We can run but we cannot hide…

I’m all for privacy, yet on the internet it really does not exist. No matter how discreet we attempt to be, it is like doing something at night. In a lit room, without shades.

FAS Solutions



So having got that off of my chest. Where do we go from there? My general attitude, is to embrace it. For it is easier to hide something in plain sight, than to keep hidden under wraps. Besides, as long as it’s not illegal … who really cares?

Too often we are a bit ashamed, of the skeletons in our closet. Yet really, that stuff makes us who we are. Therefore it behooves to embrace those things not keeping them hidden. Any shame or embarrassment will dispel.  Once we realize few people either: a) care. Or b) have some sympathy. Or c) empathy, for our embarrassment. I hope this makes sense? … dear reader.

How many people break the law, daily? Crossing a yellow line when driving? Failing to actually stop, at the sign? Walking the dog without a leash? It happens constantly and there is really little consequence for those and many other actions. If there is a consequence, so many will do anything. To wriggle out of owning to the error. … I was doing the speed limit, they whine. Or it was the other person’s fault, etc. Few people will actually hold up their hands and say, I did this or that and I apologize.



It was Plato in 465 BCE who observed. “The good do not need laws telling them what to do and the bad will just find ways around them”.

So where do we all line up on morality? We can run but we really cannot hide from ourselves.

My Auntie Babs …

Day Thirteen: Serially Found

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.


My Auntie Babs …

Was not a tall woman, yet at about 5′ 1” or so, could pack a punch when she wanted. Which was hardly ever. She was our sitter, when parents were out working.

My Dad lost his father when he was not quite, 2 years old. About a week before his second birthday. This Grandfather left behind my Grandmother and her six kids, of which my father was the youngest. He died in a hole, digging out coal on the eve of the Great Strike of 1926. They lived in the town of Abertillery, Wales. The local men had gone out to dig coal from an abandoned hole. One of many. That at the time littered the Rhonda Valley in Wales. There was a cave in and it killed my Grandfather, stone dead.

The family struggled to survive. The two eldest boys Chris and Dave, left school and went to work. Eventually, the family moved to London in 1930’s. Like so many other Welshmen. They bought a small house in Colindale, North London. My Grandmother, Caroline, was a religious christian woman. A protestant, yet she confided toward the end of her life, that she would have liked to have been a Catholic. Instead she settled for what is known as “high protestant”.

After the war, WW2. My father, his sister Babs, my mother Betty and Bab’s husband Ted. Along with my grandmother, moved to the house in Hendon. That I wrote about in this earlier post. https://hirundine.com/2015/04/10/writing-101-my-uncle-ted/

Auntie Babs too, had left school early. Before the war, going into what was called; service. Which was being a servant in a big house, of landed gentry. Where she learned her craft of housekeeping. She met Edward Sidney, before the war and they married before Ted went overseas. Ted was a corporal in Royal Signals Corp. Rode a motorcycle, delivering dispatches. Babs, Barbara, along with her sisters and sister-in-law Lily. All went to work in munitions factories along the Edgeware Road, for the duration.

I have a few vague memories of our life in Colindale. Enough that I was always comforted by them. Obviously my parents were the primary care-givers. Yet Babs and Ted, could always be counted on to cheer me up. I used to watch Uncle Ted in the mornings. Fascinated by his shaving process. All that foaming soap. Ted used a cutthroat razor, my Dad a safety one. They both stropped the blades on a leather, hanging on the back of bathroom door. From my parents bedroom window. I could see across to the rented garage where my Dad kept his car. My Dad was upwardly mobile. He may have been the youngest of my Grandma’s children. Yet he was always organizing them all.

After moving from Colindale to Hendon in the summer of 1955. Both my Dad and Uncle Ted were busy altering and renovating the house to their tastes. Before the war, Ted who was about five years older than Jimmy, my Dad. Had been a painter decorator. He lad learned the trade, the right way. He was meticulous. Rubbing down, filling, painting, etc. Both my Dad and I learned much of that from Ted.

