Memories of Sophistication.

Even forty plus years ago, people rushed, (power walking, as we would say today) to work across Putney bridge. Not so much lycra clad but wearing trainers and nylon track suits with Nike ticks. Oblivious to visiting girls on training courses, they squeezed the obligatory Mr Motivator or Jane Fonda’s suggested amount of exercise into their day. All the while plugged into a personal tape player; an early mobile distraction.😄😃😂

I was fifteen on my first adventure to The Olive Brown’s school of beauty, where I took the Revlon Manicurist’s course. My first journey on a train alone. From rural Berkshire to London. From a niave girl to sophisticated young woman.

There were many firsts ticked off in those three weeks. My first, first, was a carriage full of dark-skinned men who laughed and spoke in a way I’d never heard. The first time I looked at the underground map but couldn’t find any coloured tracks … surely if it shows a red line the track it stands to reason, the tracks would be painted red …

I tapped the arm of a uniformed man with a shock of grey hair. My chin dropped when he turned, another face as black as can be showing perfect dazzling white teeth. His jovial demeanour and beautiful smile; chased away any fear. Being lost in London, terrified of being impossibly late and wondering if It would be better to just go home; vanished with his kindness.

My first lesson in how to look ‘chic’ came crashing in at the first class. I was used as an example of how not to dress. Red-faced I stood before a sophisticated collection of Young women, it was painful, almost more than I could bear.

My first trip to Selfridges, my first makeover quickly followed by my first glass of Mead. I experienced my first hangover and my first and last unexpected unwanted grope by a stranger. My first excursion to a club, where cage dancers were stunning. The beautiful people with no inhibitions seemed like fun, with their magazine fashion looks and money to buy anything. Yes, I learned more than how to beautify peoples nails on that first adventure.

Lessons learned in the first four days were crucial, even pivotal, in my life. Those lessons stayed forever. Lessons engraved into my soul.

1. Skin colour is not a measure of the man.

2. Sophistication does not automatically bring Kindness.

3. I know how to get around London using the underground better than most … above ground is another matter.

4. Never get in the path of exercising tracksuit wearing commuter on Putney bridge, unless you can seriously swim!

5. Do not .. ever drink Mead.

6. Never lean in to hear what the man is whispering to you while in a nightclub.

7. Raising my knee with speed, while being held close to a persistent man will make him wince and buy me time.

8 I am an excellent runner when I need to be.

9. I am as good as anyone and better than some.

10. Though qualified, a manicurist position is not for me.

11. I have more to fear from ignorance than anything I may encounter.

12 . Travel is a great way to get educated and have adventures.

13. Nightclubs and the gamut of substances found within, don’t hold any attraction for me.

14. All is not always as it seems.

15. The Brownie leader was right! Being prepared is the best way.

14. Fascinating people come in all shapes colours sizes and creeds.

15. Makeup and expensive clothes will not change the you you are inside.

16. The memory of a pale pink suit with contrasting baby blue rick rack, purchased by my fifteen-year-old self in Selfridges, will be remembered  … even when I reach the ripe age of sixty.

 

The photo of Putney bridge is on loan from the independent newspaper, and the rest are free photos from Pixabay.

Do you remember your first learning curve into maturity? I would love to hear, drop me a comment I love to chat.

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The whistlers

I catch a noise before I sleep
The whistlers skulk about
Spreading fear skin deep.
Chirruping secret calls,
Hiding behind garden walls.
Disturbing young girls dreamsI wake with terrifying screams.

I pull a quilt over my head,
Hide a torch beneath the bed.
Prepare to fight for my life
I take Mum’s vegetable knife.
It’s old and blunt, bent a bit
She stabs at spuds in the pot
To ascertain if they are hot.

Armed, I squeeze Emma tight,
Her yellow suit warm and bright
She comforts me as I hum
a lulluby learned from Mum.
Doll and me are doing fine
Until music starts keeping time.

Through the crack, behind the bed
I hear the tune, inside my head,
Sweet and soft hardly heard.
Matching me word for word.
Spuriously stuffing notes in a sack
My sleep is wrestled into the black.

