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If Only They’d Look Closer

IMG_0306[1] The Cover

IMG_0307[1]The First Completed Page 

IMG_0314[1]A Sample of a draft page


As some of you may be aware I have been working on nan’s life book quite a lot this week. It’s taking great shape and has reaffirmed to me that before dementia nan, there was nan, who had lived an intriguing life. A life that I can find out more about simply by asking the right questions and with the right props.

This post is just to show you all how much I have learned from nan about her life, and about times gone by simply by using the right techniques. I know they don’t work for everybody, and that for some giving enough details to make a whole book would be a struggle, but really, if you can, whatever you can. Do.

On the left in Italics will be the subject we were talking about. Followed by word for word transcript of what nan told me (with prompted answers from me in brackets).

Grandparents: In those days they didn’t talk to you much. Not treated like children are now. Your place was sit down and be quiet.

Father: He was a Hairdresser (mens)…then army… then HALEX . Him and mum used to go to a club at weekends (day club where they met up with friends and could do tennis or several activities)

Mother: My mother was very handy with her hands if you know what I mean. Can’t say I had a very good life as a child. Mum didn’t work as mums didn’t in those days.

As a child: Seen and not heard. Helped mother with washing up and clearing table (no pocket money). Training to be a housewife. Used to have cheese pie in the War (mashed potato with cheese mixed in). Condensed milk was used as a substitute for milk and it was yummy. Carnation milk didnt enjoy but mum did. Camp coffee is what dad drank. Spangles were yummy sucky sweets. Too much SPAM during war, never again.

Southend is about the only place we ever went

Friends: At school didnt have many. All play/talk together but never went with friends like you do these days. More about school, homework, family.

School: Got into grammar school. Quite disrupted due to war. Had to find own job after, no apprenticeships. Played hopscotch and a game where you bounce the ball off the wall and your friend has to catch it. Liked school espesh English Lit, Maths and science. Science had its own block outside of the school. During PE played netball and very rarely hockey. Also did drama and dance, and in RE just did Bible studies every morning. Primary school got bombed during war , but not badly damaged, had to replace some slates. All the teachers were very nice and there was no one i didnt like. Very good girl, had to study.

Dreams: didnt have dreams. gosh no. not like these days. didnt expect you to have thoughts. enjoyed dancing though.

Fashion: strict school outfit, mum had to take me to shop that sold them and they kitted you out. Not much in the way of clothes. No uniform at first school (Selwyn Avenue) and had to walk through Highams Park to get to main road to get the bus to secondary

Went to Wimbledon once, boss had two free tickets, didnt want them and gave them to me. Asked another girl in the office and they took time off work to go. nothing like it.

Entertainment: Occasionally cinema, not very often. Didn’t do a lot. Reading inside a lot of the time. Grandad loved club row, where they had a big market. Used to dance to chatanoogachoochoo and a string of pearls.

Wedding: Uncle Jack (dads brother who lived round the corner) had a daughter (Yvonne Goldsworthy) who was a bridesmaid. And so was Maizie Ravenscroft. Got married 30/8/52. to (victor) cyril eyres. Used to go dancing but he didnt dance just watched while i did. occassionally went to the beach. No proposal just progressed to marriage. Travelled to victoria (with mum in the car) to get to honeymoon. Laughed about it for the rest of marriage. Went to cornwall.

Went on a family holiday to Pontins in 1951

Went to work do’s in 56 and 58

To get to work had to get a train to london bridge and walk to where i worked. it was a big building just as you came to river and bridge.

Proud moments: getting married, having children and grandchildren. retirement.retired from queen mary hosiptal (as personal secretary to a doctor) 30/12/93

Favourites: jeremy kyle, deal or no deal, variety programme
westerns, musicals, anything with a good storyline
dance music and chillout classical
egg and chips, duck
tea, sherry, port, drambouie
knitting, sewing, cooking and gardening
Kirsty, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
cats, scared of dogs as attacked by one when younger, managed to get away before bitten.

Views: Reading: used to like reading but couldn’t sit and read now, maybe a magazine or a book
Friends: used to like friends but don’t see anyone anymore
troubling times: were the war and my mother-even the neighbours could hear, they would talk about it but never help
Religion: not religious but used to go to church
politics: hahahahahhahaha cor dear what a crowd we’ve got now

This post is really quite scrambled, I understand that. But I didn’t want it to be too organised as that is not the way things work in life. Also just to point out I did not find out all this information in one afternoon (quite simply would not have been possible). But a series of mini “interviews” if you like. Discussing a small part of each subject in turn, gathering stories whenever nan tells them and I hope more will come through the use of the life book.

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