My mother went back to work as a shorthand typist. Although she started in a pool of fellow workers, her skills moved her up to secretary of a manager. Passap and Singer through the rest of fifties. This bought in money to pay off the mortgage. Babs used her skills as a housekeeper, that my mother reimbursed her for. For the two years after moving, I was taken to school by my mother and picked up for lunch and after school by Auntie Babs. Once in a while my Mom would be there to greet me, especially if there was something on after school. Visit to the dentist, or to buy clothes, etc.

The walk to and from our house was about seven minutes long. Half a mile or so? I had started school in Colindale, in 1954. At that time I was a bright child and went close to the top for marks earned. The school in Hendon, was part of the Parish of St. Mary’s. The next two years. Was in the Infants School, before moving up to the next Junior one. The British school system of the time.


The school was located to the right of Churchyard, pictured here. To the left was “The Greyhound” pub.

Auntie Babs would pick me up, for lunch at home and back again after. Then after school. She often had a bag for groceries. We would visit a small parade of shops in Church End. Occasionally the huge? Brent Street! I once counted the pubs in the small area. Ten, in a one half square mile.


Lunch with Auntie Babs during this time was one of casseroles. Meats, veg and gravies. Foods that today, I would not touch with a bargepole. They were however plain and unadorned except for horseradish and mustard. Common English condiments at the time. She and Ted, lived in the flat [Condo.] over my parents.

Auntie Babs’ kitchen was her refuge. It looked out onto the back garden of our house and the others of the Crescent. Her front room or parlour looked out over Sunnyhill Park and across to Mill Hill.

Auntie Babs was a smoker. From about aged eight, she would send me. Complete with a little note, down to the local post office and tobacconist for a pack of cigarettes. I was told to keep thruppence change, for candy or ice cream. In the evenings, she would sit and smoke at her front window. Waving to me below when I was out on the street playing on my skates or whatever with Peter, my pal.

Auntie Babs died a few years back. Toward the end of her life she was very deaf.

Yet she could always be found in her kitchen. A cup of tea or instant coffee bestowed upon her visitor. While she had eventually kicked the smoking habit. It had been hard on her, to do so. Yet she always had love to shower on any of her visitors, relatives and most of all toward her son and grandson.

While I’m grateful to both my Mom and Dad for the happiness of this time. It would never have been the same without Auntie Babs and Uncle Ted. For they had a tolerance and unbridled love. For all who came to visit.


Brain Cancer …

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction.

Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.


It is interesting to me, the role intuition plays a role in our lives.

Many people are intuitive. Some more than others.

Considering it. The subject starts to devolve into those areas of life; that some will feel squeamish about. Mind-reading, ghosts, apparitions, spirits, and so on. Most animals are intuitive. They can sense things like earthquakes, cancer, sadness, etc. Even explosives and drugs. Yes, acute senses plays a role. Still for us that do not have such senses. I would say that beyond their sense of smell and hearing, is a sense of intuition.

Brain Cancer

For most mammals, brain cancer is a catastrophic condition. While some do escape its clutches, the incidence of mortality from it, is high.

One of my cousins with whom I enjoyed those summer vacations, as described in yesterday’s post. Carol lived with her parents for the first twelve years or so, in West Hendon. In one of those temporary housing units, we locally called “pre-fabs”. Pre-fabricated and clad on the exterior in asbestos board. Once in a while, I would stay over with Uncle Fred and Aunty Doll (Dorothy) and spend a day or so playing with Carol who was three years younger than myself. We would play postman. Using Aunty Doll’s peg bag. Or on child’s scooters, or I would bring my roller skates. Where would share one apiece.

Carol was an only child and Doll was an especially vigilant parent. Always scared Carol would hurt herself. Yet she, Carol, caught all the usual childhood illnesses of the time. One time when visiting our house, we went to play in my usual haunt the local park. … 40 acres of heaven for a child. We ran down the hill and almost at the bottom Carol fell and hurt her wrist. Taking her home, for I had been charged with keeping her safe. Carol was doted on and I felt sheepish. Carol was always pudgy as a child. Fred’s genes. Carol spent the next six weeks, wrist in a cast.

