Today is Friday here in a very wet Wellington. On Wednesday my daughter cleared the mailbox and handed me a rather woebegone envelope. It contained a card from my alter ego on here, Chris.
Of course, I was delighted to receive a card from her but thought “Oh well. She’s losing it” when I saw the date, August 2021 penned in. Then when speaking with Chris yesterday, she said she hadn’t sent me a card, but when I showed her the card and envelope she remembered sending it to me when my sister died last year. Hence the date August 2021.
So the question now arises “Where has the car been for the past twelve months?” I guess we will never know.
And a little excitement to brighten an otherwise ho-hum day – Don’t know what they found to be cheerful about.
Now off to discuss an insurance claim – my car was smashed into on the way to Wine and Crime last night. The other driver admitted fault but the main problem is I shall be without a car for the days it will take to fix it. Could be worse – nobody was injured.
On Friday Chris told us about the total shutdown in Canada and that she was singing the blues all afternoon. Since that time I can’t get that song out of my mind. My ears are full of it. And so it takes me back to 1957 in London.
I had left school and was about to be married when a young Tommy Steele hit the airwaves with the song Singing the Blues.
The song had been recorded the year before by Guy Mitchell, a well-known artist from the United States but here we had our own homegrown boy singing as well and even better than a well-known singer. This was before the Beatles and before any of the Boybands became famous.
I remember I bought a copy of the disc and how my parents hated it. And of course, this was before Elvis hit the headlines.
He, Elvis, sent my parents, along with everybody else’s parents, into a total turmoil. What would they say if they could hear the music teenagers are listening to today?
This 20-year-old Tommy Steele has gone on to be one of the most loved entertainers in Britain today
Tommy Steele performing in Stockholm in 1957
In the 1979 New Year Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work as an entertainer and actor.
In 2019, Steele was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony at Mansion House was delayed until 20 July 2021.
He was knighted in the 2022 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment and charity
So he is Sir Thomas Hicks but to my generation, he will always be the much loved Tommy Steele.
In addition to being an entertainer, he is a well-regarded sculptor. Four of his works are on public display. These include Eleanor Rigby (his tribute to The Beatles), in Stanley Street, Liverpool, and Union in Twickenham Stadium. the home. of Rugby.
Steele’s legendary career does not just end here. He is also an established writer and published author.
Well done Tommy. Such great memories.
“Memories are the bricks with which we build our life.” Judith Baxter
“One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.” said Pooh― A.A. Milne
Over the years I have always considered myself to be well organised. Recently I find I have been running around like a one-armed paper hanger, never quite catching up on the things I have to do and leaving total disarray in my footsteps. But now I have decided that I will resurrect the organised me.
As I said, the scare I had on Tuesday has made me reconsider how I’m spending my life, what I’m actually doing, and what I’m achieving, if anything.
So, starting tomorrow I plan to make a list of the things I could do to become more organised. Oh, I do love lists and of course, I love words.
I have written so many posts on words in my other blog; the way they sound in different accents, the way they look on paper and of course the way they hang together to make sense of something that otherwise might be nonsense.
And to whet your appetite (if there is no gin readily available) here is a link to one of those posts from July 2017 – Petrichor
So, wish me luck and watch this space because from time to time I might just tell you how I’m getting on in this latest adventure.
Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day. And whatever happens, the sun will rise tomorrow. Judith Baxter
Tomorrow is June 11, fifty-five years since my children and I first set foot in New Zealand. Their father had come on ahead, so it was just the three of us arriving.
My children were 7 and 4. Oh how very long ago that was! We knew nothing of this country. The Embassy in London was obviously staffed by English people who knew just about as much as me. “Wouldn’t you love to be able to dry your washing on an outside line every day?” I was asked. Yes, but not in Auckland where it rains most days. And in response as to whether I should bring my about to be delivered new car I was told that wasn’t necessary as new cars were readily available to buy in NZ. Wrong again. When we arrived we discovered new cars could be purchased only with overseas funds. At the time NZ was controlled by import licences on everything from rice and aluminium foil to new cars, and everything in between.
