Ten Years On.

 I have always had a passion for lilies, not your flimsy pastel or obscenely coloured varieties with long stamen and masses of pollen, but, your average white trumpet Arum lily, one that is usually described as the “death or peace lily”, and often features a top many a coffin whilst the deceased lies cold and breathless beneath. These lilies are hardy critters and can be found in pots at many a nursery, in hedgerows, gardens, clifftops and by the sides of ponds, streams and rivers.

Ten years ago, almost to this day, (February 2006) I said goodbye to my beautiful home, this was due to a culmination of my serious bad management and ill health, HM Inspector of Taxes took me to Court for the princely sum of just over £3000, fortunately I had a ridiculous amount of equity in my property, but unable to raise the actual cash, sadly, Mr Inland Revenue would not accept a payment plan due to my health status, and after numerous amounts of correspondence I was dragged up in front of our local Judge, this rather large lady, with carrot red hair and beautifully manicured emerald green nails beckoned me into her chamber, armed with a bad cold and a walking stick we entered into what appeared to be a somewhat informal soiree, six of us, including my mate.

The Building Society representatives and HM collector of Taxes were already grouped around an extremely large conference table that was so big, that if we had not of held on we would surely have gone around like planets in orbit, this woman of great presence sat behind her bench and glowered down at us whilst she surveyed her territory and scrutenized her prey present, I was looking at the way she put fear into almost everyone there, however, it did not bother, worry or intimidate me as I had already been up in front of her many times before, I knew she was revered, and bore the label of “Tyrant” but, she had been extremely kind to me at a hearing regarding parental access to my daughter Sophie, many years previous whilst I navigated the tumultuous “ocean of divorce”, so ….

I remained calm and politely addressed her as “My Lady”,  whilst lots of correspondence was shuffled about and much striking out of paper with a fountain pen, I sat and kept quiet, only nodding when prompted, (every time the carrot stared at me over half rimmed glasses, I said yes) and approximately after forty five minutes of deliberation, much much cogitation and mutual agreement, she eventually handed down my *sentence* ……….        …….. I hobbled out of the court, rather relieved that it was all over, but also concerned as to where the next step on my journey in life was heading. I had in no other terms unilaterally made myself homeless, the opinion was to auction the property and Uncle Fester would eventually have his money and I would be able to start afresh, it was, as she quoted “the most sensible and principled thing to do”, also “My Lady” & her associates were going to oversee all paperwork on my behalf as I was in no state to do so whilst recovering from the recent stroke I had been dealt.

Immediately I had to go and break the news to my Father, it could not have been a worse time, as my Mum had only passed away the previous October, he *had had * a Ten Thousand pound stake in the now *not* my property, to say he was livid was an understatement, I think he was more upset that I had not gone to him for the cash to actually pay the bill, but he eventually realised this was something I had had to do for myself, and with Chris my best friend, the Courts guidance, and a third party liason officer I would not be without a home or a roof above my head.  ….. So, I hear you ask, what has this to do with lilies? … Finally!

Just a few days before I had to eventually sign my home over, the actual reality was setting in, it was like hitting a brick wall head on, trying to find a place to live was proving difficult, again, fortunately by word of mouth, I was given a lead, I went to look at this property for lease, a one bedroom flat, immaculately presented, even the gloss on the skirting boards was still wet, the Victorian detached building stood high on a cliff top, this the whole ground floor over looked the bay, across to Paignton and Torquay and the Jurrassic Coast beyond, the strange thing that struck me, was that the view was almost picture perfect to a painting I had bought the previous summer.

 All seemed too good to be true, I was eager to move in, only stipulation and precondition to signing the lease was an £1800 deposit and a glowing reference with a serious 24 hour time limit attached.

Strangely enough, I could not understand why for the life of me, that before he would or could magically produce this amount of money out of thin air, he had to see the house in question. (get on with it !), whilst sipping coffee, pleading my case quite pathetically and begging for the cash in a cafe, I noticed a printed picture on a postcard rack, only a small 5×7 inch picture, simply entitled “Lilies”, this was a sign, surely.

 A tight grip on my hand bought me down to earth as he whispered “don’t ever let me down again you little bastard” ….

