Sunday, October 29, 2006

Andrea to the resue!

Regular readers will know Andrea as my personal secretary at work and how she fussed over me like a mother hen!
When she heard I was ill and confined to bed, she came over to see me one evening. I was so very pleased to see her after what had seemed a lifetime in bed. (It was only the third day!) She brought me up to date with news from work. I wasn’t particularly bothered but as she had taken the trouble to come over, I feigned interest. She asked me if there was anything I wanted and I said that the only thing I really wanted was to see Iris. I was feeling groggy with all the jollop I was taking so she didn’t stop long.
On the fifth day of my confinement, my doctor told me I could get up and sit around the house but not to go outside or to bother about work yet. I phoned Iris to tell her I was, at least, on my feet again. I rang Andrea to tell her likewise.
The next evening, Saturday, my wife announced that I was to expect visitors. Andrea was coming again and bringing a friend from work. I wondered who would be coming with her. I was in the drawing room sitting in an easy chair surrounded by newspapers and magazines when Barbara announced Andrea’s arrival. She said she’d leave us to it to catch up on the news from work.
Andrea entered the room closely followed by another… It was Iris!!! She looked heavenly; I almost yelled out with joy. Iris came to me and hugged and kissed me as though we’d been apart for years. She later sat at my feet while Andrea sat in another chair opposite me. Suddenly, I felt 100% better! Just seeing Iris did more good than all the pills and potions I’d been taking.
My wife entered with coffee and cakes and asked Iris if she was comfortable sitting on the floor. Iris said she was. Andrea introduced her to my wife as a work colleague.
My younger daughter put in an appearance and was surprised to find Iris there. She knew Andrea from way back but she had only met Iris once a few days previously as I wrote in a recent blog article.
After they had gone, my wife commented on how very attractive Iris was and how long had I known her? I muttered something about her being working there for some time now and she was ‘one of the crowd’, who came to see me on the club circuit. My daughter was standing next to me and winked most mischievously. A girl old before her time was Frances!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


It was November 1973 and I was feeling very rough. I had a streaming cold and I went to see my doctor. He took one look at me and said “You have influenza.” I told him that I’d had ‘flu before but never like this. He told me that although I’d had several colds before. I’d never had full-blown influenza.
“Go home, go to bed and stop there for a few days,” he advised. “This is serious; I’ll come and see you in two days time.” I went home, phoned in work and said I was ill. With that, I sat down to a light lunch. Suddenly, I found I had lost my appetite and felt as weak as a kitten. My wife instantly bundled me off to bed with a couple of hot water bottles and an electric blanket. “Sweat it out,” she advised. I began to realise that this indeed was no ordinary cold and I was in no mood to argue.
I stayed in bed all that day wondering how I could contact Iris. In 1973, very few households had bedside phone extensions so a phone call was out of the question.
In the afternoon, my daughter came to see how I was and I asked her to ring Iris for me and tell her I wouldn’t be around for a day or two. A day or two!!! Little did I know then that I would be incapacitated for a whole week in bed.
I had a very restless night and most of it was a combination of feeling awful and worrying about Iris. The doctor came the next morning and confirmed the influenza. He told me it would take at least a fortnight for me to get over it. My wife started ringing round my agents to cancel club bookings and to inform work of my absence for the immediate future.
I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t interested in the newspapers or radio (There was no TV in the bedroom) and I just lay there for the first few days in a miserable state! I was so very worried about Iris and wondered if she knew how I was. My daughter reassured me that she’d been phoning Iris every day to tell her of my progress or, at that time, my prolonged incarceration. Iris had told her I shouldn’t worry; she was thinking of me and hoped I would soon be on my feet again. This was only three days into my bedfast state and it seemed like a month!
I was being fussed over and cosseted by the family who really were concerned about me but selfish as it may seem, I longed for the bedroom door to open and find Iris standing there. God, how I was missing her!
More next time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Girls' night out!

Before I left home, I ‘phoned Iris to warn her that I was bringing my daughter with me. I added that she knew nothing of our relationship so we’d have to play it by ear, as it were.
We arrived at Iris’ place and we went in. Iris was all ready to go out and she looked gorgeous. Fran took to her straight away as I introduced her as an old friend who sometimes came with me to a club when I was appearing there.
We entered the club and found the table that had been reserved for artistes. I went to the bar and got drinks for the three of us; beer for me, white wine for Iris and a coke for Fran. There was a group on that night which was very popular at the time and the three of them, knowing me, joined us at the reserved table. I introduced my daughter who was over the moon at this! They shortly went on stage to do their first number and Fran was absolutely enthralled. After their session, they rejoined us and I left them to go and do my spot. I was well-known in that club and always went down pretty well. Returning to the table, I found a drink waiting for me bought by one of the group. Fran was drinking something that suspiciously looked like gin and tonic! It was an interval before the dreaded Bingo session started and we chatted away about this and that. Iris had gone to the ‘little girls’ room’ when Fran suddenly said. “Terry (one of the group) says that he thought Iris was your wife but I told him that she was your girl-friend.”
“Oh shite!” I thought, “Now what?” Fran continued, “It’s ok, Dad, I knew you had a girl-friend, Jane and I guessed a long time ago.” Jane was my elder daughter, two years older. I mumbled something about fifteen year-olds drinking gin and left it at that. The evening wore on and both Fran and Iris were really enjoying it, especially Fran, who was being chatted up by the group!
On the way back, I said that I’d drop her off as I had to take Iris home. Fran asked, “Where does mom think you are. I told her I had to pop back into work later to check on the night shift and it may take some time! Fran gave me an old-fashioned look and said, “Dad, I reckon I’ll be able to come out to clubs with you quite often now!” I got the message; blackmail was the name of the game!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Had enough!

