In A World Of My Own

I did something last night which was a first for me.

I have a very basic phone. Very very basic. It is not a smart phone. It is something I carry really only for emergencies, as I tend to use my land line for calls, and email or paper for longer reports on my goings on to family and friends.

But I have noticed that this very basic phone has a radio function. I have never used it before. But when I have accidentally clicked on it, a message appears on the screen saying “INSERT HEADPHONES”.

That is something I have never tried out, until last night. I went for a walk. I just needed to clear my head. I went for a walk and was accompanied by Classic FM on my basic little phone the whole way along.

It was wonderful! Perhaps I timed it just right, they were playing some of my favourite pieces of beautiful classical music. It was stunning. I was transported to another place. Another world. I was in a world of my own – and it was spectacular!!

Walks At Dusk

Something I realized I quite like about the colder months is that when Jack and I go for a walk just after dark, it is much easier to make it in a circuit around the local area and back home without him being recognized.

Panorama, Sunset, Iceland, Heaven, Sea

I am so glad that I started going out with Jack two years ago…in the dark evenings. We had lots of walks in the dark. Then came the Pandemic of course and amazingly face masks provided a wonderful disguise.

But now here we are again – dark evenings. It’s so nice to be able to go for a walk and not feel the need to hide (or at least hide Jack) whenever anyone is walking towards us.

Remembering Not Just For A Month, But Always

I have been aware of numerous events going on to mark October as Black History Month. I have slightly mixed feelings about marking a day, a week, or a month out for a show of thoughtfulness….when really it is every single day that we should be aware of the past, making different choices in the way we behave today, and remembering that what we do now contributes to our future.

I also am mindful that Black History means different things to different people. Some of my friends are much more eager to converse about the challenges they face now as they seem to be unfairly unable to attain to certain opportunities or experience virtual harassment as they go about their daily lives. Others have spoken about some of the challenges their parents or grandparents faced in connection with governmental failures towards the “Windrush generation”.

People, Schoolboy, Africa, Student

Black History Month is about so many aspects of history, but it is hard for me not to think about the history of the slave trade because of the impact it had and because of it’s enormous scale. It is still hard to understand how it was ever allowed to happen, but it is important to remind ourselves that for far too long, too many people callously closed their eyes to the mistreatment of fellow members of the human family, and shamefully, many profited from it. Even to this day, the legacy of the slave trade and the imbalances in material wealth and perhaps just as significantly the opportunities that resulted are very uncomfortably present.

I grew up in Liverpool, and both my parents and also the school I attended made sure we visited the Liverpool Maritime Museum regularly.

Liverpool Maritime Museum

There is an exhibition there on the slave trade – which gives you an idea of the atrocities and abuses that were committed on an enormous scale. I have been learning about the horrific injustices that occured in connection with the slave trade my whole life. What I learnt made a very deep impression on me as a little girl and I am sure it has shaped my outlook on so many areas of my life. History records the shameful wealth that some accrued closely tied up with their links to the slave trade.

img_20180703_132006.jpg

Although I have always loved to visit the fascinating estates in UK, and I love the National Trust and other organisations who educate visitors about properties whose owners made their wealth due to the slave trade, it does make me grieve deeply to think of how people were treated.


But my visit to Ghana provided a much deeper insight to me than my trips to the Maritime. When we visited the amazing Cape Coast in Ghana, our tour guide helped us to understand the terrifying experience for those who were crammed into effectively the dark, dungeon-like basement of the castle before being herded onto merchant ships.

Castle, Cape Coast, Ghana, Architecture

But my main memory of my time in Ghana was the incredible warmth (not just the climate) kindness, and hospitality of people. We made so many friends who we worked alongside while we were there. I will always treasure my time there.

One of the most influential experiences I had while in Ghana was when I had the chance to work alongside a gentleman who had six small children. He had come to volunteer and was patiently teaching his children to help as well. I did not notice at first, but he had no fingers at all. We were able to spend the day working with this family, training this gentleman and his children who were so eager to help. Two of the children spoke English and it turned out they were actually refugees from a French speaking West African land. A fellow volunteer told us about what had happened to this family when violence had engulfed their region. I won’t detail his account here because it is very upsetting, but due to the brutal acts committed this gentleman was now a widower with six children to feed and all of the work he did was of course more challenging without having any fingers or thumbs. He had fled his home and come to Ghana. We saw his children take the initiative in doing things that he was unable to. His children were a delight.

