Constants in life: Life’s first cry to final breath

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Being the youngest of six I had a lot of stimulation. My siblings were articulate and like my parents read voraciously, haunted the library, listened avidly to BBC radio and Saturday night was the ‘flicks’ with Pathé News and Feature Films as well as the latest releases, I was taken along as a babe in arms. This was before every home had a TV.

Talkies came in, from 1927 but in post war Britain still struggling from the aftermath of war, right into the early fifties, they still showed Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello and Charlie Chaplin black and white, silent films along-side of Pathé News and the talking pictures. I clearly remember Chaplin’s 1952 film Limelight which, was the first film to evoke in me an emotional response other than laughter.

What brought on this train of thought was watching a brief glimpse of Royal Ascot: Her Majesty, the carriage drive, the hats, Mrs Shilling, the frocks, the parade ring, the sound of hooves, the colour. ‘My Fair Lady’ captures it all. I was there! In my childhood my year was punctuated by such events, shared experiences, with my family.

Starting with pancake day (Shrove Tuesday), in February, and in my day in town and village across Britain, a pancake race: pinnied housewives running along tossing pancakes as they ran, which we saw locally, on Pathé News or in pictures in the newspapers. There were also brave snowdrops, crocus and the first blossom on the plum trees.

Maundy Thursday the Queen again distributing the small silver coins symbolizing Christ humbling himself to wash his disciples feet. Good Friday and Easter Sunday. All dressed in our best for Church and always even Easter bonnet competitions. Of course there were Easter eggs or Pasche eggs not the ubiquitous chocolate eggs, that flood the market today just after Christmas, but duck or chicken eggs, marbled, dyed or hand painted with even the chance of an egg rolling race down a local hill. And there was always daffodils and narcissus and the first buds bringing a haze of green to bare boughs.

March through to summer brought us Crufts Dog Show the elegance of the Borzoi and the exuberance of the English cocker spaniel -Tracy Witch of Ware, Best in show twice! The Grand National Steeplechase, Fred Winter on Sundew my eyes tight shut hoping no horse would fall at Becher’s Brook. The Boat Race – Oxford verses Cambridge, Putney Bridge to Chiswick, they only showed the boys in those days, such fun especially when they sank. Monaco Grand Prix, real glamour, the yachts, the villas, the sun always shining, sparkling on the waves and with always the hope that a British car would take the checkered flag, possibly patriotic but never envious. The TT races, BSA, Norton, Triumph, Royal Enfield huge motorbikes at top speed tearing round the narrow lanes of the beautiful Isle of Mann. The return from Africa of the Swallows and Swifts. Whitsuntide – Resurrection – Pentecost, church, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and abiding memories of the first Summer wild flowers, Bluebells, Buttercups, Daisies and Cowslips and fancy-dress competitions. FA Cup, Manchester City lifting high that coveted trophy. Chelsea Flower Show, that bun fight on the last day to bag a bargain and taking them home on the ‘Tube’. I always wondered if any ever grew to maturity? May Day, a village fair on the green and boys and girls dancing round the Maypole and a brass band, these simple things cemented community. Trooping the Colour, glorious pageantry in the Capital wondering if a soldier would faint from the heat? It always seemed to be bathed in sunshine.

With the warmer weather came the flat racing, The 2000 Guineas, The Oaks, The Derby, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, horse racing at its finest. Always reminding me of some medieval tournament. Tennis at Queens and Wimbledon, spawned tennis in the street, school playing field or local park, who could afford the tennis courts. Beating the Bounds, an old church tradition dating back to the Norman conquest when the boundaries are walked and prayers said for blessings on the community (it also ensured that no one had moved the boundary stones) and the scent of wild roses in the lanes. The English Grand Prix at Silverstone, Sterling Moss was one of my childhood heroes, ‘the greatest driver never to win the world championship’. The Ashes, ‘the voice of cricket’ Richie Benaud, I remember in a lull in play at the Oval him describing some birds on the pitch, a truly English game. The Great Yorkshire Show, it’s history dates back 160 years, truly impressive a feast of rural and farming life. Britain’s farming industry the life-blood of the nation. The sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the Common English Lime trees. The Royal Tournament at Earls Court, the Edinburgh Tattoo in the shadow of the castle, showcasing the armed forces, put through their paces at what always seemed like breakneck speed. Harvest Festival, ‘all is safely gathered in’, marrows the size of Zeppelins.

Autumn continues with The Proms, Sir Malcolm Sargent, he felt like family, we had heard him on the radio and followed him to TV. The St Ledger, another classic event the climax of thoroughbred racing for the year moving swiftly on to the National Hunt Season. Green leaves turning red, yellow and gold. The Horse of the Year Show, Olympia and Sir Harry Llewellyn’s horse Foxhunter. Bonfire night, potatoes baked in the ashes, treacle toffee and Yorkshire Parkin, delicious. The Admirals Cup, Cowes Week, white sails on the Solent. Poppy Day, wearing our poppy with pride, Remembrance Sunday, standing silently, heads bowed at the cenotaph.

