Tag Archives: east end of London

A Day in the Life of…

 

Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, “
Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado, author, writer and speaker 1955 –

OK, time to throw off the absolute indolence of holiday time and get back to the serious business of blogging.  I see it is exactly two weeks since my last missive and I think it’s high time I started to write regularly again.

Looking back to this time last year, I see that I was still writing/blogging on a daily basis and in fact, on one day 12 January 2013, I posted two items.  How very clever of me.

Noah's ark

I think that my favourite post written last January was headed All I Need to Know. This listed all the things I learned from the Story of Noah and the Ark.  I really enjoyed writing that post and have also enjoyed re-reading it (https://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/all-i-need-to-know/).

Book cover - Professor and madman

And exactly one year ago today I wrote about Dr Minor, an American Civil War veteran, convicted of murder and condemned to live his life in Broadmoor Asylum ‘Until Her Majesty’s Pleasure Be Known’.  During his incarceration, be became actively involved in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary.  If this is of interest to you here’s the link – https://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/madman-murderer-and-words/.

But now it is 2013 and we can’t rest on our laurels, so here is today’s post.  The post is titled A Day in the Life so perhaps that’s what I should be writing about.  But nothing worth writing about has happened today except a visit to a friend who is confined to a rest home as she convalesces following breaking a hip shortly before Christmas.  She is rather bored and desperate to get home to her own apartment but unfortunately, the fall has rather knocked her confidence and I suspect/fear that it might be several more weeks before they will let her leave.

This is an interesting place to visit.  Several, or is it many, of the inhabitants/clients/patients, are suffering a form of dementia.  Today one man called out to me in the belief that I was his daughter.  It is pitiful to see these people just sitting in lounge chairs nodding off or occasionally talking, but to whom and about what?  They say that the long-term memory stays with one well into the various stages of dementia, so are these men and women remembering the useful and full lives they lived.  Are they perhaps remembering loved ones lost to sickness or even war and are they wondering why these people are not around to visit them?

I remember when my Mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s she could clearly remember what happened and what she had done 30 years before, but she had difficulty in remembering who her two visiting daughters were.  Although on one occasion she did remember that we each had a son and could remember their names.  What a sad way to end her long and busy life.

However, my friend is not suffering from dementia and we had a lively conversation about what I had been doing and who had been visiting her since my last visit.

2013-01-16 17-49-16_0001

Then when I returned home I opened a street map given to me by a friend who recently visited London.  Apparently, he saw this “A Street Map of Jewish East London” and thought of me.

If you have read any of my posts about growing up you will recall that I was born and brought up in the East End of London in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood.  With the exception of those of us living in our gentile apartment block everyone else was Jewish (or so it seemed).  They were mainly Hasidic Jews, and from Wikipedia, I learned that “the Hasidics is a sect of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith.”  These people did not relate/interact at all with us or it seemed, with anyone outside their own strict community.  They were/are easily identified as the men wore their side hair in curls that fell to the jaw and always wore a round fur hat, called a shtreimel.  I was always intrigued by these men (for it was mostly the men we saw walking in our neighbourhood) and wanted to learn more about their particular area of the Jewish religion.

As an aside, my parents’ house was purchased by the local government for street widening and in part payment, they were rehoused into an apartment complex.  The question is what great mind devised the plan to drop a handful of Christian families in the middle of this enclave of Judaism.  One will never know the answer to that riddle.

So back to my map.   I have always been fascinated by street maps.  Not for me the wide and wonderful world shown in an atlas but give me a map of the streets of any town anywhere in the world, and I can happily entertain myself for hours.

Of course, I immediately honed into the area in which I was born showing that less than 5% of the population in 1899 was Jewish.  So I then had to find out what happened between then and when I was born to change this area from being so sparsely populated with Jews at the end of the 19th Century into an enclave of Judaism.