Sheets tangle around my legs,
like on the line, around Mummy’s pegs.
I can’t escape, I scream at last,
Sodden sheets and whitened mask.
Tapping her foot beside my bed
Mummy glares, shakes her head.
washed and clean no longer soiled
Tea is made …
Once the
whistling kettle’s
boiled.

For those who want to listen to me speaking the poem click the link below…

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WJ-42kvYrWdGtNM3RBdERHcWpYNlZwcXVxMGctWmVzYXFJ/view?usp=drivesdk

Written for A Halloween poetry competition press here to see all the wonderful enteries here Thank you Auroura for the opportunity.

A little Halloween can go a long way… What were you scared of? Or maybe you still are? leave me a comment I’ll answer quick smart.

A Right of passage #FGM.

She wears the scars of the divine

They think she’ll forget given time.

that she’ll bow to the pain

And pray in his name.

But she won’t, instead,

she will cry in her bed

For God, on a mission,

Or ancient tradition.

The girls In her tribe

Just frown.

At the stain they see

On her gown.

The heat in her face as

Infection slots In place.

Death is often the way.

Not saved from the cut,

Like a kick in the gut,

Her Mother held

Her hand that day.

It happens In a home

Just like yours,

carried-out behind

Closed house doors.

When blood seeps

through the cracks,

it’s covered with a mat

Never to be mentioned

Again.

I didn’t think it could be,

Because I was too blind to see.

Not in a house that’s

Next door to me.

The piece below was taken directly from Feb 2017 ITV news.

A case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is either discovered or treated in England every hour, according to the analysis of NHS statistics by a charity.

Between April 2015 and March 2016 there were 8,656 times when women or girls attended doctors’ surgeries or hospitals and the problem was assessed – the equivalent of one every 61 minutes.

Did you know this barbarity was so prevalent in the UK?

Can ordinary people like me, with art, stories and poems be heard … make a difference?

Any acknowledgement or comment on this will be responded to with honesty and speed.

Liking Autumn

I love the crunch beneath my boots,

Crisp mornings and coloured trees.

Fingerless gloves and owl hoots,

Long scarves down to my knees.

Conkers burst their, spiked armour,

Spill their seeds for conker wars.

Scarlet and golden paint a scene,

To cover paths and forest floors.

Without Autumn there’d be no respite

a harvest moon would not appear.

No Halloween or cosy suppers

To bring us all our Autumn cheer.

So many of you asked, ‘what are conkers?’ I have popped this link for you. Here . The shaddow fighter picture above was found un credited on the internet and depicts a conker war. All other shots are of my own making.

What do you like about Autumn? Have you played Conkers? I’d love to hear … go on, you know you’d like to.

A Frantic photo.

Capture 1

 

I watch a very attractive twenty-something girl, (youth is beauty after all) she poses outside a well-known emporium in London. I sip my tea as I catch a glimpse of the figure through the steamy window, across the street. Her task became clear as pedestrians moved on, leaving her in view.

She shot five, ten maybe twenty or more snaps, all with different sections of shopfront. The window dressing backdrops, all varieties of poses. There was lipstick on and off, a chin down and up, head to the right then left. One which surely was one side only with a book covering one eye. Hair combed, twisted, tucked and pulled.

My tea finished I walked across the street curious to see her closeup. I couldn’t help it, I smiled and said ‘the first one, you were far more beautiful in the first one.’ She came after me; touched my arm. ‘Sorry. but how do you know?’ She was agitated not quite cross but rattled. I pointed across the road ‘I was in the tea house and saw you clicking, taking shots with your phone … you were perfect in the first one.’

She scrolled fast through her gallery as she tip-tapped alongside. Until she shoved her i phone under my nose. ‘This one … why would it be the best, my nose looks long at that angle and my lips look dry, it isn’t the best at all.’ She was quite frantic, rushing her words, pushing her chest forward. ‘But your nose is the way it is, besides in the first one you were twenty-five minutes younger than the last, so it must be the best.’ I left her baffled as I went about my day. We are what we are regardless of the persona we show the virtual world. Our looks constantly change so each picture depicts a flash of what was; not a perfect shot of what is. The worry on the face of the young woman bothers me. Why the image was so important, it appeared imperative so stressful that I swear I heard palpitations and saw a fear in her eyes. I suppose the term ‘selfie syndrome’ will soon be another condition that parents have to watch for. It seems appearance is all, and ageing humans such as myself, women and men that have lives and deaths etched on our faces will be invisible. At least to the people