Christmas, Carol Singers (The Huddersfield Choral Society going village to village), Handel’s Messiah, a nativity at school, the red berries of holly, the smell of the tree and The Queen’s speech, the continuity and stability that our head of state brings.

All these national events had their corresponding local events which, whilst not as significant were equally enriching and enjoyable.

unknown plant 2These were the constants of my young life. In some respects they still are today although some have faded from existence, or the media don’t consider them newsworthy enough. This was the daily salt and pepper of conversation, these were the childhood games I played with sisters and friends. Cowslips, Dandelions, Buttercups, and Foxgloves in jam jars were our flower show, or we could all pretend to be Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire or Donald Campbell driving Blue Bird. The long sunny days of summer it always snowed in winter. We had a Television from 1953. As a family we didn’t all support Oxford or Cambridge we were finely divided.

These were the back-ground tapestry of my childhood and even in maturity they are still the constants of my year. They were the foundations and sign-posts of my year, not dull days, but things that added colour and were to look forward to.

And in the warp and weft, year by year, there would be other significant events that brought light and shade to my palette.

Polio 1952, Iron Lung 1952, The Coronation, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing climb Everest 1953, Rosa Parks, courageously keeping her bus seat 1955, Suez Crisis 1956, Sputnik 1957, Thalidomide 1957, Munich Air Crash 1958, Mardale – an Atlantis village reappears 1960, Cuban Crisis 1962, Flyingdale –‘We are watching’ 1963, Churchill’s funeral 1965.

And so many, many more: The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Wonderful Life, The African Queen, The Greatest Story Ever told, North by North West the 10 Commandments. Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bill Hayley, Elvis Presley, The Beatles.

What are the constants that will echo across the years for the children of the 21st century?

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You may wonder why the Sport of King’s looms so large in my constants? My father, the bread winner, worked with horses from a young boy eventfully becoming a National Hunt Licensee. One wage and six children meant there were no extras. But despite our poverty I never felt poor or deprived my life was rich and colourful and still is.

 

BREAKING NEWS

Charlotte-final

 

Finally, and at long last my novel, ‘Charlotte Deanfield – of a finer ruth’, has been published as an ebook on Kindle but also as a paper back on Amazon Books ISBN: 9781983172977 I had to change the title because no one, who reviewed it, knew what it meant until they had read it, my titles can be a bit obscure, “ ‘ruth’ a noun a feeling of pity, compassion, sympathy, understanding.”

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Announcing a new arrival – Fanfare please! Charlotte Deanfield by Angela H. Moor

Finally, and at long last my novel, ‘Charlotte Deanfield’, subtitled ‘of a finer ruth’, has been published as an ebook on Kindle but also as a paperback: ISBN: 9781983172977. I had to change the title because no one, who reviewed it, knew what it meant until they had read it; my titles can be a bit obscure. “ ‘ruth’ a noun a feeling of pity, compassion, sympathy, understanding.”

I feel as if there should be a fanfare of trumpets this has been so long in coming to fruition.

I think it was easier to write my story than it was to finally get it onto the paper page. I’ve changed the title at least four times. I do hope you will think it was worth it.

This story is unashamedly for the romantics among us, I hope it will make you smile, laugh, cry, recoil in terror and then hopefully stand up and cheer. My protagonists are set in the beautiful historic city of Carlisle and the village of Dalston nestling at the foot of the Caldbeck Hills on the fringes of the English Lake District. If you thought that village life was sleepy and slow possibly this story will help you think again.

CARLISLE

Any journey starts with just one step, which can be taken in joyful anticipation of a happy journey’s end or in trepidation of the unknown. The story invites us onto a rich and colourful stage, the plot intrigues and the characters, facing the challenges or left wanting, are skilfully lead with drama, loss, laughter and tears, to its climax.

Charlotte Deanfield is a story of adversity, enlightenment, hope and love set in early Victorian England its historical panorama interwoven with the fashions and social mores of the time.

Marriage was the only acceptable career for the female of the moneyed classes. The function of this genteel barter, dubbed the “marriage mart” was to enrich further the already wealthy and build and embellish empires. The hedonistic pleasures of fashionable society the rewards for unfulfillment, to step out of this accustomed round was to invite disaster.

Charlotte, takes this fateful step and is plunged into a harsher reality than she could ever have imagined, a tide of rejection and adversity. She is cast into a new milieu of life bringing her unexpected adversaries, new friendships, values, joys and sorrows and all the time a story, told to amuse a child, and an ancient legend parody the coincidence of reality.

Charlotte Deanfield by Angela H. Moor

Available from Amazon Books UK as a paper back, ISBN:9781983172977 and also as an eBook

 

 

 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens – Oh no!

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For many people this song ‘My favourite things’ from the 1965 film The Sound of Music might be thought as insipid, sickly sweet, even nauseating. But, surprisingly, if we did a straw-poll you might find that most of us know some of the words. I remember in my early twenties coming home from seeing the film at the local cinema with my friends singing our heads off as we walked along.

I was reminded of my memories by the commentators at the recent World Championships on the Gold Coast when a number of them alluded to the unforgettable memories participants would treasure as they carried off their laurels and stood in triumph as their national anthem was played.