For some time now, a certain person of my acquaintance has been posting offensive lies about me on several Internet sites.
For the large part, I ignored them as the writer is believed to have a history of irrational behaviour and I’m not the first victim of his poison pen by any means. His postings were getting more and more objectionable and I knew that eventually I would have to stop him.
Things came to a head the other day when the grossly offensive creature dragged Iris into his evil diatribe. This was the last straw and I had no other choice left open to me but to put the matter into the hands of my solicitor.
I couldn't allow this foul obnoxious animal to desecrate the memory of the woman I loved so very much. I will do whatever it takes to stop him!
This will not come cheap; it will cost quite a sum of money but if the perpetrator wants to have any chance of defending himself in court, he will have to engage legal counsel. Normally, Legal Aid is not available for civil actions of this nature. I will keep you posted!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In a spot!

The summer had gone and I was very busy with club bookings. It was a hectic time as I also had a bigger work-load in my job. Fortunately, I didn’t need to chase around as much so I could be with Iris just as often. I was lucky in the fact that Iris liked club life and never tired of going with me to the various venues.
A rather embarrassing incident happened one evening. I was at home getting ready to go out to a booking when my teen-age daughter asked if there were any groups playing at the clubs I went to. She was at the age when any idiot twanging a guitar was a super-hero; she was fifteen, going on 30! She asked if she could come with me. Naturally, I refused saying that one had to be eighteen to be allowed in. I told her that a fifteen-year-old doesn’t look eighteen.
Nevertheless, she was adamant and flounced upstairs to her room. Half an hour later, she re-emerged wearing her elder sister’s mini-skirt and make-up, together with high heel shoes and a very sexy-looking top.
“OK, “she said, “So do I look eighteen?” In actual fact, she just about did. I thought that after all the effort she’d put in, I’d better take her. Her mother wasn’t all that keen but I said I’d keep an eye on her so off we went.
I had to pick Iris up on the way and I wondered how the hell I was going to introduce my daughter to her. Furthermore, how was I going to take my daughter (Frances) back home and then go out again to stay the night with Iris? This was going to be a very difficult thing to get out of! Nevertheless, I managed it reasonably well. I’ll tell you about it next time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Continuing our story

Now that the anniversary of her death has gone for another year, I can resume the Iris saga and write about happier times.
The summer of 1973 was, for Iris, an eye-opener. Before then, she had hardly ever been on holiday away from home and she had very rarely been anywhere of note. This had changed dramatically and she was living an entirely different life-style.
We were, in all events, a couple; just as much as any married couple were and she revelled in it!
She took pleasure in little things that most couples took for granted. She would delight in preparing a meal for me in the evenings after work. She would curl up with me to watch television and was always so very eager to entertain our friends to dinner.
I remember one time when we were out somewhere one evening and one of our colleagues introduced her to his wife who was asking who she was. He said, “This is Iris, Mrs ****.” That really made her day!
I’ve mentioned before that Iris lived in an old house that she had lived in most of her life from being about eighteen. It hadn’t been modernised and still had an old coal-burning hearth in the living room. (This is why it featured so much in my poems!) One day, after seeing a friend’s bedroom, she suddenly wanted a change of décor on her own bedroom. I spent a weekend with her painting and papering the room and to my surprise, she got stuck in with a paintbrush and made an excellent job of it. We re-papered the walls, painted the doors and woodwork and I bought a fitted wardrobe, a dressing table and a new bed. Iris was in heaven over it and got the decorating bug that saw us virtually revamping the whole house. It took us from October to December to do it a bit at a time but she loved every minute that she was working on it. Truly a very typical housewife at last!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Still struggling!

Although I'm back on line, I still can't get any sense out of my new server. Every time I contact the helpline it either disconnects or there is a loss of contact with the advisor. It's so very frustrating, I want to scream at the stupid *#^&*>@#s!!! I'm managing by using my old BT modem instead of the one they provided.
I'm beginning to regret changing servers!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Still frustrated!

Although I can get on line and the e-mail problem appears to be sorted, I can't use the new modem.
After boot-up, it doesn't kick in and there seems to be no way of connecting. At present, I'm resorting to using my old 'Speedtouch' modem and no problems. It's a pity because the new modem has an Ethernet connection making it much faster than USB.
There's no point in contacting the helpline as there's usually a wait of at least 15 minutes before I can get through. When I eventually do get to an advisor, it's usually a paki type whom I just can't understand! Not to worry!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Utter frustration!

