Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I find it sad that changes in design have largely done away with mascots on the bonnets of cars as objects of art, humour, and personal interest. Some of you will remember that in the days when cars had a screw cap on top of the radiator, the caps often carried a manufacturer’s signature mascot, or a personalised one designed by the owner. These objects are now very much a collectors’ item, and if you are interested you will find two good collections on line at Tony’s Top 50 Metal Mascots and at Northstar Gallery Classic Car Mascots.

I myself have a very personal interest in mascots of that sort, as I once became impaled on one! It is a story of unimaginable folly, and I was lucky to come out of it with no more damage than two permanent scars.

In the summer of 1940, when I was 12, I went to stay with my friend Julia, and her dog 'Hitler', who lived on a pig farm in the country – (oh! the stink!). On this particular day there was a whole crowd of small children, of which Julia and I were the eldest, playing some distance from the farmhouse, and an aunt was dispatched to bring us back in the car for lunch. Crazily, we all clambered up onto the running boards, bonnet and even roof of the car. Julia and I having the longest legs took the top position, facing forwards, with said legs presumably obscuring the driver’s view to some extent.

The car had begun to roll slowly down the lane when the dog decided he wanted a ride too, and made a leap for the bonnet. Aunt braked violently, children shot forwards onto the ground, but poor Judith’s travel was interrupted by contact with the car mascot, a penetrative design which passed through a portion of her gluteus maximus and out again, narrowly missing the sciatic nerve. I managed to pull myself off while sensation was still numbed, and when we had all got safely and more circumspectly back to the farm, the local GP was sent for and I was stitched up, adequately though not elegantly. That has not mattered though, as my buttocks have never been much to write home about and I never wanted to flaunt them.

The nearest I have been able to find to my recollection of this damaging weapon, is the 1933 Buick Winged 8 pictured below, although I think it was more likely a British car. It is not the sharpest of mascots to be seen in the collections, but it was quite sharp enough. In these days of seat harnesses and many other safety regulations, you might think that the mounting of such things on car bonnets would be illegal, but subject to certain restrictions it can still be done. If you want to know the English law in the matter, have a look at the website of Louis Lejeune, mascot manufacturer.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


At a time when in the UK, the dispute between baby care expert Gina Ford and the website is a hot potato (see here), I am able to bring you news of the formation of a new organisation for mothers and their children: “The British Empire Bassinet Society”.

Although it had its beginnings only a few days ago on the internet, the Society’s roots go back more than a hundred years to the birth of New Zealander Frederic Truby King in 1858. Truby King graduated as a Doctor of Medicine at Edinburgh in 1886, and after returning home to New Zealand, went on to become a child care expert of world renown.

His strict regimes for the nurture of healthy infants were intended to address the worrying infant mortality rates among the poorer classes, but his routines were adopted enthusiastically also by middle and upper class women in both the white Dominions and the United Kingdom itself. Our own Queen Elizabeth was a Truby King baby.

The Doctor is probably best known for the emphasis he laid upon feeding strictly by the four-hour clock, but among other things he recommended was a free flow of air around the baby. His book “Feeding and Care of Baby” shows his ideal of a simple wicker bassinet without draperies and frills.

It now appears that this model has continued to be copied throughout the Empire until as late as the 1960’s, for when a blogger published a picture of the Truby King bassinet on her blog the other day (see
here), it was recognised by one of her readers, and they discovered that it was a common element of their past, one in India in 1959 and one in Australia in 1965. And so the idea for the Society was born.

Membership will be on line only, will cost nothing, and will be open to mothers who have used the British Empire Bassinet for their babies, as well as to the children themselves. (It is at present under consideration whether fathers should be offered associate membership.) If your children were British Empire Bassinet babies, and you are interested in joining, please leave a comment to that effect. There will be no benefits, other than the satisfaction of knowing you belong to an elite group.

