scribbles tagged ‘family’

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

what do you think of that »

Time to stop

Friday, October 2nd, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Tissot watchDad’s watch stopped again.

It was a bit flaky during Dad’s life. I invested in an overhaul, with a 20year guarantee, from a UK watch specialist. It went back a couple of times while I was in the UK. The watch specialist definitely worked for their guarantee.

Now I’m in the USA and the watch has shifted from ‘flaky’ to dead. It’s stopped. It stopped last night. I was annoyed. It’s Dad’s watch. I love the look and feel of it, I love what it represents. But a watch that doesn’t work is too sad to wear. I wrote mum a short email and sadly said that I was giving up on the watch and that my previous watch hung limply around my wrist, I’ve lost weight since arriving in the USA.

A few hours later my brother contacted me to let me know that Mum’s favourite brother had died that night.

When it’s time to stop. Time stops.



what do you think of that »


Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dad and I, spring of 1990. Mum and dad had come to visit me while I was studying for a PhD.

Mumzie took the photo. It captures a lot of us both and our relationship. Our profiles are very similar, though dad had these wonderfully entertaining wild, overgrown eyebrows that luckily I haven’t inherited.

Dad and I in 1990

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UK house sale contracts exchanged

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

The average time to sell a house on the UK is currently about 6 months.

July 22nd my house went on the market. Today we exchanged contracts, the sale is finally legally binding. We’ve set the sale completion date at 29th November. 4 months. It’s fast and everything went smoothly, if seemingly slowly, to me as someone who’s bought and sold houses in America in about 30 days. I love the USA system. I’m looking forward to buying there once I’ve transferred the money. It took me 3 months to buy this UK Wendy house. Very fast by UK standards, frustratingly slow to me. I don’t want to go through the UK house purchase or selling process again. I will, when mum dies unless she moves to a retirement property beforehand which is not something I’m pushing for, though my brother is.

Now, I’m out of the country for several weeks on work, come back the night before the removal people arrive to pack, then leave the day after the house sale. November looks hectic and I’m quite looking forward to it!

I’m going to try and fly mum out to go house hunting with me. A mothers eye is always entertaining and she does notice things that I don’t. Sometimes the things she notices are not important to me, but often they are valuable insights. Mum loves shopping, especially when it’s free to her. Mum also wants to be confident that I’ll be happy. I want to give her that confidence and I love that she’s always used my happiness as her yard-stick. Her emphasis on my getting a good education was so that I’d be able to support myself, to be happy, to avoid ‘struggling’. Everything she’s strived for in raising me can ultimately be traced to her beliefs on what would enable me to have a happy life. Fabulous.

I left the USA to spend high quality time with mum and dad in their latter years. To avoid regrets about not having shared special times with them. I’ve been lucky, it worked. Dad’s now dead, I now have a really high quality relationship with my mother that will work across the continents. Phone calls, Facebook, Skype….  we’re closer now, being apart physically will mean much less than it did at the turn of the millennium.

I left the USA on November 24th 2007, thanksgiving week. I’ll be returning to the USA at the end of Thanksgiving week 2014. The emotional symmetry is pleasing.

1 wonderful musing »

too geeky to communicate effectively

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

This summer

Wendy: my cousin teaches gender studies at [name] University

Sister-in-law: gender studies? I don’t understand, what’s that?

Wendy: Sex is the biological determination lf you as a Female or Male. Gender is the social construction of behavioural expectations for people who are classified as Female or Male

Sister-in-law: what? I don’t understand, women are women

Her world view is so well defined and ingrained within her role as a woman that I decided to give up at this point. My brother is a classic white male pseudo liberal dude and she is a home building wife who puts much effort into conforming to prevailing stereotypes of girliness. She is extremely accomplished at this.

This autumn

Wendy: my cousin teaches gender studies at [name] University

Niece 1992: gender studies? I don’t understand, what’s that?