Even Russell Grant with his infinite wisdom could not have predicted this term of events, so, early, on the morning of 27th February 2006, with the help of my dear friends, two rather excited puppies and a Ford Fusion *we* moved into Rockleigh. Today, almost ten years later, the view is grey, but definitely something of beauty.

  As for the lilies, I adore them, can’t you tell by the painting?.  As for the “glowing” reference, I never did get to find out who wrote it ….. I mean where on earth would I get one of those from?!

As for the small print of the lilies, I actually found the artist, and like Victor Kyam, “I liked it so much” I bought the original.

Dairy Diaries II

This particular summer holiday was the last before I was to attend the big school, I did not have to do the eleven plus test, and thankfully I was not picked for the Grammar School, so, gladly no separation from my friends that I had long made from primary school, we were destined to travel the poor route of the Secondary Modern and its weak syllabus. Long trousers, shirt, blazer and a tie were to be the norm, I would hiss at the school uniform each time I saw it as it hung on the side of my single wardrobe, I was hating every moment of counting down the days before I would have to wear this “badge of conformity”, never mind, another four weeks of sunshine, and being a kid, surely that time would seem like an eternity, however, in the following weeks, little was I to know, there was to be a saving grace, …. no long trousers for me!

One sunny afternoon I was sat on the stairs, one of *those* where I had nothing to do, chewing a Mars bar I watched my Mother and Aunt in the shop, I noticed a silver grey Ford Executive pull up outside, the fourth stair gave a great view of the shop window and door,  I was car crazy even then, and as a cheeky young lad such as myself I needed to know who this car belonged to, a portly gentlemen in a sharp dark suit got out and came into the shop and asked for cigars, I remember saying, “is that your car mister?” … “d’er”, “can I have a look please?”, … staring into the rear passenger window a round face stared back, he stuck his tongue out at ME and laughed out loud, he looked familiar, the two other guys maybe, but, I was not so sure.

The man purchasing the cigars was laughing with Mum & Doreen, he was obviously flirting and the two sisters offered a great double act together, bigging up who he was, reaching to open the shop door, this mysterious man beckoned the three men from the car into the premises, I can just see my Mother and her sister swooning, the trio, made up of Max, Syd and Val, these three were an apparition to behold before their very eyes, talk about hysteria, Val Doonican was double billing with Arthur Askey at The Princess Theatre Torquay, a Summer spectacular pulling in thousands of holiday makers into a theatre every night of the season, Max Bygraves was at the time living in Torquay and Syd James was making surprise appearances.

Of course, the sisters, who were almost inseparable, could not believe this, Doreen offered them Ice creams which they took, two crooned together and Syd adlibbed a short set for them, obviously an often used scenario, much licking of cornets and what might be considered these days as innuendo in the form of *double entendres* took place, all were in fits and giggles, the manager asked if we would all like to come to the show and that he said he would send tickets to us by post, Mr Important took his camera, a Pentax SLR out of its case and got all five adults to line up outside of the shop front, whilst he adjusted his exposure and shutter speed the ladies stood either side of Syd James with Val and Max on the ends, who would believe this? ..  These sort of things are read about in the newspapers, but not actually happening here at the sleepy end of the universe that is Brixham.

The showbiz mafia said their farewells, got in the V6, with its engine burbling, it sped out of sight …

To think I was more impressed with that car than the actual stars in it, who were by the way the topic of conversation that evening.



Dairy Diaries I


Life in Brixham in the late 1960’s was a wonderful time of my life as a young lad, aged 10, most of the summer school holidays I spent with my Mothers dear Sister, Doreen, her husband Les and their two children, David 13 and Sandra 11, Simon their poodle and my dog Penny, she was a mutt and a half, always by my side, my parents were struggling over many things including who would look after me whilst my Dad worked a twelve hour night shift and Mum split hours between being milk woman, part time shop keeper and waitress at the Fish & Chip Takeaway & Eat in Cafe down toward the town, living in Drew Street was certainly lively, the street constantly appeared to be on the move, cars would always park on the pavement and a steady stream of customers would make the shop door bell ting, the street was the main vehicular artery direct from the Brixham fishing port and town centre, on wards up into St Marys square, consisting of a small hub of retailers which included the Post Office, Newsagent, General “Spar” store, Ironmongers, Sweet shop, two public houses, each as different as chalk and cheese, as of the punters, a Butchers and the renowned St Marys Bakery. Each of these establishments owned by a character charming or otherwise, made of their own means and others’, all working under the shadow of the Norman built Church of St Mary The Virgin which still stands and rings today when the bells are tolled, proudly she dominates the square, facing west where the road then furthers on toward the affluent area of Hill Head and down to Kingswear and the River Dart beyond.

