Talking to a lovely young Friend I have here on the Internet, have a look at her most fascinating blog its “angela campbell x12”. Angela was talking about Van Gogh and I mentioned how I used to go up to London and walk around The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery. I would love looking at all the paintings and maybe after my visits I would go and have some Lunch for myself, making it a nice day before I prepared for my long journey home via Tubes and then Train before reaching my home by the Sea.
I would visit London perhaps once a week, I used to work in London prior to my Marriage. I worked in Chancery Lane near Holborn. Even the name “Chancery Lane” sounds romantic and warm and friendly, well it does to me. I worked for the Prudential and loved working for the Company. It is indeed where I met my late Husband. We were Married December 27, 1975 David was 30 years older than me, never bothered me at the time, but I realize now the difference was too much. David Died December 15, 1994 and was Cremated December 27th. Our youngest Son was born December 19, 1983 and in fact was just 10 years old when his Daddy died, our eldest Son was 15 years of age. December for me is a very strange month one of smiles remembering a cold snowing Wedding Day and December 19, 1983 a very very happy day welcoming a healthy second Son to the World. Sadness and tears December 15 the date my Husband died only being told the truth by the Doctors who would not bring themselves to tell me he was going to die so soon. December 27th again, the day of David’s Funeral and Cremation, I remember how sunny it was. December 27th Our Wedding Anniversary. I was Married 19 years, I am Widowed 22 years. Chancery Lane for me has a deep place within my heart always will do as will London.
London has changed so much, like everywhere else, not for the better but if you look close enough you will find the little gems of London hidden away. Try and avoid the Tourist traps like Buckingham Palace, some parts of The Tower of London because its not just the entrance fee its all the other places within they charge for too. Windsor Castle, I know its a Train journey from London but its still a rip off. Madame Tussauds always a rip off, there are so many places to be careful you are not taken for a ride. But as I said there are wonderful walks, the Parks are free and so beautiful, the Riverside walks. Kew Gardens, always value. Walk along the towpath until you get to Richmond, lovely gorgeous Richmond. When my Mother left Ireland aged 21 to come to England to work Richmond is where she worked as a cook or assistant cook, to a Doctor and his Family. Sit by Richmond Green, look for St Mary Magdalene Church it is where the well known much loved Actor and Film Director Lord Dickie Attenborough is interred with his beloved Daughter. If you come to London stay safe, we have an awful lot of undesirables ready to steal your money.
Angela mentioned she had not been outside America and this afternoon it made me realize I am lucky I have seen some Countries, (well little bits) not a big traveller like some but Southern Ireland to me was home, every Summer as a Child “home” for two weeks to see Nana and Grandad in West Cork a little hamlet by the name of ” Kippagh” pronounced “Kip Pork”, Nana and Grandad lived in a small Cottage little did I think my Married name one day would be COTTAGE or that I would end up living in a rather large house by the Sea. My Father had been born in “the” Blarney Village, a small house in a row of three/four that were right opposite the gates to Blarney Castle, as a Boy he would run in the grounds with his friends, no restrictions then. My Mother born in “Kippagh”. I was born in England but my blood is Irish and yes I do have an Irish temper at times, calmed down so much now. My late Husband would tell people “life with Anna is certainly not boring” whereas my Mother would always tell people especially if I was invited to play around someone’s house “you have my permission to hit Anna” and by God she meant it.
Ireland for me was as I say “home”, When David died I decided to take the Boys to Killarney the following Summer and Killarney became a second home to us, if you ever get the chance to go to Southern Ireland or Ireland as it now is, make sure you see Killarney and the Lakes and that you as they say “do the Ring of Kerry”, I can recommend a really lovely Hotel. Its not mine, we used to stay there year after year.
David’s Grandfather was Greek he came from Salonika, yet every time I would ask David if we could go to Greece all he would say was “no”, he travelled abroad a lot, most of Europe he had been to but would never take the Children and myself on holiday abroad, all I ever heard was “there is nothing wrong with England”. My Husband had been in the RAF in the Burma Campaign during World War ll had seen a lot of the Far East, loved India. He would say to me “India gets under your skin, it never leaves you, it can draw you back”. He never said but I know that he would have liked his Ashes to be scattered in Darjeeling somewhere he loved so much and had such happy memories of. I did look to doing that for him but the cost was just far too much and I had two young Sons to think about. David has some of his Ashes scattered in Ireland, Cornwall (where we had many a happy holiday) and the rest I still have, I wanted to scatter them here but my youngest Son said “no” and still can’t make his mind up where he wants them scattered.
