Tuesday 27 November 2012

Talking History

There are many people who think that I like the sound of my own voice. I can’t deny that I am rather fond of butting into discussions and getting my opinion ‘out there’. But when it comes to literally hearing the sound of my own voice I cringe and hide behind furniture. That’s what I did last Sunday when I was listening to myself being interviewed on BBC Radio Leicester.

Bridget Blair,
BBC Radio Leicester presenter
The interview was for BBC Radio Leicester’s Talking History and that’s what we did... we talked history. I chatted with the lovely Bridget Blair on all manner of historical topics.

* We talked about Richard III and his recently discovered remains. [We’re still hoping it’s him. Only just over a month until we know for sure!]

We chatted about the way that archaeologists bring to life things that to me look like nondescript lumps of stone.

* The conversation worked its way around to my favourite historical topic from my blog Why does history hide in holes, the one about how history is always at the bottom of trenches and does this mean that the world is getting fatter.

And in true going-on-a-chat-show-to-plug-your-book fashion, Bridget held up a copy of A Children’s History of Leicester to ‘show’ the listeners.

If you want to hear my voice, and, indeed, the interview, you’ve got five days left to listen but I’m warning you that I sound nasally and I’ve got a Leicester accent! If you still want to listen then you can find the programme here.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

My Market Performance

I’ve mentioned Leicester Market a few times on this blog. It’s the largest outdoor covered market in Europe and it has a special place in my heart. Long ago Mum and Dad sold costume jewellery there and I loved going with ‘to help’. I was free to wander, in a way that children sadly aren’t able to do today, and I have rich memories of colourful market characters each acting out a performance just for me… or so I thought.

This cartoon of the light bulb man was drawn 
by Mick Wright for my Jewish Voices book. 
You can order one of his excellent cartoons 
or caricatures from Mick Wright.
Enter stage left, the light bulb man waddling and swaying from one empty stall to the next, wearing a special jacket which had one enormous pocket spreading around his body. The pocket bulged and clinked with light bulbs as he leapt across wooden-planked stalls, inserting bulbs with an expert twist of the wrist into the hanging flexes. In the winter that swinging bulb was the only source of warmth for Mum and Dad’s frozen fingers.

Next came the skip boys, pushing fully laden wicker skips from the cellar store rooms beneath the old Corn Exchange. The skips smelt musty and the skip boys strained to push their weight across the cobbles.

By now shoppers were arriving, their stiletto heels clicking, voices rising into a cacophony of sounds with brash sales patter, promising only the best, only the cheapest. "This jumper was made for you, me duck." And the rhythmic call from the fruit and veg section. "Get your oranges, lovely and sweet."

Sometimes I’d skip through the arcade to a clearing in the stalls, an open space for the pitch boys. They towered above my head, balanced on boxes, singing their sales patter to gathering crowds. Their assistants held up sets of matching plates, packs of saucepans. There was always a bargain and always someone in the crowd who appreciated a cheeky aside. "But to you, sweetheart, a special offer!"

And so I wandered on into the dusk and the market’s closing performance, the street sweepers, pushing wide brushes of mounting debris, vans and cars hooting, the skip boys returning refilled skips to their dusty dungeon home, the light bulb man, thin and ordinary, feeding his jacket with hot light bulbs until he was full and waddling again.

It was time to return to our stall, to help pack unsold jewellery into boxes and sit on the wooden planks swinging my legs and ‘guarding the stock’ while Mum and Dad packed up our little car. I always waved to the light bulb man as I squeezed into the back seat and perched beside piled-up boxes, but I don’t think he ever saw me.                 

Friday 16 November 2012

Any more unusual cold and flu remedies?

Here in the UK we’ve reached that time of year when we are overflowing with coughs, colds and flu. In my last blog I mentioned that I had a flu/virus 'thingy'. You’ll no doubt be relieved to hear that it’s on its way out but during this week I’ve received a number of suggestions for how I might hasten my recovery. Here are a few:

Mabel always has to get in on the act!

Lemon and Honey:
You can’t beat a mug of lemon and honey when you’re feeling rough. I’m sipping yet another one now as I type.

Thanks to Joanne from Word Splash for suggesting cider. Apparently her mother gave them cider for many and various conditions. It’s not my remedy of choice. In fact, I don’t know that I could cope with drinking cider this week but if it helps you then go for it!

I suppose that brandy is a common alcoholic ‘remedy’. If I'm not mistaken, it was my son who suggested I try this, even though [or maybe because] he knows I don't drink alcohol.

Dirty Socks:
I have heard that wearing a dirty pair of socks round your neck can help cure a sore throat. Not sure why but I’m not about to try it.

Cold, Wet Socks:
I googled that sock idea and was surprised to read that wearing cold, wet socks in bed helps to relieve congestion. Hmmmm. I don’t fancy that one either.

