scribbles tagged ‘Bros 1962’

Amongst the jolly chatter

Thursday, May 5th, 2016 | tags: , , , , ,  |

That night in the Turkish bar Mumzie made some witty quip that reminded me of how clever and entertaining she can be in the most unexpected way. Impulsively, I leant over, hugged her, and gently kissed her neck. She whispered

That’s what I miss

I knew she meant dad. We had barely talked of him. At that time, 6 months after his passing, I hadn’t even seen her cry. Not even at the funeral. I was amazed by her stoicism. I’d burst out in floods of tears as soon as I saw the coffin and couldn’t stop until it disappeared from view. Some people were disturbed by mum”s lack of emotive expression, some thought it meant she didn’t care. I didn’t think that. We talked of practical things, of all the bureaucracy, furniture shifting, and belongings sorting that follows a death. We worked our grief through engaging with things and doing.

American Swedish InstituteHere, in Minneapolis, almost a year to the day after his death, I first saw her cry. Mum had accompanied me on a trip here to help me choose a place to live. We visited museums, historic buildings, art galleries and the American Swedish Institute (ASI). In the ASI we looked at traditional Swedish glassware, stoves, decorations, weaving. It was beautiful and very reminiscent of things in my parents home. As we walked into one room mum whispered ‘your dad would have loved this’. She was right, I could see his happy face and hear him telling us stories about his childhood in Sweden as an evacuee during WW2. I gave us a big hug. She knew why I’d wanted to come to the ASI. He’s part of me, I seek happiness in the things that made him happy. Mum and I share memories of dad’s being in a way that cannot be spoken. I think we miss him in a similar way, though I’m more prone to talking, writing, about it.

Recently, during a skype call, mumzie enthusiastically described her first trip to the Lake District. It sounded marvellous, snow capped mountain hikes (she’s 79!), lakes, windy roads, old trains, and then she mentioned the mill. An old mill “Your dad would have loved it”. This time without tears, and I smiled. I visited a Mill here in Minnesota recently and thought exactly the same thing. He’s with us on all our adventures, in spirit. Then mum started talking about the Russian formula 1 race that was on her TV. She described how it’s not as much fun to watch when she doesn’t have someone who cares more about it to share watching it with.

I know what you mean” the words sounded weak to convey the depth of understanding. So many experiences loose their ‘edge’ when the partner you’d shared them with, enjoyed them with, even enjoyed them because of that partner, is no longer there. So many everyday things that I once engaged-in with agust,  have faded from fun things to enjoyable things. As if the loss of a loved one throws a permanent damp blanket on one’s capacity to fully engage with those things.

Loss seeps through the jolly chatter of everyday things

Amongst the jolly chatter
5 votes rating 4.4

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come to my shed and see

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Where the small-scale action happens5 years ago Bros 62 was earning big-bucks working in the marketing department of a USA cell-phone hardware component provider. He called himself an “Applications Engineer“, never really comfortable with the marketing side, what he liked to do was talk about what the electronics could achieve, how they could be used ingeniously by the purchasers. From his employers perspective that was marketing.

In 2007 Bros 62 gave it all up, downsized his home, his neighbourhood and trained to be a “Technology and Design” teacher at a state run high school. As a teacher he started making things like he used to make things as a teenager. By 2010 a workbench and numerous plastic drawers to started to fill the garage. Bros 62 looked happier, spoke faster and with more varied intonation.

Now, Bros 62 has handed in his notice of resignation. He is setting up his own business as a Luthier, something he’s been doing as a hobby. Now he’ll be able to do what he loves all day, and probably most of the night. He’ll be able to do it when he wants, probably most of the time. He should earn enough to live without significant debt now that his daughters have both left home.

