Category Archives: Nostalgia

In the Wee Hours

The mind and the brain can be a curious bedfellow at times, especially at night whether asleep and dreaming, or awake in the wee early hours trying your darnest to fall back to sleep. I’ve never been a great sleeper, the slightest unusual noise will wake me up, as will a sudden alteration in sound, which is why I dislike falling asleep listening to the radio or television or to audiobooks. As soon as a voice changes, the pitch or volume on music switches or the recording comes to an end, then bang – I’m wide awake. A solid 7-8 hour night’s sleep is a rarity; I get by on a broken 5 or six hours at most. I have no trouble going to sleep initially, it’s the staying there I struggle with. And if I do fall back into dreamland, I have the most peculiar dreams. I’ve always been like it.

But this has advantages, for it’s during this time I fix things. In my head. Like plot issues in my novel or have a marvellous idea for another book. Work out what my characters are going to do or say next. When I was doing the 9-5 life, I’d solve a dilemma or figure out a solution to problem in the office. In my head I’d rehearse what I need to say to someone. Finger out how to fix something broken. Decide on what we are going to eat for our Sunday lunch, even if it’s only Tuesday morning. I’m used to this and am sure I’m not the only one who experiences these things.

But lately, my mind has been working in an unexpected way. It seems for no reason I can fathom, I suddenly recall songs from my childhood, ones I’d forgotten about, surprising myself I can even remember the words. If it were pop songs of my teenage years, then I could perhaps understand it. I love music and that of the 60s and 70s especially, but these are songs often from further back.

Ones such as Cool Water “All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water. Cool water…” Old Shep “When I was a lad and Old Shep was a pup through the hilltops and meadows we’d stray…” “Carolina Moon …keep shining, shining on the one who waits for me…” Little Green Frog “There’s a little green frog, swimming in the water, a little green frog, doing what he oughta…” “Don’t You Worry …my little pet, don’t you worry now, don’t forget…” You get the jist. And I wonder how many of these you are singing right now. (Sorry)

These are just a few of them I hear, and many are the B side to records, ones rarely played, let alone remembered. Okay, so I know I grew up hearing these songs. With older siblings and parents who loved music, the radio or the gramophone playing, that is no small wonder. But why, I ask myself, should all these come flooding into my brain at 2 0’clock in the morning! Are they trying to tell me something?

I’ve tried thinking back to any incident or conversations recently that may have jogged open an old memory of them. Tried hard to recall hearing them on an advert on TV. Have I read any recent articles or books that might mention them or their singers? Nothing! So for the moment I have to content myself with “listening” to them, at least they are songs I like, and they in themselves are bringing back happy days memories of childhood and family. I just wonder what my brain will conjure up next to earworm me through the night.

Has anything like this happened to you?

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Back to the Future…

Way back in the day, I learned to type on an old black typewriter. Anyone else remember them? The ones with keys you had to bang on so hard to get them to work? And woe betide if you gathered some speed because if you typed too fast the keys would stick together and you’d get ink on your fingers separating them. Happy days. No, really, they were.

Typing stencils for use on the Gestetner machine was something else. Working with this duplicating machine you had to make sure you didn’t type too hard on the stencil, especially any letter with a circle (o, b, d, p, q), because the circle could disappear beneath a blob of ink and didn’t look too great when printed out – achieved via turning the handle on the side of the machine until you felt your arm would drop off! Any mistakes were corrected with this red fluid that if you sniffed too robustly could get you pretty high!

Things progressed pretty rapidly and soon we had the super-duper electric typewriters. Those things took some getting used to. By the time I had an electric model my speed had progressed and the thing seemed to run away with me. Thankfully tippex was around then and I made good use of it 🙂

Technology moved on and I bought my first computer – an Amstrad 9512. I loved that machine and spent many happy hours on it. I went kicking and screaming into the modern computer age, and while it’s great having new technology which makes life easier (most of the time and when it works properly) I do hanker after those old manual typewriter days, especially the keyboards… Hearing the clackety-clack of productivity made my little heart sing.

When I saw they made old style keyboards I wondered if it was worth buying one and taking a trip down memory lane. Not really able to justify it, I put it on my wish list and kind of forgot about it. Then Amazon Prime Day happened and there it was at a nicely reduced price. Needless to say, it now adorns my desk 🙂 It took a while to get used to as it’s so much smaller/narrower than a modern standard keyboard and it was a few days before I got used to having to press down harder on the keys again. It was hit and miss if the required key was obtained, and there was much mumbling of “this will have to go back” but after persevering I now love it. The clackety-clack is modified, but it’s there. Happy days are here again 🙂

So I’m enjoying my trip down memory lane, although I have to admit that I’m not looking to go back to the days of tippex and carbon copies. No sirree.