I can’t recall ever noticing this particular observation before at the Olympics or other sporting or cultural event, though I am sure it is true. Of course, it set me thinking about my own favourite memories, though none of them could match winning a gold medal.

I was further prompted to reminisce after watching a very interesting programme about John Paul Getty which spent some time looking at the Getty Villa, on Pacific Palisades in LA. but more about that later.

I spent a pleasant hour or so one Sunday afternoon, after a particularly busy week, ensconced in a comfy chair with my feet up, dredging my memories thinking about my memorable moments, not memorable things, although one or two of them are physical objects.

Ian Angela's wedding 1973- 2

Naturally my wedding day and the birth of my son and grandchildren must be at the top of my list of unforgettable memories.  But I was quite surprised, having had so far, a fairly adventurous, interesting and often challenging life, that of my memories, and I eventually selected some and discarded others, the most-dear are relatively simple and not spectacular, because we have had quite a few of those over the years.

As I have said in the past, time travel is easy we do it everyday when we remember or are reminded of past events. The taste of blueberries and also ginger beer take me back to my early childhood in Yorkshire whilst the smell of ground coffee takes me back to my teens in Cumbria.

My earliest memories are of idyllic days trailing behind my sisters through wild rose draped hedgerows as we wandered through God’s own county. We used to go every day that the sun shone, which seemed all the time, to swim in the river pools in Thick Hollins Dike at Royd Edge up in the Pennines, crystal clear, but with rust red rocks on the water margins from the iron in the water. Far above the Dark Satanic Mills we would spend the day just like the water babies in Charles Kingsley’s ‘Fairy tale for a Land baby’. Our Mother would give each of us a small container into which we were to gather the bilberries that grew in profusion alongside the century’s old sheep worn paths. My sisters dutifully filled their containers with the luscious, juicy berries but mine would have a mere handful and there would be a big blue circle round my mouth from the juice of the bilberries I would greedily cram into my mouth. My mother always threatened not to give me any of the delicious bilberry pies that she made to feed her hungry brood.

Picture1Another childhood memory is of a new coat, a dark shade of azure blue with a velvet collar. Being the youngest of a family of six, every garment I wore was a hand-me-down from my older sisters. Don’t feel sorry for me, all families were like that in the fifties and early sixties. This coat was the very first new garment that I ever had, and when I wore it I felt like a princess in fact, Princess Anne had a very similar coat.

I love red shoes and I attribute this to a pair of high heeled red shoes that my mother had, also hand-me-downs from her employer, but when she wore them to me she always looked like a film star.

For every girl her first bra is a “rite-of-passage” and my eldest sister bought me mine, it had pink rose buds and the minutest frill of lace. This is the only memory from my teens that I’m willing to share. There isn’t enough money in the world that could persuade me to be a teenager again, though I did get to see the Beatles live twice and they were asked to leave a dance I was attending at the poshest hotel in the city, this was before the mop haircuts and the jackets; leather jackets were ‘pas la chose’.

_DSC0288a.jpgWalking through the archaeological ruins of Carthage and the El Jem Amphitheatre in North Africa; nose to nose with a giant Groper and Nemo’s clownfish cousins on the Barrier Reef; the terrifying antiquated, rusty cable car and the history and horror of Masada; swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea; petal shaped dabs of sunlight shimmering and flashing on the water of lake Geneva; Caraway Bread for breakfast in Copenhagen; being stopped for speeding in New York State; the fairy tale that is Niagara in winter; a staggering lightning storm in the Glass House Mountains in Queensland and Hells Angels on the Nullarbor plain in Australia; and sea gulls washing the salt off their feathers in the river Sid at Sidmouth in Devon, all cherished memories. Unforgettable and so many, many more, I have been blessed._DSC0304a

It has been surprisingly difficult to pick the best of memories which brings us back to the Getty Villa This is a truly opulent building, a copy of a Roman Villa in Herculaneum destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79, no expense spared, the repository of Getty’s fabulous Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures. Much to see and absorb so many things I might have chosen to remember but the strongest memory for me was sitting in the tranquil east garden eating our picnic. There were no other visitors there to disturb our peace, but we were not alone within moments of our sitting down on a stone seat tiny jewel like lizards came out of hidden crevasses to stare at us and we became the exhibit, they seemed to have no fear and after deciding that we would do them no harm they went about their business some to bask in the warmth of the sun others to hunt the many insects that shared their domain.

Of course, we have had our fair share of unhappy memories too but I choose not to dwell on the. The memories I have shared are the short list and I hope that as I get older I’ll accumulate more to add to them.

What we allow into our minds is what comes out of it so negative dark reflections I choose to expel Philippians 4: 8 is my mantra. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.

I would recommend this memory exercise, I remembered not just the events but remembered also those who I had shared them with, the warmth of the sun or the breeze or the smell of trees or flowers, the taste of the air, the sound of the sea. A real sensory journey through my life.

P.S.

Sometimes I forget that this Blog was initiated to hopefully encourage people to read my Kindle ‘indie’ published novels, two so far. ‘Reflections of the Old Past’, and  ‘Red Sky at Dawning’: The Time Oak.

