Winnie Luv — a short, short story by G B Hobson

May 30, 2013

Winnie Luv

 Bad news comes creeping in, just when you’re thinking that life is pretty good and worth the effort of keeping alive, even if a black hole had opened up in his bank account.

John read the letter again, as though re-reading the words over and over, might somehow change their meaning:

 “Sorry but there is no other way of putting it. I don’t want to see you again. I don’t want you to communicate or ask others to intervene. We are finished. I don’t love you anymore. I know it’s cruel to tell you this way, but it’s for the best and, in the long run, kinder. I could not cope with your pleading, as happened so many times before. I enclose a cheque to the value of the ring you gave me. Well, near enough the value. I don’t see why I should pay the VAT. I have become attached to the ring, even if not to you.” Zara had signed it with a mere squiggle.

Suddenly, John realised the irony of his position. He had lost the woman he adored but gained the means to pay off the heavy debt that was dragging him into liquidation of his only asset — A ripe-for-breeding female English Bulldog — his adorable Winnie.

A broad grin spread across his face. “Come on, Winnie Luv. Let’s go walkies. Just as well she’s buggered off. One wrinkly bitch is as much as I can handle.”

Diamond Wedding Anniversary

March 25, 2013

ImageOn Spring Day we celebrated our 60th Wedding Anniversary. There are many reasons why marriages do not last that long. Often it is death of a partner. It could be Divorce or Separation, or maybe the bride and groom were older when they married. So a long marriage is not a reason to boast about but rather one to be thankful for. We are indeed blessed.

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Of course it takes determination to make a marriage work. Love, patience and forgiveness are required in all lasting relationships. Some people would add a need to have much in common and a liking for similar things. And maybe have similar personalities. That is not so for us. At least, it was not so when we married. We have grown together over the years. We have three wonderful sons. Two have lovely wives and we have six grandchildren, one of which has made us great grandparents.

My hubby has his interests. Even after all these years he’s quite active in projects promoting engineering. He keeps physically busy too — the garden and workshop high on his agenda. Me? Well I have my books and still write a little. For years I designed, cut and stitched. Here our interests came together when he made me a good-sized workshop so I could do my freelance designing. He liked my pictures too and willingly framed them.  He also helped in the home when I was studying to become a teacher and later train for the Church. It is this mutual sharing and helping that matters. I am not obliged to love engineering projects (something that get discussed a lot with his sons) but we have a mutual interest in what we do with the garden. He has no real interest in the books I write but we share the pleasures of reading books we both enjoy — this came later in life. Of course we have our arguments but we make it a point not to let our differences build a wall between us. And never in all of our marriage has anyone come between us. It is not a question of trust but of fact — we have each other and no one will ever come between us. This has always been so. Away on study courses, working away for brief periods, hospital stays, have been the only events to part us.

What is love? Love simply IS.

We arranged to spend three nights at the hotel in Buxton where we had our honeymoon. We had to leave at the end of our Anniversary day because the forecast snow would have prevented us getting home. But it was a good day with relatives joining us for lunch.  Other great ‘celebrations’ are taking place (with our lovely family) and we are thoroughly enjoying it all. Getting a card from Buckingham Palace put a smile on our faces too!

ImageThe two black and white photos are of us sixty years ago when we stayed at the Alison Hotel, Buxton. The other photographs are inside the hotel sixty years later. (Now Alison Park Hotel). Image

Death of a Friend

March 6, 2013

ImageMy friend Brenda has died. But she will never be dead to me. She is too much part of my childhood, influencing who and what I am.

I recall the day I first met her. We were about eight years old. She was skipping outside the huge gate and high walls of her big garden. Her big ‘mansion’ house — posh to me — was the other side of the road from where I lived with my family in a modest late Victorian semi. Her garden is stuck in my memory too. Not just the profusion of fruit growing on trees and bushes — apples, pears, plums, raspberries, loganberries, gooseberries, and such — but the grass on which we played silly games, practiced three-legged races, played tennis with each other and her brothers, pretended we were famous entertainers. And, oh, so much more. It was another world where make-believe became almost reality. Plant pots were moulds for making sand cakes and pies. The sand having been carried back from the river a mile away, no easy task for a couple of young girls.