Jubilee Fun

If there is one thing the British do well, it’s pomp and circumstance and having fun. The Queen’s 70th Jubilee was no exception. The crowds in London loved it. As did people up and down the country holding street parties, house parties, beacon lighting etc, the celebrations lasting a lot longer than the 2-day bank holiday assigned for the occasion. During the week beforehand, many town and parish councils put on their own celebratory Jubilee Tea Parties for local residents, and I was fortunate to be invited to one at the centre where my art club meets.

The room was strung out with Union Jack bunting, the groaning food table laid out in temptation just inside the main door to the room. All the cakes on offer were homemade by volunteers, including a very large one iced in the Union Jack flag. On entering, I couldn’t see anyone I knew, even though I arrived a good half-hour after the start time. I hate that, being a stranger amongst many others in company they know. Years ago I would have turned and fled.. A gentleman stepped up, offered his hand, introducing himself to me as a local MP, not one I knew as the centre is in a different area to where I live, not that it mattered. Nice chap, asked my connection to the centre, so I was able to proudly tell him I had painted several of the pictures hanging around the room.

The choice of cake was too much to decide so I gathered myself a cup of tea and joined a small group of people I did not know at a table. This might not sound very much to you, but for me, doing such a thing is a big affair for a shy, introverted lady. Normally I would have headed for the nearest empty table, of which there was only one, all the other 20 or so were full.

Having settled into conversation, enjoying the music in the background (all from the 1950s, which I love), two people arrived from my art group and beckoned me to join them at the empty table. Within ten minutes, 10 other members arrived. Back I went to the cake table to choose, made all the more difficult because the lady serving offered me multiple slices of anything I wanted. I love cake but resisted the temptation, enjoyed only a large slice of lemon drizzle cake with another cup of tea.

The atmosphere was jovial, friendly, and noisy. There was also a small competition in which one had to guess the years in which various photos of the queen were taken. The prize, a large box of chocolates. I didn’t partake as I did not want the chocolates, but did help my art friend Jeanette with guessing some of the years.

Talking of photos, it was only nearer the end of the occasion I thought to take a few photographs, so sadly the cake table is virtually empty. It was as I took a few shots I realised everyone had dressed in red, white and blue or various combinations of the three, something I never gave a thought to when dressing to come out; there was me dressed in a black skirt and top with a bright green jacket. Doh…

Over the Jubilee weekend Dave and I stayed home. There was no street party here, although many residents had their own in back gardens. It was enjoyable listening to them. Not far from me is our local sports playing field where the council had put on a free festival for residents on both the Saturday and Sunday. The music was loud but not disruptive, and most enjoyable. The festivities culminated in a spectacular firework show to music which the whole of our town must have heard if not seen. They were tremendous, some of the best I’ve been fortunate to witness. Well done Patchway Council.

All-in-all, a lovely time had by all for our Queen.

The following week at art group, a note and a small box of chocolates had been left for me as a thank you, by Jeanette – apparently she won the prize!

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

October! My Favorite!

Jillian here. October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Virginia when I was in elementary school, we’d always drive up Skyline Drive in October to get pumpkins and fresh, cold apple cider—there was nothing like that fresh taste and Florida has nothing to compare with it. Not many leaves change color here—a few trees do- like maples— but most are evergreens like pine. I love the look of bare trees in the twilight of mornings or dusk as well as in the fog. Some trees here have leaves one day and are naked the next.

Why I love October: Orange is my favorite color, the smell of smoke in the air always brings back memories of fall leaf burning, pumpkins, Halloween is fun, and the new baking shows with the fall themes are delightful to watch (not so delightful for my cravings for chocolate though) 😀And it cools off a bit here—most years, it’s low 80s at beginning of the month and 70s by end of month.

Lat year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that was inspired by my great grandmother’s name and her tombstone. Weirdly, her tombstone has her names in the wrong order which is kind of wild—I can only imagine they didn’t have the money to fix it when it was made incorrectly. I’ve always loved her first name. Her name (in the correct order) was Sophronia Neal Akers Richardson. The story I wrote is a ghost story/mystery. I turned in the edits this week, so I hope to have it out soon. It will be published under my other name as my mysteries are under that name to keep them separate from the romance-driven tales.