At the start the Society’s membership is likely to consist largely of older mothers who recall using the cot for their babies. But as time takes its toll of this second generation of enlightened women, who knew what was best for the children of the Empire, it is inevitable, and indeed desirable, that it should eventually pass to the succeeding generation. In this way we may hope to see perpetuated the very best of the British character :: true grit, fair play, reserve, and a stiff upper lip.

The logo of the British Empire Bassinet Society - (representing a baby in a bassinet)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The effects of war :: At home

Looking back I can see more effects here than I was aware of at the time. The question of diet carried over from school, as although in the beginning our ration books were changed from vegetarian to meat-eating at the start of the school holidays, and then back again, this was eventually found to be unmanageable, and we had to have vegetarian books all the time. This was tough on our parents, who shared their meat ration with us, but our veggie ration books gave us access to additional cheese and eggs, and more in the way of nuts and dried fruit than was available to everybody. I remember too a delicious cashew nut butter known as Nutter, which made a really tasty spread.

My father was running a small-holding of vegetable garden and fruit orchard, and I remember that because of gathering the fruit harvest, we always had to take our holiday in September. Somehow it always seems to have been lovely weather, though, so we did not mind. And my mother kept hens and geese, so in fact we had a pretty good diet both at home and at school. I remember that the feeding of the hens and geese required the saving of all food waste to be boiled up as swill, a foul-smelling concoction which drove us out of doors when it was cooking on the stove. [Here my Dad is up a tree picking apples.]

A rather posh neighbour of ours kept a Jersey cow on her lawn for a time, as her contribution to the war. She kindly offered to leave out two glasses of rich creamy milk in her lovely cool dairy, and my brother and I were expected to walk down the hill and back again to take advantage of this extra nourishment. I remember it being a rather boring obligation which we did not appreciate! However, it did not last long, as our neighbour was soon informed that all the product from her cow was expected to be handed over to the Milk Marketing Board for fair distribution – she was not supposed to give it away, only use what her own household needed.

As our land included a paddock and a large barn, we became a centre for the local salvage collection, mostly paper and scrap iron. I remember discovering a large Spanish dictionary in the paper waste, somewhat like Larousse Illustré, and insisted on keeping it, as I was doing an A-level in spanish. We still have it today, although it was already somewhat battered when it came to us.

My father had to put the car away in the garage, as there was no petrol to run it. We had a butcher and a baker and a Post Office and small store in the village, and the farm which delivered our milk was on our doorstep. Otherwise, there was a fortnightly bus into Worcester seven miles away for all other shopping. For us this involved a 10-15 minute walk down hill to the bus stop with empty bags, and then an uphill slog with bags loaded with a fortnight’s shopping on the way home. No wonder my mother had to have prolapse surgery in her 40s.

But there was also produce to be got to market, and for a while we ran a pony and trap, which we parked in the car park alongside whatever cars were there. The first pony we bought turned out to have been doped by the crooked dealer, and became unmanageable after getting home. My parents had no idea how to choose such an animal. The second buy, an amiable little Welsh pony called Mick, turned out fine, and my brother and I were able to ride him as well. [This is me up on Mick, with my brother leading him.]

I remember that on our shopping expeditions to the town we used to lunch at the British Restaurant. These were a sort of communal kitchen set up in schools and church halls by local authorities on a non-profit making basis, where one could get a good wholesome meal for about 1/6d (8p), without handing over food coupons. I remember too that in those days of shortages, teas and coffees in cafes and restaurants tended to be served with one lump of sugar for each perspm, and if one did not take sugar, one put it quickly in one’s pocket, and took it home for use in cooking, hopefully collecting those of other non-sugar-takers too!

I think the worst thing I suffered personally was the clothes I sometimes had to wear made over from my mother’s by a local dressmaker. I could tell that they were not stylish and they embarrased me. Only a few years ago I was using up a set of dusters which my mother had bought with a view to turning them into some sort of garment. Thank goodness that project was never realised. Incidentally, I still have one or two left of the black satinised cotton blackout curtains we used. These have been made up over the years into a variety of fancy dress costumes for school plays and local amateur dramatics.