But if the garden was another world, so was the attic room where we played on cold and wet days. Her lovely mum would even light us a little fire occasionally, which we would huddle round and daydream. As we grew older, we even danced to my sister’s old wind-up gramophone, eventually turning our efforts into concerts for the family.

We bought our own records. Over the years, we developed our tastes through visiting the cinema a lot, sitting in the gods at the Nottingham Theatre when a ballet was on. And attending concerts at the Little Theatre, and generally ‘picking up’ our musical tastes from what we saw and heard. But not just musical tastes: we enjoyed the cinema and had our favourite films and stars. We saw one 1947 film — Song of Scheherazade — so many times that we wrote out the script then acted the parts at Brenda’s house. We saw all of Jean Pierre Aumont’s films.

As young teenagers, what a pair of dreamers we were. We carried the wind-up gramophone to the local gravel pits by the river. There we played our Swan Lake record to the swans gathered there.

As young children our amusements were quite simple: Skipping, hop-scotch, ball play, pencil and paper games, including battleships and cruisers. We collected wild flowers and pressed them in books. Wanting an Arrowhead flower that grew in the local canal, I dangled Brenda over the edge of the tow path and sat on her legs while she picked it with a garden rake. We drew and painted pictures. And we made our scenery for our little concerts. A large hall mirror flat on the attic floor, with flowers and leaves around the edges, made a lovely pool to go with Dance of the Flowers. Coloured paper over a bike lamp, plus sticks for the ‘fire’, and a bowl of water to throw liver salts into for effect, was great when dancing the Ritual Fire Dance (her young niece screamed when the liquid suddenly ‘bubbled’ up sending froth over the floor.) Bolero was a favourite too. We made our own costumes.

We lit too many candles one day and the wax ran all over the concrete floor. Brenda was very good at scrubbing, she was a methodical and steady worker. I soon gave up patient scrubbing and quickly mopped my part of the floor. Brenda cleaned the outside of the window by sitting on the outside cill with me holding on to her legs. We trusted each other.

There are so many things I could talk about concerning our childhood. (Many things are in my little illustrated book of childhood memories — When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes, extracts are on my various blogs) In our teens we had holidays together — Prestatyn, London, Isle of Wight.) I could write a chapter on each one! It was meeting my husband-to-be that eventually separated us. We moved to a different part of the country but we always stayed in touch.

Dear Brenda, you will always be a part of who I am — the gentler part.

Photo — Brenda (on front horse) and me, having a go at riding while on holiday at Little Canada Holiday Camp IofW 1952

Winter Chill

January 24, 2013

Winter Chill

Many years ago I used to visit a lovely gentle lady. She had been blind for a few years and then a stroke made it difficult for her to talk. But somehow we managed to communicate. I visited her twice a week on my way home from work. I would sit next to her and read from books that took her out of her darkness into a world of light, of action, conversation, memory and imagination. She loved these times together, and so did I.

This dear lady did not live alone, her elderly husband cared for her with the help of relatives and others. From our talks I discovered that in their ‘late in life’ courting days they would walk the local lanes. On the mantelpiece there was a figurine of a couple under an umbrella. I was told laughingly that people in the village saw it as being them. This dear lady had been a member of the choir until old age and blindness made things difficult. But my strongest memory of her when she became blind, but before she was housebound, was of her husband leading her up the aisle to receive communion. I think everyone in the small church was struck by their mutual devotion.

As I said, when she became housebound, I visited her twice a week. The visits were on regular days. But one week I called on an extra day. I gave no thought to what her husband would think of it. After all, maybe he wanted to watch television instead of having to switch it off. It was a thoughtless action of mine and one which I lived to regret. I saw another side to the relationship that I had never suspected — one I kept to myself.