A friend of mine told me of the advantages of an Internet server that far surpassed the one I was using. I was with British Telecom and had been since I first went on-line years ago. Recently, I’d become more and more dissatisfied with BT and welcomed the chance of a change.
I signed up with Talk-Talk and it looked pretty good. Free telephone calls both local and international and 8meg Broadband for £29 per month!
BT weren’t happy about losing a customer and played dirty by pulling the plug on my Internet connection a week before I was due to be connected to Talk-Talk. However, a call to them resulted in their sending me a new modem and CD installation guide within 24 hours. I was well pleased.
Unfortunately there was a gremlin lurking about somewhere and after frantic efforts to install the modem, I failed miserably. I was on their help-line for over half an hour at 10p per minute trying to get the bloody set-up running. The advisor eventually admitted defeat and said that the modem was obviously at fault and another would be sent to me in about seven days!
SEVEN DAYS, ffs!!!!! This just wasn’t on! I contacted Talk-talk after waiting in a queue for about 20 minutes and complained most vociferously!
I managed to get a replacement in three days and this time, the installation was a success. However, I could neither send nor receive e-mail!
I tried for two days to resolve this. When I finally got it running, I found I had 6,000 e-mails sent to me. They were old e-mails I’d received and deleted months ago. Wtf is happening?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


The days immediately after Iris died, were virtually unbearable. At the funeral were just six of her family present, yet over fifty of our friends attended. A select few of us went from the crematorium to a nearby pub for a quiet drink. I went to see Iris’ sister later that evening to arrange the scattering of the ashes. Her sister hadn’t given the undertakers any instructions about this so I asked if I could scatter them. At first all she wanted to do with them was to have them scattered in the crematory gardens but I persuaded her to allow me to take them. I told her what I was going to do with them but she didn’t appear to be interested whatsoever. That was the very last time I spoke to any member of the family. I went to the undertakers and informed them I wanted the deceased’s ashes to scatter. Surprisingly enough, they said they were at the crematorium awaiting general disposal. I found out that ashes weren’t scattered in the gardens at all, apart from a token few. Unless requested otherwise, they were usually kept for a month before disposal at a local land-fill site. This, I discovered, is common practise. I had no difficulty in getting the ashes but had to pay £10 for the plastic container. (They said it was not returnable!)
A few days later, I made a lonely journey up to Berwick; the place that held so many memories. I scattered her ashes from the cliff-top to the beach below where we had walked and lain together in the sun. After that, I never went to Berwick again.
On my return, I wrote a poem I thought would be the last one I was ever going to write. Indeed, for 25 years, it was. Only recently have I started writing again.
This poem tells of my despair and loneliness.

On Friday October 3rd 1980, at 11am, my beloved Iris died in my arms at Weston Park Hospital.

Once, once in a thousand years,
A love like hers comes fleeting by
And steals my heart and disappears
For all eternity.

I taste the sweetness of her lips,
I smell the fragrance of her hair,
But suddenly, she from me slips
And leaves me in despair.

Each endless day on endless day
Does naught to help me to forget
Those few brief years of ecstasy,
And still I love her yet.

Through sleepless nights I walk alone,
And, gazing at the stars above,
I know that she’s forever gone.
Goodbye, goodbye, my love!

Later, I shall return to happier times and continue with our story. Meanwhile, I would appreciate a kind comment or two.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Iris Skinner died this day October 3rd 1980 at 11am

I can't write any more today.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back home

I’m back from my few days away from it all and I managed to relax and enjoy the company of some very dear friends..
We discovered a marvellous restaurant in Brighton. It was the Café Belge. One evening, we went there and the cuisine was absolutely magnificent. The speciality of the house was mussels and the menu included 50 ways to eat mussels. Naturally we went for it and they were delightful. We gave the ball a really big kick that evening with the champers flowing. (of course!)
The journey back home was bloody horrendous! I was caught up in a 20 mile snarl-up that took an hour and a half to cover and then there was torrential rain that lasted another hour when the average speed was about 30mph. As the rain got heavier and heavier, I stopped off at a motorway services for over half an hour to wait for it to ease off. Altogether, the journey that would have been normally completed in about four and a half hours took six and a half!

Although a break away from home helped me through the nightmare of the days leading to the death of Iris all those years ago, I still have to face the horrors of October 3rd when, 26 years ago, she died in my arms. I am not going to write about it at this time; it's much too heartbreaking and this year, it has hit me harder than most. I don't know why but it just has.. However, there are many stories yet to tell of the good days and of the wonderful times we shared.
I have often been asked if I was ever tempted to have a similar relationship since then. The answer is a simple NO! I never looked at another woman for over eight years and even then, I never formed an association that lasted more than a few days. Yes, I admit that from time to time, I indulged in very brief relationships but it was lust rather than love. I have never loved anyone else since Iris and I never shall.