I was born in 1949 and I remember the 1950s. Life was pretty good. This came from my facebook feed via Graham Smith dear old friend I lived with him in the 1980s.
At the end of the last war I was a young mother with a husband and two children and we were living in terrible accommodation.With so many people bombed out of of their homes we knew it would be years before we could have any sort of decent accommodation Then, amidst all this doom and gloom old labour came into power and we witnessed miracles taking place before our very eyes.
Council houses were being built, prefabs (temporary homes) sprang up like mushrooms almost overnight. Then, although only my husband was working and that was for a very modest wage, we managed to get a mortgage for a home of our own. Schools were built, family planning and baby clinics where I could get free orange juice and free milk when my children started school. They didn’t call “Margaret Thatcher the milk snatcher “for nothing! Factories re-tooled so they could return to peacetime production. The NHS was born, roads and railways rebuilt after so much excessive bombing.Because my brother didn’t pass for grammar school he went to a technical college where he learnt a trade. There were jobs,for the first time in years and we had that wonderful thing called “Hope” life was good.
Owing to us having to fight a very long and expensive war we were far more in debt than we are now. However, old labour put people before money and so decided that although we would have to repay this massive debt we would take our time and not make the savage cuts our government is making now. So, there were no people sleeping on the streets or visiting food banks. Instead they were busy working at re-building Britain’s infrastructure and getting it moving on the roads and railways. True we took a very long time to repay our debt, but we did repay it and our country didn’t suffer the terrible austerity .and cuts it is suffering now.
This is why I am supporting Jeremy Corbyn, it is because he represents the old labour which literally saved our lives all those years ago. Of course he is ridiculed and hated, because his enemies realise he is a very real danger to them. Although I am now eighty six I am actively engaged in trying to get the homeless off our streets not only for their sakes, but also for the sake of my nine great grandchildren who will shortly be needing a home of their own. I can hardly walk, but I can still use my computer and speak at council housing meetings, when someone gives me a lift..I also regularly phone radio stations and open people’s eyes.Finally, this is not just Jeremy’s fight, it is also ours because we are in a serious fight, if not for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren. All too often people think they can’t do anything to get rid of this dreadful government, but believe me they can if they sincerely want to. Also, they believe that they have to wait for a good many years, however this is also not true, the fact is it could happen in a matter of days. So, we must be prepared and focused on putting this amazing Mr Corbyn into number ten, Now wouldn’t it be great if old labour came into power and put the country back on its feet as it did when I was a young mum?
Now there’s a thought!. Joan Langrick… . .
For Widows, Life After Loss
In some cultures, the death of a husband has meant exile, vulnerability, and abuse. But bereaved women are beginning to fight back.
Worth a read: National Geographic
1. RETURNING TO LIFE, Vrindavan, India
Long before sunrise the widows of Vrindavan hurried along dark, unpaved alleys, trying to sidestep mud puddles and fresh cow dung. There’s a certain broken sidewalk on which volunteers set out a big propane burner every morning and brew a bathtub-size vat of tea. The widows know they must arrive very early, taking their place on rag mats, lifting their sari hems from the dirt, resting elbows on their knees as they wait. If they come too late, the tea might be gone. Or the puffed rice might be running out at the next charity’s spot, many alleys away. “I can’t rush in the morning—I’m not well,” a widow complained. “But we have to rush. You don’t know what you will miss.”
It was 5:30 a.m., a cool dawn, a sliver moon. A few widows had wrapped themselves in colorful saris, but most wore white, in India the surest signifier of a woman whose husband has died, perhaps recently, perhaps decades ago. In the dim light they moved like schools of fish, still hurrying together, pouring around street corners, a dozen here, two dozen there.
No one has reliably counted the number of widows in Vrindavan. Some reports estimate two or three thousand, others 10,000 or more; the city and its neighboring towns are a spiritual center, crowded with temples to the Hindu god Krishna and ashrams in which bhajans—devotional songs—are chanted all day long by impoverished widows who crowd side by side on the floor. The sanctity of bhajan ashrams is sustained by steady chanting, and although this is nominally the role of pilgrims and priests, the widows earn hot meals, and perhaps nighttime sleeping mats, by singing these chants over and over, sometimes three or four hours at a time.
