory attack on me, my gender, my disability and the rest! I never really expected that it might fit into my 'quests' which were always artistic or literary as evidenced in the Midland Hotel, Anne Golon and Books sections of my website. This time, someone has already done the hard work and all I have to do is sign the petition (done) and keep and eye on things (on-going) and spread the word (working on it, this will be part of that spread).

So what's it all about? That is covered in the Back to 60 campaign and covered exceptionally well too! But here's my version:

When it was announced in the Pensions Act of 1995 that all women born between 6th April 1950 and 5th April 1955 would have to be employed beyond their 60th birthday before receiving their well-earned state pension I was spun into a state of bewilderment which then changed into anger and finally resentment. Pretty close to the symptoms that follow someone who has spiralled into deep shock. I hadn't realised that I was in shock and determined, like everything else that life had chucked at me, to deal with it in the best way possible. There was no easy way, but being the pragmatic sort I set out to find out what I could and one of the first things was to find out what my extended retirement date would be! The government had helpfully provided an internet resource where I discovered that I would be required to work an additional 2 years and 1 month making my final retirement day 6th of May, 2014 instead of my preferred retirement date of 30th of April, 2012 (to get a full month's salary earned) a difference of 737 days. (My very old excel calculation sheet does not state if this includes weekends!) In reality the 2 years and 1 month equated to 2 years and 9 days but whose counting - it was that additional 2 years that was the killer. In reality I had 17 years to adjust to the new ruling, or conversely 17 years of greater resentment growing as the unfairness of it all preyed on my mind?

One of my friends born on 18th April, 1952 was in the same timeframe as myself, but another born a month later on 18th May, 1952 suddenly faced an additional 2 months over those that had been assigned - how was that fair? (See comparison cartoon above for similarities to the 1953 variation). If you think about it logically, she was in the same academic school year as we were, took her exams at the same time as we did, progressed through her education at the same time as we did, reached her majority (18 or 25 take your pick) at the same time as we did, was permitted to vote at the same time as we did, her parents were unable to claim child benefit any longer than ours did - do you see my point?

As, at the time, I was employed by the Nottinghamshire County Council, I set about making some contingency plans and boy did I discover that I needed them. I was in serious financial trouble all because I had just put a disastrous first marriage behind me. As punishment my ex had done his level best to clean me out (it was a price worth paying) and to achieve my freedom I had been forced to take out a second mortgage which was at least twice as much as the original. I had also re-married and needed a new car. Savings were at zero and I had never had the cushion of an ISA. I also had no pension pot except that which I had paid into for a measly 4 years since starting my employment with Nottinghamshire Constabulary. Something had to be done - my boss at Mansfield Police Station was very keen for everyone to invest in AVCs (Additional Voluntary Contributions). I'm glad I attended the initial meeting because, with very careful calculations and quite a small difference in my net pay I could go in on the bottom rung to start expanding my pension portfolio (in case I hadn't mentioned it and of course I hadn't I had cashed in my BBC and my Dowty Pensions as soon as I left their employment). I also determined to get an ISA as soon as I could. In the end I only missed out by one year so by the time of my retirement I would have 11 years of fully-paid up ISAs and all that lovely tax-free interest which was cumulative and carried over annually. By the end of the financial year 2007/8 I had earned 3 years and 140 days additional pension, I was trying to get to the 85 year rule with the NCC so that I could still stop working on my 60th birthday and immediately become eligible for the Local Government Pension even though I would still have to wait until my new date for the Government Pension to kick in. If I could achieve the 85 year rule I could survive and I would benefit from paying less tax! Well, what I didn't factor in was that my disability would make me so debilitated that I would need a medical retirement. As a result, all my careful calculations went up the spout but, because it was a medical retirement the official calculations forced a full pension (no wonder they don't like giving them out) to be granted to me from the moment I stopped working (at the age of 60 plus a couple of days tagged on because they took so long to do the paperwork). For all the euphoria of stopping work, it didn't stop the feeling of worthlessness on a personal level, which rather spoiled the victory and there was still the two year+ wait for the government pension and the humiliation of the Job Centre Plus and ESA payments (that story is covered elsewhere and will not sully these pages!). Then all sorts of things started tumbling in, because I had effectively been put on sick leave from the day the medical retirement was announced, I had still 'served' so was entitled to holiday pay which came in twice as they had messed up the calculations. I received a hefty 'lump sum' in addition to my monthly pension which was modest enough, but the lump sum paid for that years ISA leaving me those savings to build on for another year or to prop up the pension which is not enormous as I never had a highly paid job at the Police so my contributions were commensurate with my earnings. Prudential, the AVC brokers, also gave me a lump sum that I was not anticipating to be as great as it was. I opted for the full amount instead of a modest monthly income, that amount was put aside for another years ISA.

Protesters gather outside the Houses of Parliament to protest against changes to the state pension age for women. Photograph: PA via the Guardian

So why am I still moaning about this all these years later? Well, it's because others felt the same as me and now it's official. I resented the enforced additional years irrespective of having time to get used to it, I had known from the age of zero (well nearly) that women finished work at 60, my sister did, she was one of the last few to benefit from this ruling. That in itself brought home even more the fact that I should still have to carry one! I don't hold it against my sister, I'm just glad she didn't have to go through it! The amazing thing is that I had not picked up on the campaign earlier, well that's that isn't it? Someone did and I am glad of it for all our sakes - here's hoping that something will come of it, others have already died, maybe I will see it succeed in my lifetime and those of my friends also affected!

Extract from the Guardian : Rise in women's state pension age prompts poverty concerns. | Accelerated timetable for achieving parity has hit women hard, say campaigners

The accelerated timetable for equalising then raising the state pension age has hit women especially hard, according to the campaign group Waspi (Women against state pension inequality), with about 3.8 million women born in the 1950s forced to wait up to an extra six years to receive a state pension.

Experts said while there was substantial publicity in the 1990s about the forthcoming equalisation of pension ages, there was little notice of the acceleration of the timetable in the 2011 Pensions Act. Nathan Long, a senior pensions analyst at the financial advisers Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Undoubtedly there was widespread coverage of the increases to state pension age over the years from 1995. It cannot be proven whether the women affected by these changes were given reasonable notice. A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions* said: "The decision to equalise the state pension age between men and women was made over 20 years ago and achieves a long-overdue move towards gender equality. As we are all living considerably longer than when pensions were introduced, we need to adjust the pension age to ensure the sustainability of the state pension now and for future generations."

Why are campaign groups objecting to the change?
The campaign groups support equality; their issue is how it has been reached. Equalisation at age 65 was proposed in the Conservative chancellor Norman Lamont's budget of 1993, with legislation set in train in 1995 for men and women's entitlement to be equalised in 2020. But the Pensions Act 2011 accelerated the process to achieve parity by 2018. This means many women have had little time to prepare.

Who are the women most affected?
Those born in the 1950s, numbering about 3.8 million, according to Waspi. A woman born on 1 May 1950 would have received her pension at 60, while a woman born in on 1 May 1960 will not receive hers until she is 66, in 2026.

Read full article here | read more in the Telegraph (2011) | * Always the DWP!

Fact 0033 - 31st August 1997, another senseless death, that of Diana, Princess of Wales at the Pont d'Alma in Paris. That's the métro station that as you emerge your get a fantastic and instant view of the Eiffel Tower. It was also the stop my late friend Anna emerged from on her way to work. She told me she always gave me a thought when that image came into her eye line (not on a foggy day though!)