I wrote this poem a long time after the event, in fact many years after they had both died.

Winter Chill

She sits there…

June in the December of her life:

withered skin,

eyes unseeing

speech mangled,

a stroke deadening half her brain

leaving her part vegetable,

part human,

the human crying out to walk and talk again.

….

Not yet rotting in dark grave

but compelled

to dwell in darkness

inside a swift decaying shell.

‘Bell. Someone’s at the door,’

June tries to say

in garbled words

desperate to be heard.

….

‘No one’s at the door,’

her husband bellows above the din of

shouting crowds

and thundering hooves

of horses at a racetrack many miles away,

brought into their room

courtesy of BBC

on a TV screen

that June will never see.

….

‘Bell… door… bell,’ June insists,

frantic to let her caller in —

a hand to hold?

a voice to cheer?

a friend to read?

Awkwardly she struggles

to loudly speak the words —

‘Bell… open…the… door.’

….

No one’s at the bloody door,’

her husband, minus hearing aid,

yells in rage.

‘You’re always hearing doorbells ring

when no one’s bloody there.

For god’s sake, woman —

Shut up!….

I’m trying to watch the race.’

….

I do not ring the bell again,

I walk on home,

James Herriot book in bag…

sad for June, for whom I read

and for a gentle man

that once I knew

but would never be the same again.

Yes, weeping for the suffering endured

when life with meaning is no more.

Gladys Hobson….

Autumnal Glory… a wrinkly writer’s view!

November 15, 2012

Late autumn is a grand time to be in the Lake District. The colours are rich and glowing and when the sky is blue, and the lakes reflect all the stunning richness, it is a paradise on earth. Yes, the other seasons have their own beauty — freshness, sweetness and crisp diamond brilliance, but autumn is a dying with a promise of resurrection. Already spring buds are forming on shrubs and will remain until the warmth and light of spring awakens them to the joy of birdsong.ImageImage

Turquoise Morning Press has now taken over four of my novels

October 11, 2012

Turquoise Morning Press has now taken over four of my novels (see latest releases)
Awakening Love
Seduction
Checkmate
Smouldering Embers
All by G B Hobson
They can be bought directly from the publishing site
Or from Amazon and other bookstores.
So far they are in digital form but print is on the way. Visit my author site for reviews etc.

Visit to Nottingham University Park and Bakewell area

September 28, 2012

Nottingham University
Set in beautiful grounds — worth visiting

VISITING DERBYSHIRE AND NOTTINGHAMSHIRE — BIRTHDAY TREAT!
Recently, we had a short break away to celebrate my hubby’s birthday and visit family. We stayed in a Sleeplodge in Derbyshire. We booked into a ‘superior room’, which had facilities for meal preparation (sink, kettle, toaster, fridge, and a microwave). Certainly it had a posh new bathroom, plenty of hot water and heating. The view from the window was also good. However, certain things did not come up to scratch. But never mind that, we had a lovely time visiting my sister near Nottingham (taking her to the Nottingham University Highfields Park, and the Attenborough Nature Reserve. We had a great lunch with my hubby’s sisters and their husbands, plus visits to their homes. We also visited Chatsworth Farm Shop and the Garden Centre on the Chatsworth Estate. A pleasant walk round Bakewell too. A lot to pack in and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Visiting the University Park always brings back memories of my youth (we used to live about a mile away) and, of course, Derbyshire is where my hubby was born (85 years ago) and lived until work and then marriage meant leaving home.

We sisters in University Park, Nottingham


View from sleeplodge window


The apartment’s posh bathroom

ARIA; Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder — a review by G B Hobson

September 9, 2012

ARIA; Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder

Beware luggage left on your ‘doorstep’!

It must be incredibly difficult to come up with a unique and yet believable storyline for a Science Fiction novel. It appears that Geoff Nelder has done precisely that. The plot is simple and yet mind-blowing.