As we worked along with this incredible man and his children, we saw his inspiring smiles and ability to joke and laugh. He also loved singing, and he sang in French so I was not sure of all the words, but his voice was delightful. He was so proud of his children and it was clear they adored him. We had some gifts that friends had asked us to pack into our suitcases and we really wanted to give them to this family. But this gentleman would not take them without giving us something in return. When we had lunch, we were given a packed lunch by a host with all sorts of lovely food. We wanted to give our lunch to this gentleman and his children because we realized they did not have much at all. But he did not want to accept it without giving something in return. He had a pawpaw and a mango that was going to be lunch for him and his family.

He wanted to make sure that we accepted some of his fruit and only then was he happy to take the meal we had been given. He made it very clear to us that sharing was the only option he was happy with. He had more dignity and self-respect (and quite deservedly so) than so many of the men I had worked with back in the UK. He was an inspiration to me and someone I know I will never forget. He was a priceless gem of a man.

I know that Black History Month means different things to different people. Although the slave trade is a part of history that is important not to forget, it is also an opportunity to think about the incredible spirit that so many who have been mistreated in more recent decades and even the present day have shown. The strength and resilience in the face of injustices, the warmth and vibrancy and joyful energetic spirit that so many individuals and communities have been imbued with despite unfair experiences that nobody should have to go through. In the 21st century, we sometimes want to think that social injustice is a thing of the past, but we know that sadly it is not.

Attractive, Beautiful, Girl, Model

Many individuals and organizations are trying to contribute to positive changes, educating themselves about both history and the present challenges black and ethnic minorities face. Many are trying to be more mindful of creating or enabling opportunities and a fairer platform. Those who are trying to change their outlook are a positive force, but sadly there is still a lot of negative thinking and behaviour out there. We have all seen injustices occurring in broad daylight and it can be very disturbing to contemplate how ingrained some attitudes are.

I don’t think that remembering this history of abuse, discrimination and racism is just for a month, there are so many reasons to remember, respect and applaud those who despite mistreatment are still so beautiful inside and out, and proud of the inner strength, endurance and often very joyful spirit that are inspiring so many.

A Tropical Heat Wave

Jim Adams, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: ATOLL/ISLAND/KEY/LAGOON/PENINSULA/REEF/TROPICAL

Beach, Yoga, Athlete, Sportive, Skinny

Nice theme!!! I have chosen a song that runs through my mind every time the weather is warm. It is the ultimate tropical sizzler made famous by Marilyn Monroe perhaps, but also by Miss Piggy (see video at the end of this post 🙂 ). I however, have picked the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald singing the unforgettable “Heat Wave”!!

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The temperature's rising,
It isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can.

She started a heat wave
By letting her seat wave
In such a way that
The customers say that
She certainly can can-can.

Gee, her anatomy
Makes the mercury
Jump to ninety-three.

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The way that she moves
That thermometer proves
That she certainly can can-can.

Written by: Berlin Irving

When I Have The Chance To Sit Down With A Big Cup of Tea

I have to admit, my blog has in some ways become as long and hard to tame as my hair. I ought to claim an hour as my own and try to check some of the links (it frightens me to think of how many links must be “broken” or out of date).

I have put together a list of The STORM IN A TEACUP Series posts. It was just one week, one week of drama and emotions and weirdness. I really do look back at it all now and wonder how it became so impossibly awkward between Jack and I. But it is all in the past – thank goodness!

Life is a funny business at times – but my goodness, life is exhilarating!

Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?

What Happened After That Cup Of Tea?

What Did Suzie Have To Say About It?

What Did Marta Have To Say About It?

What Did Ella Have To Say About It?

What Did His Friends Have To Say About It?

Something Was Brewing… And It Certainly Was Not Another Cup Of Tea!

Would There Be Another Cup Of Tea?

It Gets Very Hot In The Kitchen

What Did Jack Have To Say About It?

Nobody Else Really Understood

Defining “Nnnyeah”

Jack has bought me a new coat. That is very kind of him. He knew I was on the look out for a coat to replace the one I have been wearing for the past five years or so.. I love my teal coat, love it, it’s been up mountains and it’s sheltered me from torrential rain. But I have ripped three of the six pockets and it is looking a little shabby. It’s still ideal for gardening, but I realized I probably do need to visit charity shops more frequently to find a replacement.