Pont Alma and Memorial and Eiffel Tower

Image courtesy and © of 'Out and About in Paris', IG and the Daily Express

So on that fateful night in 1997 - although still relatively newly married and active sexually, the thought of missing the US Open tennis now that it was available via 'cable tv' was too great a sin to miss. Unfortunately, being a commercial station any show, live or not was prone to commercial breaks. In the dead of night, as it was here, I tended to flip to the news channel (another innovation) even though by now I'd grown accustomed 'looped' news stories. Somehow despite my diverse interests and work experiences (good or bad) over the year, I always gravitate to the news to fill in time, or now as a diversion from the commercials. I had just watched a thrilling and very close women's match between Jana Novotná and Mary Jo Fernandez (one of my favourite players) and had been quite enthralled throughout. I knew that there would be a bit of a wait before the next match and that it would be loaded with European commercials which were incredibly boring - now 'chat on the sofa' by commentators and tennis pundits like we get these days. During the women's match I had occasionally flipped over to the news but as the match itself was so absorbing, although I had noticed blue lights on the screen I hadn't read the rolling news ribbon. It was a little after midnight when the ladies match ended and I stayed with the obligatory post-match interview, made a coffee and changed to the news. By now it was approaching 1am (UK) and 2 am (Paris) and as the blue lights were still on the screen I decided to put the sound on to see if I could find out what was happening. Even as I read the news ribbon and saw the same pictures I had seen earlier, lights at the tunnel and one angle with quite a few police motor cycles on the scene I had the most incredible difficulty in digesting what I was hearing - car crash, Alma tunnel, Paris, Diana, Dodi Fayed, fatality - all familiar words but what did they mean all grouped together. For respite I returned to the tennis, some considerable time must have passed as the match was already in a second or third set, I had no concept of time and realised I needed to talk to someone. I could hardly wake Andrew or ring my sister (late calls always mean bad news), what I really needed to do was to speak to Anna in Paris. I looked at the time it was 2.30 or thereabouts, I had no interest in the tennis, I returned to the looped images and tried to listen to the commentary but it was on so low it was a draining exercise. Everywhere around me felt empty and deathly quiet. Anna told me she regularly woke around 4am to go to the loo, I decided to chance a call at what would be her 3.45am - it took forever for her to answer the phone, apparently just for a change she was in a deep sleep. French TV had not yet picked up the story (or not the channels she had access to at the time) and so we tried to make sense of what I was hearing. We tried to console each other for the best part of an hour and then decided we'd call each other again later on after she'd had a chance to see what French TV were offering. Little did either of us know that just a few mere minutes after we had put the receivers down and I had switched off the television just before 4.00am that the death of the princess was announced. I woke about 9am and put the radio on - no commentary just continuous music with a break for news headlines on the hour, there was only one item .... later Anna rang me and we talked for another couple of hours until we found out a bit more, listened to Tony Blairs speech, heard about the protocols that may be or should be put into place etc. etc. So yes, I do remember clearly what I was doing on the day the news broke, together with JFK and 9/11 those really are the pivotal dates. It's interesting that the Guardian timeline mirrors everything as I remember it. As a postscript to this sad event, Anna and I decided that when the funeral was televised we would be linked by telephone from the start and that is how it was, and how our strong friendship always prevailed. As usual I travelled to Paris that October for my annual visit and we went down to the Pont Alma where tributes were still visible at the 'Flamme de la liberté' (now called the Princess Diana Memorial)

Liberty Flame in Oaris

Image courtesy & © of travelfranceonline

"In 1989 the U.S.A. gave a sculpture of the Flame of Liberty to France in gratitude for the restoration work done on the Statue of Liberty on the occasion of its centennial. The 3.5 m tall Flame of Liberty of the Place de l'Alma is a full-sized gilded copper replica of the torch of the Statue of Liberty guarding the entrance of New-York Harbour. It stands on a grey-and-black marble pedestal placed just above the exit of the tunnel. The cast was funded with the donations raised by the International Herald Tribune readers from all around the world on the occasion of  the centennial of the newspaper's publication in Paris. The International Herald Tribune unveiled the monument in 1989. The commemorative plaque placed at the foot of the Flame reads as follows:

"The Flame of Liberty. An exact replica of the Statue of Liberty's flame offered to the people of France by donors throughout the world as a symbol of the Franco-American friendship. On the occasion of the centennial of the International Herald Tribune. Paris 1887-1987." Source : travelfranceonline

Fact 0034 - 14th May, 1998 New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America - during our second visit to the city we had both instantly fallen in love with, staying in a hotel close by the Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong Park, enjoying the daily trek down to the Café du Monde for Beignets and listening to the sounds of Jazz and Blues which surrounded us as did the the NOLA colours - green, purple and gold, we heard the announcement that Francis Albert Sinatra had died. I have adored Frank Sinatra and many of his contemporaries such as Dean Martin, Judy Garland and in time their daughters Nancy and Liza most of my adult life. Sinatra was special however - born the same year as my father and in their prime both men shared specific characteristics.

Frank Sinatra

For me - this is Francis Albert in his prime.

I started listening to Sinatra on vinyl and black and white tv (films and Christmas Specials only then), then graduated to CDs and televised concerts. Only recently did I discover that Sinatra and Wilson Keppel and Betty shared a playbill at one time! So it was fitting that I should be in the City of Music when this great man shed his mortal coils. We spent the day wandering about the City seeing images of him with the Rat Pack or from his films on all the obligatory screens in the bars that litter the city.

The Blacksmiths Arms NOLA

Exterior of the Blacksmiths Arms - image courtesy and © of Ideal Magazine

Interior of the Blacksmiths Arms

Current pictures show the interior as a lot more upmarket but this was our favourite seating area - no frills, the jukebox was further back on the left hand side wall.

When we decided to return to out hotel, we stopped off at our 'local', The Blacksmith's Arms (frequented by Charles the Vampire) which claims to be the oldest public house in the United States and I played every Sinatra record on their Juke Box. We were lucky enough to visit NOLA again in May 2000 before 9/11 but did not travel again before or after 'Katrina' hit the city with such devastation. That too was a turning point and we support New Orleans by whatever means we can. I should have loved to visit again - but the circumstances of my disability have long made that a dream. I do, however, keep up via Virtual NO on Fb.

Fact 0035 - Meeting Anne Golon for the first time - 19th October 1999

Fact 0036 - Dated, 11th September, 2001 - forever 9/11 in our minds.