Watching Country file’s Royal Special this evening on BBC1 was like stepping into the pages of my Kindle ‘indie’ published novel ‘Red Sky at Dawning’: The Time Oak.

I found the programme encouraging, because for every author self doubt is never far away. I was reassured, whilst my story is entirely fiction it is also credible and current at the same time. My story charts the highs and lows, mistakes and triumphs, laughter and tears of the relationships of my characters often bitter-sweet. I hope is also expresses some of the culture and character of this green and pleasant land in which we live.

redsky3‘Red Sky at Dawning’ has been described as lyrical but readers have also expressed that the climax took their breath away.

The book is available on Kindle books, a free app will allow you to down load it to your iPad or posh phone, for the princely sum of £2.44, thanks to those who have already bought it.

 

 

_novel-1c-copyA recent review of my first published novel, ‘Reflections of the Old Past’ likened it to be a cross between Agatha Christi and Jane Austin I’m taking that as a compliment.

 

 

 

Vilified for putting someone else’s life before their own?

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SuffrageIn this year, when the world is highlighting the role of women, and some almost Neanderthal attitudes and actions of men to women, I want to be; romantic, feminine, a home builder, a mother, a wife, a career woman, my gifts recognized, given equal opportunities and paid equally, encouraged and encouraging, gentle, empowered and empowering, not patronised, condescended to, humoured or the nominal woman in the plan, and I want to be an equal partner with men and women. But most of all I want to be myself and if I choose to be any or all of these, and I of course recognize that some still need addressing, I don’t want to be criticised or bullied because I don’t fit other people’s perceptions of who I should be.  There is a lot of bullying going on in the world today we seem to have got out of balance like a pendulum swinging too far in one direction. When things get out of balance eventually they stop or breakdown and there will always be pain.

An everyday example of this type of injustice is the way women who choose to stay home to care for their family are mocked and made to appear inferior. Vilified for putting someone else’s life before their own.

We must applaud the growing awareness of any inequality in the world we can speak about injustice and unfairness with passion, persuasion and determination but we do not have to be strident, derogatory or bullying. If this is to be our tone what difference is there in what has maintained any imbalance in history, ‘those who have the biggest stick and can shout the loudest usually get their own way’, and an equally unacceptable chasm will be opened.  I appreciate that sometimes we have had to raise our voices to beheard but let it be with dignity and not a snarl.

Suffrage 2

International Women’s Day, held on March 8, is an annual day that recognizes the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, with the first IWD being established in the early 1900’s through the women’s Suffrage movement.

Not every man is a sexist, exploitative, misogynistic moron and there are women who just don’t understand the “#MeToo” phenomenon that is sweeping all before it.

Each woman and man is quite unique and deserves justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, appreciation, respect, empathy and forgiveness values that guide International Woman’s Day and should be shown to every human being on the planet.

 My recumbent cactus

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One morning a few years ago I woke up, thinking about the income tax forms I had to fill in. My day didn’t look promising but despite that my heart was singing ‘Where can I find some peace?’ (an amazing worship song by Phil Varley *) God reminded me of something then and this morning he reminded me again and so here goes.

Twenty-two years ago, I bought a cactus at my grandson’s first school fare, I don’t know why I bought it, there was nothing about it that really attracted me, I’m not a cactus fan, but you have to buy something and my friend had donated the cactus. It was 2 inches high. It wasn’t very interesting, green, spiky describes it.  I had no great expectations of it and consigned it to a corner in the conservatory, watered it spasmodically, re-potted it, it didn’t die, it just grew and grew. As it got older it got fatter, knobblier and slouched, in many ways it reminds me of me because along with how it looks, (fat, knobbly and slouching) it is very prickly, (I’m from Yorkshire) so you have to handle with care.

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About twelve years ago my recumbent cactus did something different, it grew a weird, furry, grotesque, wart. It did not enhance its appearance, I wondered if it was sick?

The protuberance, continued to grow. It made me feel squeamish, it strongly reminded me of the 1950s novel by John Wyndham ‘The Day of the Triffids’ and ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers!’ Jack Finney’s novel, also from the 50’s. You could almost hear it grow, I watched it with some trepidation, and after two weeks, the wart,  was 7 inches long, hairy and bulbous at its tip, almost primordial!day-triffids

It was hypnotic and I kept stopping work to check its progress. One morning, to my astonishment, before my eyes, it burst open and unfurled the most fabulous heavenly trumpet like bloom. Its petals were like angel’s wings, rainbow tinged, translucent and ethereal. I just stood amazed gazing at it for hours it was so unexpected and touchingly beautiful. My ugly duckling had become a swan.

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Alas within 24 hours the splendour was gone, limp, withered and discoloured, you cannot measure my disappointment, I felt bereft. Every year since then this uninteresting, fat, knobbly, slouching cactus has put on this 24 hour display becoming more and more spectacular with multiple blooms.

I have got to say that each year I have hoped the splendour would last, it’s a forlorn hope I know, and I have wondered why God would create something so beautiful that is so ephemeral. “You’re the one all creation sings for.” This is a line in Phil’s worship song. You know if the cactus was growing a million miles away in a desert and no one ever saw the flowers it would still be amazing and also have fulfilled its purpose of bringing Glory to its Creator.