A simple-looking case planted by aliens on an orbiting space station makes the story of the Trojan Horse look like a mere nursery tale. The whole human race is threatened, not by hordes of odd-looking space creatures as seen on certain TV dramas, but by an unseen virus — Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia — that invades the brain as soon as contact is made. But there is nothing to indicate contamination, that is, until it is obvious that memory is being eaten away at an alarming rate. No one appears to be immune. With no cure, it does not take long for ARIA to become the gravest mankind issue the world, as we know it, has ever been faced with.

I know what it is like to have a loved one suffer from Dementia. It is a cruel disease and heartbreaking for all concerned. But to have the whole population in various stages of rapid amnesia — aggression, mounting diseases, starvation, bodies stinking in the streets and everything in a state of chaos and horror — is a dreaded nightmare from which there is no awakening… or so it seems. But all is not lost — YET.

Our heroes and heroines, highly believable characters who have, so far, escaped contamination are yet to make their mark in world history.  Dare we hope the alien force will relent and deliver relief before the END? Or must we put our faith in human resourcefulness?

An unusual, mind-blowing read. I look forward to the second book of the trilogy.

Go To Publisher’s website for more details

Can be bought at Amazon (Both UK and Amazon.com plus The Book Depository

 

Holiday — Eastbourne and Area

August 19, 2012

Holiday? What Holiday?

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We came home from a coach tour holiday to Eastbourne, and area, two weeks ago. We are just getting over it! In spite of the breaks, sitting on a coach for a long distance ride is hard on the base of my spine and pelvic bone area. I had to keep levering myself up to relieve the painful pressure. My blood pressure tends to drop too. Lightheaded, I nearly fell down the steps getting off. Most of us were over the limit for youthful expectations. In fact it seemed like a busload of dodderers when we were getting on and off. Otherwise, it was an interesting ride, especially the two days touring.

The hotel had one hundred rooms. Ours was on the fourth floor. However, they do have two small lifts (three passengers maximum). We used them occasionally to get to our room, at least the floor our room was on. For the exercise, we usually walked down the stairs and took the lift up, but only when ready to drop. Many of the guests had walking sticks or frames, even some of those used the stairs (don’t know how far up they were) so we had to go with the bulldog spirit and make an effort ourselves. Apart from which, there were queues for lifts at certain times.

When we first walked into our room I was pleasantly surprised. Nice bedcover and matching drapes. But the window was at the end and to the side. Loud noises came up from the side street, and from the seagulls on the roof. In the early hours of the morning (seemed like dawn) rubbish carts loudly collected the hotel refuse. The sound of smashing bottles was sleep-shattering indeed. Unfortunately the seats of the two chairs were painfully hard and so was the bed. Rolling from side to side to relief the pressure on my joints and trying to sleep on my back meant a poor night’s sleep. Other physical problems that kept the bathroom in use, only added to poor sleep.

An excellent thing about our accommodation was furniture that gave much drawer and hanging space. Good coat hangers too. A decent-sized TV stood on a set of drawers but we could not get BBC. Not a huge problem but we did want to see some of the Olympics. On the Sunday a man came to fix it but couldn’t. We asked the Receptionist if we could have a different TV. Another man came to fix the one we had and got it to work, most of the time.

Ah, the bathroom!  It’s age reminded me of the house I was brought up in. Greenish streaks below the hot water taps, and the bath bottom as rough as sandpaper — or so it felt like. No shower in the bathroom but there was a shower room on each floor. With my arthritis, I had considerable difficulty getting out of the bath. Likely the narrowness of the tub. At least, the bathroom was clean. In fact, so was the bedroom, plus all the rooms we entered. Can’t complain there. And, after all, it was a low budget holiday.

