Wednesday 29 December 2010


Mum used to say 'The Queen says "I want" every time we said the word. 'I would like..sounds so much nicer' she would repeat, endlessly. And I eventually I heard the words as she did, nasal, whining, greedy - and made sure that my children heard the same intonation.

I seldom use the term, there is little that I want,  for  myself at least. Many things are on my 'would like' list: to be warm again, for instance, blue skies, and a holiday away from here. Somewhere warm but not too hot, a place without creepy crawly things that sting or bite. Where someone else would cook and clean and pamper me, slough off a layer of skin and squeeze and pummel blood through bone and muscle.

I would like to have our Bank Balance back to its old pre-slump level.
I would like the ability to hold my tongue-to allow JP the last word if that is what makes him happy.
I would like the strength to resist chocolate and cigarettes but enjoy both so much I don't care.

But there are a few things I truly WANT.: Apart from world peace and Goodwill to all men, of course!

I WANT Number one daughter to find happiness that is lasting, love reciprocated, respect as her due.
I WANT and only son to be relieved from pain [three unsuccessful knee ops.]
I WANT baby daughters dream of motherhood to come true.

And for me....I WANT my Blog back the way it was. I WANT my 236 followers back. And to that end I am keeping Piffle for piffle and The View From This End is going back to it's old ways.No more re-posting

What would you like?
What do you WANT?

Monday 20 December 2010


Sep 26, 2008 8:32 PM

by Moannie

For Christmas, in the 'Ringworm Year', the older girls decided to put on a play. It was to be Goldilocks, and the second smallest girl was chosen to play the heroine, mainly because she was able to fit into the Bear's 'beds' [three laundry baskets] but also because she had golden hair.

I watched all the rehearsals, and knew all the words by heart, except for the Goldilocks part. She had nothing to say. All she had to do was to come on stage, try the porridge on the table, then go to the baskets, try the big one, then the middle one and finally, fall asleep in the smallest. Then, when the three bears came noisily home, she had to sit up and stretch, see the bears and run screaming to the front of the stage where Mr. Diamond would lift her off and she would go running through the audience, out of the door, along the corridor, around the corner to the 'stage' door and back on the stage for the final bow.

All was going well until Goldilocks fell ill; three days to go till Friends of St. Edith's arrived for their annual feel-good night. Eventually someone suggested that, I might do. As soon as they all finished falling about laughing they realised that they had no choice; it was the squeaky voiced bald girl or no-one.

One of the nuns made me a bonnet out of stiffened card and crepe paper tied beneath my chin in a big bow, and yellow wool was stuck in curls next to my face and down the back. In my pink borrowed dress and the blue bonnet I thought I looked very pretty .
The evening of the concert arrived and the hall was filled with the great and the good and the show began.

The Grand Old Duke of York came on with four of his ten thousand soldiers and marched to the top of the hill [two benches] and marched right down
 again. Someone played the piano and carols were sung and then it was time for the Piece De resistance.

The three bears tramped on stage, did their bit with the porridge, decided to go for a walk and exited stage right.

My cue; I climbed on-stage and smiled at the audience to a chorus of oohs and aahs. Slowly I sampled the father bears porridge and made a huge grimace and much fanning of my mouth to indicate how hot it was...then mother bears...ugh! nasty and cold. Baby Bear's was just right and I scraped the bowl clean; [they were all empty of course, but a great bit of acting don't you think?]
Then over to the, jumping into each one and making a great deal of business over the whole thing, ignoring the 'hurry up' gestures of Sister Moira. Finally I lay down in the baby Bear's basket, yawned hugely and closed my eyes. Almost at once the three bears came home. 'Whose been eating my porridge' said father bear, and I nearly shouted 'Me!' Then Ma bear said the same thing and I stuffed my fist in my mouth so that when B.Bear accused someone of eating his all up, I simply kicked my legs in the air, to the delight of the audience who hadn't known they would be seeing farce.
By the time they reached the baskets, true fear was setting in...whoever had done the Bear's make-up was very talented; black fur was stuck to the girl's faces and hands and false sticky up ears all added to the illusion. 

I managed to hold out till baby bear shouted '...and there she is' before jumping out of the basket, running to the edge of the stage into Mr. Diamonds waiting arms. Unfortunately, in my zeal to escape from the grizzlies and because Mr. Diamond could hardly see due to the tears in his eyes, we managed it badly, and my paper hat's ribbons tore

Aided by the wind of my flight the bonnet fell backwards exposing my very, very bald head.

Now the hall rocked with laughter as I ran down the aisle and out of the door at the end.