We have been to Jersey, the Channel Islands. The day the Boys and myself arrived after settling into our Hotel we decided to have a look around. We actually saw the whole Island that afternoon. What on earth were we going to do for the next two weeks, if you are wondering we were bored. Although there were two scary times. I think the Square in St Helier is called Liberty Square (maybe not) but anyhow I was just standing away from my youngest Son taking some pics when I noticed this man talking to my little Son, and I approached him he had his hand out to as it turns out “take my Son” who had told this man he did not want to go with him to see his Kittens he was trying to take him. Many years later we found out about a Paedophile Ring, one that Jimmy Savile the nortorious peodophile had dealings with. The other event happened as one evening about 7pm the Boys and myself were heading back to our Hotel the other side of the Town and suddenly we heard people screaming, this chap came past us with what looked like a large long kitchen knife he was trying to poke at people we ran into a shop doorway as he headed off. Have we ever been back to Jersey, NO.
When I was 21 I went to Canada, wonderful Canada. Vancouver is where I went, accompanied by my sister who is four years older than me and I don’t even talk to her – another story. I thought “great, freedom from my mother”, like hell. My sister kept a close eye on me saying “no” to this and that all the time, freedom well I certainly did not have any. I fell in love with Vancouver and the friend of the Family we stayed with was a lovely lady by the name of Elsie Murray, Elsie was tough but honest and fair. She kept telling me I needed to cut the strings from my mother’s apron, Elsie even arranged a job for me in Vancouver as a Secretary to a Banker, in those days English speaking Secretaries were much sought after, now its a different World. Elsie said I could stay with her and then when I had settled look for an apartment for myself. It could all have been so different, but as soon as my mother heard (she would send an air mail every week for the four weeks we were there and I had to reply, of course the “spy” my sister was telling mummy everything), so the position and life in Vancouver at an end.
I remember what I saw of Vancouver, Victoria Island, the people were so very nice kind over generous. The morning we left for our flight, the man across the road came over to say goodbye and handed me a whole Salmon he had been out to catch that morning, to “take it home to England” he said, my sister said “no” it never happened. The kindness of the Canadians I met I will never forget, and my dear lovely Elsie well we corresponded until she died and after all this time I still miss all her letters, and I have every single one safely in a box.
The following year again with the “chaperone” or should say “my guard” we went to America, a place called Englewood, in New Jersey it looked so homely and the people were rather nice, I bet it has changed and not for the better. Same could not be said for my mother’s cousin we stayed with, she was “nuts” no wonder she got on with my sister. Did see a little of New York. Everytime I said to my sister “let’s go here, there anywhere” it would be “no, no” I would say “well I’m going on my own”, and ellen would always say “no you’re not do as you’re told, or I will tell mummy” I knew then life would be unbearable. Browbeaten one lacks courage its hard very hard when your spirit is kicked out of you at a young age. I must be the only person who went to New York and never saw The Statue of Liberty or Central Park, but I was good at cleaning her house especially scrubbing her sinks, she would ask what powder I had used and I would tell her “elbow grease”, some holiday that was. Waste of money and four weeks. Although one week or about 3/4 days the “witch” took us to their cabin in New Hampshire it was September and the Fall the magnificence of the colours of the Trees, leaves has never left me.
A few years ago my youngest Son asked if I would like to go to Paris, “YES YES YES” I shouted, so off I went to Paris with my Sons, it was great fun so many laughs particularly getting lost and who could forget on the Metro my eldest Son trying to buy tickets, the Lady did not speak English or maybe did not want to, anyhow there was Jonathan explaining “Pardon Madame, I do not speak English” we two could not stop laughing “could not speak English”, you mean French, we still tease Jonathan much to his annoyance. Seriously Paris was fun as it should be, but as I looked at my Sons grown Men they should have been there finding Romance not with their Mother. They never feel embarrassed to be with me, which is lovely and Jonathan and myself have so often gone up to London to the Theatre had a great time out. Seen many famous people on the West End stage.