9/11 Memorial plaque

Firemen raising the flag at the site of 9/11

I think that those of us of a certain age will add this day to the list of 'I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when 9/11 happened', the others of course being the assassination of JFK and and death of Diana, Princess of Wales and for me on a personal note for me the invasion of Prague in 1968 and the deaths of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra in 1977 and 1998 respectively. So where was I and what was I doing? I was at work, as the Duties Manager for Nottinghamshire Police at Mansfield Police Station. I worked in a former stationery cupboard which suited me just fine. Duties was a fun job which allowed me to use my problem-solving talents and which I was very good at. I was using an unusual and finely tailored macro based program designed in Word by one of those extraordinarily clever computer minds. I loved it because it was logical and it kept me busy. As a fairly low-key employee I was not given access to the internet at the time, I could use the internal 'intranet' and follow any allowable links, but they were all very work related and News was not deemed allowable or work-related. It was exceptionally quiet at the station as most of the bosses were in a high-powered pow-wow and quite a few of the 'girls' in the office on our floor were out celebrating a birthday. The Canteen and Command corridor which made up the rest of that floor were deserted. The only noise, apart from the occasional traffic buzz outside, was a tinny radio that my next door neighbour had on the go. As a Chief Inspector he used it as a guide to any local news, so he said ('he' by the way is the one that pronounced me dead to my friend Gary, a few years later - see below - Friday, 10th March 2017). My phone rang, my sister was ringing to ask if I knew what was going on in America and they had seen something on the BBC news website (not as efficient in those days) and it had flashed off the screen. Patiently I explained to her for the umpteenth time that I could not access the internet so it was no use asking me. I decided to ring Andrew to see if he could pick anything up but he was as much in the dark as everybody else. So, I went to my next door neighbour, who still had his tinny little radio going and asked him if he had heard anything - he said he wasn't sure as he hadn't really been giving the radio commentary his full attention. Then I had a stroke of genius and announced that I would go into the canteen and see if the TV was on and have a look at the 25 hour news programme, he had a better idea and said 'Let's use the boss's office' - I wouldn't have dreamed of doing that but as all the other Chief Officers were out somewhere and he was the most senior officer in the building (wonder why they didn't include him in their pow-wow?) why not. I was astonished that the Chief only had a teeny weeny portable tv but it had the 24 hour news on and we suddenly found ourselves watching live pictures from the US and the information ribbon (or ticker as in ticker tape?)** was reporting that an aeroplane had flown into one of the towers, both of which were still standing as we viewed the horror unfolding. After a little while the first of the pictures captured by a professional cameraman some distance away did indeed look to be showing an aeroplane hitting the World Trade Centre but he was not filming from an area that made any sense of what the viewing world was seeing and the newscasters were incapable of interpreting what was happening either! As CI Cole and I stood there trying to make sense of what we were actually seeing on the screen the first tower, gracefully, and without protest came down. The only saving grace of this entire appalling attack on humanity, was that the buildings did indeed descend into chaos with great dignity as if not to add to the further sorrow of all those involved. I stared on, I know I was saying something to the world in general but I cannot remember exactly what it was. Seriously, both of us had turned to stone as we continued to watch, still there was no clarity, was this a terrorist attack, a tragic accident just what were we both looking at and then it happened - the second tower came down. If ever there was time to suffer a heart attack then that was that moment ...... There really was nothing else to do after we had seen that a couple of times and we went back to our offices in silence, the building was eerily silent, it was as if time had palpably stopped. I had a lot of work to do so after ringing my sister and Andrew I had to compartmentalise and get on with my work. I was just preparing to leave, my office was quite dark as I didn't use the main lights, and it had already started to darken outside so I was having difficulty filing some paperwork away and must have been on auto-pilot (no disrespect intended) when my boss came in and scared the life out of me. Having been in the meeting all afternoon she had no idea of what had happened. It was almost a relief to share the burden with her. I'm not sure she completely understood what I was talking/babbling about but she would later I expect. On the drive home I listened to Radio 5 Live which was running the information on a loop and which by now also had information about the other incidents all linked to the World Trade Centre attack. My first impulse on getting home was to e-mail my friends in America but most of the services were down, but I did get through on the landline telephone for the briefest of chats with Joyce Murphy only to discover that her husband had been detained at Boston Airport where he worked in security as the authorities were afraid of further atrocities and the USA was on lock-down. The next day at work we started the cost of colleagues who were delayed by or even potentially lost to us because of the event of the 9th of September, 2001. Happily no fatalities but many stranded in the US, diverted to Canada, Iceland and elsewhere.

** A news ticker (sometimes called a "crawler", "crawl" or "slide") is a primarily horizontal, text-based display either in the form of a graphic that typically resides in the lower third of the screen space on a television station or network (usually during news programming) or as a long, thin scoreboard-style display.

Fact 0037 - Dated, 27 February 2008. The 2008 Market Rasen earthquake occurred at 00:56:47.8s GMT on 27th February 2008. According to the British Geological Survey the earthquake registered a reading of 5.2 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Market Rasen and 15 miles (24 km) south-west of Grimsby.

A Google search brought up : MARKET RASEN,LINCS - BGS* Earthquake Seismology earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk < earthquakes > UK significant. *The British Geological Survey provides up-to-date information on earthquakes so if it says it was significant then it was and we felt it! Nearly turfed us out of our bed!

Local earthquake 2008 deemed significant

2008 Earthquake Map

Images sourced from the Daily Mail (newspaper) and website

Summary: DATE 27/02/2008 | ORIGIN TIME 00:56:47.8 UTC | LOCATION 53.400 -0.332 | DEPTH 17.8 km | MAGNITUDE 5.2 ML | LOCALITY MARKET RASEN,LINCS

And the BBC told us : "The largest UK earthquake in over 25 years struck just before 01 :00 GMT on 27 February 2008. The epicentre was approximately 4 km north of Market Rasen, but the earthquake was widely felt across England and Wales, with the most distant reports coming from Aberdeen, Truro and Ireland. BGS also received reports of damage to chimneys and masonry over a widespread area. The magnitude of the earthquake is estimated at 5.2 ML, making it the largest earthquake in the UK since a magnitude 5.4 ML earthquake struck the North Wales in 1984, which was also widely felt across England and Wales. Earthquakes of this size occur in the UK roughly every 30 years.

Fact 0038 - Dated 15th April, 2011 - The Great Pothole Debate

Well not 'great' and not a 'debate' except between us residents of Rockwood - anyway we got a story out if it in the local rag and just so you know, the proposed resurfacing didn't happen until about 2017/8 so the Council Official was spot on when he said it wasn't scheduled for 'the coming year' but he should have been a bit more truthful and changed 'year' to 'decade' - talk of moving as slow as a snail!

Hucknall Dispatch carrying the pothole story

Fact 0039 - Sometime in 2012

Inner of Chisel & Mouse Competition

I admit I was absolutely thrilled to win this as I had intended to buy it or the Marlin or Highbury and certainly could not afford all 3 (I had already bought my first which is the Abbey House - it's a beautiful piece and one of my favourite buildings on earth! Thank you very much Chisel & Mouse

Now the choice is between Highbury, the Greyhound Terminal and Mornington Crescent!

Fact 0040 - Dated October 2013 - Surprise winner of the Spyke Golding Literary Award :

"An intriguing and heart warming tale of cider, people and a visit to Switzerland, not to mention the loss of a 10/- note, has won the 2013 Spyke Golding Literary Award.   The winner, chosen by the panel of independent judges, was Anna Ludlow.

Anna is not new to writing having had articles on her other interests and experiences published in magazines and on-line. Her story was inspired by a deeply affectionate memory of her late mother and was chosen for its positive and life affirming themes".

Literary Award Group Photo

Shown are Anna with her award, and judges Amanda and Mick Bajcar, Castle Rock’s Colin Wilde,  Steve Westby, chairman, Nottingham CAMRA and Amy Naylor-Morrell (third left) from the Waterstones Nottingham bookshop who presented Anna with a £30 book voucher.

Anna says: “I wrote this recollection last year but was unable to submit it due to an unexpected stay in hospital.  The delay made the success all the sweeter.” Full story here

Fact 0041 - Dated, October 2014 - Another earthquake hit is - it was a very weird feeling, Andrew was upstairs in the loft on the computer and I was downstairs of the sofa and it felt like a very hard judder - I remember stopping my thought processes as my mind had gone blank, Andrew shouted down to ask 'What was that?' I didn't know but guessed it was some sort of earth movement. Soon social media had Hucknallites all asking the same question. I managed to get a read-out which I have reproduced below:

2014 Earthquake seismograph

We're the squiggly blue bit!