Stamford Hill (where we lived) is now home to Europe’s largest Hasidic Jewish community  The small Hasidic  community was increased dramatically by the influx of pre-war refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. The population has grown with arrivals from Israel and America.  Now within an area of  little more than a square mile, there are no fewer than 74 synagogues, or shuls, 32 orthodox schools, kosher supermarkets, butchers, fishmongers and a multitude of other businesses.  Growing up I remember the bakers, butchers, fishmongers and while there were no supermarkets, I remember the general food store and the fabulous and tantalising smells that came forth from it.

When I was last there I was reminded of my childhood by the sight of groups of mothers uniformly dressed in the mandatory dark coats and long skirts.  They, of course, were wearing the wigs that are obligatory for married women, many were pushing prams with a handful of children in tow.  Family is of great importance to the Hasidic Jews and families are mostly large keeping the women busy all day.  There were also groups of men, but seldom would we see men and women together.

Modesty is paramount to the Hasidics, and the mingling of the sexes is strictly regulated.  Unmarried boys and girls will have little contact with the opposite sex outside their families.  At social gatherings such as concerts and wedding parties, men and women will always be separated.  An Hasidic man will avoid making eye-contact with any woman other than his wife, and would never shake hands.

While I could find nothing to support this, I think because of this segregation of the young, marriages are probably arranged by the family.  How are young men and women ever going to meet?  I wonder if there are still marriage brokers as Yente in The Fiddler on the Roof.

As you can see there is still much research for me to do in this area.  That will wait for another day.


The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..Related Posts

Advertisements

No time To WaveGoodbye

If you have read any of my posts you will know that I am a Londoner, and although I haven’t lived in that fascinating city for some 50 plus years I still think of it as home.

I was born shortly before the Second World War broke out and have described how I grew up during the bombing by the Luftwaffe, thinking this was how all people lived.  And it wasn’t until many, many years later while talking to a German Pastor over coffee, that I realised that there were also German children growing up under the same conditions.

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about evacuation but mainly about those children who were sent to Australia without their parents’ knowledge or consent – Oranges and Sunshine .  A plan that while made with good intentions (?) went horribly wrong.

Because we lived in the East End of London and the Docks were the target of the bombing, many children were evacuated to the country out of harms way.  But Mother decided we would all stay together; I think she didn’t trust strangers to look after her three precious daughters.  We did go to stay with an aunt in Nottinghamshire for a short time, but the aunt wasn’t Mother’s favourite person and we three were miserable so the stay was very short.

The plan was to evacuate the  school aged  children (without their mothers)  from the East End of London and areas around the docks in Liverpool and Glasgow and while it was made with good intentions it went horribly wrong in places. Mothers with children under school age, children and expectant mothers were  encouraged to evacuate.  Official figures put the number of evacuees at:

  • Schoolchildren (827,000) and their teachers
  • Mothers with children under five (524,000)
  • Pregnant women (12,000)
  • Some disabled people

Some of the evacuees had a great time, but of course, many were homesick and ran  back home.  Most hadn’t been away from their homes at all and many had never seen grass or cows.  It must have been a rude awakening.  And some were very badly treated.  They were used as unpaid household and farm help and many were kept in deplorable conditions.

The decision to evacuate was made by politicians and people who had no concept of how many children lived in the poorer areas of the land.  These decision makers were used to sending their own children (or at least their sons) away to boarding school at the age of 6 or 7 and they had no idea that this would be a totally foreign concept to most of the population.  But the decision was made.

Book cover

My very tattered copy.

In 1990 on a sunny afternoon in Toronto we were invited to accompany our hosts to a party on a launch.  Here we met Ben Wicks, a journalist now a Canadian  who had been evacuated when he was 12  and had decided to write about not only his own experiences but also those of other evacuees.  He posted advertisements in papers in the UK, Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa asking for those who had been evacuated to contact him.  He had an overwhelming response.