The parallels between the cactus and ourselves are obvious, sometimes we have low expectations of ourselves and others, we can look at our small endeavours and think they have no purpose but in God’s hands our small, random acts of kindness, can always serve his purpose. Like the cactus whose spectacular flowers last for such a brief time our creator sees our pinpoints of light in a dark world and it is amazing what a man can do when God takes hold of him.

thPS Both books have been turned in to creepily scary films and in the case of the Triffids a TV series. The Wyndham book is a good read and the films of both are well worth
watching unless you are squeamish, it just might cause you to put your house plants out at night the 1978 remake of the Body Snatcher particularly so.

* Where can I find some peace?  Phil Varley ©2009 King’s Church Catford London UK

 

 

PPS I was hoping to have my latest novel (really my first novel) ‘Of a finer Ruth’ published before Christmas but regretfully I just haven’t been able to finish the final edit. We live a busy life. But as a Christmas present to all my friends I am putting my two other publications, Reflections of the Old Past and Red Sky at Dawning: the Time Oak, as free books for a week at Christmas.

Red Sky at Dawning: The Time Oak – Kindle edition by Angela Moor … 

Reflections of the old past eBook: Angela Moor: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle …

Would smell as sweet.

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At 5.45am we emerged sleepily from our front door. I was awake enough to notice the untidy state of our front garden an abundance of weeds and wild grasses, ivy, roses and shrubs desperately in need of more than a trim.  I sighed wondering when I would have the time to tackle this pressing chore.

The dawn was promising us a lovely day – blue sky and the merest wisp of clouds and a gentle zephyr buffed our cheeks, but the initial negative thought hovered as we trundled onward on the 171 Bus to Waterloo on route to the antique fair at Epsom.

I leaned, companionably, against Ian’s shoulder, he possibly attributed my mum-chance* to the early hour and didn’t disturb my thoughts. There was a handful of other passengers and the driver seemed to be in a hurry so we bowled along.

Maybe I was still sleepy, my thoughts random but my mood remained despondent wildflowers 3despite this being a planned visit to something I greatly enjoy. Brockley and New Cross went by in a haze. It was somewhere between New Cross and Camberwell, as the bus slowed in the growing volume of traffic, that my mood burst like champagne bubbles. Unbelievable, unexpected on the road side verge was a broad sash of wild flowers, a burst of colour; Poppies, Buttercups, Camomile daises, Vetch, Viola, Foxglove their fragile symmetry reaching exuberantly to the sunrise. They flourished in the clear morning light the vibrancy of their colours, yellow, red, pink and purple, undiminished by the encroaching concrete and asphalt. *(Language of flowers)

These were not random seeds blown thither by the breeze. This was a wild flower mix scattered by an unknown hand on a piece of, unprepossessing, ground; a secret garden that many could enjoy in passing, lifting the spirits of a stranger on a bus.

No one else on the bus seemed to have noticed them, they were snoozing, playing with their mobiles or reading the metro. I wanted to share it with someone but even Ian was napping. My heart soared buoyed up by the unexpected visual feast.

It reminded me of my own wild patch –  the roses, small and white, blushed with gold, _DSC0238rampant in June this year because of the mildness of the spring. In flower for weeks giving off a delicious scent so that people passing my gate catch their fragrance. That shrub, the resplendent Glorie de Versailles, that needs more than a trim, who’s lavender-blue flowers stop people in their tracks and for a while they forget the traffic and breath in the perfume of summer to share the show like I had that morning.

Nature has a way of taking the hard edges off the city; hair tail grass in the crack _DSC0177between wall and pavement, a Buddleia in a rooftop crevice, it’s purple tipped wands dipping and waving attracting bees and butterflies, the faithful forget-me-not in the Victorian architectural swag on the Fire Station on Camberwell Road, the short-lived scarlet poppies populating any patch of earth, glowing in sun or shade, even the musky, sweet smelling, Indian balsam in some dank spot near Waterloo Bridge.

The rest of the journey I spent looking for these welcome migrants from country to city, which add colour and light and shade an unlooked-for legacy. Migrants have a way of doing that. London is reputably one third green space, whether it is manicured parks or unkempt garden, which despite neglect, will without human interference, become a wildlife haven, the so-called weeds – wild flowers – rubbing shoulders with their cultivated cousins.

 Dictionary English UK definition: Mum-chance – adjective –  silent, thoughtful.

*(Language of flowers) See Squirrel Nutkin* was conspicuous by his absence

My latest novel (really my first novel) ‘Of a finer Ruth’ will hopefully be publishes before Christmas. And as a Christmas present to all my friends I am putting my two other publications, Reflections of the Old Past and Red Sky at Dawning: the Time Oak,  as free books for a week at Christmas.