While I was googling I found a recommendation for listening to jazz music. Apparently it boosts our levels of Immunoglobulin A which helps our body to fight against infections. I think I’m going to try this one out so here's a dose of Billie Holiday singing Ain't Misbehavin':

If you know of any other unusual cold or flu remedies please share them... as long as they don't involve socks!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

I'll never know how you feel

On Friday evening I was felled by a flu bug. I could feel glands swelling up where I never knew I had glands. My stomach rebelled against food and I’ve spent the best part of the last five days curled up on the settee with Mabel the Cat watching daytime TV.

I’ve tried to explain to friends and family over the phone exactly how I feel but each one has a different take on it.
      “Get yourself up and moving and it’ll soon go away.” No it won’t.
      “I’ve had that too and it only lasts a few days.” I suspect you haven’t had this bug, not exactly this bug, because this is my bug.

What I wanted to say was, “You don’t know how I feel,” but I didn’t because that would sound rather pathetic. After all, it’s only the flu, but it is true that no one can possibly know how anyone else feels in any given situation, no matter how empathetic they are.

On Sunday morning, with this thought in my mind, I curled up with Mable the cat and watched The Remembrance Day Parade on the TV. I watch it every year. It makes me think of my Dad. He always went down to London and marched alongside other members of AJEX, The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen. He always made careful preparations for the trip, ensuring that his poppy was smooth and perfect, that his coat was brushed and clean. He always came home cold, tired and silent.

My Dad in the Middle East sometime
during the 2nd World War
In 1977, at the age of 55, he became seriously ill. We didn’t yet know that it was Cancer and that it was too advanced to treat. This was the first time since the end of the 2nd World War that my Dad did not go to London for the Parade. He died the following week.

And so I watch the Remembrance Day Parade every year and think about my Dad.

Was he traumatised at losing close friends in the war?

Or did he miss the camaraderie and organised life that National Service had given him?

Did he see terrible things when he was posted somewhere in the Middle East?

Or did he relish the new skills that came from being in the REME, The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers?

My Dad never talked about feelings. It was the way things were in those days, and besides, I could never have known how he truly felt, however hard I tried. The only feelings I can really know are my own...

...and now excuse me while I take two paracetamol and curl up on the settee with Mabel the cat.

Have you ever longed to know how someone else is truly feeling?

Saturday 10 November 2012

I'm on a Barge in Rotterdam...

...I wish!

In truth I'm virtually on a barge in Rotterdam.

I'm on Val's Barge to be precise at Watery Ways. We had a lovely chat over the Internet. She asked me questions about all kinds of things and encouraged me to 'reveal all' on her blog, so if you want to find out more then do pop over for a visit to:

Sunday 4 November 2012

Blogging Successes and Failures

Jo Carroll, one of my very good blogging friends, has given me The Addictive Blogger Award.

Thank you, Jo.

If you’ve not visited her blog then please pop along to:

In return for this award I have to talk about why I started blogging. Some of my original hopes for this blog have not been achieved but the failures have been cancelled out by the successes.

  • Failure: I started this blog when Mr A was first diagnosed with Amyloidosis. I had hoped to contact others in a similar position. This didn't happen but we’ve got used to his condition now and it’s become part of our lives.

  • Success: I’ve always wanted to write one of those opinion columns in the newspaper. *Glances at soap box in the corner* I don’t suppose I’ll ever get paid by a newspaper for doing it, so this is the nearest I’ll get.

  • Failure:  I wanted to promote myself as a writer.  *hmmmm, me and over a 1000 other writers*

  • Major Success: I thought it would be nice to meet other like-minded people. I never expected that I would get to know so many lovely, chatty, supportive bloggers. Social Networking sometimes has a bad press but for me it’s all good. *virtual cup of tea and cake anyone?*

  • Failure:  I thought that writing a regular blog would kick-start some of my writing projects, the ones that have been ruminating in my pending file, but some weeks I hardly have time to do any writing. I’m far too busy enjoying and commenting on everyone’s blog posts, not to mention writing my own. OK, I exaggerate but it is a commitment and inevitably takes time.

  • Success:  Not a week goes by when I haven’t written something new, edited and polished it and posted it up for people to read so I am writing!

There are as many negative bullet points as positive ones but I wouldn’t want to be without my blog, no way! What are your blogging positives and negatives?

I now have to nominate five other bloggers to receive this award. They now have to explain why they started blogging and pass the award on to five others. Do go and visit them and, if you don’t already understand why I spend time reading other people’s blogs, then you will soon.

Val at Watery Ways

Joanne at Word Splash

Ann at Morning AJ

Carol at Carol Hedges [I’ve just noticed that Carol has, last week, blogged about why she blogs *synchronicity* but I think you should visit her blog anyway.]