Jack saw me flicking through a catalogue recently, and I saw a teal coat which at first I liked the look of. I just did not like the inner layer. It was sort of a strange greenish, and it did not look right with the teal outer. He leaned over and said to me, “What do you think of the red one?”

I replied, “Nnnyeah.” Now most people understand that really means, “Yes, it’s a nice coat, but not for me.” Most people would know that. But it seems I have never made that clear to Jack.

So imagine my surprise when it turned up a couple of days later, delivered through Hermes and in a gift box. Jack!!!!

He bought me a red coat. My capsule wardrobe is based on blues and teal, and he bought me a red coat.

Jack says I suit red. I asked him how he knows when I never wear red. He said when he met me years ago, I used to go running in a red waterproof. Actually it was more of a raspberry pink, and I still have it under my bed. I only chose it because all of my clothes were from charity shops and when I was looking for a light waterproof to go running in, it was the only one I could find. Jack said it suited me a lot.

So, my memory of wearing that jacket, was me running in the cold and drizzle and ending up with a very red face, and people who knew me saying, “Your face is the same colour as your coat”.

Which is why….I never wear red.

Until now!

Jack has bought me a new red, very red, coat. He is such a lovely man, and I ought to be nothing except grateful!! But I have warned him, every time someone says to me during the next few months, “Oh Mel, your face is the same colour as your coat,” I am going to give him one of those looks! You know the looks that mean, “Darling, you are washing the dishes tonight.”

Sail Away On This Voyage Of A Lifetime

I had a message from a friend of mine yesterday which brought a huge smile to my face. She claims that Jack and I know every song, every album, every band ever. Of course we don’t. But we do like many different genres of music and we take an interest in anything new to our ears.

Well, my friend asked me if I had heard “Sail Away” from David Gray. I had not heard it before, and she started claiming it was the first time she had ever introduced a song to me, and not the other way around. But the reason she wanted me to hear it, is that she said it is the perfect song for the movie. You know…the Hollywood movie version of “This Voyage Of A Lifetime”, the final part of the three part Annabelle Riley series “LEARNERS AT LOVE”.

(Naturally, I am still keeping Hollywood at arm’s length – way too many shifty types there!)

Ocean, Milky Way, Boat, Sailing

So I listened – with my headphones in now I appreciate the difference in quality – and I loved it. Wow the bass! It is great! I loved the video she sent me too. Is it the original video? I don’t want to know if it’s not!

I also noticed recently that there seems to have been a change in the way Amazon links appear when copied onto a WordPress post. They used to pop up into a full on display of the book being linked. But it seemed to just stop very suddenly. I can still link them to an image though. For example, by clicking the image below….it should transport you to Amazon – no, not the Amazon – the website where you buy stuff that you probably don’t really need.

I Don’t Think I Ever Did Notice

I have the fondest memories of childhood. But I do know that financially, we were not at all comfortable. Yet, I don’t think I ever did really notice. I may have noticed that some other children seemed to live in much bigger houses and have lots of toys, but it did not effect me as a child.

One of my distinct memories is going to work with Dad during the school holidays. He was a window cleaner, and we just loved being with him. We took pride in the jobs he gave us. But what I remember with glee is that lots of the houses owned by his customers had very pretty gardens. We (my sisters and I) used to love exploring their gardens. When they had children, Dad’s customers would often invite us to play with their children. How I loved having fun on their garden swings or playing with their indoor toys.

Girl, Swing, Rocking, Autumn, Fall

The truth is, I never did feel “poor”. I never did. I think I felt very comfortable, very secure. It was only in my late teens when I started to notice the difference between our council house and the “posh” houses where my friends lived. But any temporary silliness, fretting over the idea that we may have been “poor” shrivelled up when I began to travel and saw what real poverty means.

As an adult….there are “things” I don’t physically own. I do not own a house, or a car, or much furniture of my own. I don’t have a smart phone, or an i-pod, or a lot of the other “things” that some of my acquaintance possess.

But I don’t feel “poor”. I live in a beautiful area, with famous multi-millionaires on my road. I still earn less than £10,000 per year (last year I did extra hours for the NHS, but all excess wages were put into the “family pot” which we set up to make sure any of our family who could not work during the Pandemic were able to take whatever they needed, so I still ended up with my same income), and yet I feel so wealthy, so rich in experiences, so enriched by friendships and memories. What a life. What an incredible life!!!

