Dolly's Blog

The dinner is ready and the fire burning well to welcome my dearest Len. When I open the door for him, his fine cheery smile greets me and the loneliness of the past twelve hours fades away behind me.


"Any letters or phone calls?" he asks and I tell him any news.


"Did you see Tony? Are they all well?" I ask and so we settle down for an evening watching TV or reading papers or books. We don't talk a great deal, just a loving glance or a warm hand touch to keep our nearness.


Life is made up of lovely things. In town today the crocuses are out and in the green grass around, a solitary Daisy. So beautiful, with its bright face shining up at me.


My mother never worked after she married. I think my father liked it that way, he was very much the provider. This short passage makes me sad to think of her loneliness after we had all left home. She was always reading, or painting, or cooking - but clearly always just waiting for my father, "dearest Len" to arrive home from work. However her description of their quiet evening "nearness" brought tears to my eyes. 

“Rose to a lovely day, Len decided we should have a good day out, so we made a flask and put in biscuits, cake and set out. We sailed by lots of queues of cars. Len is so sure and knowing the road helped, he just used the centre lane most of the time. When we reached Margate we saw police in 2s and 3s every few yards, so they must have been expecting trouble. There were lots of Mod youngsters and skin heads too. They are so silly to congregate, it looks like trouble when there is none. We went into a little cafe we like, just off Northdown Road, and there was an oldish chappie who was complaining of damage which had been done in and around the caves which are under Margate. There had been buses set alight too. So senseless. We sat in deck chairs and enjoyed the sun, then Len went and bought sausage roll and chips and we had it in the fresh air. Very nice. Later we had a tea and, after relaxing for a while, we had a 99 ice cream. Lovely. Before we sat down to relax, Len said he would have a drink and I had a bitter lemon. Very nice. While there we discovered how to use the camera properly and took a picture of each other. When we were on the way home...we saw police cars with a couple of skin heads hand-cuffed together, so there must have been something going on. It is just a few youngsters who make the trouble...”


This is my Mum’s first-hand account of the Mods and Rockers Battle of Margate on Bank Holiday Monday, August 1980! I am pleased to note that my parents didn’t allow the goings-on to spoil their lovely day out at the seaside, complete with sausage roll and chips, 99 ice creams and a bitter lemon (Mum always chose a bitter lemon – I never knew why, it's such a horrid drink!) Most of all I love it when Mum describes how they finally discovered how to use the camera and “took a picture of each other.” Priceless!

Tuesday 4 November 1980


Len had eye black again today. We went to town and I went to the library to see if I could see how an old type sailing ship looked as I should like to make a sea scene. I painted after lunch and Len went to see Mr Ball. Hope he is OK as it is 5.20 and he is not home yet and it is pouring with rain. I did washing this morning and khaki blanket. Head bad later. Election of the American President Carter v Reagan. Emm phoned, will come Thursday. I phoned Jaqui asked them to dinner on Sunday. It will make a break for her as being Remembrance Day she will be with the Brownies that day with a lot on her mind. They enjoyed it with Barrie and Margaret, lovely places to visit there and Lincoln is so beautiful. Strange to see my father's name mentioned. Dawkins and Usher so prominent.


Next day:


Reagan elected President of USA. A landslide victory. Feel sorry for Carter who I believe to be a sincere, God-fearing man. Bitter windy day. For the first time I completed the Chessman Puzzle. Have to remove the piece with Chessman out and get the King through that end.


Princess Anne is expecting next May, her Peter is nearly 3. Robbie was to interview a chap who had written a book on Mugging but he has been denied the chance to talk about it. Guy Fawkes was quiet this year. Only 4 accidents.


Me: Here is Mum's usual mixture of family news, casually intermingled with world events. I can't remember if she ever painted the old fashioned sailing ship. She was a prolific painter, mostly in oils. She far preferred painting people to scenery - invariably when she painted us, we all looked a great deal younger than we actually were. She has drawn a diagram of the Chessman Puzzle to help her explanation of how to solve it. Previous diary entries show she did a lot of practising before she cracked it!  The Robbie she mentions was a presenter on BBC Radio Kent - she and my Dad listened to his programme every evening without fail, much as Mr B and I tune into the Paul Miller show on Radio Sussex every night to take part in the General Knowledge quiz called "The Bag".


I love to read how Mum was thinking of me and the busy weekend ahead when she picked up that phone to invite us all to dinner...

Walked to town today, beautiful, cool, clear, sunny day. Len collected me. I bought a card and posted it to June, her birthday is 6th, hope she gets it in time. Len busy in the garden, trimmed the lawn, smells so lovely and turning the earth. First crocus of the day to go with a couple of snowdrops out.


Mugabe had 70% of seats so will form the new government in Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe as it is now called. Hope all will go well in this important transitional period.


Me:This entry from Tuesday 4th March 1980reports Mugabe's first victory to become President of Zimbabwe. All these years later, he is still in power. My Mum would be amazed.

Young Michael's birthday, so put his card through early today. I walked to town and saw young Steven in the greengrocers. He has grown into a nice lad. Tried to get a refill of No 7 compost but could only get loose powder £1.35. So Expensive, but I consoled myself with the thought that it will last!!


Cliff very good, digging to sink new posts in where the fence fell down. Very hard work, it's a shame Len really must not help because of his hands.


Lovely day today. Len in his boiler suit, pottering all day.


Me: This entry, from February 1980, reminds me of how very good Mum's next door neighbours, Cliff and Rene, were to her and my Dad over many years. It also brought into my mind the clearest picture of Dad, in his boiler suit, pottering about in his beloved garden. How could I have forgotten that boiler suit?!

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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