Fact 0042 - Dated, 17th January 2015 - forever Je suis Charlie minds. It was just one of those mornings wasn't it, like 9/11 - there was a whisper there was something unclear for on goes the tv searching for the 24 hour news channel to find out what was happening - another tragedy in Paris, the last time (when Diana, Princess of Wales was involved in a fatal car crash) I had rung my friend Anna at 3am or thereabouts as I needed to speak to another human being as events unrolled. I'd have really wanted to talk to her while this was unfolding at a less unforgiving time of day but I knew she was in hospital, what I didn't know is that she would die two days later. What I did know was that she would have hated knowing what was happening in her beloved Paris and in particular who it was being perpetrated by. In the meantime I still had friends there who could well have been in the thick of it - a journalist with young children and married to a man who practises the Muslim faith, a web designer who lives alone and is, like me, suffering from mobility restriction and a 90+ mother and her daughter with Jewish blood in their veins - all at risk, all vulnerable .....

Charlie Brown evoking despair

Because I think this is so fitting and a cartoon character I have empathised with and loved for several decades.

The Charlie Hebdo car attack

Mirroring images to come in London two years later!

Crowd holding Je Suis Charlie posters

What a shot - you couldn't have staged it - Solidarity is such a unifying word!

Monday, 30th January 2017 - Today's fact (not yet numbered as it will be way after anything else I remember and add). I am working on my parent's tribute page and at this very time am working on my father's medal collection. He has always been our very own hero and the world will know him as a hero of Monte Cassino. I was hoping my sister, who is a repository of knowledge about my parents, having had them to herself for 6 long years before I came along, would make it simple and provide the facts - instead she gave me a photograph of his medals - better that than nothing at all! As I was painstakingly attempting to identify them I came across an anomaly. Why is father in possession of the France & Germany Star - is there a part of his history hidden from us?

My Fathers life medals

Take a look at the third row and emerging from the left is the United Kingdom: Italy Star | Ribbon: White with green central stripe and red edges. | Awarded: For service in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica, Sardinia and area between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945. This is followed by the United Kingdom: France and Germany Star | Ribbon: White with red central stripe and blue edges. Awarded: For service in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945. (Should this have been the 39-45 Medal?) As I progressed in my research I discovered that many a Pole awarded with the Italy Star and UK Medals had also been awarded the 39-45 Medal whose ribbon is Pale Blue, Red and Navy (the colours adopted by the 'Help for Heroes' campaign) in three vertical stripes of equal width so where was Dad's? Then the penny dropped but I had to check in with my sister. I phoned her and went on and on about how much work I had already achieved (I could hear her yawning) and took her through what I had found and then asked her what she remembered about the British medals - so she started reeling them off and got three out of four right. I asked her if she had missed the 39-45 medal, she said she might have, then mentioned the Africa Star - but although Dad was there, it was more as a patient than in active combat to which she concurred. Then I dropped the bombshell (pun intended) - had Dad had a secret life in France and Germany as well as Poland, Russia, Siberia, Afghanistan and Monte Cassino? She was dumbstruck, then I asked her if she had any recollection at all of his mentioning that at one distribution ceremony of medals, they had run out and been handed an alternative. Yes, she remembered that (we had a habit of listening at keyholes if there was nothing better to do) she had heard that too - so, after laughing heartily at our earlier 'naughtiness' we decided that the reason our father had been awarded the France and Germany Star is because the powers that be had run out of the 39-45 medals and probably reasoned that no-one would ever know the difference - well we do now!

Friday, 10th March 2017 - I'm not sure how this is going to shape me, but apparently I have been declared dead. Do I go on?

Sympathy Card

Dated 7th March 2017 - "Andrew, I shall toast Anna with a Mermaid's Kiss cocktail in the Palm Court tonight. I had no idea she'd gone. Gary Cole was in the Pilchard yesterday and told me. A few endearing stories were told - some of which I knew - over a pint of Eddystone (ABV 4.8). I got your card at Xmas but it didn't click as your signatures (like mine) were always unintelligible.
So sad that she's gone. Many a night was spent in the Palm Court, wearing her Biba dresses; the time she came with her sisters; the beery summer days with Denzil down at the Pilchard; we even met in Tavistock once - all before the defection to the Midland at Morecambe!
She will not be forgotten. Hope you are well. I am still on the Island. I shall put a stone on my cairn for her up near the Hewer's Hut. Give me three more years and then I shall be retired. Another phase beckons. There was always more to life than Burgh!
All best and many happy memories. Gary McBar"

I'm happy to say Gary McBar and I caught up with each other last Sunday (12th March 2017) had a long chat and laugh, reminisced a bit, nearly cried and parted, as always, the best of friends. The person who 'misled' Gary shall remain nameless, although I did name and shame him on my FB profile, is a former colleague of mine of whom I have no particular good thoughts and I trust our paths won't cross again. However, on the positive side, not many people get to hear what others think of them once they've shed their mortal coils, I did!

Dated 22nd March 2017 - one year on from an atrocity on mainland Europe and London is subject to a vile attack by a 'lone' wolf rather in the style of Cannes a few months ago, only this one didn't stop at killing and maiming people by driving into them, he then launched personal attacks on Police personnel with long bladed knives. The carnage was appalling! Daesh have finally claimed responsibility, maybe they were hoping for greater numbers? The images of the car against the Westminster railings is so reminiscent of the morning of 'Je Suis Charlie.'

Car driven into gated wall at Westminster

Newspaper headlines following Westminster attack

Dated 27th May, 2017 - When I heard that Harper Lee was going to write a sequel/prequel of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (in 2015) I decided it was time that I caught up with my lack of previous education and even more to the point time I read this most famous of novels to fill in my 'learning gap.' I managed to get a cheap version of the new book and then Andrew found a very good second hand copy of the original in our favourite bookshop in Morecambe. As usual I prevaricated so didn't get round to reading it until last month. I was astonished at how compelling this book was, and after the first page (too many characters thrown into the mix all at once) how easy to read. It was easy, also, to picture Gregory Peck as 'Atticus' it sort of fitted him - no, I hadn't seen the film, but of course it is just as famous as the book!

Film To Kill a Mockingbird Radio Times entry

No sooner than I had closed the book on completion that I opened the newspaper to be confronted with an article whose headlines screamed 'To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee 'set fire to second secret novel during a drunken night in New York'' - then to my great amusement, reading (in retrospect) a used copy of The Radio Times, I found I had missed a showing of the film! Luckily I found another viewing and was happy to watch it a few weeks after I had completed the book. The film was very true to the book, but a couple of characters had been edited out and they were missed. There's no great significance to this 'coincidence' and it isn't earth-shattering enough to add to my 6 degrees page - but it's just another example of the sort of things that I enjoy encountering in my life!