For a period we gave houseroom to my father’s sister from London, together with some other London relatives. This was hell for my mother, with two other women in her kitchen. The other family lived in quite a different way from us, and I can remember our horror on one occasion when they had prepared a cauliflower cheese for our supper, and it had come to table absolutely full of aphis which had not been washed out before cooking. I am afraid we made a bad hand of having evacuees in the house, even family, and I feel a bit ashamed when I think of all those other families who had no choice about taking in strangers.

When we moved to the country in July 1939, our new house had no electricity. It was due to come to the village, (which consisted of only about 250 inhabitants then), at any time, but of course the whole thing was put on hold with the outbreak of war. This meant that my mother cooked on a paraffin stove, we used paraffin lamps and candles to light the house, and it was my father’s daily chore to pump up water by hand from our well into our tanks, as we did not have mains water either (or sewage!). My parents were always so scared that our well would run dry (which it never did) that we had to get used to using the loos but not flushing every time, a custom which our guests understandably found very distasteful!

Electricity did not in fact reach our village until 1948, just in time for my 21st birthday party in the November. So we had a double celebration that weekend with a house party, who enjoyed light and water ‘a gogo’, not to mention a lot of luxury foods such as a cooked ham and cream meringues, acquired by saving up coupons, or by gift, barter or exchange, at a time when food rationing was still in force. (My mother took eggs from our hens to the local Kardomah cafe, and they were very happy to bake the meringues for us because they were able to keep the egg yolks! I guess we had to save up lots of our sugar ration though.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

The effects of war :: At school

On the whole the war years made little impact on me. None of my relatives was of an age to join the armed services, and there were no casualities of any sort. As for me, I was cocooned in the country, both at home where we lived in a small country village, and at my boarding school right on the edge of a garden city. There was a short period when we slept in indoor shelters consisting of a series of tubular metal half circles put up in downstairs rooms, which might perhaps have held off falling masonry. There were also some trenches dug at the far end of the school field, but they were covered over again and never turned into proper shelters.

During some of the worst bombing attacks on London, instead of travelling from Worcester to school at Letchworth, via Paddington and Kings Cross, my brother and I were dispatched via Oxford and Reading, a long and dreary route without the benefit of our school mates as company on the train. Instead of being met and transported across London by my father’s sister, my parents arranged for an organisation called Universal Aunts to get us from train to train at the intermediary stops. They are still in existence, and still performing the role of proxy parents (among many others) all these years later. They have been going since 1921, and I have taken the liberty of reproducing one of their archive pictures of ‘Meeting the train’.

I have written before of the vegetarian diet at our boarding school. At the start of the war meat dinners were on offer twice a week for those children whose parents wanted them to have meat. But these were soon abandoned, due to the difficulties of buying both meat and vegetarian food with ration books. Although I thrived on the vegetarian diet, and thought I might remain vegetarian after leaving school (I did not in fact), I still had an occasional yearning for meat. It was one of our regular naughty escapades to go down into the town where a mobile café served spam and chips for an affordable sum. Another of our favourite food supplements was a threepenny Lyons Individual Fruit Pie from the local corner shop.

None of this can really be called hardship, but we were called upon to make some contribution to ‘the war effort’. There were days when we were sent off to help local farmers with lifting their potato crops, armed with a packed lunch and a large bottle (glass of course) filled with weak sweet tea. There were also harvest camps in the summer holidays, when we went off to stay on farms in Lincolnshire for a week or two during the harvest season. It was extremely hard work, but fun as well, as this sort of communal effort usually is. The picture shows washing up duty on a day when I was not sent out into the field. [Double click on it to see a larger version.]

Oh yes, and I was elected to the Economy Committee in my senior years, which entitled me to go around annoying the hell out of people by switching off unnecessary lights and turning down central heating. I wasn’t all that popular anyway, but I couldn’t resist the bossy role!