The book brings history to life as told by the people who lived this experiment and makes compelling reading.  The twins who were sent to separate houses, the boy who slept under the stairs and had to have the fire lit and the kettle boiling for breakfast before the family rose in the morning and even then he only had what was left after the family had eaten, the brother and sister taken to a farm and who slept with the animals in the barn; and then there were those who were treated beautifully.  The two brothers who were treated as the two sons the couple never had and with whom the brothers kept in contact for many years, and the young girl who was given piano lessons.  One of the famous people who was evacuated is Sir Michael Caine  (aka Maurice Micklewhte).  Sir Michael’s  family lived in Southwark, South London, and he was evacuated when he was six and remembers being one of the “filthy kids from London with funny accents.”

In the book this greatest movement of people that Britain ever experienced is recalled  in interviews Ben Wicks conducted with those evacuees who made themselves known to him.  And Wicks noted that an important repercussion to the evacuation  was heightened political awareness of the injustices of the British class  system.

 

Time for Trivia

2012 Olympics logo

If you live in the free world (or anywhere that has radio, television or the print media) you will know that in approximately 28 days the 2012 Olympic Games will commence in London.

But did you know some of these bits of trivia?

  • More than 200 structures had to be demolished before building could begin on Olympic Park in London’s East End.
  • 90% of material reclaimed from demolition within Olympic Park can be reused or recycled.
  • 1.3 million tonnes of soil at Olympic Park was washed to get rid of contamination.-
  • Around 900,000 items of sports equipment will be used during the Olympic Games.
  • 700 bird and bat boxes are being installed across Olympic Park to encourage rare species into the area.
  • Around 20,000 media and broadcasters will cover the Olympic Games.
  • McDonald’s will have four restaurants at Olympic Park the largest is 2,800 square metres  (approximately 30,140 sq feet) and will seat 1500 people.  It will be the largest in the world.
  • The oldest person in this year’s Olympic Games is 71-year-old Hiroshi Hoketsu who has qualified for Japan’s equestrian team.

So with this useless information you will surely beat all your friends
at Trivial Pursuit.

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Walking Around London

I have another old book that I haven’t even opened for many years.  It is called The Face of London by Harold P Clunn.

Book frontispiece

The caption on the picture of St Paul’s on the left says “London 1946: St Paul’s Cathedral through the willow herb”.  The willow herb was a weed that sprung up on bombed sites following the bombing of the city by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.

‘I have seen the greatest wonder which the world can show to the astonished spirit.  I have seen it and am still astonished – and ever will there remain fixed indelibly on my memory the stone forest of houses, amid which flows the rushing stream of faces of living men with all their varied passions, and all their terrible impulses of love, of hunger and of hatred – I mean London”

These words are shown in the preface of the book and were written by Heinrich Heine, who lived in Craven Street, Strand in 1827.  At that time apparently, London was the largest city in the world and had a population of 1,500,000.

I wonder how Herr Heine would react to London now.  Our friend Wikipedia tells us ” In July 2010 Greater London had an official population of 7,825,200, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union, and accounting for 12.5% of the UK population. The Greater London Urban Area is the second-largest in the EU with a population of 8,278,251, while London’s metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million.  London had the largest population of any city in the world from around 1831 to 1925.

London

 Wikipedia

The book takes us on 25 walks around London and reinforces my feeling that I am a Londoner even though I haven’t lived there for some 50 years.  It appears that the book was published in 1957.  I still lived in London then and that was the year that I married my dashing young Scotsman. Nostalgia is alive and well in Wellington, New Zealand today.  So I shall go away and revel in it.

As you know, I am particularly interested in the East End of London and walk number 17 takes us from The Bank to Shoreditch, Hoxton, Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Mile End, Victoria Park and Stepney.

We walk along the roads that are familiar to me from my growing up years.  Cambridge Heath Road runs through Bethnal Green to Hackney which is where we lived.  We walk past the Bethnal Green Museum which was opened in 1872 by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) as an eastern branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  This is now commonly known as the Toy Museum and is a source of wonder and delight to the young.  My children were taken there on visits home when they were young and it was always on the list of ‘must visits’.