Red Sky at Dawning: The Time Oak – Kindle edition by Angela Moor … 

Reflections of the old past eBook: Angela Moor: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle …

Don’t Leave It Too Late

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We had a disturbed night’s sleep at my father-in-law’s cottage in Cumbria recently. Before the crack of dawn when, he, Jock, my father-in-law, one time desert rat, loving, faithful husband, father, grandfather, hurried us awake because he couldn’t find his trousers.  It sounds comical but he’s ninety-six and his short-term memory is not what is was and his carer had put them in the wash basket and his clean ones had fallen off the hanger into the gloom of the wardrobe. He was agitated and Ian and I staggered out of bed to join the hunt and calm was restored.

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Jock has lived in this village for 68 of his years, having moved there from a neighbouring village, went to school, was a chorister in the choir, went off to the war  and returned to bring up his family and serve the community in the village Cooperative shop, and as a Sub Officer in the Fire Brigade, growing his own vegetables and gardening for others to make ends meet, he buried his father,  mother and his beautiful, beloved Noemi, Dad and Mum's Wedding Photoa prize he brought home from the war, and until recently he kept their graves neat and trim with fresh flowers weekly.  But whilst he might be able to recognise every stone and lintel, has called it home through the second world war, Suez crisis, Bay of Pigs incident and other world conflicts, joined the coronation celebrations for three monarchs, the shock of an abdication, rock and roll, the death of Churchill, the man on the moon, and 9/11, this village isn’t the place he once knew. The handful of friends who remain are as frail and housebound as himself.

 

There are a lot more houses now all tastefully built to blend with local sandstone and the existing structures. But they are not the dwellings of the offspring of his past friends and neighbours no, they though born and bred there, are priced out of the village. These ‘little boxes’ are the haunt of incomers who have no loyalty to the village but merely exist in it ignoring local interest and anyone who doesn’t meet their social aspirations.

So the people who walk past his gate day-to-day and if they notice him at all walking up and down his path, the only exercise he can get because he is partially sighted now, rarely stop to say hello or pass the time of day ensuring that he is isolated and alone for many hours of the day gradually loosing touch with even what remains of his old life.

Jock isn’t, despite his physical frailty, lacking in his mental faculties, a little slower perhaps, but he is still astute, never complains and those who do enjoy the pleasure of his company always leave laughing because his jokes, some old I’ll grant you, but more often plucked from the day-to-day are just as sharp as they ever were.

The irony is that the incomers come to the countryside for a quieter life, a slower less stressful pace but they continue to dash off in their four by fours, to the gym, exotic holiday or shopping in the local town and filling their dormitory homes with every new must have object that will along with themselves eventually fade and become living wall paper as invisible as dear Jock.

I don’t want to leave it too late to express my admiration of this dear man, the current trend of the media and the public to lionise and praise those that die, unexpectedly or inevitably, turning them in to plaster saints, deserved or not, it is not my place to judge, is something which always prompts me to wonder if they thanked the deceased or told them what they felt whilst they were still alive.

A disaster in Barcelona, London and Paris

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In the mid 1990’s as part of my day job we had a call out to a devastating flood in Barcelona. Ian was teaching, four full time students for seven weeks, so I went on my own. The flood site was one of the amazing Antoni Gaudi buildings whose massive main doors had been burst wide by a wave from a flash flood, caused by weeks of torrential rain, which surged through the ground floor and then, as water always will, found and engulfed the lower levels. These huge spaces were more utilitarian than the rest of the building and here were stored, for dispatch, dozens of packing cases filled with framed images which were now submerged or floating in the turgid water.

I flew into Barcelona with the dawn. There is nothing quite so satisfying as bringing order to chaos and I spent a busy morning designating extraction, treatment, drying and recovery areas and planning for the aftermath; the affirmation and care of traumatised personnel and the long-term floodrecovery of objects and building. By 2.30pm we had set things in place, located the necessary materials and equipment and were awaiting the final vestiges of the deluge to be pumped away and the basement and packing cases to be sprayed down with fresh water, disinfectant and deodoriser. The dehumidifiers and cold blowers would not arrive until late afternoon.

In the lull my employers took me to a very fashionable restaurant, the food was good, I knew my colleagues well, however, aware that speed is of the essence I urged us to return. Reaching for my handbag, which was conspicuous by its absence, clearly stolen, my hosts were embarrassed and angry by turns apologizing profusely.

I had a choice, I could have complained said “why me God?” I could join in the lament and have a pity party or get on with what I was there for. I asked to phone Ian and he cancelled my credit cards and bank card.

I was disappointed to lose my passport, it was one of the blue ones with the rampant lion and the unicorn on the cover, and it had the visas and official stamps from my first two trips to China, which for me were more than special. I lost my return ticket, bible and personal photo’s but the passport was the real issue. How would I get back to England?Passport

At the police station I received the requisite form and reference number so I could go to the British Consulate to get a permit to travel.

In the waiting area were a young couple and their two small children. They had been robbed of everything they had and abandoned on the road side. They sat quietly, their expression stunned. There were a number of other individuals but one young chap prowled about the room clearly impatient.

One by one individuals were dealt with and left or went off to other departments which left me, the young family and our fidgety individual. It was his turn next but he just got more indignant by the moment. The guards and clerks were all Spanish as were my colleagues. When this young chap started to complain about the delay he had everyone’s attention.