We are what we are regardless of the persona we show the virtual world. Our looks constantly change so each picture depicts a flash of what was, not a perfect shot of what is. The worry on the face of the young woman bothers me. Why the image was so important, it appeared imperative, so stressful that I swear I heard palpitations and saw a fear in her eyes. I suppose the term ‘selfie syndrome’ will soon be another condition that parents have to watch for. It seems appearance is all, and ageing humans such as myself, women and men that have lives and deaths etched on our faces will be invisible. At least to the people whose faces, they believe are the measure of them.

thank you unsplash for the use of the picture.

I would love your answer to the question … why was the perfect shot so important?

An Educated Walk

To join Rochelle’s prompt press ‘here’

A hundred miles I walked. Stinking dirty miles, in shoes that didn’t fit. The right too tight, reminding me, squeezing too much in leaves little space to breathe.

The left, two sizes too big, rubbed raw my foot. It made me bleed until it seeped through the lace holes and rolled back the skin, but on I walked.

It taught me to say no, to leave room to be kind, so I can grow a better man.

It taught me, never to be too proud to admit, this is too big for me.

It needn’t hurt to learn that lesson just take an educated walk.

Thanks for the Photo @Sarah Potter

The bike.

Emily took her helmet and silently slid the bifolds back to reveal the garden. Her once warm face received a blast. left with pink cheeks and a pinched nose which she wiggled as she fastened the helmet neath her chin. She closed the doors, pleased to have paid extra for the silent sliders. Emily heard the first birds of the day and spied a squirrel munching below the hazel. She filled her nostrils with Autumn, felt the frost in the air; mingled with wood-smoke in the wind. Emily marched down the path to the back of the cart lodge. A light caught the handlebars, a ribbon of anticipation bubbled in her chest she smiled to herself. Her leg thrown over the saddle and fingerless gloves took the chill from the grips; she was away.

Slowly, she passed the Beech hedge its copper leaves dangled precariously from the boughs. A row of horse-chestnuts were almost naked. The huge trees ran fifty yards down the length of the beech hedging, interspersed with red Hazel. Emily could only smile on such a day as this, she knew there was something magical in the air and had always loved the first ride of the season.

Oblivious to the crunch of leaves quickening behind her, or the raggedy breath wheezing puffs of cloudy air. She meandered, gazing at the sunrise and its colours spread over the fields.

She sensed danger rather than saw him, the taste of fear on her tongue. Emily peddled faster but as speed picked up, her bike was tugged hard. Over the handlebars, she drifted slow motion it seemed. The thud was the last thing she remembered as the world spun blue and green.

With a twist of her head, pain shot up her spine as the darkness enveloped her. She didn’t know what hit her. The lining of her nose stung with the scent of bitumen and burned wood. Prone on a bed of coal she lay, tears ran freely into her hair and her ears filled. One shake of her head cleared her ears but caused spasms of pain to ricochet into her toes. All she could see were sun rays bursting through the grid, way above her head.

The photo/ prompt is Sue Vincents #writephoto to be found here. The gif is taken from a short animated Oscar-winning film called ‘Father and daughter’ to be found on youtube.

My short is open to an ending or maybe it is the beginning of what?

The End of Summer.

Especially for ‘A Scribble of writers’

I was distracted when it came in, what with moving house.

When Easter’s sun puddled chocolate; it seeped through the foil.

Life exhausted my bones, each sinew ached for rest, but on I’d toil.

Pleased to be in this lovely space where history would join with our taste, we’d make a home.

He’d gazed a face like this before. His eyes focused, periwinkle blue.

That doctor, one Summers day … he knew.

When sun and storms made gardens green, The well was clear and ducks shared our stream. I missed those days and slept it seems.

Through Summer, the missed paddles and golden dreams.

Summer season will be remembered,

As the one, I slept away.

The summer of

Misty minds

And forgotten

Days that was

The End Of Summer for me.

Autumn calls now, I hope not to miss the golden leaves the morning mists.

A bike to peddle the flab away on crisp voluptuous days like today.