I was greeted at the door by Bros 62 with a handful of copper wire:

Fine thread copper wire used in pick-upsThis is the wire they use to make the coils in pick-ups, isn’t it amazing, look how thin that is and it’s all coated in a glazing to make-sure the electricity flows round the coils. I’ve got lots of it, I’m hand coiling pickups, come to my shed and see

I followed His-puppiness to the shed. First I was shown the device he’s made for hand coiling the copper to put in the pickups. A device to hand coil. LOL! It counts the number of rotations (coils) as the user hand-feeds the copper wire onto the rotating thingy. I ask:

“Have you seen how the bobbin loader works on a sewing machine?”

Yes, some people adapt sewing machines to make pickup coils

There’s virtually no time for me to ask him clarifying questions, he’s got so much to show and tell me, and my camera keeps getting in the way…

hand made device for handcoiling coiling pick-upsI swear he opened nearly everyone of those plastic drawers to show me the contents.

Deconstructed guitars are strewn across the Shed floor and even on the studio mixing desk.  Noticing my eyeline he muses to himself

I need to work out a storage system for work in progress

I suspect that the next move will be to bring the workshop into the house – repurpose one of his daughters old bedrooms for the business.


come to my shed and see
3 votes rating 4.7

6 bits of fabulous banter »

House family watch THE boat race

Thursday, April 4th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

After Dinner CoffeeEaster Sunday, sated on a tender lamb roast with the trimmings including a cheeky little mint sauce. We indulge in a favoured family tradition, settling down to watch the Boat race. We all support Oxford for reasons long since lost in the Ethernet. Mum suspects it’s because they used to loose a lot when she was a gal and we should support the underdog.

Coffee PercolatorThe ‘House’ style for watching THE boat race is diverse. I was the only person who did it with open eyes despite the thick, percolated, coffee supplied by mumsie from one of her 20 or so prized percolators. I’ll call her  ‘Grandmum’ because we are in the presence of her grandchildren.

Father and daughter watch boat raceBros 62 assumes the horizontal position for viewing enhancement. Pointing his beard between his distant toes.

Niece 92 ensures the blood-flow to her head by placing her legs on the footstool mumsie has procured for her comfort.  At first I though that niece 92 forgot to put a skirt on over her pantyhose when she left home this morning. Apparently this is a style feature.  She is proud of consecutive years of not wearing shorts or a skirt to keep her bum warm. She’s receiving as-it-happens updates from her friends though her much-prized iphone. She’s a tall and creative genius who demonstrates it in many pleasing ways.

Sleeping over Maths A level revisionNiece 94 is multitasking, she’s a formal thinking high-flyer.  Revising for her maths A level while watching the boat race, drinking evil coffee and possibly simulating sleep. What is she doing under that hair? A woman of infinite mystery at just 17.

Watching the boat raceWhile sister-in-law has resisted the black attire favoured by her hubby and daughters, she can’t resist the sleep inducing effect of grandmum’s classic 1960’s Parker Knoll rocker.

Synchronised snoring with the cats

Normality temporarily resumed

House family watch THE boat race
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wearing dad’s jumper

Friday, June 29th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Mumsie: what would you like us to get you for your 18th Birthday present?

Wendy: A motorbike

Mumsie: No

Wendy: I’ll save to buy the protective clothing – Helmet, jacket, trousers, boots

Mumsie: No, nothing electrical for your 18th

Wendy: The Gibson Les Paul you got Bros 62 is an electric guitar

Mumsie: That’s different

Wendy: What if I buy the bike and you can give me a full set of leather gear and a helmet for my 18th?

Mumsie: No

Wendy: Why not?

Mumsie: No clothes for your 18th

Wendy: What can I have?

Mumsie: I thought a nice Diamond and Topaz ring

Wendy: If that’s what I’m allowed, I’ll take it… … can I pawn it for money towards a motorcycle?

Honda CB100N

Mum and Dad rarely rowed. Later that year they rowed about my getting a motorbike. Dad sided with me, placating mumsie with a promise to make sure that I looked after the bike properly. The morning before Dad took this photograph he carried a comfy chair into the garage while I laid out the large tent groundsheet on the garage floor between my bike and his comfy chair. Dad opened the Haynes manual.