They live in shelters too, and in shared rental rooms, and under roadside tarps when no indoor accommodation will admit them. Vrindavan is about 100 miles south of Delhi, but the widows come here from all over India, particularly the state of West Bengal, where allegiance to Krishna is intense. Sometimes they arrive accompanied by gurus they trust. Sometimes their relatives bring them, depositing the family widow in an ashram or on a street corner and driving away.
Even relatives who don’t literally drive a widow from the family home can make it plain every day that her role among them has ended—that a widow in India, forever burdened by the misfortune of having outlived her husband, is “physically alive but socially dead,” in the words of Delhi psychologist Vasantha Patri, who has written about the plight of India’s widows. So, because Vrindavan is known as a “city of widows,” a possible source of hot meals and companionship and purpose, they also come alone, on buses or trains, as they have for generations. “None of us wants to go back to our families,” a spidery woman named Kanaklata Adhikari declared in firm Bengali from her bed in the shelter room she shares with seven other widows. “We never talk to our families. We are our family.”
We were 16 and for all of us it was the first holiday on our own Me, Martin Jennings, Roy Clayton and Keith Taylor, all working class boys, well Keith was a bit middle class. (All grammar school boys so we were quite bright). We decided to go to Lloret De Mar just north of Barcelona. Can’t remember how we decided, one of us must have heard about it. Google maps just about shows our route.
Spain in August 1965, it was the year before it was discovered by tourists, virgin territory! We were all practically broke I had a few quid saved up so we thought we would hitchhike how difficult would it be? I had £30 I had saved from my job as a delivery boy and we planned to stay for a month. (School summer holidays were 6 weeks). We would camp. We had a couple of tents. So we all piled into my dads estate car and he drove us to Dover to get the ferry to Calais. I hate Calais 😆 . We decided to split up into twos as four hitchhiking would be daft. I went with Roy and Keith and Martin went separately. We planned our route avoiding Paris and took reasonably good A roads avoiding motorways (couldn’t hitch on them)
Getting out of Calais was a nightmare. We tried and tried and ended up walking out of town. We were off the main road. I remember it was a dark and stormy night and we hitched for nearly 8 hours without a lift. BUT we wouldn’t give up and return home, failures, we would bloody well walk there if we had to. Then we got a few lifts and made it to Rouen, not too far but it was a start….. We lived on bread and cheese from local patisseries
A few names linger in my memory Clement Ferrand, Limoges, Toulouse, Carcassonne the walled city, we glimpsed them but didn’t linger. Our school boy French worked surprisingly well. We made it to Perpignan and got a bit stuck but just outside we got a lift from a Spanish priest who was going to Portbou just across the border. He had an old 2CV van full of apples he was taking home. Portbou was on the coast and out of our way but ” Senors you must come it is fiesta” so we went for the night of partying and I had my first taste of paella. We slept for a bit and then someone gave us a lift to Gerona the following morning. OMG we were nearly there…But lifts were a bit hard to come by, dribs and drabs on side roads until we were a few miles from Lloret. F**k it we would walk, so we did. I can remember arriving at the campsite and there were Martin and Keith waiting for us, they had had a much easier time. It had taken Roy and me 3 days to travel over a thousand miles!
Lloret De Mar
This was the time before the tourist invasion and the beach was practically empty…..sometimes there were 10 people. No hotels had been built, it was unspoilt.
It was absolutely brilliant. The camp site , which was on the beach practically, the bar served us alcohol and we drank……a lot. A Coubralibre rum and coke cost a shilling, we were a bit drunk most of the time and whooped it up in the practically deserted camp site. We could afford to eat out, Spain in those days was dirt cheap, but we did a bit of cooking. Hot dogs and stuff. The Med was gorgeous. We stayed for three weeks. Aww but I fell in love three days before we were due to leave with Marcella De Geode a sixteen year old Dutch girl. Blonde blue eyed a drop dead gorgeous figure . *Sigh* . She was camping too and the excitement was intents!
