Thursday, 2 March 2017

Senior moments...


A bit of catching up to do on the blog as last week I posted about the story of my brother in two parts.

Spring is on its way! These buds were spotted on my next to last
Sunday walk of 8.5 miles. I also saw banks of snowdrops, crocuses, primroses and some tiny daffodils - all seen in wild places and not in people's gardens.

Here's a few of  the week before last week's outfits.

Everything charity shopped except the boots - Christmas 2016 present from daughter.


I wanted to show this necklace which I picked up at the Red Cross on Monday for £1.50. I also bought some bangles and a couple of books. All jewellery charity shopped.


Pink corduroy shirt bought from £1 rail in the Red Cross a few weeks back.


Everything is charity shopped except the brown boots - Christmas present 2015.


All jewellery charity shopped.

I walked Wednesday the week before last (6.2 miles) and on the Friday of the same week I walked 5.5 miles. A good week's walking for me; just on 20 miles which is what I want to do on a weekly basis. What else have I been up to?

I finished my blanket...


Thanks to Attic 24 here for the Granny Stripe pattern.

Last Thursday I paid a visit to Barnardo's in Great Denham - I know - but I couldn't resist a quick peek to see if they still had their sale rail. They did. I bought 5 tops at 1.00 each. A yellow tunic; a brown waistcoat, two striped tops and a floral top.

I paid a visit to the library last Saturday and got a pile of books - just what I don't need, more books to read, but I've been after a few of the titles for a while...

This was last Saturday's outfit. Everything charity shopped except the top which was from Store 21 sale.


I bought the waistcoat for £1.00 in the Red Cross two weeks ago. I think it's hand made as there are no labels. It has lovely embroidery on the pockets:



Boots were also from the Red Cross but I can't remember where I bought the jeans.


All jewellery charity shopped. I bought this unusual chain which I think looks very Art Deco in the Heart Foundation shop in Northampton.

Last Sunday I went out early for another walk and did 5 miles.
I've been asked to lead another walk for the Rambler's summer walks programme in May. I won't do a new route but reverse the route I used in 2016 when I led my first walk; it will be around 7 miles and hopefully we'll have decent weather...

Monday's outfit.


All jewellery charity shopped. I forgot to put my bangles on  - I was running slightly late.


This is the yellow tunic I bought last week in Barnardo's for 1.00. It's from H&M; the top is from Cotton Traders and was also charity shopped.


The tunic has pockets! Floral leggings, Store 21 sale and brown boots from Sainsbury's.

I know memory worsens as you get older. I've certainly noticed a change in mine. I sometimes can't remember the word for something - for example a while ago it took me to two days to think of the word for 'brioche'! I never forget faces but often forget names. I start out to do things but I get easily sidetracked by other things and don't always finish what I started.  But this weekend I realised I had had a major memory lapse. For the past five months I've been driving around without an MOT.

I'd got my car serviced in September and thought it had been MOT'd as well. It hadn't. I had to get to the nearest MOT place pretty sharpish on Monday; I can tell you. I'm just so lucky I didn't get gripped by the police; or even more serious have an accident. No MOT means invalid car insurance. Apparently, I should have had a text message reminder last September from the MOT centre but I didn't receive one. They've set one up now so I can't make this mistake again. Don't worry, I'm sure I haven't got dementia but am exhibiting typical memory changes as part of the ageing process...


I remembered to go to the food bank on Tuesday morning! I missed my last session because I had the lurgy and didn't want to share it. It was good to be back. It's quite a physical role in the warehouse; bending and stretching and lifting and weighing boxes of stuff. I always come home with a pleasant ache in my back that tells me I've been challenging my body.


I bought this dress on Monday at the Red Cross - a M&S navy blue sweater dress for 1.99. Everything is charity shopped including the striped tights which attracted a lot of comment. They're going to go in the charity shop bag because although they fit fine in the leg the pants part only comes just up to my hips and they roll down gradually...


All jewellery, including watch, is charity shopped.

I bought some lovely blue beads as well on Monday at the Red Cross and something for the OH.

On Wednesday I set out to walk with the group. I never made it. I was putting my faith in my sat nav to find the meeting point and it sent me through a village and around the houses. I knew it was wrong when it told me to turn into Clophill village. but I was thinking "maybe it's a shortcut" it soon became the apparent the sat nav didn't know what it was doing!  Oh well, at least it was the sat nav's fault and not me having a senior moment! By the time I found a safe space to park up and reset the destination point I would  have got there too late.   One thing I've learnt about my Rambler's group,  in the three years I've been a member, is that they leave punctually at 10 am. I came back home and went for a six mile walk by myself...


Here I am; hot and sweaty on the final leg...I was walking with poles so didn't have a free hand to carry my jacket in and so it stayed on.