Dated 14th July, 2017 - Bastille Day and our (23rd) Wedding Anniversary. Whereas we would normally be at Burgh Island, or the Midland Hotel or some other Art Deco establishment, the intervening years haven't been kind and travelling is now a chore rather than a pleasure, so we were 'at home' with no particular plans although, Andrew's condition allowing, we had planned to treat ourselves to a takeaway! So, I was ill-prepared for what else the day would bring. I decided that I should honour my little 'Friday Computer' job and not do much more. This job is repetitive and boring and so I stray to sorting my internet banking and looking into Fb to alleviate the 'sameness' of the task. I notice there was a message on Fb and eventually opened it, to discover that a close friend of the Goloubinoffs' had advised me that Anne Golon had died in the early hours of the morning. That woke me up and shook me out of my reverie of boredom in an instant. To be able to give my full attention to the news I was absorbing I finished my menial task and went into overdrive as usual! I thanked Miriam for letting me know and she asked me not to announce anything as the family didn't want the news being made public yet. So here I was, on my, so far, nondescript wedding anniversary sitting on one of the biggest events in my life not to mention the literary world! I'm guessing I must have been the only one in the UK (at the very least and more likely in the whole of the English speaking world) who had this news and I couldn't do anything about it! As it was so completely momentous, I did send a message to my 'Friends of Angélique' US boss, Joyce Murphy as a courtesy and in the certain knowledge that she would keep the information to herself if I asked her to. It alleviated my stress a little. When Andrew came back up to the house I also told him as I could feel the walls closing in on me, he asked if I had mentioned this to Marysia (my sister) and I told him 'no' as she was joining us later and I would prefer to tell her face to face. Eventually, after I thought an appropriate amount of time had passed, I rang Nadia (Anne's daughter and my friend) to offer my condolences and we had a brief conversation. She told me that they were still at the hospital and to please not make any announcements. I assured her that I would not and would await any further news from her before going 'public'. It has to be said that our meal that evening was one of the most surreal moments of my life, sitting there munching on a Chinese takeaway, we were three people, sitting in the same room, on a gigantic secret that the world would still not learn about for another 36 hours or so and we didn't say a word to each other - maybe this was our very own 'Bletchley' moment? On Sunday, 16th July once the news broke via the internet, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief!

Dated 18th July, 2017 - still stunned by the news and events of the 14th and total lack of interest in the English speaking world the following dropped into Andrew's CAMRA e-mail account

"From: James Owen | Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 10:21 AM | To: Andrew Ludlow | Subject: Daily Telegraph, Obituary of Anne Golon 
Dear Mr Ludlow, I am writing an obituary for The Daily Telegraph of Anne Golon and wondered if you and your wife were able to put me in touch with her daughter Nadine. I'd also be happy to speak to either of you if you thought that you could help me with the article and with details that I need to check. My hope is to write it in the next day or so.  
Kind regards, James Owen"

I rang James, who it transpires is a freelance and was in Venice at the time of contacting us. The means of contacting us is more fittingly placed in the 6 degrees/'My Brush with ...' page as it is full of the coincidences that make life so interesting. I was happy to assist him and put him in contact with Nadia which resulted in a near perfect objective obituary. I would have awarded the piece a perfect 10 had James not sensationalised the series in his description or reverted to comparing them to books of the time that have long been out of the public sphere instead of using the very current and contemporary suggestion I gave him which, today, is all the rage in the historical romance genre.

Dated 10th May 2018 - Aaaarghh! I was proved wrong! Me! All these years, remembering 'The Amazons' with great affection I believed that the ring my father had fixed was for 'Wren' Chasen - the programme proves otherwise; it was Elizabeth Counsell! Glad I found the truth which gives me time to remember a pleasant memory from 1971 and let that silly song 'Oh the West End's the Worst End of London' which eventually became 'The best end of London' circle around in my head!

Cast List of the Amazons 1971

The Amazons Programme from 1971

Dated 30th November 2018 - Back to 60 state pension (see above 1995) group wins right to judicial review : "Following a two hour court hearing today, it has been declared that the campaigners will proceed to a judicial review. Barrister Michael Mansfield QC supported the movement before the royal courts of justice and the department for work and pensions (DWP).

Age Retirement article

The case was supported by a report from law professor Jackie Jones highlighting the injustice suffered by women born in the 1950s. After the hearing, Back to 60 supporters took to the Battle Bus once again to highlight their success and raise awareness." Source (and to read full article) : David Hencke

Dated 15th April 2019 - Another one of those dates and times I'll never forget, on the eve of my sister's birthday the horrifying news that the Notre Dame in Paris was on fire!

Compilation Montage of the collapse of the Spire at Notre Dame 2019

"The fire toppled the cathedral’s 300ft spire. This composite image shows its collapse." Compilation image of the destruction of the Spire © (Diana Ayanna/AP) sourced from the Daily Mail

Image © Gaël Dupret sourced from Architectural Record

The moment the Spire collapsed and broke apart

The steeple and spire collapses as smoke and flames engulf the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT /AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images) - Image sourced from and © of Getty via Wordpress

Some would call it 'iconic' (more fools they), others 'frightening', for me, this is the moment that spoke volumes - the manner in which this spire had been inexorably destroyed brought images of hell and damnation to mind and the cruelty and barbarity of anybody burning to death, pretty as the flames looked - they had only one purpose - destruction in the most painful way!

Compilation of Newspaper Headings on April 16th 2019

"The French newspaper front pages on 16th April 2019, the day after the Notre Dame cathedral fire" - dialogue and image sourced from the Guardian

Read more : Daily Mail| Architectural Record

Wednesday, 24th April 2019 - The Fairies arrived today!

The Cottingley Fairies Auction

See the full catalogue in .pdf format (Cottingly is featured on pages 92-106)

Sunday, 8th March 2020 - How often do we get hoist by our own petard? It's been a while since I entered anything on this page and there is a reason for it. During the time of the hiatus of having the house knocked about during a re-wire (not the world's greatest experience although the re-decorating has been a joy) and immediately afterwards I felt ill, I was in a quagmire most of the time, tired, fed-up, experiencing breathing difficulties and generally beginning to believe that if life was to continue this way it would not be worth living! Things came to a head shortly after Christmas and as the result of a low haemoglobin count I was rushed into hospital and after two blood transfusions and two infusions of iron (filings - my little joke) had stabilised. Now came the search for the cause of this anaemia (I'd like to use the word pernicious but that is a different illness altogether although it does describe nicely the nasty way things creep up on you (me in this case!) They discovered a few other things along the way by way of blood letting, MRI and Cat Scans, draining of fluid near the lung leaving me with the prospect of facing endo and coloncoscopies. By now the country, or should I say the world is in the grip of Covid-19 and I'm coughing away and having difficulty breathing. They also found a mysterious 'mass' in my abdomen and water in between lung and rib cage!

Image of the Covid-19 virus

Pretty little thing isn't it? The Covid-19 strain image courtesy and © of NewScientist.com

So here goes, the endoscopy was relatively uninteresting in medical terms apparently but the coloncoscopy revealed where the blood was (likely) going. I had to ask what the worst case scenario was and it came, not so much out of the blue, but inevitably that it was a cancer. Seemingly, according to everyone and his mother, bowel cancer can is treatable. It's given me something to think about although I feel a bit rudderless at the moment. I have to say that unpleasant as the endoscopy is, the other end makes up for not being so bad as the treatment to empty your gut, so that is heartening! Now I sit and wait .......

Monday, 27th April 2020 - Another birthday - made it! My favourite card was from Tinkerbelle and my favourite image was a birthday card given to my sister by someone she deeply dislikes - I rescued the card!

