Monday, February 27, 2006

About me...

I was born into a middle-class family and lived with my grandparents as my father died tragically before I was born.
My mother was a Theatre Sister at the time working at Guy’s Hospital in London. I incurred an intestinal blockage shortly after I was born and spent my first few weeks in an oxygen tent!
When I was only eighteen months old, I was rushed into hospital with a perforated appendix. Peritonitis set in and I was very lucky to survive at such an early age. It was peritonitis, incidentally, that killed my father.
My mother took me north to her parents who, with the assistance of a couple of nannies, raised me from childhood. She later went to the Admiralty as war broke out and was stationed in Shotley near Felixstowe. I remember that travel was severely restricted during the war but as my mother was serving with the Royal Navy in a senior capacity, I was allowed to visit at school holiday times. It was there that I started my love of boats and boating and I was taught to sail in a 14ft dinghy at the age of ten.
My mother always came home whenever she could and never once missed a Christmas with us. I was very lucky having a caring family around me. More of my mother later.
I attended the local school until I was eleven years old and then won a scholarship to a leading grammar school in the city and I stayed there until I left for university.
School days were both good and bad. I was pretty good at most subjects but was inclined to be rather lazy. End of term reports usually contained remarks like “Could do better” or “Intelligent but idle!” However, I managed to stay out of trouble most of the time apart from the odd beating for poor results in Maths and Physics! I was never any good at football but I managed to get into the First Eleven cricket team in my House at grammar school.
I was fortunate enough to have a flair for languages and at the age of 15, my French master arranged for me to spend a month in southern France during the summer holidays. He knew I would benefit from this experience and while other boys were being sent to popular places, I was stuck in the middle of the Camargue where nobody spoke a single word of English. My French master told me “No flesh-pots in Paris for you, lad. You’re going to learn French the hard way!” He was right, I did! With nobody to speak English, I had to make myself understood and I quickly learnt more French in that month than I had done in the previous year! The following year, I went back again and it stood me in good stead as I sailed through my A levels with a top-grade result! Later, I was in the army, so I didn’t see a lot of my family from the age of around seventeen until I was demobbed.
I remember being the first among my friends to own a motor-bike and at 20, while in the army, I had my first car; it was an old Morgan three-wheeler. At 22, I bought the pride and joy of my life, a 1938 Alvis 3.5 litre coach-built car. If I had kept it until now, it would have fetched a fortune!

Friday, February 24, 2006

The flickering fire

Iris lived in an older type house that her mother had lived in for ages. She had managed to retain tenancy of it after her mother died and had been quite happy there on her own as it was on a main bus route and handy for work..
It had been built around the turn of the century and although there had been some modernisation over the years, there was still an old coal-burning fireplace in the living-room. I hadn’t seen one since I was a child and it always seemed to make the room look warmer on cold winter evenings.
This fireplace figured in several poems that I wrote to her during our relationship. Later, we had it taken out and replaced with central heating; it was never the same after that! Writing poetry about making love in front of a radiator doesn’t have the same appeal somehow!

This, I think, was one of the last poems I wrote wherein I mentioned the “Flickering fire”

Iris…. Just for you July ‘77

One night it was, as you and I, softly by the flickering fire
And arms about each other did ensnare,
When, bursting from me came this wild desire
To kiss those tender lips and silken hair.
It was the night; the night I said I loved you.

‘Twas on that night, our lips first met as silently we drew together,
And holding you, kept whispering your name.
It seemed the magic of that night would linger there and stay forever,
But all too soon, the grey of morning came.
It was the night; the night I said I loved you.