The huge dining room. We had no choice but to sit where guided. We shared a rather small table with four others from our coach.  The table was one of a number of others along the wall opposite the windows. It seemed the whole coach party was somewhat crammed in at that side. We were at the second sitting every day, every mealtime. Another coach party was before us and they were still sitting at their tables next to our party when we arrived for our meals. So what with other guests in the, what appeared to be, best side of the huge room with large windows giving natural light, the noise level seemed considerable. Being the last to be served every day made us feel like the poor relations. Although we had a simple choice of starters and main course, puddings could run out, and choice became restricted to what was left. One also got the impression that portions were cut to ease an occasional problem. (eg being the last to be served one evening, four of us had fruit cocktail made up of a scattering of small grapes and a few small bits — a teaspoonful in my case — of apple and melon. This meager portion of fruit swimming around in a lake of fruit juices. Yes, we could have complained but the pleasant staff were busy clearing tables and we were wanting to be off. Apart from which, we had complained earlier that week about our choice of pudding running out. On that occasion a bottle of wine was brought to our table the following day. We thanked them but refused. We didn’t want any wine. The waiters, all foreign were good workers and did there best — always with a smile. A reasonable choice for breakfast. I had Continental. I tried the porridge one day — not to my taste, heavy and tasteless.  I rarely eat meat and tried to stick to the fish choice for the evening meal, but not if prawns and the like were included. Unfortunately, this was not usually mentioned and the first evening my plate arrived decorated with pink prawns — I soon had it removed. After that I asked first. On the whole, I did not expect more than what we got. Budgets were likely tight. The staff were accommodating.

My hubby took ill on the Sunday night, and in the morning the Receptionist was most helpful, explaining to us where we could find a doctor’s surgery located at the railway station. It was less than an hour’s wait to see the doctor and my hubby get the prescription for antibiotics needed to cure a problem resulting from a hospital visit a week earlier. However, what with the new problem to add to other disabilities (my own included) and sleep deprivation, it became a tiring holiday. Just sitting in the sun is not for either of us.

Oddly, one highlight was buying navy trousers that fit me beautifully, and a blue-patterned top, which goes well with a number of things in my wardrobe.

We had two enjoyable trips out. Both visited railway stations, which gave much pleasure especially to my hubby.

On the Monday we were taken on an excursion to the Bluebell Railway where we could visit the museum and enjoy refreshments. I think nostalgic chuffing trains, with whistles and dirty smoke tend to excite aging males more than us ladies. But I have to admit it took me on a backward journey to an age when phones were immobile and lived in red boxes, and train journeys had the excitement of ‘going places’, complete with smoky tunnels and, occasionally, steam coming from under the seat from leaky joints. Yes, and rocked by a lullaby of chuff–chuff –chuff from the engine chimney, and di-di-de-da.from the wheels passing over the rail joints. After the Bluebell Railway, we went on to Michelham Priory and gardens where we had lunch. The gardens were lovely, the café pleasant with good food, and the Priory was a ‘hands on’ museum. Visitors were encouraged to touch and handle, with no restriction on taking photographs.

The second trip took us to a winery where we tasted fine fruit wines and bought two bottles — ginger wine and cherry wine — and had cake and coffee to consume on the premises. We then visited a lovely old town called Tenterden where I bought a small present at an antique shop. We visited the steam railway there and my hubby had a look round the workshops. Then onwards to Bodium Castle. There was much activity going on. If seemed a themed fun day for children was taking place and people were enjoying both the sun and the games. We enjoyed tea and cream scones in the café and a pleasant walk round the grounds.

The following day we used our passes to take a bus to Brighten. It was sunny, hot and noisy. We were glad to get back to Eastbourne, even if that town is noisier than we expected. On one of the days off, we boarded the rattly-bumpy road train that travels the coast road between the Marina and Holywell. Oh boy! What a shake up, and long waits at most of the stops. But it gave us a chance to see the marina and also Holywell. The latter being well worth a visit and refreshments at the café there. We walked there from the hotel on another day.

Seagulls. Walking on the pier we saw a seagull land on a man’s head and try to peck the food being put in the man’s mouth. Another day, we nearly had our sandwiches snatched away. What a menace! However, we did manage to find a spot under cover where we were not so easily seen. They are beautiful clean creatures but I refer them at a distance. Not did we enjoy their screeching in the early hours when we wished to sleep.

