Monday, May 29, 2006

I need a break!

I’m afraid I’m going through a bad patch at the moment. Normally, I take things in my stride but recent events are proving a little worrying.
It’s my own fault, I suppose. I do tend to get involved with other’s problems but I can’t help lending an ear and providing a shoulder to cry on.
I think I need a holiday away from things for a spell with no PC, no phone and no contact with anyone. Solitude used to bore the pants off me but now, it beckons me to give it a whirl.
I know a nice quiet place to go; deep in the wilds of Scotland and I’ve made tentative arrangements to get off sometime next month. I just might get in a bit of haggis hunting while I’m up there!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The new forum

This new forum is going from strength to strength. New sections are being added and more and more members are signing in.
There is indeed, something for everybody here: Literature, Humour, Lore & Legend, Swap 'n' Sell, even a chatroom!
Have a look at us and join in the fun!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A delightful weekend

Towards the end of May, Iris and I were invited to a long weekend in Berwick-on-Tweed by the friends who owned the big 8-berth caravan we were going to book later in the year. This came at a very convenient time as my wife was taking the kids to a relative while visiting the Chelsea Flower Show. She is a keen gardener and loves anything like this.
Iris and I left late Friday afternoon after work and arrived in Berwick around 8pm. There were six of us there and it was a very enjoyable few days; Monday was a bank holiday. Neither of us had been to Berwick before so it was equally new to both of us.
Saturday morning was spent going round the town and later in the day we went across the border to Eyemouth, a small Scottish fishing village. There was a very good restaurant there called the Lobster Pot where we had dinner that evening. We called back on the way to the caravan at a pub on the English side of the border called the Meadow House Hotel. It was known locally as “The First and Last.” (First pub in England from Scotland and last pub in England before Scotland.)
Over the years, we went there every time we visited Berwick and we made a lot of friends including mine host, the landlord.
Monday came all too soon and we made our way back home via a small village called Seahouses on the Northumberland coast. The place was famous for its fish and chip restaurants and the quality was absolutely unsurpassable!
We eventually arrived home at 6.30pm tired but so very happy! I couldn’t stay the night as I had to get back home to wait for the family to return later that evening.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A new forum

I am a member of a couple of political forums which I frequent. They are a much of a muchness, so to speak and a close friend suggested that we should open a forum for general light-hearted topics that everyone could enjoy.
This seemed a good idea and Gabrielle (regular readers will know her from previous postings here) got cracking on producing one. A couple of us chipped in and within a very few days, it was up and running.
This forum is 100% fun! No politics, no backstabbing, no unpleasantness…. Makes for a very refreshing change indeed. We need a lot more input so if any of you out there fancy joining a forum that provides humour, entertainment and friendship, come and have a look at us. Go to:

This is Gabrielle sitting in the famous Little John's Chair in the Scotsman's Pack, Hathersage, Derbyshire, UK

When my mother met Iris

About a year after I had met Iris, my mother suspected I was seeing someone else and was worried that it may affect my marriage. She loved my wife and treated her like a favourite daughter. As I said before, mother had a very intuitive ‘sixth sense.’ She didn’t confront me with this but she let slip certain innuendos that she was aware of something.
One day, Iris was waiting for me to pick her up from shopping in town one Saturday morning. I suggested that she waited for me in a small coffee-shop in the city centre. It was a popular place to meet, a little up-market and by the time I got there it was pretty crowded.
As I approached the table where Iris was sitting, I saw to my horror that mother was sharing her table! I waited for the floor to open and swallow me but of course, it didn’t!
Mother spoke first; she said to Iris something like, “Excuse me but would you mind awfully if my son joins us?” Unfortunately, Iris had already got to her feet to plant a big kiss on my cheek!
What the hell to do now? I mumbled something about a small world and I had to introduce her to mother. A rather cold comment followed saying “So you’re the woman my son is having an affair with? Iris was very subdued and didn’t know what to say. I told mother that it was more than just an affair. She intimated that this was no place for such a discussion and she would speak to me later! We had finished our shopping and I offered her a lift home which she accepted.
Once home, mother had mellowed a little and did the age-old thing of putting the kettle on! Over a couple of cups of tea, I explained how I felt about Iris. I sat next to her holding her hand as I spoke. Surprisingly enough, mother said that as long as nobody got hurt, she wouldn’t say anything. She never did. However, she did insist that she meet Iris again for a “little chat.” Iris was a bit uncomfortable about this but she went ahead with it and it didn’t take her long to convince mother that we were genuinely in love. After that, they got on quite well together. That was Iris though; nobody could ever dislike her, not even my wife when they eventually met. (And what a day that was!)