I well remember, cradled in my arms in fond embrace,
Another night like this, we spent as one.
And as I held you close and lavished kisses on your angel face,
I knew that I would never be alone.
It was the night; the night you said you loved me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Iris... The later years

Iris stayed in care until she was sixteen. She could have left earlier but she chose to stay rather than go back home. She was, I suppose, getting to be “institutionalised” but this was when social services were in their infancy.
At sixteen, in 1954, she went back home to live with her mother and sister. Her two brothers were in the army doing their National Service. She got a job as a store assistant and later as a clerk/typist in a commercial company. She was given time off for day release to learn typing skills and soon settled into her job. Money was tight. She had to support her mother, who had never worked a day in her life. Her sister, three years older, escaped this drudgery by getting married at the earliest opportunity when she was nineteen. Iris stayed at home looking after her mother for the next sixteen years! She never had the chance to go far but a couple of nights a week, she would go to the local dance hall. Boy-friends were always discouraged by her mother, fearing she too, would leave her as her sister had done.
Eventually, she met someone with whom she had a chequered relationship; he was a dull plodding sort of person (I met him once, years later) and his idea of entertainment was to go to the pub, stick a drink in her hand and then chat to his mates all night. The only time he paid any attention to her was when he was feeling the need for sex. He hated dancing and hated Iris going dancing. The relationship eventually came to an end.
Meanwhile, her mother had died from pneumonia following a heavy chest infection and Iris was on her own. Her sister and brothers rarely visited and apart from workmates, the only friends she had were those she had made while going dancing. Money was tight and she augmented her income by baby-sitting occasionally. This was how we first met in December 1972. She was at a party given by some friends of mine and Iris was there, as she knew them through baby-sitting for them.
Iris had only ever been away on holiday twice in her life before 1973. The first time was at a summer holiday centre at Saltburn run by the care home when she was fourteen. The other time was when she went away with her sister and her husband. They went to Scarborough for a week when she was in her mid twenties. Apart from occasional days out to Blackpool, Bridlington and Skegness, that was the furthest she’d ever been. After we met, it was an entirely different story.
I’ve already written about our early days together in January/February 1973 and from then on, it got better and better. Read on!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dinner party

We held a little dinner party last night for some friends. It was a very pleasant evening and everybody enjoyed it.
As a mark of respect to one of the guests, a young nationalist who is quickly making a name for herself as a speaker, my wife put on a similar meal that she had prepared for another well-known nationalist many years previously. That was when Sir Oswald Mosley first visited us.
The menu (female readers like to know these things) was as follows:
Starter... Caviare.
Main course... Tournedos steak stuffed with oysters and served with oyster sauce, noisette potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce.
Dessert... Home made rhubarb crumble.

The meal was accompanied by couple of bottles of Champers... Pol Roger, (demi-sec) and Veuve Cliquot, (brut)
A bottle of very good wine brought by our guests was enjoyed later in the evening.
Other guests joined us after the meal and with a selection of four different malt whiskies and a wide choice of liqueurs, etc., a very convivial get-together ensued.
Quite a lot of bridge-building was done that evening and something tells me that my semi-retirement isn't going to last long!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iris... Early years

Iris had a disturbed early childhood. She was the youngest of four children and at the age of seven, she was put into care.
Her father had died two years previously and her mother was a semi-invalid and unable to cope with her children. It was during the austerity years after the war; food was still rationed and the house was to be demolished in a slum-clearance programme.
Iris and one of her brothers were taken into care by the local authority. Iris went to an all-girls care home; she never saw her brothers or her sister for several years.
The care home was run by “House mothers” who looked after different age-groups. She soon settled down and she told me that she had been much happier there than at home. Her school was in a rural area on the outskirts of the city and was a vast improvement to the one she had been attending. Over the next few years, she proved to be a bright pupil and often helped younger children with their learning.
At twelve years old, she went to a secondary modern school where she continued her education. This was a pity, because had she not been in care, she would have easily made it to grammar school.
The school wasn’t far away so she could easily walk there and back without transport. She was a quiet type of girl and found that she made friends very quickly and was accepted by other children even though they knew she was living in a care home. She soon began to spend more and more time there in extra-curricular activities such as drama groups and choir practice. It was around this time that she began to learn tap and ballroom dancing although she soon gave up tap-dancing in favour of more ballroom dancing lessons. There wasn’t much opportunity for dancing with boy partners though, as it was an all-girls school. She said later that her school days were among the happiest she could remember. For the first time in her life, she had found a place where she could belong.
A close friend of Iris told her that she had always wanted to ride in a police car for some reason. It was one of those things that children often fantasise about and one day, they decided to “escape.” They reasoned that they would be soon hunted down, caught, and brought back in a police car. One evening around ten, Iris and her friend slipped out of the dormitory and through the village onto the main road. They walked what seemed like miles and miles and by this time, some of the attraction had worn off!
They were cold, tired and a little afraid. It wasn’t long before they reached the outskirts of the city and they saw a police station. They went right in and “surrendered!”
Very soon, they were returned to the home where they received a stern lecture and loss of privileges for a couple of weeks but as Iris said, “We did get a ride in a police car!”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Iris... My Darling Valentine!