That little girl in her red wellington boots who used to carry the little ladder after her father into the gardens of his customers – I wonder if any of them realized she would be so blessed, so enriched with life – with living life in the most exciting and purposeful of ways.

If you measure wealth by more accurate means than a bank balance or a list of material possessions – I am in no way “poor”. I am rich – fantastically rich!!!

Feuds, Farms, Factories, And Family Trees

There is something about history here in Britain that is more than a little interesting. I suppose it is because for the past few centuries a lot happened very quickly on these shores, a lot of growth, a lot of wealth amassed and fancy buildings constructed. A lot of developments in technology and industry. A change form an agricultural way of life to a life on the ocean waves. A lot of social developments, the rise of manufacture in the form of factories to the rising up from the workforce against industrial leaders, the abolition of the slave trade, the political developments.

Of course, there is a vast deal of awfulness in the pages of history with regards to the way this weeny little island arrogantly treated others. It is quite horrid really when you realize the wealth that came along with the abuse of peoples on this soil, and even more so overseas.

But growing up on a council house in an industrial part of the north of England, and having had the chance to travel and work all over the UK, and to live in the heart of the southern countryside, before moving to London, I have always been fascinated with how much history is easily accessible to learn about. There are so many castles, palaces, estates that are full of the records of the people who lived and worked in and around those buildings.

Blickling Estate, Palace, Facade

I think many people here do have a natural fascination with the line of Kings and the political developments in this country over the centuries. There are so many iconic names in the history books – King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, The Duke Of Wellington, Queen Victoria – as well as all of the engineers, scientists, reformers and visionaries who made their mark on this land and in some ways, on the rest of the world.

Many of us ponder the notion of being able to travel back in time and see the days of yesteryear for ourselves. Period dramas and history documentaries have been popular on television.

One show, which I have to admit I have not often had chance to view is called, “Who Do You Think You Are?” A familiar figure (yes, celebrity) has the chance to explore their family tree with the support of historians who are digging into the archives.

My sister told me the other day to make sure I watched the latest episode of the show, featuring the family tree of a comedian named Josh Widdicombe. I am not going to tell you anything about it….not a word….but if you are interested in history….this episode is well worth a watch:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0010krw/who-do-you-think-you-are-series-18-1-josh-widdicombe

The Scale Of The Challenge

There once was a very tired lorry driver. He was on his way back to the distribution center after delivering his cargo to branches of a large supermarket chain. He had been on the road most of the day, and he was looking forward to reaching home where he could rest with his wife an children.

But just as he was turning onto the motorway, he felt several loud pops, followed by an unwelcome grinding noise. It took all his strength to safely turn the lorry onto the hard shoulder.

On climbing out of his cabin and inspecting the wheels, he realized that three of his tyres had been damaged and now the tyres were flat.

Wheel, Tire, Truck, Breakdown, Flat Tire

He was about to call for assistance from a recovery service when a car pulled up behind him and a man emerged from the car and strolled over to him.

The car driver stated the obvious, “Ah, I see you are in a spot of bother. May I offer my services?”

“Thanks mate! Are you a mechanic then?” asked the lorry driver.

“No, but I have something that will help,” he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a packet of sticking plasters (band-aids) and handed them to the lorry driver.

Graphic, Bandaids, Ouch, Scrape, Prick

Confused, the lorry driver asked, “How will these help?”

“Well, I figured you had a puncture. So I thought sticking a plaster on the puncture should patch up the damage so you can continue your journey.”

Baffled, the lorry driver watched in bewilderment as the car driver smiled and turned to walk back to the car. The lorry driver felt incensed that the car driver seemed to be mocking his dilemma by making light of it. With anger in his voice, he called out, “Thanks a lot!”

The car driver beamed and waved before he opened his car door. He responded cheerily, “Don’t mention it. Always happy to help a fellow motorist.”

With that the car driver pulled out onto the carriageway and joined the flow of traffic. The lorry driver shook his head and made dialed the number for the recovery service.

__________________

What is the moral of the story?

We don’t need more insignificant feeble efforts or just positive words from those who do not understand the scale of the challenges we face. We need real solutions, real action, real change.

Learner at Love

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