Wendy: Normally there are two genders on any form that you fill in, girl or boy, but real people identify with a really wide range of genders, it’s not a neat dichotomy. What if I’m a girl who likes to dress like a man because I feel it suits who I am. Am I a girl or a boy at a social level? Why do we even have to define a specific position. Facebook in the USA provides 51 different gender options. We are all different. Our sex is a biological determinant, our gender is how we, feel and express our identity.

Niece 1992: 51 genders, that’s just silly

Wendy: Yes, we should be people with no need to identify as a specific gender. Our sex may be relevant for things like medical treatments, but a gender assignment is often unnecessary and irrelevant, leads to discrimination and all sorts of unnecessary nastiness particularly for anyone who isn’t a heterosexual white boy.

Niece 1992: 51 genders, that’s just silly

Gosh. Failed to communicate.

As a fairly radical feminist this familial  lack of awareness of the meaning and hence value of understanding systematic discrimination of non conformity to socially constructed definitions of gender is quite overwhelming.

On the other hand, my cousins totally ROCK! Their father died before they reached puberty, which may not be significant. My brothers views are classic white male patriarchy.


1 wonderful musing »

estimating the odds

Monday, June 30th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Seattle, 2006, I’m 43. A weekend phone call home. Dad always triages the phone calls. One phone is next to his computer. He doesn’t chat, but I’m prepared with a question primed by my annual medical check-up

“Dad, how old was mum when she started the menopause?”

“56 and we’re still suffering!” She was 66 at the time

I was still giggling when mum picked up the extension line…

1 wonderful musing »

time pieces

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Rotary Watch

Tissot watchThe watch I wear has a fixed-length strap. The watch tells me the time and fluctuations in my size.  Since starting my new job in July 2013, I’ve lost weight. The watch used to be a tight fit, now it swivels around my wrist and slides over the nobbly bit of bone at the base of my humerus

In my previous job I’d gradually grown pudgy and the watch had tightened on my wrist. It didn’t move, the strap left pink patterns indented on my skin at the end lf the day

Dad left two watches when he died. One, a beautiful Longines watch that mumsie had secretly saved for from her meagre housekeeping budget, a birthday surprise for dad. The second an almost identical visual design, a Tissot, that he wore on a daily basis. It’s a little scratched, battered. I remember it and can see it on his wrists in photographs

When I was a child mumsie gave me  t-shirt with the word “Tissot” on it. I didn’t know what it meant, but the word was on the fast cars in the formula 1 racing that we watched on the TV every weekend. It was an adult size t-shirt, much to big for my gangly teenage body, I wore that t-shirt to school, proudly. It meant nothing to my friends. To me it was a present from mum, something special to her and dad

After dad passed, Mum gave the Tissot watch to me. I love that watch way beyond it’s aesthetic or monetary value. I get very attached to things

6 months after dad’s death and I’m no longer spontaneously crying. I wonder about mum…



1 wonderful musing »

Buying a computer in John Lewis’s

Monday, February 10th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

We wandered around the computer displays.

Wendy: which one do you like mum?

Mumsie: I can only choose based on how they look dear

Wendy: They’ll all work for what we want them to do, so that’s an ok way to choose

Mumsie: This one has a big space-bar, I want a big space bar. Why is that one [an Apple] so expensive?

Wendy: It’s for people who like showing off that they can pay a lot for their computer, I can’t help you with using that one, I can help you using with all the others.

The large store was very busy in January. We asked for an assistant and were put in a notional queue, we browsed while we waited for an assistant.

Assistant: How can I help you?

Mumsie: I don’t know, we want a computer with a keyboard

Wendy: Mumsie wants to do emailing, share her digital pictures, use Facebook and write the WI minutes. And I don’t want to push her into getting anything she doesn’t feel comfortable with

Mumsie: Oh, is that what we want?!

Assistant: You want a Surface RT, it comes with Microsoft Office installed for writing your minutes

Mumsie: Wendy, is that the ‘Word’ thing that I use? I just copy last month’s minutes and make small changes each month

Wendy: Yes mumsie [turns to assistant] Do any of the others have a version of word installed, and how much would it cost to add Word [annoyed because my surface pro didn’t come with any version of Office, just the option to purchase the full version]?