I hope you enjoyed my freeform write, leave a word, I hope you might. #SundayBlogShare

Conversation With a Grandson

First, the name I answer to, when being called by five particular individuals in this world is, ‘Grandma Duck.’ Why, is a whole other story, that isn’t for now.

Grandson: ‘Grandma duck’

he said, while screwing up his ten year-old brow.

Me: ‘Yes love’

Grandson: ‘This thing, the Haemachroma thing that you have.’

Me: yes.

Grandson:

Well, Daddy said about the iron and the blood *screws fingers together in a spider-like fashion* and the … Jeans ( not typo), steps from one foot to another rapidly.

Me: Umm … Yes love, you know they aren’t jeans you put on your legs the sort that are cool and Grandmas shouldn’t wear. I pull him in under my armpit sqeeze gently and kiss the top of his ear … as Grandmas do.

Grandson:

*wipes ear and frowns* ‘I know that Grandma *sigh*.’ His brows shoot up and with staring eyes he faces me. ‘It is about science and cells and Genes, they group together, some from your Dad and some from your Mum when they are together’ … He stops for breath, pokes his top lip with his index finger and continues. ‘They made you, and both of them gave you a mutant Gene so you have two… mutants, to get the thing.’

Me:

Okay, sorry, you understand that nicely, well done. I squeeze again, just a tightening of my bicep to reinforce how proud I was of the grasp he had of a difficult subject.

Grandson:

So, now you have #Haemochromatosis. His face lit up, a smile spread like crunchy peanut butter on warm wholemeal toast. ‘Does that mean you are a real Mutant? an Alien, like from outer space?’

He looks like he would pee at any moment, I glance towards the front door, half expecting a dozen excited school friends armed with lazer light and nerf guns to burst through at any second, armed and ready to capture the mutant Alien Grandma.

Me:

I roll my eyes, ‘tsk’ ‘No!’ now wash your hands while I get your lunch.

Grandson:

Slaps loudly his unwilling feet on the floor, audibly sigh’s as he foams his delicate hands. With his bottom lip protruding in disappointment he tucks himself under the table.

Me:

Eat your soup then you can have a biscuit … *wink wink*

The things that children understand are I am certain much broader than when I was their age. But there is I think a special type of imagination when your almost all grown, which spans the years and defys definition.

Talk to me, what do you think, are they more grown up, knowledgable better informed … or does as I believe imagination still shine through tegardless.

Genetically Challenged.

We moved away to Somerset, we didn’t find our forever place so after four and a half years we sold up and moved back to Suffolk in the east of England in May 2017.

We threw ourselves into the refurbishing of our house. Well the truth is I didn’t actually do very much as I was exhausted The husband, who can turn his capable hands to most things  began the project working flat out to make our home warm and dry.

Eventually, we thought to find a doctor, a dentist and an optician etc. A week of changing addresses, doing paperwork, joining electoral roles and collecting information took place.

During my new Doctor consultation (I thought him very thorough), a gamut of questions were fired at me, from under an arched and knowledgeable brow. Lots of poking and prodding, weighing, measuring and listening occurred. Squeezing, knocking and the questions went on for an exceedingly long time. Next, I was given bottles and forms to both fill and present to the hospital. This is where I cut to the chase and leave my usual shaggy dog story peacefully in its dog bed.

I had been to the doctors over the last four years with, the pains in my joints, falling asleep, that we all laughed about, the getting lost and my words muddled, the misty or foggy headedness, the heartburn and the chills I had when everyone else was warm, bouts of cystitus that I just couldn’t clear up.

All the above were individually poked fun at by family and friends, none more so than by me. Silly me, getting old, winding down getting a bit quirkier than I was before. It seemed, the harder I tried to get myself fit, the slower and crappier I felt … the more often I stayed in my pyjamas the more it became an Ellen thing, to be laughed at, I stopped saying I am too exhausted to get dressed.

I had my thyroid checked several times, my blood, cholesterol and sugars, to no avail. I was told to lose weight, about 20lb was suggested for optimum fitness. At this point the doctors (I had seen a few) I felt, were beginning to think I was lazy and  wasting their time. They said, maybe it was taking early retirement, or I was depressed missing family and familiarity, but losing weight and getting fit would help. So on I struggled a sleepy, chilly, foggy headed woman who was more and more muddled, weak and in pain.