The day we arrived and for the following six or seven days, it rained. Auckland in the winter is dull and drizzly and had little to commend it. We quickly learned that shops closed at 5.30 pm except on Friday when they closed at 10 pm and didn’t reopen until Monday. And pubs and bars closed at 6pm This was referred to as the 6 o’clock swill. Men rushed from their offices to get a drink before the bars closed. This law had been introduced in 2017 and 50 years later it was revoked. But more on that some other time.
We felt that we had moved back 50 years in time.
We were to be here for only 2 years and so set about finding a place to rent. We looked at the house the person before my husband rented, but I took one look and decided I couldn’t/wouldn’t live there. We found a lovely property on the North Shore with a path down to a separate beach. Perfect. Among the many rules and regulations at the time, you were only allowed to take $11 a day out of the country. So as we had overseas funds we paid the house owners in British pounds for a year in advance so both sides were happy. Oh, and we inherited their dog a large rambunctious mutt who immediately decided that he was David’s dog – when they sat beside each other the dog was the taller. Our own dog was on the way from Scotland and so suddenly we had two dogs.
The inherited dog was naughty and got into much mischief, but that’s for another time.
We enjoyed living on the beach in this lovely property. Unfortunately, the mother of the owner’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and so their trip to the UK was cut short. Of course, we agreed to terminate the lease and found somewhere else to rent. Another tale for another time.
At the end of two years, we were off to Montreal – another tale. And after two years there we decided we wanted to bring up our children on the beach at Takapuna. But that’s yet another tale for another time.
By the time we left for Canada, New Zealand was catching up with the rest of the world, and in some instances was in advance – eg Women’s suffrage in 1893. And two years later when we returned, it was hardly recognisable as the colonial outlook it had been in 1967.
So now 55 years later we choose to live here in this far-flung land and are all New Zealanders. Each of my children married New Zealanders. Of course, we retained our British passports as here one can have dual nationality.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin
If you read the last post (surely not) from Chris, you will be aware that today is her birthday. I have sent wishes and very warm and loving thoughts from the other side of the world.
And of course, some of you are aware that Chris is one of my sisters of choice.We first met in the blogosphere as two very new bloggers in 2011. We immediately connected and have been friends ever since. Initially, we connected only on our blogs, then moved on to messaging and eventually to FaceTime, with steps in between. We found and continue to find we have so many things in common. Chris does have two IRL sisters and until last year, so did I. Unfortunately, one of my sisters died last year. But we are both committed to this friendship and love being sisters of choice – well I am speaking for both of us without first checking that she loves it too. Of course she does!
As our blog intro says “No distance of place nor lapse of time, can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” and we most certainly are.
Nonbiological sisters we may be, but we are as close as sisters. So today I made my sister a cake – well a muffin but she took too long to come and eat it, that I ate it in her stead. It was particularly good too!
So today, I will just add my wishes to those she has already received from her two biological sisters, her brother and his wife. I only hope they are looking after her as I am too far away to be there.
So my gift to Chris, the other half of this blog and my sister of choice, is
And of course Mary Oliver says –
“I try to be good but sometimes a person just has to break out and act like the wild and springy thing one used to be. It’s impossible not to remember wild and want it back.”
“Our brains don’t remember everything, but maybe what they remember is enough.” Judith Baxter, Blogger and friend.
Do you occasionally –
Forget the names of friends or even family members Can’t remember where you put something Go into a room and forget why you were going there Spend time searching for your glasses or car keys?
Unfortunately, this happens to me and many of my friends. And if you answer yes then according to Professor Bruno Dubois, Director of the Institute of Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease (IMMA) at La Pitié-Salpêtrière – Paris Hospitals, then what you are suffering from is “Anosognosia” or temporary forgetfulness.
According to the Professor, it often happens to people 60 years and older who complain that they are losing their memory. “The information is always in the brain, it is the “processor” that is lacking.”
Furthermore, he says, “If anyone is aware of their memory problems, they do not have Alzheimer’s.” Phew, that is good news!!
And according to the good professor,
“After 60 years most people have such a difficulty, which indicates that it is not a disease but rather a characteristic due to the passage of years. Many people are concerned about these oversights hence the importance of the following statements:
1.”Those who are conscious of being forgetful have no serious problem with memory.” 2.”Those who suffer from a memory illness or Alzheimer’s, are not aware of what is happening.””