Cat Card

Anemone Birthday Card

Tuesday, 21st July 2020 - Here we go then, let's call this my first and very possibly last 'Blog'. My website is not designed for blogging, it's a record of all my interests and experiences over the years, some good, some bad, some vivid some a bit obscured, but at the end of the day it's all about me! I'm not famous enough to write an autobiography and years ago somebody came up with the title 'Diary of a Nobody' so can't in all honesty bag that one can I? Anyway, I'm unique enough not to be a nobody and all my life I have worked 'behind the scenes' I never took nor wanted to take 'centre stage' - I get things done, it's a knack and in its own small way is serving me well. I have had a whole spectrum of people contacting me about ... yes, a whole spectrum of my interests. Unfortunately recently, more about information for obituaries than anything else but what the hey my name is up in lights now! I wanted, first of all to run a second hand bookshop when I retired, that proved impossible because of general mobility deterioration so I looked to amalgamate all the stuff I love best - visually stunning images, books, writing, opining, my family, my 'journey' through life, my hatred of stupidity and inefficiency (JJ, someone I knew when involved in fund-raising for the CP Shelter in Nottingham and a high ranking county council/government/civil servant type wrote on the reference she gave me that I 'did not suffer fools gladly' when I applied to the Police - astonishingly I got the job) and she's right I really do not suffer fools gladly! Happily they won't feature on my website which is mostly given over to lovely things (except my PC section which allows me to vent!). The amalgamation of my interests, thoughts, hobbies, successes and failures has morphed into this web-site and I still have loads to do! I reckon that if I had started my autobiography it would have ended up in several volumes not unlike Churchill's 'History of the English Speaking People. So how to put it all together? You now the answer to that if you are reading this, I decided, after my forced and early medical retirement that I should learn how to create beautiful websites and this is one of them but it is mine own! Anyway .... this morning I got a telephone call from one of these eternally cheerful sounding fluffy individuals who advised me that my (so called life-preserving) surgery was to be cancelled due to some tests that had to be done. ARSE I thought very loudly because they've already been up it twice and once down my gullet to discover the underlying reason for my anaemia. I asked the fluffy individual what tests and she finally came up with 'excuse me if I pronounce this wrongly' - oh good God give me strength, if they but took that little bit more notice on how to pronounce my name that would be nice - and I realised that she was not talking about tests but the procedure to remove the fluids (supposedly benign) that are making a home between one lung and my rib cage (why don't they just burst through the rib cage I wonder) giving me reduced breathing capacity of only 1½ lungs at present. I need both lungs and a blood count of at least 100 (hovering around 78 after last test) so they are infusing me with iron filings to be able to undergo this life-saving surgery that I require. The anaemia, apparently is caused by bowel cancer even though there are no visible signs in the stuff emanating from the ARSE and in addition to that I have something equivalent in size of a 20-week pregnancy attached to one of my ovaries and it ALL HAS TO COME OUT so that I can live - there done it, said it out loud, wrote it! However, instead of curling up into a howling ball and cursing the world, I am granted a few more days because 'they' have stuffed up the dates. I'm pretty certain that as a former friend of mine used to say 'they've filed it in the too hard drawer' - I say they've filed it in the 'Not received' file (oh bless them every one in the Navy Lark!)**

I've hob nobbed with famous authors and not so famous ones, I've rubbed shoulders with the brother of one of the most famously notorious women (in her time) in the world and has a handbag named after her, and numerous screenwriters and producers, I even worked with the Glenister Boys' dad (he was a director). I met the nicest of famous actors, the most charismatic and the scum of the earth. I played with the Lord Lieutenants' sword tassels and gate crashed the Hurlingham Club rubbing shoulders with the elite in tennis. I attended an unplayed final of the JP Tennis Tournament when it was washed away. I've travelled, all over, just missed a couple of places Tibet and Hawaii but made up for it by nearly having a second home in Paris and standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building - I'd have like to do the same with the Chrysler but it was not to be. I lived and breathed Biba and queued for the first ever Tutankhamun exhibition. I've lived to see the deaths of JFK and Diana and known exactly where I was at the time and I witnessed the horrors of 9/11. So, I've had a jolly good life and done things others have only dreamed of. I haven't been an activist or participated in any demonstrations but I was there on the last day of Biba. I got out of Czechoslovakia by the skin of my teeth as the borders closed in 1968 and the Russian invaders advanced only they were smart, they didn't use their own they sent in the armies of the adjoining border countries. I'm experiencing exciting times in relation to information about the Turin Shroud, the first ever retirement/abdication of a Pope and disappointingly discovering that Anna Anderson was not Anastasia Romanov, Grand Duchess of the last generation of Russian Royalty. I have a genuine red telephone kiosk in my garden and I've stayed in a lighthouse! That's enough for one day, I will come back to this entry sometime but I have things to share not just blog about! AND I've driven Classic Minis for 48 years!

OK not an original - I borrowed it! Thanks to keepcalms.com for saving me a load of time!

Monday, 3rd August 2020 - Well they do say that 'all things come to those that wait'* (this has absolutely nothing to do with my recent cancer revelations) and todays' Daily Telegraph Newspaper headlines screamed Chief Whip 'failed to act in Tory MP rape case'! (The news actually broke yesterday but was lost amongst the much nicer news of the safe landing of the latest American astronauts returning from their space lab - makes you wonder why the agreed to return to this Covid-19 infested planet?)

Daily Telegraph headline on Monday 3rd August 2020

So why does this bring such joy to my heart? Mark Spencer has twice crossed me in the years he has served as MP for our constituency and his elevation to 'Chief Whip' (oh he is a Francis Urquhart all right despite what the article says but nowhere near as charming or good looking as portrayed by Ian Richardson in the television adaptation of Michael Dobbs trilogy 'The House of Cards') was a deep disappointment to me when my husband, Andrew, explained the importance of the post to me ..... Since his appointment Mark Spencer has piled on the pounds, every time we see him squashed in amongst the Cabinet or lounging on a Commons bench as his boss Boris pontificates, he's put more weight on! Hence why I have dubbed him the Fat Controller!

Facebook comment on the accusations about Mark Spencer MP for Ashfield and the Chief Whip

My contribution on Fb - "Is this the end of the track for the Fat Controller? I hope so! I have twice fallen foul of this individual who is my local MP - first when I was very down and at the height of the PIP persecution I was made to suffer, running the gauntlet in every way imaginable. He offered support in the first instance but when it came to clarifying something he then brushed me away with 'Come down to the Terrace and we will help you fill in the forms' - having failed to check that I was housebound and despite my disabilities was not lacking 'up top'. He also made the cardinal error of doing a 'reply to all' on an e-mail I was not supposed to see! Secondly he is against reimbursing the women in the 'Back to 60' campaign .... need I say more?"

Interestingly enough I've had two 'likes' from unexpected sources (both male!)

Read the full Telegraph article here

* The proverb “all things come to those who wait” means if people are persistent and patient, they will finally achieve their goal. In other words, it means a person must exercise patience exercise working on something close to their heart, even to reach the goal they desire. (And you can't say fairer than that where I'm concerned can you?) Source : Literary Devices

** 10th September 2020 - Since the July blog entry I have had a few more fits and starts and yet another postponement, it was all supposed to have happened on 30th August but as of the day before yesterday, after undergoing another CT scan (the last one's worth/validity had expired because it had passed the 3 months stage la-di-da!) So last Tuesday (8th September) I had a call from THE 'one's' secretary to confirm what I probably already knew, my new surgery dates. I stopped the chirpy one then and there and told her that not only had I not yet had any dates, other than to present myself for a CT scan last Sunday (6th) but I had also not received a copy of the previous telephone dialogue with THE 'one'. Her response was the now ever ubiquitous 'I can only apologise' for the love of the only GOD Dave Allen and I respect, what is this penchant for 'I can only apologise' these days - no they can do a whole lot more than 'just apologise' they can get off their arses and 'do' something! THE 'one' incidentally is the consultant whose going to do the cancer excision after the gynaecologist has removed those bits he needs to, and who started schmoozing me all those weeks ago over the telephone. The one I thought I had built up a rapport with and then one promise after another came crashing down including the really, really, really bad news that instead of luxuriating in The Park private hospital just down the road from where I used to work I have, after all to present myself to that filthy, germ-infested concrete nightmare the QMC for the surgery in one of their 'green' wards .... I don't accuse the QMC of less than adequate hygiene - I was sent out of there, in the 1980s, with pseudomonas! I know whereof I speak, so there! As a consequence all trust, as far as I am concerned with THE 'one' also he has a really irritating habit of saying something and then adding 'does that make sense?' his other secretary (he has two) based at The Park uses the same expression .... looks to me as if they spend far too much time together, enough said on that subject - I have therefore sent an e-mail to our Right Honourable (don't blame me, that's what they're called) Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock (oh seriously?, a surname like that when we are talking, among other things about blood) which can be found in its entirety

** 18th September and things are moving apace - I have a Covid-19 test on Sunday (20th) so assuming I test positive then I'm in for pre-operative procedures on 22nd and the knife on 24th - this could be the end ..... of everything! (But in the meantime, a nice surprise from France except for the odd inaccuracy, I have been hailed as one of Anne Golon's greatest fans ever! Read about me here and the whole article here!