Assistant: Only the surface comes with Office installed, it is a reduced version but should be sufficient for your Mum’s needs. You’d have to buy and install it on other Windows8 machines

He started talking about Bluetooth and other technical features at this point and I could see mumsie getting disengaged.

Wendy: can mum have a go with it?

He took us to see three Surfaces, each with a different coloured keyboard. Mumsie really liked the keyboard because it had a decent space-bar, but mostly because it was backlit so the letters on the keys were really easy to see. We bought the surface because the value for money and enabling mum to keep using word was important.  Then on with the shopping, we wandered off to look at the winter coats. Mumsie carried the surface easily around the store as we continued browsing. Nice. It was like buying a computer had become just another thing you buy on a shopping trip. A bit scary for mum, but it was my money so it all went smoothly. The package even fitted under the table in John Lewis’s café as we stopped to treat ourselves to coffee and cheesecake. Mum doesn’t use a walking stick, but if she did she would have been able to carry the surface easily around John Lewis’s. Well done.

I was a bit scared about how right the Surface RT would be for her, I would soon find out, but that’s another blog post…

5 bits of fabulous banter »

getting the best computer buying experience

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

We want to buy a senior, computer-novice (Mumzie) something for emailing, sharing digital photographs, writing the Women Insitute meeting minutes and looking at her family on Facebook.

What’s our shopping experience going to be like?

Online buying?

To prepare I did some online searches. Would I be able to sit with mum using my surface, look through and decide between different available computers. No. The choice was overwhelming, the marketing was invariably lists of product features and Spec’s which would mean nothing to mum. There was a lot of reading required, small fonts, technical reviews. It was tedious for me and I could follow what they were writing about.

There was no way mum could choose a computer on the internet, even with me navigating and advising here.


Specialist technical shop?

I wandered into PC World (Currys) to check out what the experience would be like for mum. I wandered around the laptop displays, looked at the labels for each laptop. It wasn’t easy to choose between them even when you know a little bit about processors. A customer service person approached me and directed me towards a Surface Pro telling me how good it was. I started asking him questions and he not only didn’t know the answers he gave me the wrong answers e.g. you can’t buy a Surface Pro without a keyboard attached (which I’d done, so you can!). He was rude and condescending, he started arguments with me and didn’t let me draw them to a close.  It was so frustrating that I ended up just walking off, there was no other way to get out of the conversation because he wouldn’t let it close and he wasn’t being helpful.

The company lost a potential sale because of his attitude. No way was I taking mumzie into this ignorant geeky tat-palace.


Shop specialising in service?

John Lewis’s have a department that includes computers, cameras and peripherals. The layout was similar to PC World, the staff were more stylishly dressed and so much more polite. They listened to me, they found out that I was looking for a computer for my mother. They answered my questions or said when they didn’t know and offered to find out for me. Thank you!

The store has a café with a decent menu, the store sells furniture and clothes, and kitchen stuff. Plenty of fun to be had here above and beyond the computer buying experience. A really good context. Hooray.

Mum’s coming to John Lewis with me for a friendly, well rounded, comfortable and possibly even fun computer shopping experience…


5 bits of fabulous banter »

a House trip to the Ukraine

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Mum and dad had booked a holiday cruise through the Ukraine this summer. Unfortunately dad can’t go (dead). Mum liked the idea of my taking Dad’s place.

The internet is full of news about the rioting in Kiev. Police throwing Molotov cocktails at people protesting their lack of a right to protest.  Two too-cute-to-harass elderly ladies should sneak past easily when chaperoned by professional tour guides. Mum says “we might not get to go into some buildings dear, if they’re rioting nearby“.

Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula (Odessa, Yalta, Sevastopol)…. wonderful and rather more exciting than my normal vacations!

2 bits of fabulous banter »


Thursday, January 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Today, at work, in a one-to-one meeting with another woman – she interrupted the meeting to take a personal phone call. Afterwards she explained by saying her father had died in November. This was the first time I just burst into tears in a public, work, situation. She sweetly went on to explain how loosing her father had changed her life. She didn’t cry but commented on how she tended to spontaneously cry.