Well, I can tell you with some relief, that I am not lazy, fat or a hypochondriac, I have a genetic condition that has been very gratefully spotted by my new GP. How lucky was I to have moved  and to have seen someone who knew what he was looking at. He noticed my bronzed skin which incidently makes me look super healthy. When your looks don’t pitty you it is hard to get acknowledgement. Then listened to my account of severe tiredness and sent me for the blood tests. Six hours later he phoned the house to explain that a DNA test was required to confirm the diagnosis. After weeks of waiting it was confirmed. I have Haemachromatosis, the Celtic disease, bronze diabetes or the Viking curse. For a condition that I had never heard of there are plenty of names.

Basically, I store iron, my blood then chucks it into my organs and tissue, the brain, liver etc. This toxic stuff causes havoc where ever it lands. There is no cure … but there is a treatment for which I am very grateful. And though scared, I will suck it up and get on with it. I won’t let it win or change me, it won’t define who I am. Still I smile, with damp eyes and a fighting spirit.

Since August, I have had needles and cameras in orifices I would have preferred not to, I’ve seen pictures of a few places … even I hadn’t seen before. I have been humbled by the kindness of medical people and scared by the condition and the vast amount of knowledge that I am unable to take in, but I am loved thoroughly by those who matter.

Here is the joke, you knew there would be one … I have a needle phobia, always have had and the treatment, the only treatment is Venesection. Blood letting, phlebotomy, removal of my toxic blood. Before we left for the first treatment the husband thought he would … relax me, he wore a wicked grin when he searched You Tube and had to wipe his eyes for the thirty minutes he played me Handcocks Half Hour, a comedy radio skit from 1961, where Tony Handcock donates blood.

One Venesection down and I didn’t disgrace myself, I am sucking it up! What the hell else can I do? So I guess right now, according to Tony Handcock I have an empty arm ‘Tah Dah boom!’

Every seven days a pint has to be removed until numbers drop and stabilise (how long is a piece of vein/ string). Then the gaps will widen to monthly and in a few months or years, maybe I can get down to four times a year with monthly blood tests. For now my toxic blood can’t be used and gets poured away. Once I am in maintenence it will be used and my donations will eventually help others.  But basically … ‘If you want to live and be healthy, you got to bleed … forever.

The husband, he suggested leeches, we have a well in the garden so it could be an option. Someone actually said ‘You must wish you could self-harm.’ Then some people are sick! I became upset when a family member said ‘So what, it’s not a biggie,’ easy to say when it’s not you, said from that place of comfort. Another writer/ bloggy person unbeknown to him gave me an idea.

An advert!

Wanted! A Gentle Male Vampire with sharp teeth.

The successful applicant would be required to come to my home under his own steam. To be dressed in traditional uniform and to specifically partake of dinner twice a month, until further notice.

Wages will be in the form of warm B rhesus negative

Iron enriched the oxygenated blood.

Conversation will not be necessary,

Though good oral hygiene is a must.

The applicant/ Sanguineoue being, will not be permitted, in fact, will be forbidden to partake of any other beverage from any source whilst in my employ, or my home.

Once the task has been completed he will depart the way he arrived, leaving no sign that he ever attended.

If interested in this position please reply by email/ sonar or echolocation … at your soonest opportunity. Only experienced thirsty practitioners need reply.

P.s. no sympathy required I am lucky, I at least can be helped. Sometimes I can’t focus enough to grab my words and writing or talking coherently is not happening. It hopefully will improve and I will be back, talking, writing and reading  and laughing regularly.

P.S. When the specialist said, “You’ll see, we will get you back feeling normal, it will take time; we will improve things.” He was looking into my eyes holding my hand. That’s when The husband laughed aloud and said: “That will be novel, nobody’s accused Ellen of normality in years.” Both men were in hysterics, I think that says it all. I have always risen to a challenge and Genetically challenged will be no different.

Hemochromotosis the most common genetic condition that is also the most undiagnosed and least talked about there is.

As a writer, a teller of stories I get through with my tongue firmly i my cheek.