But my trials were not yet over. I knew that with my leaving the stage, the bears had nothing much to do and the play was over. I had to get to the stage door and take my bow with the other girls.

At the end of the corridor was a door I had to pass.  It was open and I could see, walking up and down inside, a tall fat man with a long white beard, wearing a bright red coat and trousers. He looked very fierce and I was terrified, turned to stone.  I could not go back into the hall, nor could I pass that door.

It seemed like a very long time before someone came to look for me, and when I explained, for some reason fell about laughing all over again!

Saturday 18 December 2010


Oct 18, 2008 9:34 PM

by Moannie

Memories come to me in pictures. A scent, a phrase, a snatch of music and I see, as if in a photograph, a moment captured and pinned to my memory board. Ask me what we had for supper last night and I would have to think very hard, but I can tell you what a plush covered seat feels like against my bare legs when I am nine years old, riding a roaring dragon of a steam train away from Clevedon, my home for the past five years. It prickles like tiny needles, irritating my skin.

Mother is sitting opposite me, her blonde head resting against the window. She is beautifully made up, her full lips very red and her dark lashes lying against porcelaine cheeks. Her eyes are closed and I watch her, afraid to look away in case I am dreaming. Mick is sitting close to her, his head resting on her arm and I see him watching me in the window. He smiles and strokes her hand, watching me watching him; I did not understand it then, but that smile was saying 'she's mine'.

We are travelling towards London and I finally tear my eyes away from mother and look out of the window, full of wonder at the huge world that sweeps past us, drugged with excitement, giddy with the speed, and bemused at the turn my life has taken in a day. 
This time just yesterday I was at school, following the usual timetable of school and St. Ediths. Now here I was, going HOME, wherever and whatever home was, I was going there. Our wishes had come true and we were going to have a new daddy .Harry is not his real name, I cannot bring myself to write it down and even giving him an alias make him real, but Harry will have to do. We met him once when mum brought him to meet us for 'the test'. Of medium height and build, well dressed, looking a little like George Raft, he wore hornrimmed glasses and walked with a limp, the result of an accident in the first World War.

The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” must have been coined by a vicious God, especially for Mick and me. Harry was, without exaggeration an evil and malign man who, having finally captured Mum was intent on making her and us regret the day they met. His presence in a room created a black cloud of fear and it was not long before we stopped pretending that he was the new father who was going to give us the family life we dreamed of. He was a morose man, proud of his Yorkshire dourness. He seldom smiled, never laughed in my hearing and lived to create a divide between mum and us. His favourite homilies; “Never do owt for nowt ‘an if tha do, do it for thee sen”. And, “Ne'er let thy right hand know what thy left hand does” illustrates his thinking. Often quoted they were words that he truly lived by. Do I paint an unfair picture of this man? I think not. We were innocents, coming from an environment that, though hard, protected us from life. Why would I, how could I even think to steal the silver sixpences out of mum’s bracelet? Yet there they were, secreted in my book box. Her Ronson lighter disappeared and Mick was blamed. We were nasty, secretive children, we lied and stole…we should be sent straight back to the orphanage. And this all happened before they were even married. When it was just the three of us in her tiny attic flat at No.8 Brondesbury Road, Kilburn, we were so happy. Just two rooms and a broad landing that served as a kitchenette, with a table and stools and a small child sized door that led under the eaves; a heavenly hidey hole for play. We slept in what had been her bedroom, which contained a chest of drawers, two narrow single beds set end to end in the long narrow space and a corner cupboard upon which I once saw a family of fairies when I was ill with a fever. [Earache, I think] Then there was a smaller room, with a divan where mum slept, a small chest of drawers and, wonder of wonders, a radiogram. This was a large piece of furniture on four legs. It had a lid and when you lifted the lid marvels were revealed. At the turn of a switch wonderful music came out of the front; you could put an ear to the fabric and feel the vibrations. There was a turntable that played any one of mum’s four records. Phil Harris singing Woodman Spare that Tree/Smoke Smoke that Cigarette, Jean Sablon singing Sur le Pont de Avignon/The Carriage Song, [which I loved so much. Did it foretell my future?] The Warsaw Concerto/ The Dream of Gerontius, and Richard Addinsall playingTchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.I. What riches for a child who had only ever heard hymns or the ringing of church bells.