I told her of how my mother emptying her fridge of the stuffs that she would not eat; things she’d bought because my father liked them, had made a painful impact. Mostly because everything mum wanted to dispose of was something I loved to eat…. it’s these small pragmatic details that bind us and demonstrate the loss in such a concrete way. I enjoy eating. I remember, with

  • Blue cheese
  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Pickled beatroot,  yummy!


1 wonderful musing »

All change at Yorkshire

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Mumsie: I think you’d better read this letter I received with a Christmas card dear, I can’t really explain it. It was a bit of a surprise

She passed me a page of A4 printed letter. The first paragraph thanked mum for her letter, apologised for losing touch over the last decade and talked of how difficult life had been, using vague terms. I assumed this was from one of Dad’s old work colleagues that cared deeply about him and wanted to convey sadness at his recent passing.

The second paragraph explained the ‘difficulty’. This letter was from a woman who had undergone sex change therapy and surgery, now she is a man. Her male partner had also undergone sex change therapy and surgery, he is now a woman. They had changed genders, sexes and swapped names. Living in Yorkshire, they were trying to avoid persecution from ignorance and prejudice. I’m a wee bit surprised, who is this? I skip to the letter’s signature.

Oh, it’s Dad’s half-sister, who I’d encouraged mum to write to, to let her know of his death even though we’d had no returned letters from her last known address for over a decade. Ah yes, a relative. Another one of the colourful House family. Of course, it all made sense. Mum didn’t mind that I laughed.

Wendy: I’ve always thought of myself as being boyish, but happy in who I am, drugs and surgery seem like something people do when they are deeply unhappy with who they are

Mumsie: Dear, you’re not boyish, you’re just the 3rd child with 2 older brothers


what do you think of that »

who are you?

Sunday, December 8th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wake attendee: Are you (mum’s name)’s sister?

Mum’s only sister is more than 40 years older than me, I was a bit thrown by the question and thinking of myself in relation to Dad:

Wendy: I’m (Dad’s name)’s youngest daughter

Wake attendee: But he’s only got one daughter

Wendy: that’s me, youngest and oldest daughter, at the same time

Many of the people at the funeral remembered me, from when I’d baby-sat their kids, or some other event that my memory had filed somewhere too dusty for me to find. Mainly the guests seemed like strangers to me. They enjoyed the PowerPoint slide deck we’d put together illustrating Dad’s different passions, it prompted conversations across club members as the Gloucester Richard the III society started talking the Retired Professional Engineers Club (Bristol) members about history.

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mourning of the funeral

Friday, December 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

Poppy checks funeral detailsDad’s funeral was just right for him. The funeral directors were excellent. A man from the funeral directors in a top hat with a silver-tipped long cane walked in front of the hearse as it approached the crematorium. Something wonderfully reverent, respectful, about this little show. I couldn’t deal with the physical presence of Dad’s body. Being in the same room as the body that no longer hosted the dad I knew was overwhelming. From the moment the hearse pulled out in front of our cortege car I was in full mucus-soaked tears, unable to pull words together.

Despite dearly wanting to say some words at the ceremony, I opted put, unable. I hadn’t anticipated being the blubbiest of the family though I was well prepared with multiple thick white cotton handkerchiefs. Everything went smoothly. The funeral was a very traditional, Christian, event. The archaically expressed Christianity didn’t speak to me, the sentiments and shared respectful kind words were good to hear in the company of so many people who’s lives he’d touched. My brother’s tribute was spot-on, as was Dad’s ex-boss’s.

I didn’t wear a hat (Mum’s request), I didn’t wear black. Mum requested that I wear my new dark-blue tailored suit, she wanted me to look good and talk bout my new job with the guests. Only a couple of people wore hats, they looked good.

I wonder how the funeral process will change over time? Live twitter feeds with hashtags projected on the wall relaying condolences from those who can’t be present? Live camera shot of the coffin moving to the incinerator?