Gradually I deconstructed the engine and lay each piece out in neat chronological order on the groundsheet. When the engine was in pieces we took a break to clean up and eat Sunday lunch.  Then, slowly, peace by piece, I rebuilt the engine. When I got confused, Dad showed me the relevant Haynes manual picture and pushed me to make a decision. He helped listen to the sound quality when adjusting the timer.

I felt so proud of myself once I’d finished.  Dad let me wear my favourite of his jumpers for this celebratory photograph.

The bike lasted just over a year before I sold it on for a profit.

My diamond and topaz ring, worn less than 6 times in 30 years,  reminds me that mum and dad love me and the responsibility and freedom of motorcycling…



wearing dad’s jumper
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the ‘H’ word

Friday, October 21st, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

After each conversational turn he leant forward and touched my knee. I tried not to flinch at this intrusive, well-meant gesture. My coat still buttoned, legs and arms crossed against the cold of the unheated large Victorian parlour. Words like ‘hysterectomy’ conjur up strong images of knives and blood. To say that I flinched at the word would be an understatement. I fired the phrase NO INVASIVE SURGERY. My words ricochet around the uncarpetted consultation room. Not that the doctor was suggesting a hysterectomy, no,no, no, just raising my awareness of possibilities… …decisions come after a more thorough diagnosis. Diagnosis based on scans and tests conducted with grandly named ugly equipment referred to by, hopefully, obscure acronyms

My overreaction noted, he adjusted his conversational tone to include flattering my ego and being concerned. A good strategy for dealing with me

..there has to be a reason why and intelligent, mature woman like you….

He cited the evidence of my non-conformity to NHS quota filling activities. I felt like a school child being told-off for not having done their homework. It’s not a feeling I’m used to, I’m normally very keen to get my homwork done on time and to a a high standard. The last time I’d talked about this was 7 years ago, to my brother. His immediate reaction had been ‘cut it out!’. I was stunned at his eagreness to have me chopped-up when there wasn’t a convincing need for it. Surgery was just one option. I made a mental note – never delegate decisions about my health to my brother. Seven years ago, the USA health insurance paid-for doctor agreed the best way forward was my preferred choice of “lets wait and see“. Procrastination doesn’t come easily to me… except in this case… ….another new experience…

Now we’re having the “see” part, after 7 years of the “wait” part. I suspect the original doctor wouldn’t approve of a 7 year wait. But in all fairness to me, we hadn’t specified a time frame. I’m hoping the outcome will not be surgery and trying desperately not to overreact

Generally I’m failing



the ‘H’ word
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garage banned

Monday, September 13th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Talking Heads sang Electric Guitar

Come and look at my garage,  look at my workbench and tools

My brother proudly shows me his work bench, chisel sets and other thoughtfully organised tools.  He’s recently cleared a space in the garage so he can make things. He’s always liked making things.  This hobby was temporarily interrupted by having a job selling electronic stuff in Asian countries to make big money.  Now he’s changed jobs, downgraded his income in favour of having time to do stuff he loves. On a budget.

This is my first guitar, it’s English Oak, its not common to use Oak to make Guitars, it is a bit heavy

I’m now in full audience mode. Something my father and brother have taught me to do well.  I’m mainly here to make appreciative noises and ask questions that help them tell their stories. I like the role, its fun to watch people talk about the things they love, dad and his Pylons, Bros and his making things.

English Oak Electric Guitar    English Oak Electric Guitar   Guitar at christmas   some guitars above a gutted pianola

This is the first Guitar he’s made from scratch.  He looked less happy when he realised he wouldn’t be able to make a living by making guitars because it was so time consuming. I remember the first (Bass) guitar he renovated in his teens and sold for a profit over the purchase price and materials. Not profit on the labour.