Drew street its self was a tiny community, it was my stomping ground, as were the limits of my paper round, down to the end of Greenswood road and up toward Milton street, this included the public house “The Three Elms”, Lears Coal delivery, Mr & Mrs Reeves’ small family cottage industry which baked bread, made fancy cakes and pastries and just a few doors up on the right was number 37, “Drew Street Dairy” my summer home, it held so many memories, some good, some not so.

The shop itself had a double frontage similar to Arkwrights, as featured on BBC TV, a large counter stood inside to the right of the door, at eye level I had to stand on toes to see over, it dominated the shop space, and the floor behind was raised so that who ever was actually keeping shop looked down onto the customer, the whole floor space was no bigger than your average sitting room, nothing but a hairs width between stalls and shelves, every available space was covered with items for sale, as the shop was originally a dairy, items such as were a main seller, but, as with time and progress, fruit and veg, sweets, cigarettes and even firelighters were sold, and much to the annoyance of Mrs Lear, Smokeless coal, an element far safer for the environment then, steadily available in 28 & 56lb bags, they stood by the side of the entrance, much cheaper of course and with delivery available, gone now were the days of Paraffin and oil heaters and having to take your own steel containers down to Mr Kendrick to be refilled.

Adjacent to the shop stood a small piece of rough ground, access was between a pair of tall stone pillars and the ground was of scrub and stone, often we played King against the back wall or just booted about an old semi inflated ball for hours on end, taking care not to damage the two family cars, one a Ford Anglia, banana yellow and white and a red Triumph Herald, both had, in this day an age, registrations probably worth a mint, many a time during the day someone would shout out “if you hit one of those cars, your Dad will “have you”” (yeah yeah right)! off to the side, was the gate to the rear of the dairy store and the entrance to the family home was off the other side through the lean too kitchen, both ways accessed off a concrete yard which often reeked of strong bleach, this cleansing routine was frequent, it was to remove the stains of many a heavy foot traipsing through milk and and the weathered grime and damp with milk crates stacked high, to the left was a side lean, stacks of Corona Soft fizzy drinks bottles, each one with a golden thru’pence deposit on it, (many a time I took them back round to the shop and got my monies worth), off to the right stood a stone barn with a twisted door in a rotten wooden frame, the inside, we were led to believe was haunted, well, as a child ones mind and psyche could be and was easily scarred, and admission to the barn was only if escorted by a n other, looking back, I do believe now it was probably for safety reasons as the first floor was off limits, (or so *they* thought, as we spent many a happy hour leaping over the rotting boards).

Much of the stored produce was of worth and freshness was paramount, we had to pass the large crates of fresh eggs and cream and wire milk crates piled high, tip toeing toward the darkened end of the barn, off to the right was a small dark alcove which stank of aged damp, where we, that is my cousins and myself would set up camp, a small candle on a saucer was the only source of light, quite a dangerous item if not careful, we were young, fear was not on our agenda, we sat on wet cushions and ate white bread and tomato sauce sandwiches and yesterdays cakes from “Ma” Reeves, previously having loitered outside the shop peering into the window and over the small gingham curtain waiting for a “curled” finger to beckon us in and let us pick our choice of the days end products which had not sold, we hid behind an old blanket hanging from the beams making plans of our adventures which extended daily way out into the countryside and down to a secluded beach called Mansands, “our world” at the time consisted of nothing greater than a radius of two miles, we were the luckiest kids alive.

Fresh air and walking miles kept us fit, and bought us home early many an evening to a fully cooked meal, even in the height of summer.  Of course, my Mum was here, there and about, either behind the counter with her sister, or delivering the milk on what was known as “number two round”, carting about each crate holding twenty glass pint bottles, climbing the many flights of steps to properties down around the harbour area, and of course collecting money. I would see Dad occasionally, but, only if I had returned from playing early before he headed off to the factory.  Three evenings a week Mum came home stinking of cooking fat, but, often with the added bonus of a newspaper full of chips, oh the excitement of a surprise late night supper.