The clerk took his details asked how the consulate could assist him? “He wanted money, he had a job interview in Madrid he needed money to get there”.

The consulate isn’t a piggy bank for distressed Brits it’s remit is to give advice and protect the interest of British subjects within the law, they cannot disburse money but can arrange for money to be transferred. At that time, they were authorised to help financially to the tune of £5.00 the cost of a simple meal. Regretfully our fidgety friend completely lost the plot, and shouting and thumping the furniture he went into a complete strop. Me, I was embarrassed, I still believed in ‘stiff upper lip don’t you know’. The guards of course quieted him down but he still continued to pace and complain.

It was my turn, all I needed was a photo, and a fee and I’d have my temporary travel document. The foundation I was working for had given me some cash and after getting my travel document I went to speak to our angry guy and gave him the surplus, ‘it’s a gift from Jesus’, he was speechless.  But, I couldn’t resist it and giving him my most withering look I told him to “shut up! And stop making such a fuss, try to remember your British!”

You might think that that was the end of my disaster, well no, when I got back to London I went to Petty France to get a new passport but they would only give me a one-year passport. I felt humiliated, as if they didn’t trust me.

We visited China again that year and were also invited to teach in Paris the dates set and contracts signed. We were travelling Eurostar, from Waterloo international Station and we went to get some currency the helpful cashier asked “Did I know my passport had expired?” Of course it had only been for one year. Oh No! What to do? No hope of a new one. Ian go it alone? Break our contract? Our names would be mud. We found a quiet corner and prayed, and came to a decision.

Clutching our tickets and passports we approached the barrier. No one asked for ticket or passport! We got on the train no one checked our tickets. We got off in Paris no one checked our ticket or passport. We couldn’t believe it.

At the university someone asked if there was anything they could help us with. I asked if they could get me a passport renewal form from the British Consulate and one duly arrived. To my dismay it was going to cost in the region of £200.00, five times what it would normally cost, I’m from Yorkshire, need I say more? So we reasoned God got us here he surely can get us back?

In week three a general strike was called in Paris which meant the university would be closed, no public transport etc. We suggested to the students we could all meet and visit the Société Francaise de Photographie.

Up early, enjoying ‘le petite déjeuner’, looking forward to our day out with the students. Inexplicably, mid croissant, I developed a life or death urge to renew my passport, I’m from Yorkshire I don’t do illogical! Almost in tears I pleaded my case with Ian and he with a saint like patience, checked the map and we walked across Paris to the British Consulate.

The salle d’ attente was deserted and we waited for the passport section to open. I went to the toilet and as I was washing my hands the most amazing feeling of excitement filled me, a sense of expectation and anticipation. I tried to explain my excitement to Ian, it was inexplicable. Nothing happened but the excitement remained I wanted to laugh, I could barely sit still. After half an hour a lady came in and sat down close to us clearly on a similar errand as ours.

I smiled and being British mentioned the nice weather. She responded of course but it was clear she was burdened and I said is there anything we can do to help. One of her grandsons had had a terrible accident in Martinique and two thirds of his body had been burned and they needed money to get him to Paris for an operation. My heart sank I knew the consulate couldn’t give her money. We asked if we could pray for her and her grandson. She accepted gladly and we voiced a simple prayer asking God for healing and his provision. It seemed inadequate, my excitement had diminished to a slow simmer.

The passport section opened and I went up with my application, then sat down again to await the outcome. A consular official came and lead our neighbour into an adjacent office. Ian and I sat, heads together and prayed for her and her family. I told Ian about the consular remit. We discussed how much money we had and decided to offer what we had, it wasn’t much.

Within fifteen minutes she was back her face tear stained, her body language expressing her fear and despair.

She told us exactly what I already knew that they couldn’t help, they would arrange transfer of money from England but that was all they could do, she had no money in the UK and didn’t know who she could call on for help. We offered her the money we had but she refused it but we prayed for her again and illogically my excitement rose again.

Another consular official called her back into the office. We prayed.  Shortly afterwards she came out of the office her face the complete opposite to when she went in she was overjoyed and thanking us for our prayers. They had called her back to see if she had been able to think of where she could get some money, they had been patient letting her sit and think. She had closed her eyes and knew we were praying and she just simply asked God for help and in a split second she remember how years ago she and her husband had lent a friend some money, he had tried to pay it back but they had said no it wasn’t necessary he had said OK but if you ever need any money just let him know. It was many years before even her children were born; they hadn’t been in touch for years. She told the official the story, he went away and made some phone calls. Was her friend still living in the same place? Yes, he was! Would he help? Yes, he would! Praise the Lord, you cannot imagine the joy and astonishment.

Was that all? No not quite all. We asked if there was anything we could do, offered her the money to keep her going but again she refused. Then she said, there is one thing? She was hesitant, she and her daughter had been all over Paris looking to buy an English language bible without success. Bubbles of excitement filled me again and I could barely stop myself from shouting Halleluiah!

That morning as Ian and I prepared to leave our hotel room to walk to the consulate I had suggested that Ian took his bible. It was a treasured possession, pocket size, beautifully bound in blue leather with gilt edge pages. There was no logic to this request either but he slipped it in his back pack.