Some of our male staff left to go to war, of course, and one of them became a well-known war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph (Christopher Buckley). Sadly he lost his life later in Korea, having almost taken the decision to retire after World War II. Another was the housemaster of whom I wrote in my blog “Escape artist”. He left behind a disconsolate wife and small son, and I do remember that her temper became extremely short during his absence, which I hope we had the understanding to forgive.

That lovely couple, who ran their school boarding house with a firm but enlightened hand, has remained in my heart, along with the principal and his wife, as the role models of my choice. Some thirty years later I had the good fortune to find myself on a channel ferry with them crossing from Belgium to England, and they carried me off to have breakfast with them in Cambridge, where I had a date with my dentist. They had left the school eventually to run an international school of their own in Switzerland.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Caution! Grandma is blogging

When I first posted this charming little drawing I couldn't remember who was the artist, so could not give credit for it. I have now found out that it was done by one of my Growing Old Disgracefully friends, Norma Randle, to whom I am greatly obliged for permission to use it.

How often have you seen a sign like this in somebody's rear view window? And does it make you immediately drive more cautiously, or do you feel somewhat irritated at the suggestion that you might be driving too close? Today I saw a variant which got me thinking - it said: CAUTION! GRANDPA IS DRIVING. "If that is a serious warning" I thought "his family should be trying to persuade him to give up driving. I know, I've met this problem myself. If, however, it is meant to be a joke, isn't it a bit patronising?" I remain confused by my reaction, being only too well aware that my time for giving up may not be many years ahead.

I was reminded of how many of my friends take exception to the roadsign warning of ELDERLY PEOPLE CROSSING. This too makes an assumption, that the elderly are necessarily frail. Personally I am not so sensitive. Some form of warning is obviously necessary where elderly people, who may also be frail, will be crossing. So perhaps the sign should read: FRAIL or VULNERABLE PEOPLE CROSSING, if we are to consider all sensibilities. But that still leaves the problem of the drawing.

The Oldie Magazine - which I lose no opportunity of promoting as essential reading for those of maturity, intelligence and humour, took the bull by the horns and designed its own version of the roadsign to display on its contents page. Now, that's more like it ..... but still hardly appropriate for a seriously cautionary roadsign. So what's to be done? There is still a need to be filled here by an enterprising designer.

I shall leave you with another charming drawing by another of my talented G.O.D. friends - Lois Burke.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

3000 hits!

Three thousand hits - isn't that splendid? Though I must admit I added the three thousandth myself, while making some changes on my settings. Maybe it's not much in a year, but it pleases me mightily, and I thank all those of you who visit, whether it's once or often. I am by now convinced that my blog is worth doing, and not just for my own satisfaction in putting it together.

I couldn't find or draw an appropriate picture to celebrate, so I dug out this old Christmas shot of my number two son having a go at his new punchball. Don't you just love the scaredy cat desperate to get out of the room?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Truby King again

In his book "Feeding and Care of Baby" the Doctor reproduced this charming drawing by R. F. Reynolds, of a child asleep in an ordinary go-cart. He uses it to illustrate the harmful posture a child can fall into, if it is put into an unsuitable conveyance, and at an age before it can sit up and rest its feet on the footrest.

In a book by his adopted daughter Mary, who carried on his work, I found this illustration of a wicker cradle on a stand designed for warm climates. It allows the air to circulate freely, and the overhead hoops will support a mosquito net if necessary. I instantly recognised the second-hand cradle I was lucky enough to come by when my first child was born in Bombay.

You will be able to see from these two snaps of my own that it is almost identical, except that mine had the added advantages of having carrying handles, and of the stand being on wheels, so that it could be trundled out onto the verandah. Another great advantage of this design was that you did not have to bend to attend to the child or pick him up.

