I hadn't heard about Brian the Storm until friends started messaging me asking whether Mr B was on the rampage and should they call out the emergency services? Yes, indeed, Brian is Mr B’s first name and this isn't
the first time it has been taken in vain.
Many of you will remember Brian the Snail, of Magic Roundabout fame. He was never as woolly as Dougal, as way-out as
Dylan or as, well, bouncy as Zebedee but he had his fifteen minutes of fame every day on children’s TV in the Sixties and Seventies and, along with the rest of the characters, had something of a cult following among university students of the day.
Then there was a TV advert which Mr B hated with a deadly hatred. It featured (I think) a girl on a swing, volunteering the information that: “You know EVERYTHING,
Brian!” I can't remember exactly what clever clogs Brian and his admiring friend were advertising - can anybody help me out? Mr B says he would rather the whole sorry episode were consigned to history.
Now, however, Brian is cooking up a storm and everybody is battening down the hatches. How do you batten down a hatch? And where will I find a hatch to batten down, in the event of Storm Brian making his presence felt outside
as well as inside?
Mr B wasn't born a Brian (snail or otherwise). His birth name was Stephen but his adoptive parents changed his name to Brian. A few years ago,
I travelled to the Family Records Centre, based in Islington at that time, to find his original birth certificate, armed with the vital information about his birth mother’s surname. In those days, filling in the form to request a certificate required
you to provide details of your relationship to the person whose birth certificate you wished to purchase. Writing down that I was the wife of Stephen Kidner, I felt like a bigamist - or the woman caught in adultery.
Yesterday I went to the funeral of my lovely friend Olga. Whose name wasn't Olga at all, but Irena. Because we had been friends for only a couple of years, the story of her life and times - beautifully
and emotionally told by her daughter to a backdrop of wonderful photographs taken through the years - was something of a revelation to me. Except that everything I learnt about the Olga I never knew was exactly what I would have expected from the Olga
I did know.
Here is Olga on her wedding day to her dear Bruce, whom she cared for so lovingly; here she I taking part in the Annual Boxing Day dip in the
sea with her colleagues from Worthing Hospital - who but Olga would have thought up something so crazy? Here she is playing the ukelele, a pastime she took up only recently but which she embraced with great gusto. “Why don't you join the ukelele group?”
she used to exhort me, “It's SUCH fun!”
Here she is in a happy family group with Bruce, her daughter and her three much-loved grandsons. There
are beautiful photos of her with each one of her dear boys. They didn't know her as Irena, or as Olga.
She was their Babcha.
Of all her names, I suspect it was the one she loved the most.