The wake made much more sense than the funeral. It was good for me and I hope for the guests. More emphasis on the wake please.



what do you think of that »

mental autocorrect tantrum

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Bristol back lanewendy: my parents live down a small country lane...

As soon as the phrase ‘parents live’ left my mouth a mental autocorrect screached ‘WRONG! should be – mum lives – mum, mum, just MUM, you don’t have parents now’. I just continued without adjusting my mistake, hoping that I was the only one who noticed this inaccuracy. Mental autocorrect is overreacting slightly.  It should be a bit kinder in it’s correction message, I’m not deaf or stupid, just prone to a comfortable, life-long used reference habit.

I’ve noticed mum using the current tense, talking about ‘we‘ in contexts where ‘I’ would now be more accurate. I hope her mental autocorrect is kinder than mine.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

I’m more aware of your presense now

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Stickers on the back of Dad's carI take out the bins at the Wendy house, I think of dad because he always took out the bins at home, it was his job. Not an activity that prompted this thought during his life.

I go to the local Chinese take-away for some lovely food, I think of Dad because he liked to treat mum to a Chinese take-away meal on Friday night. I smile. Not an activity that prompted this thought during his life.

Goodness, so many things prompt thoughts that affirm who dad was, things he did. I notice the way I stand when I’m listening to a story, I stand like dad. I’d never noticed before. I hear my voice as I laugh and I hear the faint echo of his intonation. I never noticed while he was alive.

I welcome these spontaneously intrusive thoughts, they are beautiful intrusions, it’s as if my mind is trying to let me know how alike we are, how together we’ll always be. It’s saying,

“don’t worry, you have always been together and you always will be. He’s part of you”

The thoughts often arrive when I’m in the company of others. I say nothing and let the thought roll. I suspect my continually adding “My dad used to…..” to conversations would upset and begin to bore the people I’m talking with. With family it’s different, mumsie happily chatters about dad which I find comforting and I happily join in. My brothers are relatively silent on the topic, their silence makes me suspect they are finding the experience more painful than I.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

And now for something completely different

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

10 Jan 1932 – 18 Nov 2013


Dad passed-on quickly on the morning of my first day back at work after 4wks leave. We’d had a good weekend before where I’d shared photographs and stories of my fabulous vacation.  He’d talked proudly of how he’d worked out why his email was working sporadically and how he’d sorted some deals on internet service to make sure it worked. A good weekend.

Mumsie wants to have the Monty Python theme tune accompany the coffin moving into the incinerator. I love mum for her surrealist humour, which dad shared.  The funeral’s going to be a full House production, wonderfully bizarre, I love my family.

5 bits of fabulous banter »

oh my

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 | tags: ,  |

Parents home DiningroomThe ‘ownership’ implied by the word ‘my’ has always fascinated me. People interpret what is meant by ‘my’ in very different ways depending on what is being referred to and other parameters.

Dutch colleague: Where do you live in England?

Wendy: Reading town

Dutch colleague: and your family?

Wendy: No, they live in Bristol (notices the look of shock, or horror, on the Dutch native’s face). My family are mainly my parents

Statistically speaking a girl of my age is likely to have been married at least once and given birth at least once. ‘My family’ has changed in the mind of my peers from primarily being parents and siblings to primarily being partner and children. I’ve been a bit slow to catch-up on this shift because for me my family has remain relatively (pause to appreciate double meaning) static as everyone’s parents and siblings, plus the nieces…..

Statistics are often a poor way to make assumptions about individual cases…..anticipating variance and diversity is rewarding….

1 wonderful musing »

feigning old age is ok for furniture, not people

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wendy: Mum! I’ve found some beautiful old-fashioned style furniture, like Grandma used to have. It’s imitation 1700’s and probably really from around the 1900’s

mumzie: have you looked inside the doors and drawers to see if it’s labelled? There was a good reproduction furniture maker in Nettlebed

Wendy: Nettlebed?! That’s nearby, Sue Ryder have a beautiful big place there

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Thursday, July 25th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

boiler chimney design

Dad’s a ‘Civil Engineer’. Most appropriate noun and moderator. Dad trained as a draftsman, and often found reasons to use his skills at home. Unfortunately he hasn’t kept any of the drawings that, as a child, I remember him making like plans and elevations of the full rigged model sailing ship that he was going to build for us children.