Anne Golon's greatest fan - moi

'Idol' and 'devastation' could have been better described - but better tasty cake crumbs than stale breadcrumbs - oh I'm such a wag!

22nd September - 1st October 2020 (inclusive) - I received a negative result for the Covid-19 so it was a green light to go for admittance. Nobody bothered to mention that another call would come from yet another department to give me changed information which was not followed up or confirmed. Consequently the hospital stay started unpleasantly and chaotically with a super un-PC administrator who treated me like an idiot! She needs a lesson in humility and a course in 'People Management'. I was admitted and things started happening at snails pace culminating in a completely wasted 1st day and everything happening on the second - drain, blood transfusion and x-ray. Then came the matter of the dressings needing to be changed - plus points for knowing I would need the dressings changing, mega minus points for the 'Carry on Nurse' style of just being unable to comprehend the way that is most comfortable for me. One of the (male) nurses wrote the 'book' I suspect it is a giggle-worthy, but terribly earnest account. The sensible suggestion came from a female nurse who said to me 'You've done this yourself since 1985, do you really need us to do it for you if we give you any bits you're missing?" - this uber-sensible suggestion came because it was already known that I did my own dressings and had brought examples in with me - after that I did my own with the occasional spectator who had never seen a patient do things for themselves and I enjoyed returning to my 'instructor's' status. During that time I even had a visit from the 'boy' who had been schmoozing me with his engaging chats and very well written and accurate follow up letters during the period of on/off here/there maybes and definite cancellations since about July of this year when I was dumped by the original consultant who had one telephone conversation with me and promptly passed me on to the 'boy.' As soon as he removed his mask so that I could look at the face of my would-be murderer/saviour I had to swallow a fit of giggles - he is the spitting image of a young 'Clive' in 'Neighbours' who is a great character that can only ever have come out of a writer's imagination. So all was set for the next day - only of course it wasn't! Having served my Nil by Mouth time, in they swept, the 'boy', the 'neanderthal', the nurturing gas-passer and I think two others .... op OFF - did I feel right royally f*cked about? Yes I did! What a shower, what a pathetic excuse for a load of 'professionals' at least they think they are. It took them another 8 days of fooling about before I was released. my parting shot when the 'release' was announced? Send me home now and no, you won't get another chance to re-admit me. They're not sure if I mean it because the 'boy' still wants to call an 'Oracle' (except they spell it differently) which is a meeting of minds from different disciplines and then a three-way conversation between himself, Andrew and moi. He also didn't tell his 'team' because as the go ahead was given to discharge me the female said 'we hope to see you soon to sort this out.' I was then discharged with a letter (two glaring errors - they cited me as 64 and changed my gender), I was also sent home with the wrong doses of anti-biotics which happily for me the pharmacist picked up and phoned me on the Friday to warn me! There will be nothing further annotated here ......

Thursday, 8th October 2020 - Feelgood day, three positive things - a mystery package from France containing two editions of 'La Connexion' one of which is the one where I am called ‘arguably one of Anne Golon’s biggest fans’, the arrival of a unique piece of art destined for my collection generously bought for me by my husband and Iga Świątek powers into the final of the strange, yet unique, deferred French Open Final, the first Polish player to have achieved this and I watched every nerve-racking second - it was certainly worth it as she then went on to win the Championship!

Friday, 9th October 2020 - I had a call I nearly did not answer, it was a male voice from the GPs surgery, it was my dedicated GP whom I have never met or seen although I did have a very brief conversation on the phone with him once which did not sit favourably with me. This was different on every level - he called me 'Anna' (a man who obviously reads the notes) although did not introduce himself from the start (minor slight in view of his more intelligent approach later). He told me he'd been reading all the letters that had come his way and wondered if he could come and see me. I said only if he brought a flu jab with him otherwise we could talk over the phone. He said he would come with the flu jab (I'd been wondering how I could sort this as my preferred nurse is stuck at home shielding and I knew I would have a fight with the receptionists to get something sorted that would suit me!) He said he would be here before 1pm and he was. As it happened just before he arrived I picked up a letter and realised it was the latest account of my hospital treatment and I was just half-way through when the GP arrived. We chatted generally and I told him I had not yet read through the latest missive and had already noticed that there were things in the letter I was unaware of, or as I said, honestly that I may not have completely taken in as there was already so much going on around me. He was very patient and then asked me how I felt about all that had happened? I wish I had said 'it sucks' or something equally modern but I just growled (I was behind a mask, dutifully conforming to the government decrees) 'they can all go to hell.' He didn't bat an eyelid. I mentioned that the discharge letters had errors in them and as he was holding a copy I pointed them out and then noticed the 'allergy to penicillin' so asked him if he could remove that from the surgery records as the erroneous information was replicating on my hospital records/app etc. He agreed that he would see to that, no proof one way or another yet. He also mentioned he wanted to get the District Team involved and I have already had a phone call. As he was leaving he said 'You know you can call us any time don't you?' Now that completely discombobulated me and I forgot to ask if I should start taking the iron tablets again. (I asked the District Nurse when she rang yesterday). Earlier he had also mentioned that he was aware that I don't 'call us out a lot, not exactly a heavy duty patient' which surprised me as I would have thought with the number of prescriptions I need I'd be keeping at least one person permanently and gainfully employed. Maybe the fact that I'm not an eternal fuss-pot (thanks to my mother) stands me in good stead - but I will query the 'ring any time' I bet he doesn't know how those receptionists (with the exception of one) treat people they consider 'nuisances' or layabouts, I expect each of them thinks I've been living off the state since the age of 14! So, it has to be said that I felt more positive after his visit, it hasn't changed my mind about the surgery (knife), but he has done a lot to improve relations with my opinion of the surgery (institution).

13th October 2020 - oh how I hate this date with a passion worthy of Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and a few people I actually know but who will remain nameless! Why, well 1984 was a bit of a year after all and I do remember it well so it was this report fragment in the Daily Mail that prompted me to remember that today is the day I hate most of all in any calendar year!

October 13th

Curious that an event that occurred the day before is headlined under the date of 13th October rather than the 12th when it actually occurred! - Whereas the fracture which shaped my future life did, in fact, occur on the despised 13th (never was a superstition so vigorously enacted!)

Belatedly I have discovered that Banksy graced Nottingham on or around the 13th October 2020 (when the artwork was spotted) with one of his originals, described as 'whimsical', a girls 'hoola-hooper'. Personally, I actually find it charming and I'm glad he chose us for whatever reason!