The nicest surprise I ever had happened in Paris, it was my Birthday and unknown to me my Sons had arranged a Lunch for me in the Gardens of Versailles. I have always been awkward about Birthdays as when small my mother beat me hard for telling a neighbour it was my birthday, since then I find them embarrassing and prefer not to celebrate them. Yet this was something else and it was the most wonderful Lunch the best Birthday gift and will always have a special place in my heart – my Sons, my beautiful Boys and yes I am proud of them. There has been so much they have been through that they should never have been through. Violence, witnessing it, rows and shouting. And I will put my hand up here, seeing their Mother albeit on just a few occasions (but one is one too many) getting drunk because she could not take the threats or abuse any longer from their Grandmother. Watching their Grandmother trying to stab their Mother, the Boys all dressed waiting to go to School, the Taxi driver at the door witnessing it all – terrible things my Boys have seen and heard and been through, not what I wanted for them. What it all has done is build a bond between the three of us so strong, it is not like Mother and Sons we just act like good friends. Shouting at each other in Paris “where is the bloody Eiffel Tower”, and suddenly a voice shouts back “there in front of your bloody eyes”, we turned around and there was the Eiffel Tower, how we laughed. Going to the top of the Tower, magnificent. We had a week in Paris, but still did not see it all. We plan to go back, but now poor Paris.
The year after Paris we went to Berlin, my youngest Son did not fancy it, we told him “come on you will enjoy it” he didn’t. Although saying that I have fond memories of sitting in the Intercontinental Lounge one evening/night/early hours having a drink. “Long Island Tea” which I thought was just iced tea it was so tasty, loved it. Forgot how many I had, my Son enjoying himself at my expense. We talked and talked and said things we thought we never would well at least I revealed secrets I had kept from my Wedding night – now don’t get too excited nothing sexy, my late husband rejected me on my Wedding Night and I was 30 years younger, blond, good figure, blue eyes -0h enough of that. When my Son left me to go to the toilet I had no idea what this man who suddenly sat next to me was going on about, I don’t speak German except for a few words a neighbour taught me as a child, and I dare not repeat them. This man kept smiling at me and talking and I kept thinking “can’t take that long to go to the toilet”, indeed my Son was watching and laughing, when he decided to come back to me the man soon got up and went. I told my Son I had no idea what the man wanted and laughing his head off my Son said “you” I think I went every shade of Red. The next morning I asked my youngest if it was true what he had told me and he said “yes” what it was, was trying cannabis at school, being caught by a Teacher he liked who told him “you are better than that, think about your late Father”, my Son said he never tried anything again has no time for it all, thank God for that. What I revealed to my Son he said its what he thought, and that was deep down I had suspected my Husband may have been bi sexual. To be rejected on your Wedding Night leaves a scar deep and the next day when it was my “first time” I have few memories of it, I certainly have no happy romantic memories. I was lucky to have two Sons, after marriage I was told by David he did not want Children but I said that was a reason for marrying. After the Boys were born he barely touched me, if at all. When he died I found old photographs from his time in the RAF in India and his best friend always together just a nagging feeling. The truth I could have coped with but lies have always destroyed me. Years later he preferred the company of another woman older than me, he got himself a taxi claiming we needed the money, we did not we coped I coped, he by then had handed over all financial responsibilities to me. He would go out 7pm watch the phone until it rang come home early hours, I would stand by the window waiting for him, such fools we women can be. Many years after he died I found out the truth and in that instant all the love I had for him from age 16 when I first met him to the moment of truth, all that love died. What was the problem, my Sons tell me there was nothing sexual between him and this woman, he just liked being with her. Doing his crossword being pretentious as he could be, what did I do wrong he would tell me and others “the trouble is you love me too much” f…..g fool that I am I believed that was a compliment, like hell it was. I thought you love the man you are with, you care for him, you need him, but I got it all wrong and wasted a life.
The following morning when I told my eldest Son about the night before he was disgusted with me and told his brother off for leaving me alone “you know she’s not safe on her own” he said. Hence why I want to go to San Francisco on my own so I can prove even at the age I am now I can finally DO IT. Jonathan that day decided he wanted to go off and do his own thing which was fine he loves the Cinema and books and there was a Museum of German Cinema I believe, Marlene Dietrich was from Berlin I think. Anyhow Jonathan went off and my youngest Son and myself headed for the Football Stadium the famous Stadium. It was situated in what was known all those years ago as the “English Sector”, you could still see the real Germany what I did not expect was still a little of Nazi Germany. We after a long long walk found the Stadium and walked around it, stood and looked across to where Hitler made his famous speech. All of a sudden this beautiful looking woman probably in her early thirties stood alongside us. She started to cry and I was just about to ask if she was alright and she suddenly burst out with “Mein Fuhrer, mein Fuhrer” we were so shocked to say the least, you could not make it up. We quietly left and headed back finding a little restaurant calling in for a drink (coffee) couples in the Ledder Hoisin how wonderful they looked.