When I asked him about the drawings he scuttled off into his well-stacked study and returned with a small leather bound book about boilers. Almost every-other page was a detailed engineering drawing of a unique boiler design. He showed the drawings to me and commented on the engineering notations that made them easy for him to understand. When he got to this drawing of a brick chimney stack for a boiler I couldn’t resist photographing it. That’s dad’s hand. It doesn’t look like the hand of an 82 year old. He’s aged well and has beautifully shaped nails.

5 bits of fabulous banter »

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.


6 bits of fabulous banter »


Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

OrigamiI was 6yrs when they started dating. I’ve no memory of the widow without him next to her. He would tell an engaging story, fold some paper, do some magic. She enthusiastically edited and annotate his stories. They talked, behaved so smoothly, as if they were one.

8-AlbertMagicThe front door opens as I walk up the garden path. With a smile and short wave of her hand she beckons me in, while she puts on her coat. Piles of papers and boxes of things are neatly arranged around the edges of the very clean lounge. I’ve been wondering what to say to her. What do you say to recently bereaved people? She places a photograph album on my lap. Her step-children made the album for her from photographs they printed to the wall at the wake. Her coat is nowhere to be seen as she talks me through the photographs, boxes and piles of paper. The photographs are all of her husband, she’s in almost everyone, his smiling shadow.

Her conversation flows easily and is fascinating. It’s easy to listen to her, asking a few questions. She seems to be pouring out all the stories that have built up in the new found silences of living alone. Her conversation is mostly on topics that have arisen because of his death, practical things like dealing with finances, probate, the single-person supplements charged when you’re planning a cruise holiday for one, and learning how to cooking for one. She says ‘as you know’ whenever she talks of being single, talking to me rather than at me. She comments in passing on the difficult emotions;  not being ready to box or clear-out his things, trying to help with her step-daughter’s persistent crying, depression.

The days are alright. The sun is out and I’ve plenty to do. He would be on the computer all day, so we didn’t spend them together anyway. It’s the evenings that are difficult, when it’s dark. We spent our evenings together.

I pretend that he’s at a (Masons) lodge meeting, he often went out for them, so that helps.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

mobile ecosystems

Sunday, May 12th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

ParkedBros 57 laughed. Thomas rocked.

wendy: wassup bro?

Bros 57: you’ve got cobwebs, in your CAR. Spiders living in your car!  (LOUD LAUGHTER)

wendy: oh yes, and I wind the windows down to attract flies so the spiders don’t starve to death.

I love that Bros 57 is amused, rather than squeemished, by cobwebs in my car. I think they give Thomas a really homey feeling.

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turning laughter levels down

Monday, May 6th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

I have a rather loud laugh.

It’s a house family trait. My laugh is demure compared to my brothers. Bros 57 can silence a large noisy pub with one lashing of his laughter, his style is somewhat reminiscent of Jimmy Carr – with more volume:

I love my loud laugh. Not everyone does:

  • In cinemas people will tap my on the shoulder and ask me to keep the noise down. Have you every tried to down-volume your laugh? I don’t even bother to try, I apologise for disrupting their enjoyment then continue with my own, unabashed, feeling pity for them that they can’t enjoy my laughter.
  • In restaurants peers have asked me to keep the noise down because I’m disrupting the enjoyment of people at other tables and drawing attention to our table. Again, I’ll apologise and wonder at how these people can feel such a strong need to ask me to conform with a perceived need to be seen, but not heard enjoying yourself.
  • A lady in the office next door came round to complain that she couldn’t hear her telephone conversation when I was laughing. I apologised for the noise level and suggested that she consider investing in a headset.