The terrible days of the Blitz had passed, and apart from the blackout at night, and the Barrage Balloons that floated above the towns and the city, it did not seem, to us at least, that there was a war on. Mick and I were free to roam as we pleased. He soon found his own friends and left me to my own devices and I would wander into the town and wonder...a word I know I overuse, but that is what I did. One saturday I met Rupert. He was a pavement artist. He wore an army overcoat and boots and sat outside Boots the Chemist and drew pictures which he coloured in and sold for pennies. He would have a profound effect on a good way.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Monday 29 November 2010


fIRST PUBLISHED:Sep 10, 2008 11:44 PM

by Moannie
After a disastrous summer we are told to expect an Indian summer. Well, it will be welcome if it comes, but we Brits are made of stern stuff. Everyone knows we take cold baths, have smoky fires, outside loos, bad food and teeth, stiff upper lips and field a straight bat [whatever that means] All I know for a fact is that the leaves on my
 Virginia creeper are beginning to turn a glorious red, and no... I don't have a picture to illustrate the fact and if I did I wouldn't be able to find the place to put it...even if my scanner was working, which it isn't for some reason I have not been able to fathom. So come on folks, you all know what a sight to behold Virginia creeper is in its full autumnal glory, so I shall have to ask you to use your imagination, and further, to use it again to picture the scene I am about to describe to you.

In October 1966 we emigrated to Canada, Quebec to be exact, me, JP and our three children aged, at that time 8,4, and six months. We had chosen Canada because Australia was too far, the USA too full and because JP is French and we figured, wrongly as it turned out, that being French we would have a head start [but that isn't the story I want to tell.]

As you can imagine, with three very young children the trip over was more of constant gallop around the deck chasing the four year old, amusing the eight year old and taking care of the baby...none of these activities helped by the fact that JP was sick from the moment the ship left Southampton until we docked in Quebec and also explains why we missed the session arranged for immigrants on the last night,  consequences  meant we landed as lost and alone in that vast Hall as strangers on the moon. However, as usual I digress.

What I wanted to tell you about happened very early in the morning of our last day aboard.

I woke before dawn and so did daughter no 1. We dressed quickly and warmly and went up on deck. We seemed to be alone on that huge ship. The air was still and the ship glided along as if magically powered, engines must have been working but we didn't hear them, so beautiful was the sight that met our eyes. I don't know how far we were from the banks of the river, a hundred metres perhaps. There was a very low, white mist over the water and to our right, glowing in the light from the rising sun was a frieze of autumnal colours, reds, oranges, browns and yellows, that went on for mile after mile. As the sun rose the colours intensified against a backdrop of the bluest sky. As we glided past I don't think we spoke, we just held hands and stood, in awe for a very long time. What a welcome that was.

Nothing that happened to us on our Canadian adventure would ever match the magic of that morning. And that too is another story.

Saturday 27 November 2010


First posted : Sep 7, 2008 6:42 PM

by Moannie
I was reading [ sadly these two posts no longer exist] who have written posts along the same lines, concerning our obsession with aging, and 'looking good.] and I thought, why do we do it? Why do we fret about our laughter wrinkles and our smile lines? Why do we test every product promising permanent perfection?  [lord how I love alliteration] and baby skin? What has made us so vulnerable that we fear encroaching signs of life's battering?

Obviously we are genetically programmed to be the hunted, and so we must - if we want to be caught - make ourselves as attractive as possible.  But having allowed ourselves to be captured then it is up to us whether we want to continue in our efforts to be ever young and lovely.

Or, do we do it for ourselves? Surely we do.

I think poet lady had the partial answer when she talks about the invisibility of the old. It is true, it does happen I'm afraid. Gone are the days when you got 'wolf whistles' [I loved it...don't talk to me about 'political correctness'] or heads turning when you entered a room, but like everything else that occurs in old age, it creeps up so slowly that when you do realise you are just another statistic, you don't really care too much.

[Liar liar pants on fire!]

Actually, you do care, and if you are anything like me you keep fighting it. You don't ask the usual questions of your mate, those awkward questions designed, if you had only known, to give him the heebie jeebies - like, will you still love me when I'm old and grey - does this colour suit me etc. because if you are still together it is either because you are both stubborn old coots who won't leave home, or he loves you, you idiot. So you go on slathering on the creams and lotions, increase the stomach crunches and watch the calories and keep dyeing the hair, unless, like me you finally have platinum hair that doesn't require you to sit for hours under the nimble fingers of Claude or Charles.

Monday 15 November 2010

My mother was beautiful.

