Archive for September, 2008

Book… When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes

September 30, 2008

When Phones Were Immobile
Lived In

Gladys Hobson

A pick and mix assortment of childhood memories

When Phones Were Immobile
Lived In

Gladys Hobson


Chapter One School-days: sewage, sex, sport and school dinners

Chapter Two No NHS

Chapter Three Of God and bananas

Chapter Four Of war and play

Chapter Five Innocent youth or just plain daft?

Chapter Six Family affairs

Chapter Seven I want to be a designer

Chapter Eight Moving on to where I started!

Chapter Nine Boys!

Chapter Ten You shall go to the ball

Conclusion The beginning of the new


I was waiting in the bank a few days ago when someone’s mobile started ringing. A young woman took the phone from her pocket and said to me, “What would we do without them?”
I had to smile. I remember the days before mobiles; when outer space was the realm of Flash Gordon fantasy, and only doctors, businesses and posh people had a telephone installed – the rest of us had to queue at the red box down the road. I was well into my teens before I actually used one. But then, whom could I possibly ring?
It isn’t difficult to remember when I first handled a phone. At the time, I was working on the cutting bench in the outerwear department of an old factory in Nottingham. No one in that building could have been more sensitive or naive than I was – nor as incredibly stupid!
One morning the overlooker called me over to his desk.
“A call for you, Gladys,” he said.
It was with great fear and trepidation that I took the receiver from him.
“I’ve never used a phone,” I said, my hands shaking. “What do I do?”
“Put that end to your ear and speak in there,” he instructed with considerable clarity.
What could be easier?
But my imagination was already working at full speed. My father had been ill for some time; he must be dead! Worse, he’d lost his temper and had done something dastardly! No, it must be my poor mother rushed off to hospital! The house has caught fire, the Trent has flooded, the dog has been run over!
“Yes?” I said into the mouthpiece, fearful of what was to come.
“Gladys?” the voice queried.
“Yes,” I said, my mouth dry with anxiety.
“Bring the sheets,” the voice demanded.
“The sheets, bring the sheets!”
Who was this person demanding sheets? Why should I have sheets, except on my bed? I must have got it wrong.
“The sheets?” I queried, my brain in a whirl and my wet palm gripping the receiver to stop it shaking.
“The sheets!” the voice bellowed. “Bring the bloody sheets. Now!”
Tears were about to run down my face. I turned to the overlooker and handed him the receiver.
“I can’t hear what he’s saying,” I lied.
He took the instrument of torture from my shaking hand. He spoke a few words into the mouthpiece, grinned, and turned to me.
“The wrong Gladys,” he said, with an apologetic shrug of his shoulders.
He called to the machinists’ overlooker, “Gladys, take the production sheets into the office, please. Mr Raymond wants them.”
I had been speaking on the phone to the deputy manager. I hurried to the toilet!
For ages afterwards, I dreaded the phone ringing. But of course, need and ambition force us to adapt and accommodate to modern gadgets.

This little book is a trip down memory lane. Just dip into its pages. If you think it quite unbelievable what we thought and did in those days, believe me, we would have laughed at the very idea of men on the moon and a handy phone in your pocket! As for sex, that was as hush-hush as State secrets. But, delve into these pages and all will be revealed.

To be continued…
When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes
ISBN 0-9548885-0-2
Published by Magpies Nest Publishing

