News - and Views!

I have to tell you that Mr B is somewhat deficient in what people are calling The Blitz Spirit. He is more akin to Private Whatsisname in “Dad’s Army” who faced every threat, real or imaginary, with the agonised declaration: “We’re doomed! We’re doomed!”


I shouldn’t joke; I don’t know, after all, how well equipped I am myself with the so-called spirit. Time will undoubtedly tell. At the moment I am determinedly (some might say, manically) cheerful but, as Mr B keeps telling me, gloomily, it is Early Days. 


The best example of the Blitz Spirit in peacetime which I saw for myself was the day lightning struck our house and the house next door some twenty years ago. Mr B was in the kitchen peeling potatoes (yes, he used to be extremely handy with a peeler) when he heard a shriek from the living room which was me reacting to the TV appearing to blow up. We were extremely lucky in that there wasn’t too much damage - except that everything remotely connected to entertainment like the TV, the radio, the sound system, was rendered impotent. This meant, I liked to tell friends when I was recounting our Shocking Experience, that we actually had to talk to each other to keep ourselves amused.


It turned out that we had been far luckier than our next door neighbour, Joyce, who arrived on our doorstep to tell us that her house had suffered a direct hit. Mr B, ever the Knight in Shining Armour, went back to her place, armed with a Trusty Torch. What he saw was truly shocking (excuse the pun) - there was no power at all, and every electricity point had sprung out from the walls. There was no way, we told our neighbour, that she could sleep there. We had a cosy spare bedroom, we coaxed her, with a bed so comfortable that we were perfectly happy to sleep in it ourselves when visitors requisitioned our own bed.


But Feisty Joyce grew up in the War Years and was having none of it. She would simply go to bed, pull the blankets over her head, go to sleep - and deal with everything the following morning. Nothing would dissuade her; we spent the rest of the evening trying desperately to get in touch with her daughter, reasoning (incorrectly as it turned out) that she would have more influence than we had had on her indomitable mother. 


In a contrary way, it did teach me a valuable lesson - that people don’t offer help unless they really want to give it and that it is far, far better to accept gracefully than to turn down their kindness. Which is, let me say, no reflection on dear Joyce who was an inspiration to me in so many ways.


I am, therefore, trying to combine a strong element of the Blitz Spirit with grateful acceptance of the many offers of help I have received. We are only a day into Social Isolation and I am already feeling satisfyingly close to my friends and neighbours. Albeit at a distance, you understand.


There are some problems. When I tried to access Ocado’s website (other delivery companies may be similarly unavailable) I was told that I was number 3255 out of 8424 in the queue. Every time the page refreshed, my number in the queue stayed the same while the number in the queue kept on climbing. Apparently I was not to refresh the page or close it, but to wait for an hour. Six hours later, the website disappeared from my screen altogether...


I am also, it seemed, somewhat distracted. Not at all my usual sharp-witted (sort of) self. I only realised this when I discovered that I had put the wrong addresses on the two greetings cards I had written. Had I not discovered my mistake, my great-nephew, Ben, would have received an anniversary card to celebrate his twelfth birthday and I would have marked the fifteenth anniversary of Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her fella with a card depicting a number of super heroes.


I need to get a grip. I need to be more like Joyce...

in out, in out, shake it all about. The EU Referendum campaign, on both sides, has been like a game of Okey-Cokey. But without the fun element.


 Like so many people, I have struggled to separate facts from fiction, hyperbole from sound logic. I haven't found it easy to trust any of the so-called "leaders" on either side of the Big Divide because none of them seems to speak for me.


Then I read an opinion piece written by Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence. (Incidentally - but tragically - how dreadful always to be defined in that way.) Doreen now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Lawrence and her article in the New Statesman resonated with me as no other opinion piece has. Here is just part of what she said - but, if you can (and want to) try to read it all:


"The EU is not perfect but it is the best expression of a powerful idea - the unity of purpose across a continent that has often been torn asunder by violence and conflict. Turning our back on this idea, this dream based so heavily on British Values, would be a huge mistake. On June 23rd we should stand united with our neighbours, resolute in our belief that together we can achieve more than we ever can alone."


Thank you, Doreen Lawrence. I am voting REMAIN tomorrow....

"She was a human being. And she was perfect." So said Jo Cox's sister, Kim, bravely struggling to voice the feelings of a broken family. Since Thursday's tragic events, floral tributes have arrived by the arm-fulls, while MPs united in Parliament today to pay tribute to a woman whose record on human rights, on fighting for the vulnerable, on standing up for the interests of her constituents was truly inspirational. As a nation mourned and as politicians paraded, Jo's husband Brendan took their two precious children on a Father's Day camping trip so that they would wake up to bird song. I did not know Jo - but I rather think she would have been glad that her husband's first thoughts were to keep those little ones focused on the beauty of our world - not its darker side.

A dear friend and former colleague died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. We hear so many stories of survivors these days and that has to be good - it shows that this horrid, horrid disease can be beaten.


However, my friend Lynn's untimely death shows how far we still have to come. Please take time to read these beautiful words by another friend, who held Lynn's hand and helped her over her final hurdle.


It's called The Fight We Must Win - for Lynn


RIP Lynn xx

Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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