Would we return to Eastbourne? I doubt it. But it was an interesting experience, made all the livelier by our witty, knowledgeable driver, Gordon..

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Who Am I?

July 16, 2012

Who Am I?

Little Me


A couple of weeks ago I began wondering who, and what I am. A kind of mild depression I suppose.
A visitor had been looking at my framed pictures — watercolour and ink drawings mostly, with a few oils and pencil crayon — hanging on our walls. My visitors were impressed. I looked at these pictures and wondered if I would ever be able to get back into art work. More recent efforts had come to nothing. No, I could never call myself an artist.
I came to the conclusion that we go through phases during our lifetime. But somehow we can’t go back to what we were unless hit by an irresistible creative force. That is, a time when things seem to flow and come out right, as if by an unseen hand. Nonsense? Maybe, but that is the thought that came to me. Likely an excuse for inertia or lazyness, but…?
Many years ago I was a dress designer and pattern cutter. I had little training but I loved what I was doing and, yes, things seemed to come out right. Ideas flowed. Not all winners but mostly so. Patterns came out right ensuring a good fit, and exactly according to my sketch.
Circumstances changed. We had three young children and we then lived some distance from garment manufacturing. Even freelance work required travel. I saw a poster, which encouraged mothers to take up teaching. We had a training college nearby. I was taken on as a mature student. It was not easy. Some lecturers did not enjoy having mature students in their classes, especially ones with young children. (Two mature students were given the push for being absent when their kids were ill!) Three years later I qualified. So began a teaching career. I was now a teacher. Except when teaching very young children, I never ‘felt’ like a teacher. What are teachers supposed to feel like? Well, it felt good when youngsters began to read and write quite well. Well it would, wouldn’t it?
When I was fifty I took early retirement to train for the Church. That was not easy either. At that time quite a few clergy (all male of course – no other kind then except deaconesses, which I felt called to be), and some parishioners, were opposed to women being allowed to do what had, for many years, been the prerogative of ordained males. I was not ordained. Whether our new anti-women vicar had influenced the decision is neither here nor there. I was however licensed to do many things as a lay reader. The only thing I was not allowed to do, not being a deaconess, was baptise babies. (Although I do believe some lay people had done so.)
For years I no longer knew what, and who, I was. Some clergy treated me almost as ‘one of them’ — reasonable human beings with a sense of calling. I was able to have a real, alive ministry. But it would always be outside the privileged ordained membership. Others treated me as a convenience to fill in when needed, or to avoid when possible — NOT one of them and never shall be. It could be a lonely existence. Things have tended to change over the years. Women have been fully ordained for some time now. They still have some way to go to be equal with men. But Church ministry is not about equality; it is about calling. Clearly, the church gets it wrong many times. A person is deemed to be called by God. But humans decide who has a genuine call. Humans are fallible creatures.
It had been decided that I had a call, yes indeed, but not to ordained ministry. I lost contact with those in training. I was not ‘one of them.’ I felt an embarrassment. At ministerial occasions, I was an outsider looking in. A lady vicar, actually walked away when I told her I was not ordained. She thought I was clergy because of my presence there, and so she was quite embarrassed.
I did a lot of studying and training to improve my skills, especially in Counselling and Pastoral Care. I also took a Diploma Course in my spare time. Then I did an OU degree and gained an upper second. For a while I knew who I was — a student! A Student of Life. No bad thing.
When I was seventy I left Church Ministry never to return. My eyesight prevented me from driving, and there was something else for me to explore — WRITING. I have no doubt that my life’s experiences affect what I write.
I would not call myself a writer but I do a lot of writing on this computer. I have written a number of books but they are not likely to become best sellers! So what?
I approach eighty with no clear picture of what, or who I am. Yes, I am a wife, a mother, a granny. Different parts of my life, and activities I once enjoyed (or agonised over), seem remote — little, or no, part of the ‘me’ I now experience. And yet I am a sum of all these things.
Is this not so for all of us?


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