Here is Matthew in the cot. It went back to England with us and his three brothers also slept in it, after which it was passed on to someone else in need. I like to imagine that my cot was actually made in the 1930s, when Mary's book was first written, and had survived until 1959 when it came to me - not an impossibility by any means. I hope it is still doing the rounds somewhere. For the cot, I am prepared to thank the Truby Kings!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Gina Ford vs Mumsnet

I don't usually pay attention when issues on baby care hit the news, as I am now two generations past having to bother about such things. But reading in the press about the current conflict, I was struck, as one so often is, by the aptness of the the old sayings, that nothing is new in this world and that what goes around comes around. You can read much of the detail of accusation and response if you go to; and if Gina Ford does decide to bring a court action against the website, and/or against its ISP, it is likely to be a test case, it seems, with implications relating to freedom of speech on the internet, and the vulnerability to prosecution of website owners and ISPs.

As the Times reporter rightly pointed out, this
is a battle between the 1930s and the 1960s, between an author who recommends a strict routine for babies, and parents who find her recommendations too rigid, and have not hesitated to say so in forceful terms on the website's message board, thereby causing great offense to Ms Ford. But the press report does not actually mention the name of the revered (or hated!) Dr Truby King, seen here in caricature and in a photograph.

I myself was a Truby King baby in 1927, which means that in theory I was fed only four hourly come what may and not at night, that I could cry my head off, but as long as I was fed, winded and clean I would not be picked up, that potty training would start at two months with the aim of being dry by day at a year, and that I would not be rocked to sleep or cuddled in my parents' bed.** Enemas to keep a baby's bowels moving was another of his less attractive ideas, but on the good side, he did advocate breast- feeding and plenty of fresh air.

By the time my young brother was born, my mother's natural instincts had taken over, which was lucky for him, and gives me a useful source of resentment if I should feel I need one. For many years I have regarded Dr Truby King as thoroughly misguided, and turned gratefully to the American Dr Spock and what I saw as his easy-going liberal commonsense when raising my own children in the 1960s. But a year or two ago I began to wonder if I really knew enough about Truby King to judge him so harshly, and so I began some research. I managed to get a number of his early works out of the library, books now crumbling into fragements, together with books about him by other writers, and I learned what he had really been about.

He was New Zealand born, but graduated in medicine at Edinburgh in 1886. He then went back to work in New Zealand and Australia where, apalled by infant mortality rates at the turn of the century, he set about developing and promoting a programme of baby care which would drastically reduce them, and thereby save the British nation from annihilation! He must in fact have done a great deal of good, but I don't think I can rid myself, at this late age, of the sneaking suspicion that his regime damaged my infant psyche!
FOOTNOTE: ** When my father bought an antique Elizabethan cradle as a surprise for my mother, he had the dealer remove the rockers, thereby substantially reducing its value - a story which always turns my antique dealer friend green when I tell it!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Something more cheerful

Some years ago, in the same year that I acquired my first computer, I also agreed to be Secretary for the women's organisation I belong to. I wrote this a month or two later for their Newsletter, and my choice of fonts - Lucida Handwriting and Eurostyle - was important for the overall effect. As Blogger does not offer them, I have had to scan a printout in order to reproduce it here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How inappropriate can you get?

Normally I am only mildly irritated by being told to "Have a nice day" by people I neither know nor care about, apart from the role they have to play in meeting my daily needs for information, goods or services. But today I was roused to something approaching fury.

I was speaking to the Social Services Department at my local County Council. As always, it had taken telephone calls and delays over several days to reach the person I needed. I was looking for information which I consider we should have been given without having to ask. We were talking about someone who is very old and ill, and who has been referred for full-time nursing care, being no longer fit to live alone in his own home. We had perforce touched on such subjects as his deteriorating physical condition, his mental confusion, commodes, wheelchairs, and financial assessments. And I am not a social worker, I am his wife.

But at the end of our conversation this person says to me ... "Enjoy your day"! Does she think I am going through all this for FUN?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fire at The Fringe

I have written before about my son Ric who is a street entertainer (see my archive for October 2005 - Spare Parts). He is currently busking up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I had an email from him today with a link to a blog by a Fringe photographer who is doing a lot of street shots: They are colourful and full of life, and if you scroll down far enough Ric appears in one of the shots, wearing a white shirt and breathing fire. It is good that he is getting into the picture.