The words were barely out of our companion’s mouth when Ian retrieved his bible from his back pack and smiling placed it in her hands.

We bid our farewells and she hurried off to tell her daughter the good news and we were left once more in possession of the empty room. We prayed thanking God for his blessing and such an amazing experience.

That should have been enough, shouldn’t it? But God is ever a generous God. In due time we were again called into the passport section and the young man shuffled his papers and pushed a passport towards me across the desk. It was a five years passport, it was stamped issued in Paris, how Chic is that? I was delighted and waited to pay the fee. No Fee, no Fee? Not one penny, no explanation just Je vous remercie and au revoir.

My favourite hobbyhorse

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_dsc1099It was 12th night and in the morning Ian and I packed away our Christmas decorations for another year.

Strangely enough this task, which can be onerous and always leaves the house feeling dull and a little desolate, turned out to give me the most Christmassy feeling of the blessed season. Don’t get me wrong we had a really lovely Christmas once all the stress of the preparation: planning, shopping, packing and the rest, was over that is.

We always have two trees, small of stature in the kitchen, a taller one in the sitting room. The kitchen tree is more utilitarian than the one in the sitting room, festooned with predominantly non-breakable ornaments, including a miniature wooden rolling pin, as our cats sometimes misbehave. The pink foil angel was bought for my son’s first Christmas she has a tonsure, which always reminds me of Zeppo of the Marx brothers, and she is looking her age but I couldn’t replace her, that will only happen when she finally crumbles into dust. Some of the decorations where made when Ian and I were students without a brass farthing to spare.

It was whilst I was wrapping each bauble or trinket and popping them into their boxes that I began a ramble through my memory archive remembering past Christmases and when and where we had bought them or who had given them to us over the years.

We have a wombat, a kookaburra, koala and kangaroo who made the long journey from Australia way back in the 80’s. There is a trumpet, a trombone and a French horn from Denmark. In fact, our decorations are pretty international, collected from every continent except Antarctica and not counting the ones made in China, so just remembering took me ‘Time travelling’ on a world tour with reminiscences’ of family, friends and colleagues spread across the globe.

We have one opulent bauble from Harrods, a gift, and a straw slipper from a Chinese street market. Someone even bought us a sparkly spider, he’s as big as a tarantula, not my taste, but it still finds a space next to a glass heart.

Ian’s favourite is a crystal camera a gift of a very thoughtful friend, mine is a miniature wooden hobbyhorse bough in Covent Garden many years ago.

The most poignant and treasured is a delicate glass corncob given by Rosemary our niece who died aged 31 years old in 1989.

The newest is a gift this year,made by our dear friend Rachel, the central figures of the nativity, Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus, destined for the top of the tree next year.

The oldest and so the most precious are a glass teardrop, which was from my mother’s childhood, and two faded glass globes, which are from mine.

 Happy New Year.

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PS Thanks dear friends for buying my latest book ‘Red Sky at Dawning: The Time Oak’, it’s more aimed at late teens and young adults but, whatever age we can all relate to the sweet and sour and often painful transition from adolescence to adulthood that marks coming of age. Amazon.com/author/angelahmoor  (Cut and paste).

 

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It’s even stimulated new sales of my first book ‘Reflections of the old past’, I’m absolutely thrilled. Please remember to do a review on Kindle.

Red Sky at Dawning: The Time Oak

Well here it is at last my new book, ‘Red Sky at Dawning: The Time Oak’, was published on New Year’s Eve on Amazon Kindle It’s been a struggle just to find the precious time to edit, proofread and polish every word and sentence. I’m sure every author must have the same crisis of confidence or that inner struggle to let their creation go.redsky3

Red Sky at Dawning tells the story of Christy, a pretty, intelligent teenager living in the village of Time in southern England. Totally immersed and involved in the village, she has a happy, enviable childhood. Her best friends are Phil, easy going and intelligent, and Don, equally intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive.

When Brett, clever, confident and handsome, the son of wealthy, successful parents, comes to live in Time he is out of his comfort zone. Brought up in South America he’s more worldly, older than his years and appears more mature than the village boys.

Though a close knit community, Brett still brings a rupture to the tempo of the village. He divides loyalties including Christy’s, and awakens in Phil a latent rivalry. Brett’s relaxed and undisciplined life before coming to the village makes him impatient with the steady rural pace and he defies the country lifestyle and pushes boundaries to the limit.

He makes no secret that he’s interested in Christy who, on the cusp of adolescence and womanhood, is attracted but feels vulnerable by the emotional turmoil of her relationship with Brett.

The summer break brings opportunity to hang out and have fun but this idyllic summer is brought to an abrupt end.

They were all changed that day, the course of their lives took another path, one they had not expected to walk or known where it would lead.

 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Must thank Ian my husband for his patience and encouragement, and he designed the cover, a big thankyou also to dear family and friends who have helped me along the way, proofreading and critiquing my work it is so appreciated.

 

amazon.com/author/angelahmoor     please cut and paste into your browser to have a look at my author page.