We went to the Zoo saw the famous little White Polar Bear. Not a great lover of Zoos. Went to the great Museums. Checkpoint Charly. Saw where the entrance to Hitler’s Bunker was but it was played down when we went, now I understand they do tours. Went to the famous “Charlottenburg Palace” fantastic gardens. The long pathway leading to the Palace well that is how the RAF flew into Berlin during the War to bomb, the Palace was a Landmark for them. We called in to the Palace Cafe with the two women serving giving us such evil looks muttering away, as we left I walked back to the two women and told them I spoke and understood German and what they had said about us, the two spoke good English, they were embarrassed and apologised in English. People, people.
The Brandenburg Gate, the Markets and the German Sausages “Bratfest” that Jonathan liked. The Memorials to The Russians that died when the Russians took Berlin. The Reichstag and how we queued so long and still didn’t get into see. The Berlin Wall and all those that died for Freedom. I liked Berlin, my youngest did not, Jonathan loved it and wants to go back sometime. Thats after he finally gets to Japan, has to have the money first. I found Germany and Paris come to that so clean their Towns the streets spotless. Our Hotel, the rooms were superb typical German so clever so functional just as I would expect.
On a day on our own, Jonathan again off on his own exploring. My youngest Son and myself went shopping “what do you want, do you want more Bears, perfume” this is my youngest Son too generous. Walking around we found ourselves crossing bridges turning corners, in East Berlin such a difference to the West Berlin, but at that time West Berlin were having to spend a lot of money doing up East Berlin. All of a sudden we were lost, “can’t be” I kept saying. Found a Cemetery looked around, some famous names on graves. But we were lost, shops had no idea what we were talking about. Garages they didn’t or again wouldn’t speak English. Of course we Brits are so lazy when it comes to learning languages. I have always wanted to speak French and Italian, well of course I would ever the romantic the two most romantic languages. We kept walking hoping sooner or later we would recognise a street or name. We ended up in what appears to have been the Russian area, it became frightening very frightening. We were being watched not in a friendly way and I didn’t speak to my Son he didn’t speak to me until we decided we had to wave down a taxi any taxi going past. Finally after so many hours, tired legs and nerves we managed to stop a Taxi. The driver was a young Turkish lad it transpired, he could not have been nicer or kinder and got us back safely, even refused a tip can you believe it, to “The Intercontinental”. Jonathan not even noticing how long we were missing. Tired and exhausted, oh yes. “Long Island Tea” definitely. Much later that evening after a rest I said to my Son “I know this sounds awful but I was so worried we would be attacked and you might have been sexually assaulted”, he looked at me said “we are alike, I was terrified you might get raped” – believe me we had been scared. Thank goodness for that lovely Turkish lad.
We have had fun, probably at each others expense, me being nearly knocked to the ground by a fantastic horse. Me rolling down a high Hill because as a Child I dare not even get my socks dirty, it was great when I got to the bottom of the Hill the Boys were applauding me. The three of us walking through “The Gap of Dunloe” in Killarney singing World War l songs, in particular “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, turning a corner to be greeted by a group of German Tourists clapping us, brilliant, unforgettable. Going for a walk getting lost in so many places and walking for hours on end, so exhausted when we finally reached our destination. Falling down the stairs on a French Train and sitting there on my backside with my youngest literally killing himself laughing. Mixing drinks not realizing the damage they could do, falling off a window seat and having to see a Doctor the next day, sitting by a Lake enjoying the scenery – scenery right, two fellows got off their bikes, stripped off fully naked and went for a swim, my youngest Son suggesting we hide their clothes and run for it. Its been fun over the years, usually Jonathan telling my youngest Son and myself to “grow up” which would make us be even more stupid.
I haven’t been anywhere since then, the Boys have been to Ireland since. My health of recent years has been a big problem, I have a severe curvature of the spine and Osteoarthritis in my back. About 2/3 years ago I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation than a month later Heart Failure, about two months later I was informed I had Diabetes 2 but I have been told next time I see the Diabetic Sister she believes it will have gone on its own. I have other problems too but the spine and heart failure are the big ones. My Doctor marked me as “unfit” to go to San Francisco back in October. Hotel/flights all booked, lots of tears and now its getting fit for next year which my Doctor says I will be ok for. Off on my own, completely, no tour no group. Just me and San Francisco and all it has to offer. Missed out on the Hippie years but please God I will finally get there.
Goodness if you have stuck with me you must be so bored by now. All because a chat with Angela and Van Gogh, I hope you feel its been worth it.