Sep 7, 2008 9:46 PM

by Moannie
My mother was beautiful. I know, all mothers are beautiful in their children's eyes, but mine truly was lovely; slim and delicate, with legs that went on forever, large china blues eyes and hair which became progressively more platinum as the war progressed and uniformed men flooded London. Unfortunately she was also flirty, frivolous and a bit too free with her favours [good alliteration there, Annie] which is why I was the only one of her three children to be born under the respectable cover of a marriage licence. Not that that made me favourite, on the contrary, the boys were first and second and I came a long way behind. I didn't mind this, well, to tell the truth I only noticed it later, much later and by then it was a done deal, and anyway it would all change in her MS years when JP and I looked after her and 'her boys' more or less abandoned her.

I tell you all this to give you a picture of how she looked on the day that she left us, Mick and me [Anthony. would come ten years later]

When I see a dark road glistening with rain, and hear the tap, tap, tap of high heeled shoes, I can go back to that late autumn afternoon. St.Edith's was hugely terrifying and mum was in tears even before the front door was opened by a nun and we were shown into the Mother Superior's office. Mick was taken away immediately and I was told to sit still on a chair outside the office. Soon another nun came for me and I followed her without question. She took me into what I would learn was the common room and, saying 'Sit', left me there. I stared round the room and saw a long bare table with many chairs around it. A black stove stood at one end of the room with a wire guard in front of it; against one wall was a large cupboard-like piece of furniture with large metal discs ... the name of it escapes me now but it was a musical instrument which was never played, was it a Polyphon? Against the third wall was a wide, shallow bookcase and on top of this was the largest dolls house I have ever seen. I jumped down and dragged a chair over to it and clambered up, just managing to see into all the many rooms, each one exquisitely decorated and peopled by dolls so tiny and beautifully dressed that my imagination went into overdrive. I turned on the taps in the ornate bathroom, pulled the tiny chain over the lavatory and flicked on lights, moved the mistress of the house down to the kitchen that had food prepared on the table, scullery maids tending the spit over the fire and scullions at the sink piled with pots and pans.

Suddenly I was dragged from the chair and shaken, the nun's silent anger more frightening than any words. Out of the common room and along dark passages, up a secondary staircase [no-one ever used the main curving Victorian beauty of a fine staircase that rose opposite the front door]- and into the dormitory. Before she closed the door behind us I saw Mick, on a chair, his hands on the glass and his nose to the window of the room opposite. Many years later he said he had been watching mum going down the street, and in my mind the streets were shiny with rain and her heels were going, tap, tap, tap.

The picture was taken on one of her infrequent visits. We would be dressed in our best Sunday clothes and the tight lipped nuns would harrumph at the sight of the pretty, well dressed woman who had placed her children in an orphanage. We would have a lovely few hours and then the long walk back along Dial Hill Road, and she would sing : Just Molly and me, and Micky makes three, We'll be happy in our, blue heaven. Then to finish we all sang Twinkle Twinkle little star and at the end she would always say 'Make wish'. 'Find us a new daddy' we always begged. And she did, oh yes, she did.

Thursday 11 November 2010

The Freedom of Eccentricity

Aug 24, 2008 10:47 PM

by Moannie
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
From, Warning, by Jenny Joseph

Don't you just love poetry? You can read a poem and be reminded that there is nothing new in the world; every emotion that man has ever felt has been covered in prose and rhyme: love, lust, hate, fear, anger and, well, you get the picture.
I believe this particular poem was written for me. Comfort comes first, then colour swiftly followed by thrift [a bargain from TkMaxx makes my day] I was the first girl to wear Jeans in my home town, and was hissed by a woman in Barcelona in the early fifties for wearing them on The Ramblas.
I wore filmy lavender to the Sports day at number two daughter's Boarding School, when all the other mother's were in twin sets and sensible shoes-terrible of me, I know and I did have frisson of apprehension that I might have gone a step to far.
I wore paper panties on a long hot car journey in Spain, only to find on reaching our destination they had disintegrated. As I was also in a mini skirt [in my forties, daring or what?] I spent the day glued to the front of JP.

Today I walked the dog wearing Uggs, flared jeans, a purple sweater and my Borsalino, [I mean me, not the dog] I stopped to talk to an old friend and she said, 'You look nice, dear.' I said that I had decided to become officially eccentric and she replied 'But I always thought you were, Annie.'
Favourites: My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, Seamus Heaney's poem: When all the others were away at Mass, a heartbreaking declaration of his love for his mother. Tony Harrison, Cristina Rossetti, John Donne, Dylan Thomas, and on and on and on.
And for Fat, frumpy & fifty... Wendy Cope's Faint Praise

And here's one I made earlier: Had I known then what I know now, I'd do it all again, and how.