Happy October to all. Get out and enjoy some reds, oranges, fall scents and even some ghosties!

Gnarly pumpkin I bought —so wicked looking

Tribute to a Very Special Lady

Hi Everyone! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while. I’ve just been finding it hard to find the motivation to write anything, let alone be creative. You see I lost my dear mum back in July and life just hasn’t been the same.

My mum had been terminally ill and was amazing all through it. She rarely complained, except about the hospital food and the woefully small TV on her hospital ward. Of course, courtesy of Covid, we couldn’t visit her, but we were able to zoom her every day. Her first question was always how we were all doing with lockdown and checking on the family dogs. Her next question was when we thought she would be able to leave hospital and get home and catch up on her soaps on a decent sized TV! When she finally did get home we filled the day with watching those soaps, playing gin rummy, reminiscing, and having our special morning coffee with a ‘naughy’ chocolate biscuit.

Since mum passed, I’ve been taking Vivvy to the woods a lot, remembering the times when mum would join us on our walks, steadfastly refusing to allow her limited mobility to stop her. I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I was to have a mum like her. Remembering things like the time when she queued in the rain all day while I was at school to get me a ticket to see The Beatles, to the times she scoured the shops to find the exact thing I wanted for Christmas, to the times she told me never to settle for anything less than what I really wanted.

She was very supportive of my writing and used to display copies of my book covers on the walls in her hallway. I often wondered what her elderly friends thought when they saw images of half-clad couples and man chests adorning the walls. I have a lovely memory of taking mum into the local W.H. Smith bookstore here in the UK on the release of one of my books, and having to stop her from buying up all the copies. Despite that I’d already given her a couple of author copies, she insisted on purchasing one and proceeded to tell everyone in the queue at the checkout that her daughter was the author of the book she was buying and how proud she was of me.

Mum loved her family, her friends, animals, her garden, shopping, Magnum ice cream, and Chuck Norris. I think she’d watched every episode ever made of Walker, Texas Ranger at least a half dozen times! The only thing she really hated was spiders, and the thought of being a burden to anyone. As if that were possible. Those last months I spent with her were amongst the most precious of my life, and I’ll miss her every day, but I’ll be forever grateful for having this very special lady as my mum.

Rest in peace, Mum, and I hope heaven has a really huge TV.

The strange ‘in-between’

Firstly, I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas, despite the less than ideal circumstances we all find ourselves in. We had a lovely time, but it was hard not meeting up with family and friends. All I can say is, thank heaven for Zoom!

This year, the ‘in-between’ week from Christmas to New Year is a strange one. The normal things that happen during this period aren’t taking place. Here in the UK we are basically in lockdown. So there has been no trips to the post-Christmas sales; no outings to the cinema; no festive evenings with friends… There’s a kind of stillness in the air, a flatness in the the lead up to New Year. It’s as if the world is holding its breath in the hope that better things are coming.

This week always finds me in a reflective mood (I suppose it’s the same for most of us). I think about the year that’s rapidly coming to an end and take time to look back on the good things… what went well, what goals I managed to achieve, etc. Also, the things that didn’t go so well, the goals I didn’t achieve, and the things that didn’t get done. I tend not to dwell too much on the later, except to resolve to do better in the future.

While I’m extremely grateful that my loved ones have come through the year and have remained virus-free, there has been one major family health challenge that came out of the blue and has left me reflecting on the fragility of life. It has certainly put things back into perspective, making me realise that my distinct lack of writing focus in 2020 (caused by major procrastination issues – no excuse) is really, in the bigger scheme of things, not that important. I failed big-time in meeting the goals I set, but there’s always next year.

But regardless of meeting goals or not, it’s always a good idea to set them. It is our goals that can help keep us rooted when life is especially challenging. They push us forward into the great unknown where all kinds of possibilities exist. I’m reminded of the wonderful Desiderata with its instruction to “keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

As the New Year approaches, I wish you everything that you wish for yourself. Stay safe, my friends. We’re getting there!

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A Song For The Ages

I remember the first time I saw Elvis Presley perform.   It was on the Ed Sullivan show. I was major impressed. I was watching it with my parents and my dad was anything but impressed or at least not the same … Continue reading

Ode to Zack

Cars… I’m notorious for keeping mine until it gives up the ghost and the truck comes to tow it away. I purchased my little Toyota in 2005 and named him Zack. He has been the best car. Okay, he grumbles on occasions, his brakes are not the quietest, and my passengers are basically horizontal thanks to the dodgy mechanism on the passenger seat. And he has more knocks and scratches than I can count. But never once has he let me down, and we’ve travelled some miles together over the years, I can tell you.