Those of you who have been reading my blog will know that St. Valentine’s Day was so very special to us. I feel so bloody lonely and helpless today. I miss her so very much!
It was in the early hours of this day in 1973 that we first made love. It was a turning-point in our lives and we came to regard it as our anniversary. Today would have been our 33rd.
I always wrote a verse for her this day and we would go out in the evening for an anniversary dinner. After her death, I said that I would never write another romantic poem. However, this year, I tried to capture some of her memory in verse but I failed miserably after the first few stanzas. It’s not the best poetry I’ve written but all my skills appear to have deserted me in that direction.

Remembering you February 2006

My darling Iris, although you’re gone,
My heart’s still filled with love for you.
And those brief years we were as one
Bring memories anew.

In dreams I see you by my bed,
Forever young, I see your face,
And put my arms around your head
In a last embrace.

All through the time we’ve been apart,
My love for you did never wane.
You were my life, my love, my heart,
I want you back again!

I’m sorry, I can’t write any more today; possibly a kind word would help.


Monday, February 13, 2006

A break

Before I continue with the Iris story, I need a break.
Recently, I have been fortunate in helping a young friend with several problems. I have seen that my results so far have proved successful in some way. I’m hoping that with the necessary cooperation, together, we will be able to relieve a lot of stress and worry.
It’s coming up to St. Valentine’s Day and tomorrow’s blog will be devoted to our anniversary.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I’ve been writing about our early relationship for the past month or more and I thought that readers may like a break.
We didn’t just come out of the blue from nowhere; we each had lives before we met. Although we lived in the same city, our lifestyles were entirely different.
You will see that Iris didn’t have an easy childhood whereas mine was a happy one. We were as different as chalk and cheese when we first met. However, no two people could have ever been as close as we were afterwards.
The next few blogs will tell of our early years and serve to show how different our lives were.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Falmouth again

I shuddered at the prospect of driving 350 miles down to Falmouth and then back again for the weekend so I caught the train. I was lucky going down there as there was only one change at Birmingham. Coming back on the Saturday morning, however, I had to change three times, Plymouth, Birmingham and Derby! It was early evening when I finally arrived home and I was cold and tired from the journey. Trains in those days were usually cold and draughty with little or no heating. I didn’t see Iris at all that weekend as I thought I’d better spend some time with my family.
I was fortunate that my employers were very generous with time and travel expenses. I managed to get the Monday and Tuesday off the next week in return for working through the following weekend. This seemed fair enough as, after that time, I should have finished the job down there for the time being. Every few weeks, I would be required to go down to monitor a situation but this was only for a few days at a time. In actual fact, it came in handy during the summer when I took Iris with me and she enjoyed a couple of mini-holidays in Cornwall. I know Cornwall well, as it was where I took the family each year.
Iris, of course, was working and all I saw of her was when she got back home in the evening but I stayed with her overnight before I had to go back to Falmouth again.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A memorable weekend