We pass the Bethnal Green underground station where I used to board the tube for my journey into the centre of London every day.  What memories that brings back.  Rushing to catch the interconnecting trains that would take me from the East End to the West End,  But more on that some other time.

Many tales of nefarious deeds abound in this area.  The siege of Houndsditch in 1911 when a group of criminals occupied several houses.  A police cordon was set up and two policemen were shot dead and the ringleader of the group was mortally injured and died the next day.

There was a large brewery, Charrington & Sons where the famous Toby Ale was brewed and then past the People’s Palace which stood on the grounds of the Drapers’ Company’s Almshouses.

And on to Limehouse and the West India Docks with the East London Tabernacle which provided accommodation for some 3,000 people at the height of its popularity and into the Mile End Road leading to Victoria Park.

I have waxed lyrical about this park in the heart of London’s East End.  Because of the history surrounding this park, often described as the largest and finest in London, it will have to be covered by a separate post.

When my sisters and I were growing up one of our favourite pastimes on Sunday afternoon was to take a bus into the centre of London and then walk home from there.  We would take a different route each week and this was one of them.

I have enjoyed my nostalgic walk around London and will return for others.

More Memories

Today I came across an old book that was given to me by my father some 25 plus years ago.  It wasn’t new when he gave it to me; he had obviously had it for some time.  But he was a great reader and loved to share his knowledge with his daughters.Book cover - Rural LondonThe book is written by  Emil Otto Hoppé (14 April 1878 – 9 December 1972)  German-born British portrait, travel, and topographic photographer.

I have no idea when this book was published but the London to which it refers is a far cry from the London in which I grew up or indeed the London of today.

It talks of leafy lanes and villages and tells us: “To the visitor from the Provinces or from abroad London must seem at first sight to be a stupefying maze of brick, tile and slate whose main purpose is to support millions of crazily pitched and variously patterned domestic chimney pots….”  Well of course nowadays no open fires are allowed in London but many of the chimney pots remain.

Vachel Lindsay the so called, “Prairie Troubadour” was in London in 1920 and apparently when asked (by Mr Hoppe) what had struck him most about the town he had described as “The lovely lady London” he responded “Maybe it was seeing the squirrels playing among the leaves in Russell Square and the wild ducks scudding across the sunset high over Hyde Park”.  Well the squirrels and the ducks may still be seen but London has changed dramatically since Lindsay visited.

Of course, I most enjoy reading about the East End of London which is where I was brought up.  The book must have been written after the Second World War but there is no notation as to date of publication.  However, Hoppe says of the East End “Here amid the wilderness of bricks and mortar, where the Luftwaffe let loose its fiercest furies there is a profusion of flowers and shrubberies”.

A favourite playground for us was Victoria Park that Hoppe describes as the Hyde Park of the East End.  He describes the shady walks of the park, lily pools and swings and roundabouts and “one of the loveliest lakes in England”.  All this was still there for three little girls to enjoy.  But sadly things change, and the park is no longer an idyllic place for children to play alone.

The Hackney Marsh is another memory from long ago.  And here (of course before my time) Dick Turpin and Claude Duval used to hide from the Kings men and clatter past Queen Elizabeth’s Lodge at Chingford.

And now I am off in the direction of another favourite poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.  Do you know this poem?  And what part was brought to mind by the above paragraph?

And still on a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a gypsy’s ribbon looping the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding, riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord’s daughter
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

If you don’t know this poem or want to refresh your memory – click here for the rest of it.

And on the other side of the River Thames, an area not really known to us when we were growing up but still in the East End, Hoppe shows us `pictures of Calvert Court in Southwark which was standing when Chaucer’s “nine and twenty pilgrims” set out for Canterbury  and the George Inn, Southwark, the solitary surviving medieval inn now owned and operated by the National Trust.