Zack has suffered my rants, my woeful singing as I joined in with Bruce Springsteen’s anthems, he’s learned some pretty colourful language during those times when I encountered less than mindful drivers, and he’s listened to me rabbiting on about plot points and characters who refuse to do what I want them to do. He’s heard all about my worries, and my hopes and dreams.

Sadly it’s now time to say goodbye to my trusty four-wheeled friend. I’m needing to do quite a lot of long-distance travel and AJ was worried about the toll on old Zack. Oh my, it was hard letting him go, but I know it’s for the best and I already LOVE my new four-wheeled baby. Not that I didn’t initially put up a fight and voice all kind of objections: he’s easy to park, he’s SO reliable, he nips in and out of traffic like a little mechanical ninja. But eventually, my head won out over my heart.

So it was with a heavy, but grateful heart that I bid farewell to my trusty steed. All that’s left for me to do is thank him for all those incredible years of safe and reliable driving, wish him well, and bid Godspeed to those who are lucky enough to travel with him in the future.

How about you? Do you get attached to your cars? Do you find it hard to let them go? I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this. It would help to know there are other crazy car lovers out there.

Moving Day

Are you are sitting comfortably, as I’d like to tell you a story. A true one.

Once upon a time there existed a village called Charlton nestled on the edge of the county of Gloucestershire, England. Surrounded by farmland, there were some large houses, a pub, post office, and several small cottages clustered around a village pond. Through modern eyes, it might seem idyllic but life then was simple, but harsh especially in winter as cottages were small, two-bedroomed buildings with no hot running water. Each had a kitchen and a small living room but there was no bathroom and the toilet was outside at the end of the garden.

Charlton was close to what was then the largest factory in Europe (later to become part of Rolls Royce) which designed and built aircraft, including engines and spare parts. Due to its manufacturing importance and its runway, it was a prime target during WW2. Thankfully the village survived the bombings, however, after the war, a compulsory purchase order was issued by the air ministry who wanted to extend the runway to accommodate take-off and landing requirements of a new aircraft, the Bristol Brabazon, and to build what would be the largest hanger in the world to house this experimental plane. The village was demolished, the government rehousing all the residents in brand-new houses in a larger town close by, thus keeping most of the community together.

In 1947, Vera and Albert and their two sons became the first family from Charlton to move into the new semi-detached homes, the national press on hand to record the event. With three bedrooms, a kitchen with storage cupboards plus larder, an anthracite boiler in the corner for hot water, a dining room, a living room with a large open fireplace, and joy-of-joys an indoor toilet, and an even bigger joy, a bathroom with a sink and airing cupboard with an immersion heater, Vera felt like she had won the football pools. Outside was a shed with a coal store and another toilet attached to the house, all surrounded by a large garden in which to grow vegetables and flowers. Some nine months later another son was born – a celebration of the new house Vera would proudly boast.

Reader, 30 years later I married that new son, and a month after, moved into that house to look after my terminally ill mother-in-law. It is where we still live. Whilst for Vera the house was wonderful, for me it was not. The kitchen was cluttered, small, had only one electric socket sited under the wooden draining board by the sink. The boiler created constant battles with soot and ash, as did the fire in the living room. There was only one electric socket in each room, nor was there any central heating. I truly hated the house but put up with it all.

Over time and the years we have altered and changed the house to the extent Vera would never recognise it or the gardens, and slowly I have come to like it. We are happy here. And we’re still improving and changing things. Whilst the majority of it is now as we want, the kitchen is desperately in need of updating again, but a chance situation last week changed that, putting its refurbishment on the back burner once more. Instead, we had a new drive laid. The old concrete one we installed some 30 years back was cracked in several places and breaking up and was always frankly too narrow. Laid within a day and a half, we are delighted with the result. Dave still parks right on the edge, still steps onto the grass to get out of the car, but he’ll learn soon enough. And I’m in no hurry for the new kitchen. It’ll come in time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story and trust I haven’t bored you with it. Oh, and the photograph of Moving Day? That’s Vera alongside her father who helped that day and the little boy is my brother-in-law, Bev. Funny thing with Bev too – his wife has the same name as me. Often causes confusion!

 

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Beyond 2020

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September is almost at an end and we are entering the last quarter of 2020.  It’s been quite a year. One we know doubt will be talking about in the years to come. It makes me think about life and … Continue reading