I have some shots of him both breathing fire and juggling with flaming torches, which have the added advantage of having been taken at night, so I am sticking them up here, although they were taken some years ago, but not by me.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Escape artist

Or: Romance rears its head

I was a pretty good at escaping while at school in Letchworth – preferably at night, out of windows and down fire escapes. I don’t mean that I wanted to escape from the school – far from it – but that I wanted to escape from my dormitory for the purpose of unauthorised meetings with boys.

I made a trial run at the age of about 13, before I had any real interest in the male of the species. This was just sheer naughtiness, giving in to the temptation of being where we shouldn’t, and I was not alone on this occasion. We went into a teacher's bedroom and climbed out of the window and onto the roof. Of course we were discovered, and received a severe talking to by the house father. (Boarding houses were run by married couples.) But I think what made the biggest impression on me was not the fierceness of the wigginghe gave us, but the long, long time he sat at the piano afterwards, playing sombre music, with stern disappointment on his face. He was a man I liked and respected, and I did not care to have upset him so much.

But that didn’t stop me a year or two later, when I wanted to leave my bedroom and make my way to where my particular 'crush' of the moment was sleeping. It was a school designed to give us the maximum advantage of fresh air, in addition to the vegetarian diet and Quaker principles, and in the senior school the boys slept in wooden huts or brick ‘cells’, built outside the main building. Hence the need for escape routes. When I returned for an old scholars’ reunion in 1997, I took great delight in photographing the two routes which I remembered, one from a first-floor dormitory and over a balcony, and one from a second-floor bathroom and down a fire-escape. I have marked the exit points on the pictures here.

On the first occasion the unfortunate youth did not know I was coming – I have always been inclined to pick my own quarry and start the chase myself – but he put a good face on it, got out of bed and suggested we take a walk. There was a school field, of course, and lawns, kitchen gardens and an orchard. I think it must have been September, as the apples were ripe on the trees and starting to fall. The scene was wreathed in mist, and lit by a gentle luminosity from the moon. My romantic heart created an occasion of real magic, which glimmers imperishably in my memory.

Regrettably, the young man never really took a fancy to me – (saw him at that reunion, bald as a coot. Oh! where are all the golden boys and girls?) – and he asked another boy to take me off his hands, though I didn’t find that out till much later. This other fella also suggested a walk, so off I went again.

Another occasion of the utmost magic: an October night with a wild wind blowing, and copper coloured clouds scudding across a lurid moon. We took our romantic walk, believe it or not, along the Great North Road, which must have been a deal more rural in the 1940s than it is today. We cuddled a bit, and talked, and as far as I was concerned I was hooked for the rest of my school days, though once again I failed to hold his attention. (Clearly, I was going to be a late developer!) The other day I found a sonnet I wrote after that walk along the Great North Road. Urrghh! It was sickening - I won’t inflict it on you.

Footnote - Strange customs develop in a closed community: acknowledged pairs would exchange friendship pins, and the girl would wear her boy’s jacket over her shoulders. When she no longer wore it you knew the girl had been ‘dropped’! (Roll on Women's Lib!)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogs at the Edinburgh Fringe

Did you catch the BBC News item last night about blogs at the Festival? Have a look here for the full story:

Seems there are three different Fringe productions tapping into the world of online writers, and one of them is based entirely on British blogs. One of the people whose blog is being used for this show comments that the need to confess is still very much with us, but that nowadays we tend to confess to the community at large, via the blogosphere, rather than to a priest.

I hadn’t thought of it like that, and I’m not sure I agree. I don’t feel as though I am ‘confessing’ in my blog, but I certainly do have an urge to ‘reveal all’, which is not quite the same thing. Also to talk about the stresses in my life. But if there was something I was actually ashamed of, I don’t think I would blog about it. And I try to respect the privacy and dignity of others, such as family and friends, which makes it more difficult to be completely frank and open in a blog.