We as kids were self maintaining, doing exactly what we said we were going to do or go where we intended, and return at the time we said we would, we were then living in an innocent era where parents would not worry too much about us. Number 37 was always a hive of industry, a young girl who lived opposite the shop was employed part time to fill shelves or do the dishes after we were fed, Les would often return home from The Long Bar in town with his sorrows erred and slightly squiffy after losing Euchre to the landlady, *she* was a bone of contention, Doreen was a tough cookie, she had to be, to be married to Les, but, and many times felt threatened by this larger than life “Mid West Saloon” character, we would often sit *tight lipped* whilst the two of them argued or watch her throw his dinner into the bin, funniest thing I remember, was him being crowned with half a dozen fresh eggs, and in a drunken stupor replying, “oh duck, look what you have gone and done now”.  Hard earned money being squandered over a pack of cards was bound to cause problems, yet, this was all part and parcel of the day to day running of the household, (I remember in later years hearing my Aunt shouting to him “you should not have married me if you knew that I would steal the lose change out of your drunken pockets”) we just sat around the fully dressed dinner table and got on with it, even with all this drama we still all ate as a family.

Uncle Les was up before the crack of dawn every morning, often he would awaken empty stomached, four and five a.m. starts he got into his old red wagon, and headed toward the milk distribution depot, passing the bakery en-route, always noticing a dim light burning at the rear of the property, there too were other people up early ready to make a living, life was hard, but, you never heard anyone complain, they just got on with it, first port of call on his rounds was the Pontins “Dolphin” holiday camp kitchen, milk safely delivered and in the cooler and empty crates on his wagon, he would then reward himself a smile as he munched into his fully loaded bacon and egg sandwich, butter steadily oozing from the soaked bread and swigging the finest Guernsey milk from a *Goldtop* bottle.

To be continued …










Domain name, small print.

Thinking about a domain name for your wordpress blog/website?

Tread VERY carefully, do your homework, BEFORE entering into any contract, sadly stupid  here, is as stupid does, I have heard of small print contracts, but, small print printed in the small print has lost me nearly £100 to a domain name supplier and website builder, please please beware of any company who’s deals sound to good to be true, its my own fault for not being vigilant, I can see there is going to be a lot of messages to and fro, and I am hoping that within 58 days my refund will appear on my debit card. (not holding my breath)

Not allowing a domain name to transfer for SIXTY days is unreasonable, a website that is easy to navigate is not all it is meant to be, in my opinion, as is said, stick within your own “doorstep” and do not tread far away.

Ad) 8 February 2016, received full refund.


Faithful & True

Today, this time last year (3/2/2015), my dearest Paddington passed away, all very quickly and oh so sad, everyday I touch his tiny pottery urn which holds his ashes placed next to a beautiful photograph of him and his beloved Spike.

During the day our usual treats routine for the four remaining family members continue as normal, we ensure he receives the same treat as the others, we talk to him and include him in conversation, life has to continue in this bizarre style, often I well up with emotion and realise my main man is no longer around, but, whether it be our imagination, or actual fact, his basil brush type tail is often seen running around and glimpsed out of the corner of an eye.

Dearest Paddington, this is for you …

To have loved you, be loved in return by you and able to know you knew that, was worth every moment with you.

Love your dear Daddy P, Daddy C, Spike, Hannah, Willow & Jack XX XXXX

Observations & Imaginations

FullSizeRender*without prejudice*

There is a building plot opposite where I live, sadly, as you may remember from a previous posting, I mentioned that the cottage had been burnt down, the rumours still abound as to whether it was an accident or that an angry tenant may have actually set fire to it, we shall probably never ever know.

So, this plot of land which is perched on top a cliff edge goes up for auction, many conversations state that the land is unstable, and that the adjoining plots had to be secured by pile driving the foundations into the core of the cliff and in doing so threw the developer into liquidation, so, you can imagine the stories being banded about the town and the future of this development.

Sure enough, the plot was sold and before we as residents knew, machinations had been submitted, local residents disapproval and objections made make no difference and the scheme was approved by the local planning authority, steadily a *phoenix* shaped like a beached cruise liner starts to emerge out of the ashes.