Growing up, I emigrated to Canada. Carol became a teacher and had some of her own children. Yet I was always reminded of how I had caused her broken wrist? On my occasional visits back to Hendon. I would see her now and then. Hardly ever speaking, except for greetings, for we had little in common. Then one day, I received a letter from my mother, in which contained the news. Carol has a brain tumour.

My next visit to England was about two years later and Carol had had some operations. It was believed to be in remission. Then about the time I was in England, the news was grim. The tumour was re-growing.

My Mom and I drove out to Chesham in Oxfordshire, where both Doll and Fred were living close by Rod and Carol with their daughters. Kim and Anna.

Visiting Carol later that day, was rather shocking. I was unprepared to see a previously robust person, now in a nightdress with bandages around her head. hair gone from radiation therapy. … I never quite got that? Radiation causes cancer and they use it to treat the condition? Does not make sense to this lay person?

We spent a lovely afternoon chatting and avoiding the question around her predicted demise. I was of course chided once more, for the wrist incident. All I had done was gently run, down a slight hill? … I never got it?

Leaving we hugged and it was if 35 years had rolled away.

When we reached home, back in Hendon. Over supper I said to my Mom. “You know when Carol goes, Doll will not last long”. That was my intuitive premonition.

Doll died, about three weeks after Carol’s death. Officially it was adult onset diabetes. To me, it was from a broken heart. Fred lived on for about fifteen, twenty years and I visited him when in England. I learned a lot from him, especially his role during WW2. His meeting with my other Uncles, during it. In places like North Africa and Greece.

He had been a mostly quiet person while Doll was alive. It became like a dam was burst, after.

Looking back from time to time. I think of that pre-fab, clad in asbestos board. The chalky white powder that would cling to us, when brushing by. Or on the ground as a residue. There is a strong link of asbestos and cancer. I blame the authority for those housing units. For failing to properly test how asbestos affected people.

When Carol and I would race around the house, on those skates or scooter. Playing postman and whatever else kids do.

Excalibur estate 1








Writing 101 – Bigger is better? …

Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences)

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

This is what is said … “bigger the better”.

I suppose this is true for some members of society?

It’s difficult to remember a lot of things from when aged twelve. The year, 1962 In Britain, Harold McMillan was PM. I was in my first year at Secondary School. Which was a local school in Hendon, then Middlesex. I loved Hendon then. Located on the outskirts of London. Hendon Central or Brent, on the Northern Line. Plenty of fields around us, where I would play with my best pal at the time, Peter. We knew each ditch to splash in and each tree we had already climbed. There were bricked up bomb shelters in the local park as well as steel mounds covered in earth with grass. There was a mostly dis-used aerodrome. That was sometimes used to train parachute jumpers. They would send up an old barrage balloon with a basket beneath. We would watch then jump. One by one, parachutes opening behind them.

Peter lived about three doors away from me. We went to the same school. It was the year we, Peter and I, started wearing long pants … trousers, to school. Where I lived with my sister, Valerie. Our parents and Grandmother. Was part of a larger house.

Upstairs lived my father’s sister Barbara and her husband, my Uncle Ted. When I was a little before seven, my cousin Colin was born. By the time I was twelve, he and I would play. Romping about as cowboys or Robin Hood, etc. My father and Ted, along with Nanna bought the house some seven years earlier. It was divided into two. Living up and down. The first thing done was taking out the wall, that separated the two. That way Nanna could go upstairs in the evening to sit with her daughter Babs.

My mother had gone back to work. Auntie Babs would watch over us three kids after school. I was directed to change out of my school clothes, when coming home in late afternoon’s. Until the previous year, I had shared a room with my younger sister. I wanted my space. So, they gave me the sofa-bed. Which I liked. It meant I could get out of the house when everyone was in bed.

Aged eleven I had started a paper route, because Peter had one. As too, my later best pal in school Philip. I had to be at the shop for seven am, or earlier. I had one of the longer routes, covering the “Downage” and more, further south. Christmas time meant bigger tips. I kept the route until I was almost fifteen, when I moved over to delivering prescriptions after school.