I left in tears and Marcella waved us off. It was decided we would change partners I went home with Keith. I was totally broke. Keith still had some money. We did ok hitching but found ourselves stuck just out side Paris. We were pretty exhausted so Keith suggested we go into Paris and get a train to Calais ( we all had return tickets for the ferry) . Keith would pay and I would pay him back once I got home. One of the dads picked us up from Dover from what I remember. We had been gone a month.
What an adventure! We returned to school heroes!
The following year I went back to Lloret, Mum Dad and girlfriend. The beach was so packed you could barely move.
To come later: my tour of Italy when I was 11 and Malta when I was 12 but these involved the Rev Millins of Kensal Green who sexually abused me when I was 10. I’ll blog about that one day. It still hurts. But I’m a survivor!! I hitchhiked to Spain when I was 16!!!!
Here’s a hit from 1965. I can rememberr most of the top ten in 1965 when I looked them up. Here is a tune close to my heart,
Coming soon to a blog near you ” 1971 six months in Torremolinos coz I bought a land rover instead of a boat “
If you liked this or your name is Roy Clayton please leave a comment.
I’ve come close to death three times. Once when I caught hepatitis from a dirty needle. Second when I was bitten by a rabid dog in India and third when I contracted lung cancer.
Well there was a time when I was eight and on the verge of meningitis. I awoke in the morning and started coughing up blood, lots of it. The doctor was called and I can remember him examining me and then calling my mother over to the window. I can see them now, the doctor talking in hushed tones and shaking his head. Oh dear I’m going to die I thought to myself. They came over to me my mother was ashen. The doctor looked at me and noticed blood on my pillow and asked about it. Oh I had a heavy nosebleed in the night. Sigh of relief was palpable. It turned out I had had a massive nose bleed while sleeping and swallowed all the blood! So I don’t count that as a near death experience.
The first time I nearly died was when I was 22 I shared a needle (injecting for the last time – ever) with a friend and eight of us caught hepatitis and had to be hospitalised. I was not going to Neasden Isolation Hospital in London so I dragged myself to my friend’s house In Clydach Vale, Tony Pandy, Rhondda Valley, South Wales. I had no money but jumped trains; in the final leg the ticket inspector caught me. I could not pantomime the lost ticket routine I had developed. I just told him I had no money. He said OK and walked off. I was very ill. I was slowly dying. I don’t know how I did it but I made it to a local GP and he sent me home with some pills. They didn’t work and I wasn’t getting better. I went back and he saw the true state of me. He admitted me that day to a wonderful hospital high up in the valleys. I was there for three weeks and was treated like a king. I recovered.
The second time was when I was bitten by a rabid dog. About twenty of us were attending a meditation course in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India. It was quite isolated. It was 1976 i think. It was an old colonial hill station and we had rented a lovely house on a hill top. We had a pet dog that started acting strangely and had already bitten five of us, breaking skin. When I saw he had chewed his metal bowl to pieces, well something was seriously wrong. I was in charge of him. Two idiots decided the poor chained up dog needed a walk OMG anyway when I heard I ran to them and the dog was going mad on his chain. I rescued them and in doing so I was bitten and so was one of the walkers.
Seven of us were bitten and if he was truly rabid we needed to know. So took him to a local doctor who said yes he was rabid and had to be put down, our cherished pet. So we didn’t accept it, the doctor was a bit daft, so we needed a second opinion. The only hospital was at a not too far away university hospital. We all piled into a taxi for the three hour journey and tied the dog wrapped in blankets to the roof rack. We headed down the mountain. There was a landslide earlier and the road was blocked so we had to return home. In the two days that followed we read up on rabies. It was fatal and you shook yourself to death. It was one of the worst ways to die. We had no choice we had to find out if the dog was rabid so we set off again and told the taxi driver he had to get us through. The landslide had been partially levelled and we managed to bump across. We made it to the university hospital, the dog died on the way.