I Want To Go Home

September 29, 2008

I want to go home

It was one week before Christmas 1939. The Second World War had started but that meant nothing to me; I was facing my own painful battle. I was just turned seven years old, I had scarlet fever and had been sent all alone in an ambulance to an isolation hospital far from home.
I lay in the bed looking around me. It was a big room with lots of other beds but no other children. All the people in the beds were women and in a cot at the end of the room was a young baby. Everything was white – walls, ceiling, beds and bed covers. Nurses wearing big stiff white hats and white starched aprons came to take my temperature and ask me to wee in a funny shaped pan. I was wearing something the nurse had put on me – a white all-in-one with a flap at my bottom which had to be unbuttoned to go to the toilet. Like a baby, I had to stay in bed and be looked after.
A nurse woke me up early in the morning and asked me if my bowels had moved. I had nothing of my own there so whatever my bowels were, how could I know if they had moved? She laughed and explained what she wanted to know. I was brought some dark brown medicine to take.
“It isn’t very nice. Eat your banana with it,” she said, pointing to a plate on the cupboard at the side of my bed.
I soon found out that every morning the nurse came to ask me the same question with the same result. Every morning, a banana and a piece of bread and butter was placed on the cupboard for my breakfast. They were the last bananas I was to eat until the end of the war but I could not have known that then. The bread and butter had its own peculiar taste and even now, I can still recall the flavour.
When I needed a wee, I was told to call the nurse for a bedpan. I did so, to be met by howls of laughter from all those who heard me. I was mortified.
“What did you ask for?’”
“A bread pan,” I said, close to tears.
“Bedpan – not bread pan!” she laughed.
Well, it looked like a pan for frying bread in; it was nothing like the pot we kept under the bed at home.
I came to hate that pan, especially when I did my number two’s. It stank and had to be covered with a cloth. I felt so ashamed. I also wet my bed the first night I was there so I was already feeling a dirty little girl.
I felt incredibly lonely. I longed to go home but dare not say so. I had to be a good little girl and never cry or be naughty. We were not allowed visitors inside the ward. Twice a week, for half an hour, they were allowed to come and see us but they had to speak to us through the closed windows. It was bitterly cold outside but eventually my mother was allowed to speak to me through the nurses’ office window at the side of my bed. My mother had to travel on two buses to get to the hospital. There were seven at home to look after but she always came for that short visit and to leave me sixpence to spend. The money paid for pop we were allowed to buy each week.
I had been in just a week when it was Christmas Eve. My mother had been told that if she brought me some clothes to wear I would be allowed out of bed to go to a party in the other ward. She forgot. I was bitterly disappointed. No use explaining to me that she had been too busy to think about it; it just made me feel even more isolated from my family.
After they had gone, the nurse came and said that I would be allowed to go in the dressing gown she gave to me. I put it on and walked my lonely way to the other ward. Isolated from my parents and my big family and with no one to comfort me, I felt so incredibly alone and utterly miserable. I didn’t know much about parties – we never had them at home. But surely you wore pretty dresses not bedclothes? I would be an odd one out and everyone would laugh at me. I couldn’t stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. A nurse saw me and asked what was wrong. I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m cold,” I lied.
“You’re just a big baby,” she shouted and threw me a blanket. “Put that on and stop crying.”
Alone and humiliated, I walked into the other ward covered in the blanket. There was just one seat left and I sat on it. People started pulling crackers and I cheered up. I had a cracker. The lady next to me helped me to pull it. The cracker was empty.
“Gladys hasn’t anything in her cracker,” said the kindly lady next to me.
“She doesn’t deserve anything,” came the nurse’s reply.
I hung my head in shame and tried hard not to cry.

I found a pillowcase on my bed on Christmas morning. There were a few bits and bobs, sweets and an orange, but the real present was a brown baby doll. We had very few toys at home and I had never owned a doll before. I let the infant in the cot play with it because he was always crying. He pulled off the doll’s head and then did his number twos on it’s body. I didn’t fancy playing with it any more.
The other patients teased me badly. There were funny noises at night in the region of my bed. I was told I had crickets in my bed and that made me very frightened. I didn’t know what they looked like or if they would bite me. But at night, a single blue bulb shone in the centre of the ceiling. It was my fairy light and I would stare at it to find some sort of comfort until I dropped to sleep.
I hated the food. The banana breakfast was all right but we had mince for dinner nearly every day. There was a lot of gristle in it. We often had fruit for afters. Fruit brought in for the patients was chopped up and shared with everyone. My dad complained because I didn’t get the expensive grapes he brought in. I don’t think the nurses were very pleased. If our relatives brought us eggs, we had them with our bread and butter for tea. It made a change from jam.
I was in that hospital for six miserable weeks. No television in those days and we had no radio or books. Anything taken into the isolation hospital could not be brought out. My mother did bring me in a book to read but I found it very difficult. We only had comics at home and I was only on the early readers at school, so reading was a bit of a struggle. Although my mother came twice a week in rain or snow despite the long journey on the buses, it was difficult to talk through the glass and she couldn’t give me a cuddle. I was not a happy child.
Then one cold day, mother brought me my outdoor clothes and took me home. After another six weeks I was allowed back at school. I was one of the few children in the class who knew how to tell the time. My spell in hospital was not entirely wasted.

