When your younger son is 57 today and his elder brother is 59 you realise you really are old!!
‘Babe and me thought it was a good idea’ is our family saying for when someone – not pointing at someone recently or presently in power today – does something unexpected and stupid.
When our elder son, Simon, was in nappies we had those terry towelling napkins you had to soak and wash daily. By the time Bernard was born, disposable applies were available and the make we used was called ‘Golden Babe.’ Unlike the rest of our family, Bernard had white-gold hair and his nickname was soon ‘Golden Babe’ or ‘Babe’ for short.
Simon was three and Bernard was 6 months old when we moved them out of the box room and into a junior bed and larger cot in the spare bedroom. To our horror, the first morning the boys were in their new bedroom, Simon scribbled all over one newly painted wall.
‘Why did you do that?’ We asked. He looked over at Babe, who had just learned to sit up alone, and certainly hadn’t yet learned to speak. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘Babe and me thought it was a good idea.’
We couldn’t be cross. It was such a great saying!!
The following year we opened our educational toy shop, John Dobbie , in Wimbledon Village and amongst our stock we sold fancy dress clothes. They both loved dressing up.
Read more of my memoir in ‘Woman in a White Coat’ on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
When my dad brought my middle sister and me back from an unhappy billet in Ely, Christmas 1939, I vowed I would never be evacuated again, but on September 7th 1940 the Blitz began. We tried taking shelter on the platform of Aldgate East Underground station, where we slept in rows tightly packed like sardines. I hated it there. I often walked in my sleep and, although I knew that the electric current was turned off at night, I was terrified that I might walk to the edge of the platform and fall onto the lines. Finally, we were allocated spaces in the basement of a factory in Middlesex Street and started to sleep there every night.
Soon, posters appeared saying that children still in London should be sent to the country. I told my parents I wouldn’t go. After the miserable time I’d had in Ely, I absolutely didn’t want to be evacuated again but a distant cousin was working at one of the hostels for Jewish children opened by Habonim in South Devon – one each in Dawlish, Teignmouth and Exmouth. There was room for me in the Dawlish hostel and I stayed there for two years, finally coming back to London in the summer of 1942.
I loved it there. I was the youngest and smallest and for the first time I was not just a third unwelcome daughter but was cossetted and made a big fuss of. And there were lots of children to play with. I don’t remember ever being homesick even though I only saw my parents a couple of times in the two years I was there – it was a long way from London and the fare was expensive. I wasn’t exactly alienated from my family but certainly there was now an emotional as well as a geographical distance.
I was entered for the Junior County Scholarship when I was 10 and awarded a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital. I’d read lots of books about boarding schools and couldn’t wait to go there, but my father wrote to the school asking if I would be able to take Jewish holydays off. Needless to say, the reply was that no special arrangements could be made for Jewish children and my Orthodox parents wouldn’t allow me to go there.
I was heartbroken and now I hated the hostel and begged my father to take me home. My scholarship didn’t guarantee me a free place at the local grammar school, Central Foundation School for Girls, but the headmistress allowed me to go there free of charge provided I won a Junior County Scholarship the following spring. It was a fee-paying school at the time, and my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay fees. Fortunately, with a bit of taking in, my middle sister’s uniform fitted me, so my parents were spared that expense.
I won a Junior County scholarship in 1943 and spent seven happy years at CFS, including the last two as the only girl at our brother school – Cowper Street Boys School – but that’s another story!!
Read about this and other episodes in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’
Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
Another visit to the BBC Proms 2018. A wonderful concert in a pleasantly cool Albert Hall. The three fabulous Bach Brandenburg Concertos were interspersed with three modern pieces.
The first modern piece was Maya by the British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage with the brilliant American cellist Maya Beiser – an interesting virtuoso piece, moving and exciting.
After the Brandenburg Concerto No 3 the orchestra played Bach Materia – by Swedish Anders Hillborg with the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuussisto . A fantastic piece – especially the duet between the violin and double bass.