Here  you can walk where Shakespeare walked  – Bankside where we are told that Shakespeare walked every day composing Lear and Hamlet and Ariel in his head.  Here too is the Rose Theatre,  London’s most historic theatre.   The first Elizabethan Theatre on Bankside and home to many of Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s first productions.  Of course, The Globe Theatre is close by just  through Cardinal Cap Alley famous for the fact that this was the way to the brothels in medieval times.

Jekyll and Hide

Image via Wikipedia – Title page of the first London edition (1886)

And let’s not forget that it was here that Dr Jekyll used to go when he turned into Mr Hyde.

And this area is so steeped in history. Pickwick walked here, Browning and Joseph Chamberlain were born here, Byron went to school and the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin,lived here.

As I have often said before Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I find this all so interesting, familiar and comforting.

You find no man at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.  No Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Samuel Johnson, English Poet, Critic and Writer 1709 – 1784

And may I please interject with a bit of nonsense I remember from so many years ago.  It must be read with an East End accent.  So  –

With a pair of steps and glasses
You could see the ‘ackney marshes
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between”

Note the use of ‘ denotes the dropping of the aitches as common in the East End.

The Market

It was still raining this morning what a surprise!  I had arranged to meet a friend for coffee and afterwards I decided to check out the Saturday market in the area. I have seen the notices for the market many times, as it is held in the school grounds in the same street as the Mary Potter Hospice.

The market was full of stalls selling fresh produce, mostly vegetables and some fruit, but one had freshly baked bread and bakery items, another was selling gourmet salamis – but the choice of vegetables was outstanding.

I was told that the vegetables had mostly been picked yesterday and many were organically grown.  What really surprised me was how much fresher they looked and how much cheaper they were than those vegetables currently on offer at the supermarket.

The market was busy in spite of the puddles and the continuing rain; it obviously has a host of loyal followers.  The comments among the customers and stall holders suggested that they were on friendly terms which could only be because of their familiarity with each other.

Of course, I bought far more than I should have, but as it’s coming up to soup weather the vegetables will be put to good use.

And then this reminded me of street markets in England when I was growing up.  I wrote a blog on this in July last year – if you are interested in my meanderings down memory lane please click here.

Road sign

I know that as I get older these memories return and I often wonder are these places, sights and people improved with the passing of time?

I do know that we had no choice on Saturday about whether to accompany Mother to the market.  And only as we became older and in her considered opinion, more able to be responsible for ourselves, were we able to make a decision as to whether or not to accompany her.  But this was a time of sharing for Mother and her three daughters.  It took about 30 minutes for us to walk from the market to our house. Walking along, each carrying at least one shopping bag, we discussed all things that mothers and young daughters discussed.

I particularly remember as I reached the ripe old age of 15 and had a boyfriend, Mother and my sisters ribbing me about him.  Innocent family fun.  Saturday afternoons and Ridley Road market are imprinted in my memory so many, many years later.

Mother and girls

Mother has now been dead for some 16 years and I cannot discuss these days with her anymore.  But I can discuss them with my sisters and I wonder if their memories of these days are as clear as mine.

“Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me would we? Could we?
Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..Related Posts

Moving House

“I was walking along, minding my business,
When out of the orange colored sky,
Flash, bam, alacazam,
Wonderful you came by. “

It was 1950.  My parents had moved into the apartment after their own house was taken for road widening before I was born.  I had always lived in the apartment but now we were to move.

It was very exciting.  It was the year after I went to the grammar school.  I have vivid memories of house moving day.  Mother was very efficient and we were in the new house by lunchtime.  I am unclear of how we got there or how the furniture got moved.  I suspect that Father and some of his friends did the actual moving as we didn’t have money for moving men.

My elder sister and I were sent off to the Broadway Market to buy ham and fresh rolls for lunch.  As we were 11 and 12 at the time, and in a totally new area of the city (albeit only about 3-4 miles away) it was quite an adventure.

We were given instructions on how to get to The Broadway.  “Walk down Lansdowne Drive all the way to the bottom and then turn right into the market.”  And “Don’t turn into Shrubland Road that will take you to Dalston”.  Well, we had never heard these names before and so were very careful how we went.