Consider the lilies of the field…

September 28, 2008

“Why is it that the children here are so happy and always laughing? They have so little of anything,” so asked the son of the Christian worker.
It was true. But the children in that African village had nothing to lose, nothing to get stolen and nothing to envy. They were loved and cared for within a large family and community group.
How wicked that throughout the world, (including parts of Africa) many children have a totally different experience of life. Cruelty to children is widespread. And so is lack of loving relationships.
We have a lot to learn about true happiness that does not rely on material goods and outward beauty. What do we teach our children through our own actions and attitudes?

Like a Little Child

September 27, 2008

The television was on showing starving children in Africa. A toddler, dressed in vest and nappy, sat on the floor with a dummy (comforter) in his mouth, watching a crying baby. Silently, he stood up, toddled to the TV screen, took the dummy from his mouth and tried to push it into the mouth of the distressed baby.
The words of Jesus came into my mind:
“Unless. you become as a little child, you cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I recalled too another incident.
Three year-old Luke sitting up in bed, sucking on his Spotty Dog’s tail, along with his own thumb. The boy brushing his cheek against the toy’s soft body drawing comfort from it’s closeness. From the room next to him came the sound of his mummy crying and his daddy speaking as though he too might be crying. It had been going on for ages. A different sound now disturbed him — the new baby howling.
Luke rocking backwards and forwards, continued to suck comfort from Spotty Dog. Suddenly, the doorbell sounded and the voices in the room next to him moved to the stairs. Luke slipped out of bed and opened his door.
“Go back to bed, Luke.” came his father’s voice from the downstairs hall. “Mummy isn’t well, she’s going to hospital. She’ll be back soon. Lucy’s going with her.”
A strange man was in the hall, putting his crying mum into a wheelchair. Daddy had baby Lucy, and a lady was holding out her arms to take her.
“I want to come,” Luke said, hurrying down the stairs with Spotty’s tail clasped in his fingers.
“Sorry, Luke, we have to stay here.”
The door was already open. His mummy turned her wet face towards him. She seemed to be finding it hard to speak. “I’ll be home soon. Be a… ” Tears flowed again.
Luke ran up to her and held out his comforting toy. “Take Spotty with you. He’ll make you better.”

The words of Jesus:
“Unless you become as a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Creation… a start of a series of notes for talks

September 26, 2008

I have decided to get out some of my sermon notes from when I was ministering in the Church and to print them here. They are not essays but rather notes I made, from which I would draw salient points to talk about with the aid of brief stories drawn from my own experience.

Todays theme is Creation and tonight’s readings reflect, not only the fact that God ‘created’ but also that His Spirit is ever at work – creating and recreating.

Jesus said “unless a man has been born over again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”

It has been built into the laws of Creation that growth and new life comes only through shedding or dying to the old.

But some types of religion do not allow for the movement of the Spirit in our lives and are hard, unyielding, legalistic and lacking in the fruit of the Spirit

Lets look at the story of Nicodemus – Pharisee, (strict legalistic, but devout Jewish sect) member of the Jewish Council – came by night to Jesus
Seeking – impressed by signs and wonders
“We know that you are a teacher sent by God”

Jesus gets to the heart of what Nicodemus is saying –
“Unless a man has been born over again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”
It’s no use looking for signs and miracles of healing
– God is more than the physical and mental revelations of human reasoning
God’s Kingdom can only be apprehended through the spirit and by the creative action of the Spirit of God within us
It is not what we do or think – it is God who takes the initiative.