Saturday Feb 24th 1973
That weekend was one of the happiest times we had together since our first meeting. Everything about it was marvellous. We had the weekend all to ourselves and we were in love!
Saturday afternoon we went into Derbyshire and although it was pretty cold, the scenery was still great. There was snow on the ground but that just enhanced the panorama. Derbyshire has always been a favourite stomping-ground for me and to share it with Iris gave me added pleasure.
I remember showing Iris a peculiar rock formation called the Toad’s Mouth. It looked for all the world like a huge squatting toad. Iris clambered on top of it and I took a pic of her there. I took quite a few pics of Iris that day but sadly, none survived.
Saturday evening saw us in a club again surrounded by my work friends. Andrea asked when I would be coming back for good and I said I hoped it wouldn’t be too long. She said the boss she was working for was a pig! Iris must have said something to her as later, Andrea gave me a huge conspiratorial wink!
Little known to me, Andrea had organised a sweepstake at work a couple of weeks earlier. The winner was the person who would correctly predict when Iris and I finally “cracked it”! The winner was one of the girls in my department who guessed it would be St. Valentine’s Eve. She walked away twenty quid the richer!
Sundays, I usually spent with my family back home but this weekend was ours! We went back out into Derbyshire for lunch to one of my favourite hostelries in Hathersage. I’d been going there since my teens and I knew it well. The landlord kept a pet fox and it was very tame. Iris delighted in cuddling it. Later that day we went to see a Latin-American duo at a local club. They were called “Los Rios” and they were extremely good. Iris loved Latin-American music.
I stayed all night with Iris and l dropped her off at work before going home to my family. It was only for a couple of days as I was due back down Falmouth on Wednesday. That Wednesday was the last day in February, God, how that month had flown by!

Monday, February 06, 2006

"I love you, Graeme!"

Friday, Feb 23rd 1973…
I had set off from Falmouth and had been driving since 10am that morning. It was around 7pm I arrived back at Iris’s home. She had cooked me a wonderful meal and I was so very hungry as I’d only stopped two or three times on the journey for fuel, coffee and snack and a toilet stop. After the meal, I went for a much-needed soak in the bath. I find a bath is far more relaxing to remove aches and cramps than a shower. Anyway, Iris didn’t have a shower unit at the time! I went downstairs and fell asleep on the settee. I woke an hour later to find Iris next to me with her head on my shoulder. I felt much better for the rest. She told me that she wanted me to stay the night; I didn’t take much persuading! It was the very first time I’d slept in her bed and tired as I was, we made love so very, very ardently.
Up to now, Iris had never really been very demonstrative but that night, lying side by side, she suddenly leaned over me and said, “I love you, Graeme!” It was the first time she’d ever uttered those words! That night, I swore I would love her until the day I died. It was a promise I never broke and I still love her to this day!
This is not the end of the story by any means. It was, however, the start of a loving relationship that would last until her death. Every year, we celebrated our anniversary on St. Valentine’s Day and I always composed a poem for her on those occasions.
The next morning was a Saturday so no need for us to get up early; we just made love again and again. I wrote another poem to her after a late breakfast. It was just a spontaneous thing but Iris was beginning to love my romantic poetic streak. It was the third of many that I wrote.

To Iris, wanting you so much. Feb 1973

My darling Iris, lover of my dreams,
Sitting together in the soft firelight glow,
I look at you from my heart, it seems
To see the rapture in your beauty show.

We have made love; you and I together,
A perfect love I thought I never knew.
And I’ll remember nights like this forever,
Will you, will you, my love, remember too?

I think of you and dream of what might be,
And someday hope at least that you will know
That little spark of love you have for me,
Will stay within your heart and surely grow.

My sweetest Iris, think of me this way;
As one who loves you with such tender care,
And when we are together, darling, say
You’ll give to me that love which you can spare.

Coming round

I went to the hospital have my annual check-up this morning. (10,000 miles servce)
All I needed was an oil change and a new spare tyre!
Feeling a little more human today; I will continue the Iris saga later this afternoon.
It is another memorable milestone in our relationship.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Still pissed off!

I‘ve never felt so absolutely pissed off before in years.
I suppose that it’s all part of being in a quiet backwater for a change instead of chasing up and down the country to attend meetings, etc. I suppose I'm missing being fully active and having plenty to do.
Have to go to the hospital in the morning for an annual check-up; sort of a 10,000 miles service! Nothing untowardedly wrong at the moment but it will entail a rather unpleasant hour of being prodded and poked all over the place. In my present mood, I really could do without this!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why do I bother?

