Tag Archives: memoir

My Maternal Grandmother, Rachel

 

My grandmother

I adored my grandmother, Rachel, and was broken-hearted when she died. Whenever I read this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat my throat thickens and tears come to my eyes.

Memoir Extract

In 1937, when I was six, my grandmother had a stroke while she was scrubbing the stairs. She was dead on arrival at The London Hospital. Continue reading My Maternal Grandmother, Rachel

1918 – Votes for Women and All That

Hurrah for Women!!

On February 6th 1918 – one hundred years ago tomorrow – women in the UK were given the vote if they were over 30 and moderately wealthy. They had to be householders, or the wives of householders, or occupiers of property with an annual rent of at least £5 (just under £200 in today’s money but at a time when rents were much, much lower) or graduates of British universities. It wasn’t for another 10 years that the franchise was extended in 1928 to women over 21 – giving them the same rights as men.

My parents’ wedding October 6th 1918

More important for my own future was the fact that my parents got married in 1918 on October 6th  just over a month before the Great War of 1914-18 ended.

As you can see from this sepia photograph, like me, my mother was five foot nothing next to my father’s six foot. If you look carefully, you can see the bump in the carpet where the photographer placed a small stool to make the disparity in their height a little less obvious.

Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

My father  was the sixth, and last but one, son of a wealthy Hebrew book printer. Samuel Waterman, my paternal grandfather, was a Freemason and an important member of his synagogue. He frequently travelled abroad, ostensibly on business, though in fact, it was said it was to visit his mistress in Paris.

Continue reading 1918 – Votes for Women and All That

Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, London

Dan Colen at the Newport Street Gallery

Another fun exhibition – Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ –  at Damien Hirst’s spacious Newport Street Gallery has now  been extended until January 28th.

Note: There seem to be road works everywhere in Westminster so if you’re driving be persistent – there is a way through!!

Colen examines notions of identity and individuality, set against a portrait of contemporary America.

Haiku (2015-17)

His works are said to be read as self-portraits. Colen (born 1979 in New Jersey) must have been feeling quite down when he made this big sad Scooby Doo (Haiku 2015-17).

There are a variety of fascinating shapes punched through the walls (Livin and Dyin) of Wile E. Coyote, Kool-Aid Man, Roger Rabbit and of Colen naked. The walls are around 1 foot thick. I wonder how they were originally knocked through and whether they will be made good completely or become a permanent display.

Untitled (Me and You) 2006-7

This mysterious painting Untitled (Me and You 2006-7)  is one of my favourite works from this exhibition. It is one of a series of Colen’s paintings based stills from Disney’s Pinocchio showing a candle on the workbench of Pinocchio’s creator – Geppetto.

 

Charles II: Art and Power, Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Charles II with his symbols of power

Charles II: Art and Power – another fascinating exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, more interesting for it’s historical significance than the paintings. After his execution in 1649 most of Charles I’s art collection and other valuables were given away or sold by Oliver Cromwell and his party and few of value were returned.

The Collar Charles II (1630-1685) wears in this painting by John Michael Wright (1617-1694) shows that he is a member of the order of the garter; the Orb represents Christ’s Authority over the world and symbolises that he has been chosen by God to rule; the Parliamentary Robes which are made of crimson velvet with an ermine fur cape and gold lace decorations, represent Charles II’s role as head of state.

Charles II was determined to make his reign as different from that of the Puritans as possible commissioning a variety of valuable artefacts and numerous prints and paintings of himself.

Ornate gold Plate

This rather vulgar set of gold plate is typical of his commissions.

He also commissioned paintings and prints of his numerous mistresses including this delightful print of Nell Gwynn as Venus.

A print of Nell Gwyn as Venus

The print was adapted from a painting by Correggio which had been in the collection of Charles I. There are numerous paintings of his many other mistresses – I lost count of how many illegitimate children he fathered – as well as of his wife, the unpopular catholic Catherine of Braganza

In spite of his decree that all off Charles I’s paintings be returned, in fact very few were given back to the throne, mainly from the English.

Starting January 27th 2018 a blockbuster exhibition of Charles I’s paintings collected from the other beneficiaries of Cromwell’s distribution opens at the Royal Academy, London – ‘Charles I: King and Collector.

Read about my attempt at becoming a fine artist in my memoir Woman in a White Coat

Happy New Year – 2018

Fireworks on the London Eye New Year 2018

Happy New Year – and many more to come for all of you wonderful people who have been following my blog and reading my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Always great having Louise and her family over from the Basque Country for the New Year and Simon and Bernard and his girlfriend coming to dinner tomorrow. Has to be vegetarian for Bernard and Josh is cooking vegetable cottage pie. I’m going to make the desert – Plum Traybake.