At the autopsy they confirmed he was rabid. We went to a restaurant and we discussed what we should do. We were very scared. We talked about the anti-rabies injections 14 daily through the stomach wall. There were known side effects, one of them was permanent blindness. We were into day six of the first bite and the minimum incubation period for rabies was ten days. We decided we would have the injections. We returned home and went to the doctors. Yes he could inject us but he only had serum for a few days. He didn’t have enough. We needed more and the nearest place was Shimla a 12 hour train trip away. Armed with a letter from the doctor (he would phone them too) I and a friend headed off.
The journey was relatively uneventful except we had to keep the small crate of serum cold. In the hot parts of our journey we bought ice to cool it.
We were going to have the injections as a group so no one had started, it was now day 9 of the first bite. From what I remember one was over ten but we didn’t talk about that. The injections were horrible. About an inch of fluid straight into the stomach wall. They left lumps of fluid that lasted days. So every day we all trooped down the mountain, got our shots and trooped back. Not fun and this would last for two weeks. This was 1976 in a remote part of India.
Well we all survived OK except me. On the 12th injection I collapsed and they took me up the mountain on a donkey. They called the doctor and he came up to the house to give me my 13th injection. You had to do the course. That night I nearly died. I developed a fever and my temperature went up to 107 and my friends were coming in to say goodbye to me. I had two angels looking after me Kitty Subho an English Thai monk and a wonderful lady who we thought had recently become enlightened. I remember the delirium well. It was a bit out of body, very spacey and voices shouted from a distance. I was going to die but I had no fear just an acceptance.
In the wee hours of the morning the fever broke and I woke up yellow. I had hepatitis again. Think my liver just couldn’t handle the serum. I was ill for about three weeks but what a beautiful spot to be ill in.
Four years ago during a routine hospital check-up the doctor told me they had found a little spot on my lung. After tests it was found to be cancerous. I researched lung cancer and my prognosis was not good. I prepared to die. It wasn’t so bad, I had led a very full life. I achieved an ethereal state of acceptance and said goodbye to the world. This state stayed with me. It became semi-permanent and was a bit difficult to get out of.
After further tests, going up to St James in Dublin they decided they would operate immediately. The consultant surgeon would contact me the next week. It ended up three months later and all this time the cancer was growing. But I stayed calm and did what had to be done. If the operation was successful I would still not get the all clear they were going to take out my left lung. So be it. I was admitted to St James and had the operation two days later. I can remember the prep room and getting an injection then waking up don’t know when in the post op ward. There was good news they only had to take out a lobe. I have a scar running down most of my back where they went in. My mood, that of acceptance, continued.
My oncologist in Tullamore said the cancer may have spread to my lymph and I needed chemo. So I wasn’t clear. Four months later they decide that that was it. Chemo was not fun. I was in remission. Got another year to go to be out of the woods. After 5 years you are considered cured.
Dying holds no fear for me. The mental state that of having done with the world, persisted for a year afterwards. I found it difficult to “come back” . I’m back now but have grown from my experiences. In this day and age longevity is not uncommon and I might look for another twenty years. Well we will see. Whatever the future holds for me I feel I am prepared for it.
I have a WordPress blog so I am immortal. Below is one of my favourite tunes: Gov’t Mule “ Soulshine. I think I let my soul shine and lived better for it.
Please comment and would love to hear your stories if you have them. There is a free Cream Tea voucher for the best comment! Get commenting!
4. Never miss a good chance to shut up. 5. Always drink upstream from the herd. 6. If you find yourself in a hole, get smart & STOP your digging immediately. 7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket. 8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves. 9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. 10. If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there. 11. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back in. 12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.
The moral: When you’re full of any kind of bull: keep your mouth shut.
ABOUT GROWING OLDER …
First ~Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me; I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved. Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra. Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks. Sixth ~ I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top. Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it’s such a nice change from being young. Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been. Ninth ~ Being young is Beautiful, but being old is Comfortable. Tenth ~ Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called Golf.
And, finally ~ If you don’t learn to Laugh at Trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.