His final words to us all (or those like me who are lucky enough to be over 60) –
“The more we complain about memory loss, the less likely we are to suffer from memory sickness.”
And Winnie the Pooh says “If people are upset because you’ve forgotten something, console them by letting them know you didn’t forget, you just weren’t remembering.”
And Audrey Hepburn says “I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it because it is very true.”
That’s it from a grey almost winter’s day here in New Zealand.
“Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.” Mary Oliver
It was after publishing my post on February 6 where I spoke of my love of Tuscany and Frank Lloyd Wright’s brief sojourn in Fiesole, that I remembered an earlier post on my other blog.
On a cross country expedition many years ago, my late husband and I visited Falling Water and so began my absolute fascination with the man. and his work.
Way back in October 2014, I was living with The Architect (A huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan), who unfortunately died in 2015. During the short time we had together, my interest and fascination had been fed upon by my late love, The Architect whose inspiration had often been Frank Lloyd Wright. I have several books detailing his life and achievements. But more on that at a later date.
So, to October 2014. I often get involved in writing challenges and at the time it was Writing 101. For a couple of weeks, we were given a daily assignment and the assignment on October 2 was –
Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word, and see what images appear, and then go from there. Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.
I had just received from Amazon, the book “Loving Frank” based on the lives and love story of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney.
As suggested, I opened the book on page 29 and the word “Stetson” jumped out on me. So here goes:
Dear Mr Lloyd Wright, or may I call you Frank I recently met Mrs Cheney when she came into the shop to purchase a stetson and later found out that the hat was for you. I am now aware that you two are cohabiting outside the marriage union and I must place on record my objection to your flouting the common courtesy rules of our society, not to mention the precepts of the Church. I strongly recommend that you send Mrs Cheney back to Mr Cheney and her children without delay.
Yours faithfully Ezekial Butler
Dear Mr Butler No, you may not call me Frank. Mrs Cheney and I are living in a loving relationship that doesn’t impinge on your world and should not impinge on your conscience. The fact that you chose to write to me in this fashion deeply offends me. If Mrs Cheney and I choose to ignore the rules of society and those of your Church it is our own business. We do not intend to bow to your request. Mrs Cheney will now stay with me and we look forward to many years of being together, married or not.
Yours faithfully Frank Lloyd Wright
I enjoyed the challenge and imagining what could have happened next, I reverted to this topic and continued four years later –
Dear Mr Lloyd Wright,
I received your response to my letter and must say I am surprised at your attitude. My intention in writing to you was to show my concern as to what you and Mrs Cheney are currently involved in. This ignoring of the rules of our society can only bring you much unhappiness: Not to say, what the lifelong effects will be on Mrs Cheney’s children.
My concern is for your spiritual wellness and that of Mrs Cheney. Please be aware that you are involving not only you two but both families as well. I implore you to desist in cohabitating and send Mrs Cheney back where she belongs.
Yours faithfully, Ezekial Butler.
Dear Mr Butler,
I was amazed and deeply offended on receiving your second letter. I strongly object to your deciding that you have the right to correspond with me on this subject.
Nothing has changed since our last exchange of letters. Mrs Cheney still lives here with me and will continue to do so for as long as we both deem fit. Do not write to me again on this subject.
“Visiting Florence was like attending a surprise party every day.” Jennifer Coburn, American author We’ll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir
I make no excuses for or secret of my love of Florence. Here it is that history and beauty meet and make every day wonderful. Round every corner is a sight that makes me stop and say “Wow! How can this be?” Florence is like a beautiful woman who grows more beautiful as she ages and as we get to know her more.
Florence is a magic carpet ride with all of the surrounding villages, some as Fiesole dating back to Etruscan times; some hilltop towns like San Gimignano with its perfectly preserved historic centre and the still standing 13th century tower houses visible far and wide; Volterra less touristy than San Gimignano has everything you want in a Tuscan hilltop town and more. It boasts a gorgeous main square with the oldest town hall in Tuscany and plenty of alabaster workshops to visit and purchase treasures to take home, and my favourite Monteriggioni is little more than a one-square hamlet surrounded by a perfectly preserved set of Medieval walls on a low round hill.