Louise made a great flyer to take to independent bookshops. A few have agreed to stock my book.

 

Christmas and giving ‘Woman in the White Coat’ and Visiting ‘The Singing Tree’ at the V&A.

The Singing Tree by ES Devlin

This year the V&A Christmas tree, the Singing Tree by Es Devlin, is made up of sound and light.

 

Composed of birch ply, steel cable and projected light, you can hear the tree ‘singing’ as you move round it.

 

The individual little plaques bear printed words from visitors placed in the collection box or online.

Presentaion at Pimlico Library

At the talk I gave at Pimlico library last Wednesday I was delighted to have people saying they were buying copies of my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ to give as Christmas presents.

It’s also available on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks et as well as on Kindle.

And lovely seeing some of my dearest friends there.

Parsnip and Pecan Loaf – Waitrose magazine

Delicious cake to have with tea or coffee

 

I always like the family coming to tea or coffee so I can try out new recipes.

 

One grandson can’t tolerate dairy produce and this Parsnip and Pecan Loaf cake from Waitrose magazine has vegetable oil instead of margarine or butter.

Their recipe has a topping which contains cream cheese so I substituted chopped pecans. In any case, it’s easier to freeze any that’s left over if it doesn’t have a thick fluffy topping.

You can read about how I learned to cook at a Cookery School for debutantes when I was 5 months pregnant in Chapter 19 of my memoir Woman in a White Coat

My slightly modified recipe

Continue reading Parsnip and Pecan Loaf – Waitrose magazine

Fantastic! ‘Woman in a White Coat’ in Paperback as well as on Amazon Kindle

So pleased that after a fairly horrendous experience with a company putting my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon, my memoir is available for pre-order at £9.99 from Amazon or from your local bookstore. Had a wonderful trio of professionals – Nathan Burton Cover designer, M Rules Typesetters and Clays the Printers.

Another colourway

The cover designer, Nathan Burton, produced lots of possible designs for the cover. I could have chosen any one – they were so great. I chose the blue and turquoise version of this design but nearly picked this one instead.

 

Cover used for publication

 

 

 

it’s bright and cheerful but I felt the colourway I chose had more gravitas!!

 

 

Abby as a young dental stud

 

This was the most striking design but I didn’t want to use a picture of me. I chose to write my memoir under the pseudonym of Dr Abby J Waterman and so I didn’t pick this one.

The original photograph is of me with a ‘phantom head’ – a metal skull into which plaster casts are fixed bearing real teeth that have ben extracted for reasons such as periodontal disease.

We practiced cutting cavities and inserting fillings and crowns on them. We gave them names and got quite fond of them!!

Dali and Duchamp at the Royal Academy, London. Delirium and Delusions

An Art Lover’s Feast

Dali/Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy was an eye-opener. I had no idea Salvador Dali (1904-1989) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) were such great friends. I knew little about Duchamp’s work other than that he pioneered the display of ready made objects as works of art including his infamous Fountain – a urinal inscribed R. MUTT 1917  and had seen and admired The bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The large glass). it was interesting to see that early on he was a conventional representational artist.  Having teenage children at the height of the Surrealist craze I got to know Dali’s work and visited a fascinating exhibition of his work in Richmond, Virginia which included a jewelled beating heart.

The Persistence of Memory 1931

The strange thing for me about seeing the exhibition is that I saw the bent watches in the famous Dali painting The Persistence of Memory 1931 (not shown in this exhibition) as well as some artefacts by Jeff Coons,  in one of my delusions while in Critical Care following my heart attack last year.

Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013

Up to 80% of patients in Intensive Care suffer periods of delirium and I had several. My very caring consultant was concerned that the memory of some of my delusions might be upsetting but they gave me just the material I needed for the last chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

Lots of lobster souvenirs including chocolate ones

The exhibition included some interesting short videos as well as lots of works I hadn’t seen before.

 

I always enjoy wandering around the Royal Academy shop though I was easily able to resist the chocolate lobsters that referenced Dali’s lobster telephone.

Wouldn’t fancy holding THAT receiver!!

It’s so easy to ePublish with PRONOUN

The Pronoun Website

I commissioned PublishNation to put my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon, but used Pronoun (now part of Macmillan) to publish my book on a variety of other platforms including Kobo, Google, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Bibliotheca and Overdrive.

What a great experience!! As I am now an 86-year-old, I expected some difficulty, but it couldn’t have been easier. And they were fantastic at answering my queries by email.

Read all about me

 

I didn’t use them for Amazon because while they offer 70% royalties to US authors they only offer 41%  to those in the UK. If I write another book, I might consider using them for Amazon too – though as I pointed out to Pronoun, it seems most unfair that authors on this side of the pond will earn so much less!!