My father had been a Boy Scout, which meant, I had to be one as well. At eleven he took me along to the Parish hall. Where behind was the troop hut.  The 8th Hendon. The scoutmaster named Mr. Raines, was the same one from my father’s time. Every Friday evening we would meet and do the stuff Boy Scouts did. Tying knots, parading, obtaining badges etc. Maybe not in that order, but you get the gist; dear reader?

In the early 1960’s most everyone would go to the coast for a couple of weeks summer holidays. Our family was no different. In 1962, I seem to remember? We, went to Woolacombe Bay in North Devon. In those years the vacation were taken with all my father’s brothers and sisters, still living in Hendon. Along with their partners and children. Travel would be by car. Some of them would go by rail, to be met by my father later the next day. It depended on Dave my father’s brother. I seem to remember that year he had a Rover car which accommodated five plus driver. My father with his car was also six including the driver. The rest likely went by train? All told, that year, we had fifteen people divided between two small houses, that were holiday lets.

Growing up was with all this. Done in a small way. One of crowding people; shoehorned into small rooms, houses and cars. But we had fun! A fun childhood with parents, who also knew how to have fun once the work day was done. Beach cricket, deck chairs grouped behind wind breaks. Sand castles or sand boats. Evenings at the penny arcade. The kids were sent home with one designated sitter. While the others spent late evening, at the local pub.

I love small houses and systems that make the best from little space. Which is likely the product? Of that upbringing.


Courtesy of http://www.bugbog.com/beaches/british-beaches-uk/devon-beaches-uk.html 

Writing 101 – My Uncle Ted …

Was born in 1920 and he died a few days ago. He and my Auntie Barbara, lived upstairs, from my Parents. Barbara was my Father’s older sister. She too has died and is missed by our family.

Edward Sidney, my uncle was nice to me and my sister Valerie. Growing up, my Mom and Dad would go out of a Saturday evening, with Dave and Lil. My Dad’s brother and wife.

Valerie and myself, would then be looked after by Babs, Ted and our Grandma, for the evening. Which was one of TV and treats. Like chocolates, oranges and nuts. My cousin Colin who was substantially younger than us. Missed the evenings, for he was in bed. While we watched Bonanza or Rawhide. TV westerns, like Gunsmoke, etc. Shows that today, I would feel dismissive of; for their gun culture.

Since living in Canada, over the years, I would travel back to North London. Where until 2002, they still lived above my mother. Dad having died in 1980. Mom now lives with Valerie my sister. Ted and Babs moved to an apartment about 1/4 mile away.

Colin and I would hang out together. Colin lived a few hundred yards down the road. Evening trips to the Greyhound at Church End. Sometimes with his then wife Lynn and sometimes his son Oliver. Oliver was a cute kid and a great sport. Called Ted … Gaggs.

Babs and Ted were like constants in life. Always open toward me/us, a pair of generous souls. Invited to watch soccer on TV and plates of sandwiches, crisps and pickles. Tea and chocolate biscuits. Ted would have beer and scotch for arrival, then Babs would show up with plates of sandwiches.

The last time I saw Ted, he was pretty much confined to a bed and armchair and had a young man to help him with his needs. A Philippino called Joe. While he had his own room, Joe was a paid for carer. With a family in Philippines.

Valerie and I took our Mom, to visit. Joe made tea and supplied biscuits … all too familiar. In place of Babs, who had since died.

Ted had spent a substantial part of WW2 in a German POW camp. The picture of his wife that he had kept through that stay, on the wall. He made the point of emphasizing, that the guards in the camp had been good to the POW’s. “The inmates had been allowed to keep their photos and personal jewellery”, he said, as he opened his hand to show his wedding ring.

As we left, we said goodbye shook hands and kissed. Our eyes both welled with tears. So the news in late March, was not entirely unexpected. It has been a tough 7 years or so, for Colin. While the news was not unexpected it is with a mild shock, that it did come. For it brings on that sadness of memories past and the sadness that his great grand-daughter will miss the pleasure of growing up, with those two lovely people.