I was regularly asked to be THE AUDIENCE for full dress rehearsals by a Theatre company. Free theatre! My laugh was big enough for me to mimic a whole audience! The actors were able to adjust their timing to deal with likely audience noise levels.

One friend commented on how she envied my ability to laugh so genuinely, so unaffected by the people around me. How sad that her happiness was stifled by her respect for other people’s right to be not-offended by it. People who ask other people to moderate their laughter volume are to be pitied.  I do try to moderate when I laugh to be socially acceptable, but not the volume….

Ear-bashing happiness or hand-muffled silence

4 bits of fabulous banter »


Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

At the wake, I shadow the widow armed with a fresh cup of tea and a chicken leg from the buffet, it’s her favourite. Since his death she’s barely eaten and is clearly loosing weight rapidly. She needs to eat. The guests line to talk to her, picking up her conversation then moving on.  Whenever she catches my eye I offer her the tea and chicken-leg.  She sounds proud that Mumsie is here:

That’s my family over there, meet my sister.  OH, you’ve met her before, yes, that’s MY FAMILY

After most of the guests have moved-on the widow takes a seat by Mumsie and chatters away to her in an almost ‘hyper’ way. Through the ceremony I’d kept my tears under wraps. Here, listening to the widow, tears start to roll on out.

“I’ve never used a credit card. I wouldn’t know how to use one. What will I do? He paid for everything. He was always there. He knew where my saccharin were kept, he’d have the packet in his hand whenever I had a cup of tea. What will I do?”

She rummaged in her handbag looking for her saccharin tablets. The bag slipped in her hands emptying the contents on the floor.  I was glad of the excuse to get on my hands and knees under the table and pick up the contents for her.

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formal black

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Bull rushesHearses stacked in a line on the glorious Bedminster down awaiting entry to the South Bristol Graveyard and Crematorium.

Mumsie pauses to worry that she wont be able to walk from the car, once parked, to the crematorium.

We’re all respectfully wearing black, long sleeves, long skirts, high necklines. In my Pierre Cardin black trouser-suit with a blue pinstripe I look more like Dad than usual. He looks elegant in black with a white pinstripe. Neither of us wear Lodge ties. I’m the only female wearing trousers.

The room is full of the deceased’s Masonic friends. Elderly males. Sporting their ‘Royal Clarence Masonic Lodge’ ties.  They chat amongst themselves. His extensive family from a previous marriage fill the first few pews. The widow’s sister, my mum, and myself are her only blood relatives present.  At 49, apart from the grand-children,  I look like the youngest attendee.  I keep trying to give my seat to the more frail looking individuals, but they wont take my family member’s seat.

The deceased arrives in the church to Louis Armstrong playing “When the saints go marching in” raising smiles all round as we remember his excellent good humour

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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

4 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

This year Mumsie’s suffered 2 strokes. They have mainly affected her ability to access word meaning. Only slightly, but noticeably so. She’s scared, both her parents and one elder sibling died of strokes. I’m scared. A little example of the minimum longer term impact of the strokes in a conversation with mumsie this weekend:

Mumsie: dad’s bought one of those things like a computer with no keyboard, I don’t know what it’s called, but if you say it I’ll recognise it

wendy: I-pad?

Mumsie: No

wendy: Tablet?

mumsie: Yes! A tablet

Both strokes happened while mum was doing crosswords, she loves crosswords. It was so sad to hear her say that she could see all the words but they didn’t make sense, she could hear dad talking but it didn’t make sense. She’s on all sorts of drugs, fingers crossed there wont be another Stroke soon and the modern drugs will keep her on top of the crosswords.

1 wonderful musing »

my golden jubilee this year

Sunday, March 10th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Finnish Arthairdresser:

have you ever been married? (No) do you have children? (No)  you look A LOT younger than 50!


kids and husband’s do seem to prematurely age many people. I suspect loving them produces a lot of worry.

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Sunday, February 24th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Mum has a Policeman’s heel.

Dad has a Baker’s cyst.

I’m seeking a central heating engineer, Archibald “Harry” Tuttle would do nicely please.

what do you think of that »