His home has always been full of guitars he’s bought, renovated or upgraded.  His garden shed is a production studio for local bands, often full of people playing his instruments.

Drum KitThe environmental health are investigating him,

the shed,

for noise pollution….  …my Brother may get an ASBO….

garage banned
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Bros evaluates ex-boyfriend

Monday, July 14th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

Bros:   he was alright except for the lists

Wendy:   the lists?

Bros:   Yes,    the lists,   you remember how he would make lists all the time for even trivial things?

Wendy:   errr,   yes,   of course,   the lists

It appears that my brother has not yet noticed my pocket-size book of lists that has travelled all over the world (and Reading) with me.  Nor has he recognised the intrinsic Wendy-appeal of someone that blazenly employs lists in public.

Bros evaluates ex-boyfriend
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Friday, June 27th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

climbs trees with a nylon sleeping bag for a sleep-out party with his friend

puts his bum against the open window of the car so that his silent but deadly fart doesn’t disturb the other car occupants then giggles incessantly for 20 miles

chops off his fingertip with an axe then runs around shaking his hand to increase the polkadot patterning on mums walls

makes a multi-level gerbil cage out of an old sideboard

sings into a microphone strapped to a standard lamp,   without removing the lampshade

writes the name of the girl that he loves on the inside flap of his school canvas haversack in different pens,   fonts and colours

ramps up the volume on the house stereo and arranges an echo, closes the window blinds,   peeks through  then whispers in high volume ‘this is the voice of god’ when he sees a schoolchild in uniform walking by outside

earnestly says ‘you’ve failed?   how did that happen,   you’re the clever one’

Takes me into a record shop and says,   you can have any record you want,   its on me.   I pick the first Album he ever bought ‘Ride a White Swan’ by T.Rex

Persuades a friend to drive him to the warehouse 2hrs away where I’m holding my 21st birthday shindig,   Gives me 6 marbles and waits for me to be disappointed,   then gives me  a hipflask full of Napoleon Brandy saying ‘I was going to have it engraved with to my wonderful sister,   but I didn’t’,   stays at the warehouse when his friend decides to drive back before midnight

Says of his visits to me at university  ‘I wish my time at University had been as good as this’

Calls his first cat ‘f*ck-off’ because the cat followed him back from a superstore and he didn’t want it to,   then takes the cat everywhere in his Trenchcoat pocket and renames her Hoagie after Hoagie Carmichael

Drives a soft-top MG Midget despite his head creating a big upward dent in the roof because he’s 6ft4

 corrects my pronunciation

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pronunciation police

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

During a conversation about films  that are substantially at variance with the books that provided their original  title and approximate plot and characters:  

Wendy:   W’thering Heights

Bros:   WUH,   Wuh-thering Heights

Wendy: yes,   that’s what I said W’thering Heights

Bros:   Wendy,   Wuh-thering has a U in it

niece & her friend: (snigger,   sniggger,   snigger,   hiding mouths behind hands and flashing smiles at each other and checking to see if we ‘adults’ notice)

Bros:   (shakes his head and tuts)

 Wendy:   (decides not to mention that Bros appears to  have  failed to count the double-u)

pronunciation police
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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Wendy:   I accidentally pulled the bathroom light fitting on the ceiling,     today I picked up a newer sealed light fitting.

Dad:   Do you want me to bring me tools?

Wendy:   Not really,   [brothers’ name]’s  coming round with his tools,  advice,   and innovative home-improvement books on Wednesday.   I’d rather he climbed the ladder than you or I.

Dad: Yes, I do get a bit dizzy when my feet leave the ground.

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Visiting time at the BRI, 1968

Saturday, June 9th, 2007 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Mumsie packed older brother (9yrs) and I  (5yrs) on a public bus for a 40min bus ride to the Marlborough St. City centre bus terminal.  