Banksy found on Rothesay Avenue

'Now confirmed as a Banksy, the wall mural is worth more than the average house price of £214,280 on Nottingham's Rothesay Avenue, where the work is located'

Banksy detail of Hoola Girl

'Street artist Banksy has confirmed that he is the artist behind a  black and white, the tongue-in-cheek image  of a girl hula hooping with a bike tyre, which sits just behind a battered bike chained to a lamp post with an infinity lock' - Images © of the PA as they appeared in the Daily Mail which also supplied the individual straplines

Banksys Hoola Girl

Image as it appeared in the Nottingham Post

From the Daily Mail (abridged)

Take it to the Banksy! Nottingham beauty salon strikes it rich as Banksy unveils new artwork of a girl hula-hooping with a ruined bike's tyre on its wall

- The secretive street artist has confirmed a wall mural in Nottingham is his work
- The black and white stencilled image shows a girl hula hooping with a bike tyre
- A bicycle missing its back wheel also appeared chained up next to the mural
- The wall mural is now worth more than the average house price on the street

By Charlotte Mitchell For Mailonline and Pa | Published: 17th October 2020 | Updated: 17th October 2020

Street artist Banksy has posted a picture of a mural of a little girl hula hooping with a bicycle tyre on his Instagram account, ending speculation over whether he was behind the work. The piece appeared on a wall last Tuesday on the corner of Rothesay Avenue in Lenton, Nottingham. Now confirmed as a Banksy, the wall mural is worth more than the street's average house price of £214,280. Sprayed in black and white, the tongue-in-cheek image sits just behind a battered bike chained to a lamp post with an infinity lock. The bike is missing a tyre.

Surinder Kaur, 42, who runs the beauty salon next to the artwork, said the bike had appeared at the same time as the mural. She told the PA news agency that within hours, the council had rushed to protect the piece by placing clear plastic sheeting over it. Vandals have sprayed painted over the plastic two or three times already. 'Everyone is very excited and many, many people are coming to see the picture,' Ms Kaur said. 'Everyone was confused about whether it was real or not real but it's an amazing picture, it's amazing art.' Ms Kaur, who has only recently reopened following lockdown, said lots of people have been coming into her salon to ask about the mural, but she is not yet sure whether it will create a boost for her business.

In July, a coronavirus-inspired Banksy artwork appeared on a London Tube train. A series of rats were stencilled around a carriage wearing face masks, sneezing or clutching hand sanitiser in a piece named If You Don't Mask, You Don't Get. Transport for London swiftly removed the piece in line with its anti-graffiti policy, but said: 'We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings.' This summer, Banksy used the sale of his artworks to finance a 30-metre motor yacht to rescue migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. Named after 17th century French anarchist Louise Michel, the yacht features Banksy artwork on its exterior.

5th November 2020 - and honestly I had no idea that today, which would have been our parents 76th wedding anniversary, I would be writing about seven people who have made me what (should that be 'who') I am. To explain in brief (well I'll try although most of it is written up in detail here) I am trying to include as much about my family on this website in addition to the things that interest me and the experiences I have enjoyed or survived (the specific reason for this section) and which have shaped me. It follows on from a written piece in my sister's section where she wanted me to include her 'Springboard' treatise '10 People who have made me what I am' - the majority of those she cited were immediate family. My argument is that family influences (to me) are a right and privilege - but then she and I are like chalk and cheese and always see things from different perspectives! So as of today, I have come up with 7 influencers that I am happy to include, perhaps at some point I will expand it to 10 but only if I get some sort of 'epiphany' - I wonder how many PC/Snowflakes realise that the 'Epiphany' is a very important date in the Christian Calendar? They probably think they invented it! And so to my seven ..... oh before I go on, some of these women (all women so far) have already featured in specific incidents in the information I have shared above.

1. Pani (Mrs) Pieńkowska - who gave me my love of ballet.
2. Mrs Grażyna Zamorska - who fascinated me on two counts, it was a joy to observe a beautiful woman who turned up in church every week with different coloured hair, but also because she took a genuine interest in me and my aspirations to be involved in the world of art. She herself was a photo colourist and she took the time to teach me the skill.
3. Mrs Rosemary Boaler - my art teacher from the 2nd through to the 5th form at Loreto Grammar School. She chose my design for the Noah programme. Did she know I had carelessly created it in a fit of pique or had she goaded me into it so that I could release my potential?
4. Mrs Yvonne Palmer - who trusted me to 'do a good job' as soon as I set foot in her Temping Agency and as a consequence gave me the opportunity of paid work during every college holiday and was instrumental in securing me my eventual permanent employment with the BBC after I had temped there for several months!
5. Barbara Hulanicki - founder of Biba
6. Mrs Jones - a mysterious woman I met in 1968 - we travelled to Poland on the same coach but she was not on the same return journey as Marysia and I. As we alighted in Kraków she said to me 'See you in Zakopane', at that precise time I didn't know I would be going to Zakopane. My great-aunt took me there for the 'health giving air' a couple of weeks later. As I wondered around the town, Mrs Jones appeared out of nowhere and announced we were going to check the market stalls out as she wanted to by a blouse for her daughter's best friend. Against my better judgement (I was too young really to have one in those days) she chose a delightfully embroidered blouse in hues of blue (instead of the multi-coloured embroidery I thought I favoured) stating they would match Julie's eyes. The size she chose surprised me as it was almost child-like and yet I knew her daughter was a grown up. It transpired that her daughter's best friend was Julie Christie who by all accounts is a tiny woman. After that, returning to our 'pensions' she spotted a storm coming (the sky was indeed sliced into two completely different colours) and so she suggested we seek shelter, the shelter proved to be a pub and she introduced me to a life-long love of the Polish Beer 'Żywiec' which was actually, not readily available in Poland in those days as it was manufactured solely for export to pay off the country's debt to Mother Russia. She also encouraged me to have my hair chopped off (Peter Pan Pixie style) and dyed platinum blonde to free up any inhibitions. (Have a look at the photo taken in Zakopane in 1968)

Me and a Bear in Zakopane in 1968

7. Anne Golon - author of the Angélique series, who became my friend.
8. -
9. -
10. -

23rd November 2020 - Oh how today hurt! It still hurts despite assurances - this ranks second only to the 13th October 1984 - oh! Last night I had another vivid nightmare, I get lots these days, regular as clockwork. They don't particularly bother me as a rule but, they are not pleasant when they are happening. I particularly hate any concerning any of my cars (all Minis of course) and last night the nightmare told me that if I SORN it then that would be the death of my car. SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) has been on my mind for some time as the car has not been moved for over 12 months (not since even before the hiatus with the electrical re-wire) and I have been in self isolation since. We got a bit of a reprieve earlier in the year when existing MOTs were extended by 6 months and I knew that date was looming large - the 26th in fact. So I eventually spoke to a lovely girl with a Welsh lilt and she 'addressed all my concerns' SORN'd my car then and there for me and told me how both the car and I could reinstate ourselves when the time came. I was touched, really touched by her kindness, then 'Neanderthal Dave' rang and these great flashing lights of pure satanic hatred overtook me and I dealt with him in short order, I think we both slammed the phones down at the same time. As he will be ringing me back for a 'consultation' I suppose, however ungracious I feel about him I'll have to proffer some sort of apology ... maybe ..... I remind myself that this is a page of 'Je ne regrette riens!'

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Background image : The Anemone range by Lalique the only design-house to regularly use an anemone in its original creations. The anemone is my favourite flower. The colours used here which are red, white and blue reflect my joint Polish (red and white) and British (red, white and blue) heritage.