In Google Images I found just the cartoon to illustrate this post, but it is clearly marked ‘copyright’, so I can only direct you to it here: where it is one of four cartoons on the page.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

School days - happy endings!

By the summer of 1939 my parents had found us a house in the country and we moved to the village of Alfrick, near Worcester. And in the September I went off for my first term in the school which I really do remember, vividly, and often revisit in my dreams. It was St Christopher School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, where I was extraordinarily happy, and where I remained until I left school for good at the end of the war. [See the picture below of the school floodlit on VE night in May 1945.]

It was (and is still) a co-ed boarding school, and was what was known to many as a 'crank' school. My cousin, who went to a similar school called Bedales, used to refer to them affectionately as 'lettuce and brown sugar schools', as they were vegetarian on health grounds. Staff were called by their first names or nick-names; school uniform was abandoned for ever during the war. We were encouraged to develop a strong sense of personal responsibility, and there was much more self-determination than at standard schools. In the senior school, instead of daily homework we were given assignments of work, which we were expected to complete within two weeks. This gave us more flexibility in planning the use of our time. There was also a senior school council, made up of children of the full age range, and this was empowered to make disciplinary decisions, among others. The Head used to say the only two things over which he retained the absolute right of veto, were the curriculum, and the vegetarian diet.

The headteachers, Lyn and Eleanor Harris, were Quakers, though it was not officially a 'Quaker school'. But the school gave sanctuary to conscientious objectors who were 'persona non grata' in other places, but came to teach at our school; and young male school-leavers who were COs were prepared there for their tribunals, which they had to go through if they were not to be obliged to join the armed forces. There were a number of German refugee children too, some of whom anglicised their surnames before going off to fight in the British Army.

I think I was happy there because my life was full and well-rounded, I was stretched academically and allowed to develop socially and emotionally, and I liked, admired and respected the headteachers and the large majority of the school staff. I have always considered myself lucky to have been there. My family was not well off at the time, and it was our good fortune that the head teachers believed so strongly in what they were doing, that when they realised how much our parents wanted us to attend the school, they did them a discount deal for taking my brother and myself as a job lot – so to speak!

Here I am with my younger brother, clipped from the annual whole-school photograph in the summer of 1940.

ENDPIECE: Soon after we were married my husband and I were invited to lunch in the home of one of his colleagues. Two young men joined the party, the son of the house and a mate who had just come back from a skiing holiday. They were so obviously products of a public school that it was perhaps unwise of me to start talking about the ‘crank’ school I had attended. I'm sure I actually saw the noses on the faces of these young men go up in the air and wrinkle with disdain. It was a moment that I have always cherished!

Friday, August 04, 2006

More orgasms .....

Thinking about my previous post while away for a few days' holiday, I became dissatisfied with having had so little to say on the subject of National Orgasm Day. It's a matter of self respect for me to have plenty to say at all times! So I decided to amuse myself by searching for 'orgasm' on Google Images.

I picked out a couple of representational images which seemed appropriate, very different from each other. I tend to see the first as a man's concept of orgasm, and the second as a woman's. I'd be interested to know what anyone else thinks.

Then I found an image with a message. The legend (in Dutch) with this one says: "Ugly people too have a right to an orgasm".

A passing thought that this might be what National Orgasm Day is all about led me down an imaginary path which I decided not to follow, until I realised that there is a Jake Thackray song called 'Billy Kershaw' which has already covered the subject. It is too long to copy here, but follow my link to the Jake Thackray website and you can find the lyrics there.

And finally, the day's special offer - though personally, I would not rely on safe delivery of the goods from someone who can't spell 'receive'!


[This is my personal emoticon for "tongue in cheek"]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

National Orgasm Day

Today is National Orgasm Day, so I'm told. Whatever next?! It's not that I am prudish, or that I take no interest in orgasms. On the contrary, readers of my blog will know that I am not shy about the bodily functions. But a national day? We'll be having a National Dump Day next!