I have been sat at my desk here, almost everyday, which overlooks the site since the owner set his builders in, which must be approximately 18 months now, my thoughts on this once called monstrosity have changed daily, and as an ex trades person who has spent many years in the construction industry I find some of the building methods used rather strange indeed, however, it has been very interesting, the style of the building compares nothing to the Victorian villas which surround it, and being in a local conservation area, I personally, and as many others believed it should have been in the style of, or a similar pastiche to the surroundings, but, instead, its big, its white, its grey, its BOLD, but not brutal, its glassy, its ultra modern, much an appearance with shadows of castle’esque from the road, but, very cruise ship’like from the seaward elevation, and guess what, its fits in its place, high above and perched upon the cliff edge perfectly, ok, ok, OK! wait a minute whilst I eat my words.

Of course I am dying to have a look inside, which is highly unlikely since I was one of the objectors to its construction in the first place, so, I imagine …..

Noticing through the site entrance I can see the multi split levels are fed by the famous “Whale Spine” staircase, probably a heavy door with square portals allows entry, the exterior consists of Mondrian styled windows, square fixed lights and full height “portraits” cover radii’ over 180degrees, glazed over three stories the seaward elevation looks like a cruise liner and this gives me an idea of how the interior may be decorated, walls beautifully plain with the occasional minimalist tones, oak flooring has to adorn the “decks”, anything else, would not pass muster, a mass radius of slate/granite, tops an island not dissimilar to the bridge of the USS Enterprise dominating the kitchen area and a cooker hood that appears to be levitating in mid air, I am sure without a doubt, that once in residence, the owners will put their own personal stamp on it, deck shoes scattered in the hallway, sailing jackets thrown over the back of the Eames style dining chairs, cushions textured with anchors & sailing yachts, yellow and red block colours of the semaphore flag scatter about, a designer handbag sits on one of the open tread stairs leading up to the bedrooms, keys to a 4×4 are tossed into what once may have been a salad bowl on a half table in a previous life …. then again, I may just be completely, utterly and totally wrong!

Once all the scaffolding comes down and the terraces and balconies are secured by beautiful green tinted glass, the property is actually going to look a million dollars, and that is probably what it has cost, and more. One of the main expenses has to be labour, and I am sure, if this building, as others, had been constructed before the ban of smoking in the work place and access to wi-fi, social media and constant communication on every conceivable electronic equipment available, time, as in labour cost would be cut in half, a constant steady stream of work personal with either a “fag or rollie” in hand or a smart device in the other whilst stood outside a workplace perimeter, I can remember when I was in construction, before the ban, almost every trades person smoked a cigarette onsite, whilst actually working, some might smoke the famous Montecristo or a King Edward “cigarello”, a sign of either a) responsibility, b) a foreman or architect, or c), a reminder of travels abroad, whatever, the progress never ever stopped, conversation and laughter filled the work place, only stopping for the ten minute tea break at 10am and half an hour at 12:30, a fag always hung precariously out the corner of a mouth, the more smoke being produced, the more the artisan was concentrating, I use the word artisan, and I believe it to be that, the art of the old school trades person is slowly disappearing, its now a new generation of trades, it all happens to be different these days, and like the proverbial cigarette, and the ban of, now means that the British Construction Industry is steadily extinguishing itself into its own deconstruction, it is of no wonder these days there is such a large amount of import, a strong stealthily business of ready made properties, building the traditional British way makes costs unreal and progress extremely slow, but, that is not so say construction here is inferior, however, I have observed that builders and trades concerned who appear on TV programs such as Grand Designs and the likes of Charlie Luxton, always run behind schedule, underprice the project and surveyors and architects seem to want to wriggle out of any responsibility. Now, and more often, it would appear that the designer flat pack home which arrives on the back of a lorry, are now de rigueur, complete with a specialist team at hand, the *building* is unpacked, literally, assembled in days and topped out within a week and as an example, the kitchen units come with the utensils and crockery all ready in place and the bath with the chosen taps already attached.

Goodness know what I am going to look at once all this is complete?, perhaps watch the box hedge grow in the stainless planters on the terraces, the designer garden furniture blow about if not secured down or watch the Blackback seagulls nesting on the roof. What ever, I wish the owners every happiness, and hoping that their new home is filled with as much laughter as mine is.

At least *it* now rounds my view off very nicely, and for that I am forever grateful.