Last modern piece was Hamsa by the American composer Uri Caine playing the piano part himself – for me a sorry parody of the great 5th Brandenburg Concerto which preceded it. Much of the piano part was a cacophony sounding like a cat walking over the keys – banging out tight discords.
I was nine years old when I started to learn to play the piano with the organist of the local church. At the time, 1940-1942, I was evacuated to a hostel for Jewish Children in Dawlish, South Devon.
Listen to my account of that experience from my memoir Woman in a White Coat. You can buy my book on Kindle at £2.99 or search on ISBN 9781979834391 for the paperback version on Amazon at £9.99
Memoir extract from Chapter 5 Pages 68-71 To Dawlish
Matron put up a notice saying she had written to our parents asking if they wanted us to learn to play the piano. I didn’t think my parents would agree to pay for lessons though they were quite cheap, especially as I had just been in trouble for refusing to wash on the Sabbath. Continue reading Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 1, 3 & 5 at the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall→
Great having the family to dinner – Louise over for the weekend from the Basque Country, Bernie newly with an MA with distinction and his girlfriend, and Simon and his wife.
Joshua made his delicious Fish Pie and I defrosted the Pear and Caramel tarts I tried out the week before. Josh will sometimes try a new recipe when we have guests but I’m too scared and prefer to try them out on the two of us first.
The recipe is from the Waitrose magazine and I have now modified it to make only 6 or 7 tarts. Mostly we are six for dinner and if I make the 12 in the original recipe it would mean freezing some. Better to have something different next time.
In an interesting collection of portraits submitted for the BP portrait Award 2017 by contemporary artists I was surprised to find that only one portrait was abstract, all the rest were figurative representational images. Though I liked many of them most were too ‘photographic’ for my taste.
My problem is that I’d like to take more exercise but my bad hip starts to ache quite quickly and I avoid walking whenever I can.
The beauty of this Walkit App is that I can choose a starting pont – near home or near where the bus stops – and look up the slowest 15 minute walk. I can only actually manage half of that before the pain is too bad, so I plan on walking only that much, but It does give me something to aim for.
Living as we do in Central London, walks per se can be fairly boring. This way, by having a goal I find interest in watching the steps pile up on my pedometer.
Of course I shouldn’t have worn those thick-soled shoes in the first place.
Memoir extract It was vanity, sheer vanity. I’d missed out on Doc Marten’s when they were all the rage and when I saw the thick-soled boots in the Ecco shop I couldn’t resist them. I should have given them to Oxfam after I tripped hurrying to get to the Post Office before it closed. That time I’d only skinned the palms of my hands and tore a hole in my jeans. When I tripped crossing the road in San Sebastian, I broke my hip. Continue reading WONDERFUL WALKIT APP→
I met Jody Medland of Penworksmedia at Indie Insights, a meeting on self-publishing, . He self-published his scary thriller The Moors, a gothic tale of murder and child abuse set in present day Cornwall, and his company is about to publish a variety of books by other authors.
Jody liked the first three chapters of my memoir – Woman in a White Coat – so I am busy giving the manuscript a final edit before sending it to him.
I had originally written my memoir starting with my medical career, each chapter having flashbacks to my childhood. However, I decided it would work better if I split my memoir into two. Now, Volume 1 will cover my childhood until I start at medical school, 1931-1953. Volume 2 will take it from there.
These days Boots the chemists widen their range all the time. You can understand makeup and electrical products related to teeth or hair but one wonders what next?
Well – tights. I suppose it started with support tights and compression stockings and went on from there. In the winter I wear the heavier 40 denier tights – they don’t ladder like the sheer ones I wear with a skirt. At £6 for three pairs they’re great.
We’re used to seeing sandwiches and drinks and even some packed lunches but sweets and chocolates only a few yards from the dispensing of drugs to deal with diabetes and caries preventing toothpaste?? Time to rethink how to stop the scourges of life-threatening obesity and the ever increasing tooth decay in children.
You certainly feel your own age when your children are old enough to be grandparents themselves. Bernard is completing an M.A. in Philosophy, so we have two children in the Sciences and two in the Arts.
We women are lucky for lots of reasons, only one of which is that we tend not to go bald as both sons have done.