With London Fields on our left we walked along with our money an,d shopping basket.  No plastic bags from the supermarket then.  In fact, no supermarkets.  It was many years before the introduction of self-service supermarkets.

How very grown-up we felt being trusted to go to this new shopping area on our own.  Our youngest sister was only 8 and so she couldn’t go with us.

Every shop sold specific things – the butcher sold meat, the baker sold bread etc.  There were general food stores such as Sainsbury’s and The London Co-op, but most people went to the individual shops.  All shops had long counters with shop assistants standing behind them ready to serve.

We went to the two shops.  Bought the ham from the butcher.  He sliced it on a machine counting out the number of slices.  He was friendly and we told him we had just moved into the area and he gave us a slice of ham each to eat on the way home.  We next went to the baker shop.  Full of bread, rolls and cakes and all baked on the premises.  Amazing smells and the smell of newly baked bread takes me right back to that day and that shops.

There are still some shops like this in parts of London.  We bought the rolls from the baker and went off to our new home.  We were very pleased with ourselves.

We told Mother about the butcher and the people in the bakers and how friendly they were.  As they were the local suppliers Mother knew she would meet them in the coming weeks.  Shopping was done each day – no refrigerator in our house and everything had to be carried home by Mother,

I clearly remember the song that everybody was singing at that time.  Natalie Cole sang “I was walking along minding my business when out of an orange coloured sky, crash bang alakazam wonderful you walked by”.  To this day, whenever I hear that song, I am transported back to 1950, walking along Lansdowne Drive on the way to the Broadway Market in the east end of London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Things Better Today?

Record

“They changed our local palais into a bowling alley and fings aint wot they used to be…” from Lionel Bart’s lyrics for the musical play Fings Aint Wot They Used To Be.  Click here for Max Bygrave’s version of this song.

When I was much younger I used to roll my eyes when Mother, Father or one of the grandparents told me how much things have changed since they were young.  Now, while I don’t say this to my children and grandchildren, I notice how very much has changed since I was young.

I have written nostalgic posts several times over the past (almost) three months.  In particular I waxed lyrical(?) in April.

Memories are great but were things any better?

Pie and Mash shopFast food for us was occasionally fish and chips and because we lived in the East End of London, pie and mash.

Now everywhere we go we see the ubiquitous golden arches or the BK sign.

Are we bringing up a generation who don’t know the joys of cooking at home and only take the fast food option?

Is the plethora of fast food outlets adding to the benefits of living in the 21st Century – I would think that children are missing out of the times spent in the kitchen with mother or grandmother watching as she prepares the family’s food and learning more about each other.

Encyclopaedia Britannica in bookcase

Encyclopaedia_Britannica - Wikipedia

When we were researching any subject we either used the local library or if we were lucky enough to have a set, used the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Our parents had bought this set for us on what they euphemistically called the ‘never-never’.  An early Hire Purchase offer.   This was a stretch for our parents but they wanted the best for us.

Now my grandchildren go straight to the web and Wikipedia for anything they need.  The web is certainly easier and quicker and I am sure that children are learning so much more than we have learned.  So in this way it is better now.

But where is the excitement of finding just the right place to look, the feel of the books and following leads from one thing to another?

We walked or cycled to school – today children are generally driven to and from by parents.  Will they learn to be self sufficient and able to get themselves from place to place in this way?

I understand that younger children must be ferried around and I am pleased to report that my grandchildren are now finding their own way around as they should at their age – between 12 and 16.  But many of their friends are still driven everywhere by parents.

What about shopping?  I wrote about the various shops my Mother visited for groceries in my blog on April 18.

Now we make one stop for everything.  Malls are everywhere and we just get into our cars and drive there.

What I think we are missing out on is the normal interaction between shoppers and shop assistants.  In these days of check out counters, there is no time to catch up on each others lives as my Mother and her peers used to when shopping,

And driving.  Mother didn’t drive and so she walked or took buses.  When walking she always met somebody that she knew.  Another opportunity to catch up with each other.  Now we sit in our cars, often alone, going about our business.  No chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances here.