But today I set out to write about Fiesole where Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Beswick lived for a short time in 1910. This is a small village still considered to be part of Florence, set high up on a hill giving it the most amazing views all around and of the city in particular. The village has always been seen as a get-away from the high summer heat for the upper classes in Florence. And according to Wikipedia it is “noted for its very expensive residential properties, just as well as its centuries-old villas and their formal gardens.”For more details of this most beautiful village visit Fiesole .
It is also a centre for education being home to The ‘European University Institute and several US Universities have campuses there.
Much of the work by the Etruscans has been or is being preserved. Theirs was an ancient civilisation in central Italy from the 7th century BC until the Romans conquered it and assimilated it into their ever-growing Roman Empire at the end the 4th century BC.
As to Frank and Mamah’s short stay. It has been forgotten or was never known by those of the village of whom we enquired where the Villa Belvedere was. Eventually we found it. Rather in a state of disrepair having been told that it had been vacant for some years. Unfortunately, the photos we took of the house and gardens are not uploading here for some reason. The other photos did Perhaps I will have more luck in a later post.
In any event I hope you get the opportunity to visit this delightful small village in the not to distant future.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Yesterday Chris wrote about trains and public transport, and trains and dreams. And those no longer with us but whom we will never forget. I must say our trains are not as the light rail Chris shows on her post. Ours are much more mundane, even if they had been decorated for Christmas.
I wrote about trains on several occasions on my other blog – see here; and here; and yes, here. So it is fair to say I like trains. Our local trains moving us from the city to the suburbs and further afield, are pretty basic. Fast, clean, well maintained, and (mostly) reliable. They are built for a purpose and serve that purpose well. But I think that Chris’s light rail trains would be better.
The last two posts I have written have been on the serious side and I looked for some humour to add. Looking back to 2014, can it really be eight years, I came across this post and I reprint it here for your edification and laughter –
I was told –
“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious. She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. Obviously, it has been translated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English. So, Getting There: Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests. The Hotel: This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self. The Restaurant: Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you. Your Room: Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! .. You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts. Bed: Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers. Above All: When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.“
Whether true or not, I love it and am suspending belief in light of the fun I am having sharing it.
“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.” H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
“Good night – may you fall asleep in the arms of a dream, so beautiful, you’ll cry when you awake.” Michael Faudet, Author of “Dirty Pretty Things.
Do you sometimes fall into a deep sleep and several hours later, wake again? Maybe it’s your bladder calling, or a glass of water or a sound, but sometimes, it’s none of these. That happened to me last night from a deep sleep, I was suddenly awake. And being wide awake, I began to think about Roger Ekrich, a historian who had long been fascinated by this phenomenon.
He had been researching for a book about night- time, when one day in the early 1900s he walked into the Public Record Office in London where he found a deposition by the daughter of a woman brutally murdered in 1699.
As Ekrich read the daughter’s testimony he was stuck by a few words – she and her mother had arisen from theirfirst sleepof the evening. There was no further explanation- the interrupted sleep was stated matter of factly, as if it were entirely unremarkable. “She referred to it as though it was utterly normal.” says Ekrich.
As he read this he pondered, a first sleep implies a second sleep. Was this normal at that time?
Over the coming months, Ekirch scoured the archives and found many more references to this mysterious phenomenon of double sleeping, or “biphasic sleep” as he later called it.
Most were fairly banal, but others such as that of Luke Atkinson of the East Riding of Yorkshire. were anything but banal. According to his wife “He managed to squeeze in an early morning murder between his sleeps one night, and often used the time to frequent other people’s houses for sinister deeds“
Ekirch found casual references to the system of twice-sleeping in every conceivable form, with hundreds in letters, diaries, medical textbooks, philosophical writings, newspaper articles and plays.
And he also found this biphasic sleep was not to unique to England. “it was widely practised throughout the preindustrial world. In France, the initial sleep was the “premier somme”; in Italy, it was “primo sonno”. In fact, Eckirch found evidence of the habit in locations as distant as Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East.
As Ekirch explains in his book, At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime, people would often just stay in bed and chat. And during those strange twilight hours, bedfellows could share a level of informality and casual conversation that was hard to achieve during the day.
So next time it happens to you, think you are not alone. No doubt it’s happening to others close to you and perhaps at the same time.
Source – BBC Future – The Forgotten Way Medieval People Slept.