Exciting.   Adventure.   Upstairs on a double-decker bus without any adults.   Going to the big city.   Bother held my hand as we left the bus.   We walked up the hill towards the   Bristol Royal Infirmary.  I knew the way because I came on the Bus with Mumsie every Thursday when she came to the city to shop.  

Crossing the road,   very scary.   Mumzie always held my hand,  checked for traffic.   I didn’t know how to cross the road.   I still find it particularly tricky.   I held my brothers hand tightly, walked fast and close to him as we crossed the road.   Once in the hospital I had no idea where to go.    My brother read the signs and found my other brother (6yrs) in the childrens ward,    who promptly started crying.  

What a wuss.   Here in this interesting big hospital with lots of fabulous toys and other children to play with and all he does is sit in bed  crying!   I wandered off to play with the other children and big toys.     One of the children  was bald.    Some wacky children in here.   Then dad turned up and we left crying brother in the hospital,   crying even more now.   We rode  home in Dads pale blue Ford Corsair car.    I was allowed to  sit in the front seat because Mumzie wasn’t  there.  

All in all   a fabulous adventure.

Visiting time at the BRI, 1968
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Je tu deteste

Sunday, March 25th, 2007 | tags: , , , ,  |

Niece (teenage):   “I HATE YOU

Bros: “do you know how to say that in French?”

Niece: “Je tu deteste”

Bros: “shouldn’t that be Je  vous deteste?”

Neice: “NO, you are tu and I hate you”

By this stage I’ve fallen off my chair giggling and started dribbling tea on my woolly jumper (It was cold in England).   During my 4 day stay I managed to avoid my niece’s wrath without ducking or walking into any nearby walls.

Je tu deteste
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three leftys on the lawn, sinister

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

three leftys on the lawn, sinister!

  • Hear no evil. Partially obscure vision for good measure

  • Speak no evil. Put a thumb in it

  • Let me at it.   No frill-laden panties will stop me  enjoying Halloween,   I can still crawl…

Poem inspired by  Halloween,   or Harlow-in as the US locals say,  and an old family photograph,   can you spot the wendy?

the bros and I (flick-r photo sharing)

three leftys on the lawn, sinister
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unfinished read #1

Saturday, September 16th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

A poetry book, like a dictionary, is a book I never finish reading.   Unlike dictionaries I will voraciously read all the words in a poetry book  cover-to-cover upon first discovering them.   Obviously this is after having removed my stickly little digits from the tea mug.    Both are reference books,   pulled from the shelf again and again.  

The dictionary gets pulled when I’m unsure of a word’s meaning,   range of meanings,   origins,   relationship to other words.    Assured of  discovery, my question promptly answered.  Inevitably a rewarding experience,   how can anyone fail to fall in love with dictionaries?   I’m very loyal to my one paper dictionary, it cannot be replaced.    The  Collin’s Concise (1983) was  a present from an elder brother.   When I look at its faded binding  I see my 21 year old brother standing  at the top of Park Street outside Georges with a white plastic bag in his hand held out towards me saying

you’re leaving home?   You’ll need your own dictionary“.  

A very different experience from pulling one of the several poetry books from the shelf, floor, table, chair, cooker, mantle, washing-machine.    The favoured  books are scattered around the Wendy House where they afford the opportunity of unpremeditated rediscovery in a moment of undirected reading.   Picking up a book,   flicking through the pages to a title that catches some thought  and reading that poem.     One book purchased in a tizzy in 1989 insists on falling open to specific pages,   poems I found powerful in the early 1990s.  I have to fight against its insistence on taking me to specific emotional places.  

Poetry book use  is  not all so sporadic.  There are specific places I’ll go  when I’m happy,   because I’m sad,   or I want to find the words that describe what it is that I’m feeling because I just don’t know.   They are often there,   wrapped in the ambiguities and soothing rythms, but one can never be sure of Dictionary-like success.  

With that thought I’ll return to the vacuuming

unfinished read #1
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