We cannot bring God down to our size and thoughts, His Kingdom is not built on human values.
We cannot manipulate God to conform to our expectations, nor make Him bring into being our desires or perform according to our will.
He cannot be bribed or cajoled to grant favours and honours.

We cannot enter the kingdom of God on our terms.
We cannot bribe our way in, nor can we force our way in.

Being born again, or having a new start, being renewed or rejuvenated, was not a new idea in the first century. The problem was HOW!

With typical Jewish exasperation Nicodemus exclaims,
“How is it possible for a man to be born when he is old? Can a man enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born”.
Jesus said, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born from water and Spirit.”

Water – the symbol of cleansing from sin and evil, when we genuinely turn to God.
Spirit – the power to live renewed lives in simplicity and faith – secure in the love of God – trusting – obedient to the one commandment of Jesus – To love God and neighbour, delighting in His Word and Grace

Flesh can only give birth to flesh – worldly ideas to worldly ideas,
there has to be a breakthrough of the Spirit of God to give man a spirit rebirth.

Just as we see the effect of the wind as it blows over the earth , so we see the effect of the Spirit in the lives of those who have been born again.

The Spirit is a mystery – He cannot be manipulated or controlled by man – And yet He can be witnessed by all who have eyes to see

And when our eyes and ears are open, when our heart yearns for that new birth, not as a reward for our actions but as a gift to be received, surely we are placing ourselves in that position for the Spirit to blow through our lives.

Jesus often used children as a teaching aid –
“unless you become as a little child, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”
(child – vulnerable, trusting, delighting in simple things, loving, filled with awe and wonder etc =
(My experiences of children)

Unless we keep hold of that childlikeness, we lose that simplicity of trust and faith, that sense of awe and wonder and
we learn to trust only the things that we see or can be proved.
We seek miracles and signs to authenticate faith and replace trust with manufactured certainty

Christians often take God forgranted and presume on His goodness –
many try manipulation to get what they want – “if you will do what I want, I will do this that and the other” or
“then I will believe”

In Revelations it says
“Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, because thou didst create all things; by Thy will they were created, and have their being.”

As we realise more and more, the greatness and glory of God,

as we realise in our hearts that He is our Father who desires to be in relationship with us through His Son

As we get back to that simplicity that relies on the goodness of God rather than what we do for God

As we yearningly turn to God and put aside all cleverness of thought and action
desiring and seeking nothing but to be “in Him” and to love Him with our whole being

So we are in that place where the Spirit can catch us with His breath – and we can begin to breath with new life – Born of the Spirit
Our eyes are open to see The Kingdom and by His grace we are free to enter!

This is not a “one off” experience but rather a continual, creative, walk with God…

Romance Over The Internet

September 1, 2008

Awakening Love by Gladys Hobson – now available as an Ebook. So exciting! The cover is quite pretty and perfect for the book. That locket was given to me by my husband in 1952 – perfect for the book’s setting and exactly what I had in mind when Arthur gave the gold locket to June. (Only my character’s locket had a large diamond hidden inside!)
It is a wonderful thing for a publisher to like your writing enough to want to publish your book. I have my own publishing house (Magpies Nest Publishing) for my softback version but it is great when an editor wants the book to add to their titles. I was truly thrilled yesterday when I heard that Awakening Love by Gladys Hobson is now available at Mobipocket

The locket of promised love.

The locket of promised love.

and will be available from the other major Ebook sites later this week.
The unpublished sequel is waiting in the wings!
Great though it is to be recognised in this way, it will be even better if it sells well as every penny of royalties is promised to Badge Of Life. It is a wonderful thing when you can use your gifts to help others. It happened with my When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes (A third world children’s charity benefited). Writing for a purpose makes the tremendous effort a worthwhile activity.