Books: Windows on the World

I’m sure anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know reading has always been one of my life’s delights. I’ve shared some of that joy through blog posts such as Widdershins, Holding the Centre, Revisiting BridesheadThe Book Thief, or Audiobooks, E-books and Old Friends

My First BooksI don’t remember the process of learning to read. But I actually do remember not being able to read. And I have the evidence! :)

Two of the books on my laden bookshelves are the very first two books I ever owned. One is a collection of nursery rhymes, with gorgeous illustrations by Hilda Boswell. The other is a book of stories about a family of teddy bears: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, with images by Dutch illustrator Willy Schermelé.

I still have a very clear memory of only seeing the pictures . Large slabs of each page (the text) meant nothing to me. But the illustrations – Hilda Boswell’s in particular – were a wonder-filled world to explore while the nursery rhymes or stories were read aloud to me. I can actually remember that time when I needed an adult’s voice to interpret and share the stories that went with the pictures. [Read more…]


Princes Bridge Station

Some time ago I wrote I Remember – A Boomer Tribute, a blog post that definitely revealed my age. :) Well this is another one that will do the same.

Train Ticket 1975The other day, among some stuff I was clearing out, I found a ticket stub tucked away in a book. The stub was from a 1975 train ticket! Yep, we were issued with solid cardboard tickets in those days. The date is on the back. On the front are the train lines it served: Princes Bridge to … Glenroy … Holmesglen … Hughesdale … McKinnon … Rosanna.

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A Spoonful of Care

A recent Facebook post by my friend Graham Godwin asked “Dear mythbusters……… does a teaspoon of sugar really help the medicine go down?????

His question brought back memories for me. Not about sugar, it’s true.

But I remember when I was very small and had to take a tablet, how my mother used to crush the offending, usually nasty-tasting thing and mix it with a teaspoonful of jam or honey for me.

I still remember the look of concentration on her face, as she crushed it between the bowl of one spoon and the back of another, without spilling even a small bit of the resulting white powder.

I also remember how she, as an ex-nurse, would use a spoon to depress my tongue and peer into my mouth when I complained of a sore throat.

Or how she’d use the back of a teaspoon to crack the top of a boiled egg for me. Soft-boiled eggs and dry toast were so often a first-meal remedy after I’d been ill.

I still remember my mother sitting on the edge of my bed as I ate, in the darkened room aftermath of measles, mumps or some other childish ailment.

‘Spoon-memories’ about spoonfuls of care.

And I also have some ‘spoon-memories’ of my father. Fun stuff … [Read more…]


I Remember … A Boomer Tribute

I remember …

SuePlaying outside after school, roaming the neighbourhood at will and only having to be home for tea.

Long trips in the car, sleeping in beds made up for us in the back of the station wagon. There were no seat belts in those days.

Watching The Lone Ranger, Wagon Train and Rin Tin Tin on TV, translating the stories into all the Cowboys and Indians games we played with the kids in our street.

Mr Magoo, My Favourite Martian, The Beverley Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie … and Richard Greene as Robin Hood.

The Mr Whippy Van and melting soft icecream in cones, with a Cadbury Flake chocolate protruding from the top.

Adults tapping their feet impatiently behind us, when we kids took ages to choose sixpence worth of mixed lollies from behind the glass counter at the milk bar.

Working proudly as an ‘ink monitor’. Mixing powder and water to make the ink then filling the inkwells in the desks

Building cubby houses, go karts and defendable forts out of boxes, sticks and other scraps we found around the yard.

When men first miraculously landed on the moon. A couple of hundred of us packed into the school hall, watching in wonder the grainy images on a black and white TV.

Seeing the Vietnam marches on TV. Wishing I could be there too, but my parents wouldn’t let me because I was too young.

SueTown hall dances, with their customary ‘progressive dance’ when the back of my dress became damp from sweaty hands that steered me around the dance floor

Purple brushed denim jeans, lime green and purple floral shirt and platform shoes.

And for all of you who also remember these things  …

… here’s an amusing update on our lives! :)


Music and Memories

Music & MemoriesThis morning I heard the snatch of an old 70s song on the radio, and I was 18 again, in my first year at University – exploring new horizons, making new friends and mourning the loss of an early love.

Music holds a sure magic. It transports us through time, connects us with other people, helps to heal wounds, makes us laugh, makes us cry and feeds the soul. And there are some tunes that, when we hear them, take us back to a certain time or place with crystal-clear vividness.

My own earliest memories include my mother’s voice singing old English ballads to send me to sleep. Songs such as Oh, No John, No John, No John, No, Cockles and Mussels, and The North Wind Doth Blow.

My father was a trad jazz fan, and played the piano. Never professionally, but with a passionate love of music that stayed with him throughout his life. So my other early lullabies were tunes like Tiger Rag, St James’ Infirmary Blues and many more. And the first song I remember learning to sing as a small child was Ragtime Cowboy Joe!

[And what a delightfully quirky collection of videos I found on the web, when searching for links to all those songs. :-) ]

Indeed, music was so much a part of my dad’s life that even the stories he told of the six years he spent in the British Navy in WWII were often centred around the times he got to play the piano.

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