Monday, May 15, 2006

My mother

I have recorded before that in my early childhood, I was raised by my grandparents as my mother was attached to the Royal Navy in Suffolk during the war. My father had died tragically six months before I was born. Although she was away a lot, there was always a great affinity between us and was a wonderful caring person.
She left the Admiralty when I was about 14 and set up a consultancy practice treating patients suffering from mental stress and depression. She was fully qualified for this work and she built up a reputation second to none. She came back to live in the family home permanently and she tried to make up for all the time we had not been together. She took me all over the place and we had some wonderful holidays.
Later, we were separated again when I went to university and afterwards, in the army. I was 22 before I ever started earning a penny in civilian life.
My mother always wanted me to read law at university but I thought I knew better and read English literature and modern history. Strange to say, neither of these subjects got me a job; I joined a company in an entirely different field.
I was always in awe of her capabilities in dealing with mentally disturbed and depressive patients. She was a great believer in the power of hypnotherapy. She could ease a troubled mind and trace problems back to a patient’s childhood. Once, I was asked by a friend to help him overcome his fear of flying. I asked my mother to help him and she suggested that I may be able to do this. I actually succeeded in curing him of his fear and I went on to help several friends with their personal problems. I never did this professionally as I wasn’t all that enamoured of poking my nose into other people’s private lives. Nevertheless, I continued to help out over the years as and when the occasion demanded.
Mother had a kind and loving nature and was always ready to offer a shoulder to cry on should it be needed. She could never suffer fools gladly though and I’ve see men turn pale when fixed with her basilisk stare of disapproval!
She had a sort of built-in sixth sense and I could never hide anything from her if I was in trouble or if I had a personal problem. Such was the case when I first met Iris. She could see I was troubled about something and she told me, “When a man is worried, it’s usually over money or a woman!”
She was right, of course. However, it was a good year into our relationship before she discovered my secret love. My wife and mother got on very well together and she was dismayed when she found out about Iris. . By that time, it was too late for her to try and dissuade me and the time-worn phrase of many parents was uttered… “I hope you know what you’re doing!” I did know what I was doing and never regretted it for one second!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Iris the cook

Iris had never been an adventurous cook as she had spent most of her life looking after her semi-invalid mother. She would come home from work and have to start preparing a meal for the two of them. She did that for year after year and consequently, her social life was virtually non-existent. It was only after her mother’s death two years before I met her that she began to venture out in the evenings occasionally with friends from work.
On the evenings we were going out, we would have dinner/supper towards the end of the night at some restaurant or other as quite often, I would be working a club and had to be there for around 7pm. If I didn’t have a booking, she would get great pleasure from preparing a meal for me when we did not have to rush out early.
My mother was, among other things, a wonderful Cordon Bleu trained cook and she taught my wife many of her skills. I once asked mother how to prepare and cook lobster thermidor only to be told that my wife knew how, as she had told her. I had to explain that I wanted to pass on the information to someone else. That, on top of the postcard from Felixstowe, set a few wheels turning in my mother’s mind! I remember her giving me an ‘old-fashioned’ look as if to say, “What’s going on?”
Eventually, I couldn’t keep Iris a secret and later, the two of them became good friends.

To Iris, knowing that you love me. June ‘73

My darling Iris, proud possessor of my heart. I know
So well that you do love me. Yes, my love, You told me so.
Discovering untold delights in every touch and soft caress,
As you whisper of your love for me with gentle tenderness.
Happy am I that I can fill with love, some part
Of that aching void that lay within your lonely heart.
I see the love you have for me in oh, so many different ways;
In every touch, in every smile and in your sparkling eyes always.
And holding you, my dearest heart, is all I need to make me see
So clearly now, that I adore you, and you, my sweetest love, love me!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Iris the gardener

Iris always liked to relax at home when we were not going out anywhere. She wasn’t a keen gardener and this is one of the rare moments that I found her actually doing something there. For the most part, she grew rhubarb and weeds but the rhubarb came in handy as she was an excellent pastry-cook and I enjoyed her rhubarb tarts and crumbles!
At first, she cooked the same things she had done for her mother over the years but she began to be a little more adventurous after she had been out more. Once, in our early days together, we had to put on a dinner party for six at very short notice. Iris was panicking about what to prepare but I saved the day. I went out to the local Chinky and got a huge variety of take-away stuff! With a couple of bottles of decent wine, everybody enjoyed the meal.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Iris once more

May has always been my favourite month as long as I can remember. It holds promises of warm summer days to come and quite often, the weather in May surpasses June.
May 1973 had an unusually warm spell for a couple of weeks and towards the end of that month, Iris was due a week’s holiday. The weather was sunny and rain-free. I managed to get a few days off and one morning, we packed a couple of bags, got in the car and just drove.
I had no clear intention where I wanted to go but just being with Iris on our own was all that mattered; we carried on driving until late afternoon, stopping off here and there along the way.
I remember that we finished up in a little village outside Leicester; a place called Mountsorrel. It was a pretty village and we stayed overnight at a local pub.
The next day, we continued south and cut across country towards Cambridge where we stayed the night before going on to Felixstowe. I remembered Felixstowe from my childhood days when I spent my school holidays down there with my mother. While I was there, I sent my mother a postcard to remind her of the place. Later, I had a bit of a problem explaining what I was doing there and with whom!!!
We went as far as Walton-on-the-Naze and I reminisced about my favourite childhood author, Arthur Ransome, who wrote a novel about a group of children who camped on an island in Pennyhole Bay not far from Walton. The novel was called Secret Water.
Iris loved every minute of our whistle-stop holiday and I loved showing her places she had never seen before. By this time, five months after our meeting, I knew I could never be parted from her even if it cost me my marriage, my family or my job.
We returned home on the Friday evening and I stayed with her back home until Sunday morning. It had been a glorious few days and it was a promise of what the rest of the summer would be like.