It’s not often that I suffer from melancholy and frustration but this is one of those times.
Recently, whatever I do is either considered wrong, offensive or unappreciated. I’m even beginning to think I may be wasting my time with my recent outpourings on here.
I have always tried to be honest with friends and acquaintances and have usually managed to gain their trust. It saddens me, however, when I discover that some of the time, this frankness is not returned.
I don’t feel like writing much today; I think I’ll wait and cool off a little. At the moment, I'm absolutely pissed off!

Friday, February 03, 2006


I recently had someone ask me how I could remember so many little details of events that happened over 30 years ago. I told them the absolute truth that I was a confirmed diarist and have kept a daily diary since Adam was a lad!
It comes in very handy at times when writing about things past and is also useful in settling minor arguments sometimes. Naturally, I kept a diary all through the Iris years and I sometimes go through them just to reminisce.
After her death, I found a couple of diaries that Iris had kept. There were just two of them; the rest had been cleared out by her sister. I could never bring myself to look at them for years but one day, I sat down and saw what she had written; I cried my eyes out! She described how she felt about me, how she loved me and how she was content in only ever having half of me. She described our first lovemaking and our first holiday away together. They were diaries from 1973 and 1978. In the 1978 diary, she still recorded trivial events just as she did when we first met six years previously.
In 1973, she even earmarked a day when we had made love for the 100th time! (August 27th, Bank Holiday Monday) That was Iris; so loving, so warm!
She made a note of every time I wrote her a poem and what she thought of it. She must have mentioned the fact that she loved me almost every day! She should have lived forever!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Missing you so much

As soon as I got to work on St. Valentine’s Day, I phoned Iris at work and told her I’d written a sonnet for her. She asked me if I was tired after the late night and our lovemaking. I told her my eyeballs were dropping onto my desk but I would see her that night. Iris said that her sister would be coming over and wanted to see the new man in her life! I told her I’d be there as soon as I could make it.
Later that evening, I met her sister and we stayed in watching some stupid TV soap that her sister wanted to see. By the time she left, it was almost midnight and both Iris and I were falling asleep. We made love again in front of the fire; Iris had an old-fashioned fireplace with a real coal fire in it. It always looked warm and inviting and making love in the flickering firelight was so very romantic! I left there later to go home and sleep; I was absolutely knackered!
Two things happened the next day; one good, the other not so good. My long-awaited promotion and a substantial increase in my salary had been confirmed. That was the good news. The bad news was that I was required to iron out teething problems in a company that had just been taken over bythe one I was working for. This place was way down in Falmouth and it was a case of an immediate temporary transfer…. Immediate, being tomorrow!
That night, I broke the news to Iris that I would be away for at least a week. She wasn’t very happy but realised there was no way out of it. The next day saw me travelling down to Cornwall. It was a Friday and I spent the rest of the weekend with a skeleton staff sorting out the problems of the company, ready to be in full production by Monday. That week, I rang her every day and sent her postcards of Falmouth and a huge bunch of flowers. Normally, Falmouth is a beautiful place but in the depths of winter, it was absolutely dead! A couple of my own staff had been sent down there with me but Andrea had to stay behind and work for my temporary replacement.
Have you any idea what it’s like to be stuck in a place miles from home and without a “Girl Friday” to look after you? My secretary and I were used to working with each other and she would go out of her way to see to my needs. The girl I was allocated was pleasant enough and had worked there for some time in a secretarial capacity but never as a Personal Assistant. Although she was au fait with the running of the department, she lacked Andrea’s personal touch. By the time I’d told her what to do, I could have done it myself just as quickly! I suddenly found I had to organize my own itinerary, my own meetings and even my own laundry! I began to curse the day I’d ever gone down there.
That week dragged and dragged; I thought it would never end. Eventually Friday came around and since I’d worked right through the previous weekend, I gave myself a day off! I left Falmouth at 10am heading back for home. My family were used to my moving from one place to another so it was no big problem to let them know I wouldn’t be back until Monday. This gave me a whole weekend with Iris; I could hardly wait to see her! Before I left, I phoned her at work telling her I’d be there later that evening. From Falmouth to home was around 350 miles. There were far fewer motorways then and it took me until almost 7pm to get back. By the time I got back to Iris, I was shattered! I had missed her so very, very much.