Children played outside after school.  Now they seem to be glued to the TV and/or computer playing games.  They are missing out on the fun to be had from organizing team or other games in the fresh air. 

I guess I haven’t answered the question one way or the other.  There are certainly so many things we have now that we didn’t have before and for which we are grateful

  • The internet allows me to interact with friends and family around the country and around the world.
  • Freezers that allow me to shop occasionally yet always have food on hand.
  • Mobile phones that also allow me to keep in touch.
  • Computers that allow me to work much quicker and faster.  I remember typewriters and then they were replaced by electric typewriters, then memory ones.  But they all had one thing in common, if a mistake was made in typing it had to be corrected either by starting over or else making physical changes with whitening products and then typing over.  How much easier it is with Word.
  • Easy and convenient shopping.
  • Credit and ATM cards that mean I can buy what I want/need without having to go to the bank to get money.
  • Easy travel between the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere allowing me to visit family and friends.
  • Cheaper travel between the hemispheres.
  • Cheaper phone calls so I can speak with my sisters regularly.
  • And of course, the internet that allows us to share photos between us.

And really too many things to list here.  I am sure you can make up your own.

So overall it is better to live today but I would like to share  two of my sayings that I use often:

“Memories are the bricks we use to build our lives”  and

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.” 

Judith Baxter, mother, grandmother, friend and blogger.  1938 –


Nurture vs Nature

The route through childhood is shaped by many forces, and it differs for each of us. Our biological inheritance, the temperament with which we are born, the care we receive, our family relationships, the place where we grow up, the schools we attend, the culture in which we participate, and the historical period in which we live—all these affect the paths we take through childhood and condition the remainder of our lives.
Robert H. Wozniak  U.S. professor on human development.

So much has been written about this subject and now I want to add my two pennies worth – or tuppence worth as we said when I was growing up.

My two sisters and I lived with our parents in a modest house in the East End of London, with little money to spare but with an abundance of love and caring.  There were no luxuries available as we had recently fought a long hard war with Germany.  Absolutely everything was rationed.

We gawked at the Movietone newsreels of the things available in America but we had what many didn’t have, a safe and secure, loving home.

So where’s this going.  We were all brought up together but very soon I left home to marry my dashing young Scotsman, followed by my elder sister who went to America ‘for a couple of years’ but in fact some 50 plus years later she still lives there, and then the baby of the family married and moved out.

We made our separate lives.  We moved away from each other but still kept in contact.  In those days that meant snail mail and the very occasional, highly priced, telephone conversation.  Oh what a joy when eventually we all had internet connections and could communicate via email as often as we pleased.

But many things from our childhood and upbringing have stayed with us.  See my post on Sisters.  I particularly remarked on this when on a visit to Los Angeles to visit with my elder sister I noticed she was using Imperial Leather Soap.    This was the soap from our childhood and the soap that I still used living so far away in New Zealand.  Then on to London and guess what?  My younger sister was using Imperial Leather Soap.  Added to this was the fact that at that time we were all using ‘Je Reviens” perfume by Worth.  A coincidence or was it tied into the way in which we brought up?

So with our parents example we have each raised our children and they in turn are raising theirs.  My mother died at about the time the internet was becoming available to all.  So I had to rely on telephone calls (reduced rates by then) and snail mail to contact my parents.  I took the opportunity of writing to them thanking them for the childhood they had given us and acknowledging just what they had done for us.  I wished I had been clever enough to keep a copy of that letter.  I know that both parents appreciated the thoughts that went into writing that.  And for me, there was the pleasure of having told them how I felt before they died.  What good telling the assembled mourners at the funeral?

And the point of this blog?  Just sharing random thoughts with you.

“Happiness is looking back on a great childhood with supportive parents and two fantastic sisters.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger 1938 –

And for no good,discernible reason I would like to share this quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“Old age is fifteen years older than I am.”