This is what I'd stopped for. Two swans resting in a huge field. I don't know about you but up until about a  year ago I had only ever seen swans on water or near water; canal side, riverside, lakeside. Then one day en route to Kettering; I spotted a wedge (flock) of swans resting in a water logged field. I began to see more and more swans in fields away from water. I don't know if this has always happened but I've only noticed it recently.


I also spotted yellowhammers on my walk - brilliant flashes of bright yellow in and out of the hedgerows.


This was Thursday's outfit.


Everything charity shopped except the boots and blue tights - just seen. I bought the floral top which is by Wallis, from Barnardo's in Great Denham last week. I had my scarf on as I'd been out food shopping and forgot to take it off! All jewellery is charity shopped.


Later, I tried some different earrings and a necklace...

On Friday, I'm going for a walk with the group. I know how to get to the destination so won't be relying on the sat nav. It will be an 8 mile walk along the Greensand Ridge and I'm looking forward to it. I'll just need to add in a couple of miles walk on Saturday to reach my target of twenty miles this week.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend; the weather's been remarkably pleasant the last few days; is it going to last, I wonder?

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

How my brother found us...Part 2

The Ballad of Kathy Flynn - (2012) - Julian Littman

Long ago, young Kathy Flynn took a train to London Town
She fell in love with an Indian hero - he turned her heart around
With a Vir Chakra into his jacket - how could she resist?
He took  her to his hotel room and there they more than kissed
He said;"Kathy, will you marry me?"
Of course, she answered yes.
She dreamed of life in far Madras - an Indian Princess.

He telephoned long distance to his father in Madras
And told him of his intention to wed the Irish lass
The old man flew into a rage and said your future's been arranged
Marry her and you'll die without a rupee to your name
Without a word he slipped away leaving not a trace behind
And left poor Kathy waiting -  out of sight and out of mind.

Chorus: I'll sing a lullaby to the Irish girl and the dreams she could not keep
I'll sing a lullaby to the Irish girl and sing that girl to sleep.

She met a man of magic - the Great Marlo was his name
They took a mind reading act out on the road and found some kind of fame
Pretty soon she realised a child was on the way
Her Indian hero had left her with more than a broken heart that day
She cast her fate to the Mother Church who duly took her in
She gave away the boy at birth and never saw him again.

Chorus: I'll sing a lullaby to the Irish girl and the boy she could not keep
I'll sing a lullaby to the Irish girl and sing that girl to sleep.

The boy grew up in a happy home but when his folks had gone
The boy was curious to know more about his mum
He traced her to a little town and called her on the phone
But she hung up when she heard his name - shaken to the bone.
She wrote him a letter saying never a day goes by
 When I don't think about you, boy, but I must go on living a lie
You see, I've a family of my own  - our secret's never been told
The truth would tear this house apart and I'm too frail and too old.

2nd chorus again
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Julian knew he was adopted from about the age of 8 or 9. He came home from school one day and asked his mum a question that he was constantly being asked at school. "Mum, why is it that I'm a different colour to J (Julian's adoptive parent's natural son) and you and Dad? His mum told him in a very matter of fact way that he was adopted and his biological parents were an Anglo Indian pilot in the Indian Air Force and his mum was an Irish actress.

Julian's dad, Anthony Ignatius Kenneth Suares, was an Indian hero; he had been awarded the Vir Chakra in 1949 and you can read about it here. He died some time ago and Julian never managed to trace him. He still wants to explore that side of his family.

 My mum came to England from Ireland in 1948, aged 16, as a Nanny for a family in Edgeware. When she was 18 she was 'discovered' in Lyons Corner House in Marble Arch by the man I knew throughout my childhood as 'Uncle Marlo'. Marlo, or the 'Great Marlo' to give him his stage name; was a magician and mum was his assistant;  'Georgette'. They did a mind reading act together and travelled all over the UK. Mum had a tiny speaking part in a film about boxing in the 1950s, but we've never been able to discover the title. She would never have described herself as an actress but she always said she had been 'on the stage'. She and 'The Great Marlo' often did publicity stunts for their act; below is a still from British Pathe news item  - narrated by Eamonn Andrews - and available here on youtube; where mum was buried alive for one such stunt. It was a very cold day; everyone is wearing overcoats but mum appears dressed in a bra and skirt - some things never change when it comes to women...



As children we loved Uncle Marlo - he used to make sixpences and shillings appear out of his ears or from up our sleeves! He lived just off Church Street market in London; and he and his wife were very good to my mum because she when she applied to St. Pelagia's to have Julian; she gave her address as their address; she must have been living with them throughout her pregnancy.

What I have found out is Julian's birth was something that probably only one other family member; my Aunty Betty, knew about. Betty's name appears on the St.Pelagia documentation as mum's next of kin. In the latter stages of pregnancy mum could have told her four sisters; all of whom were living in London at the time, she was away touring with the Great Marlo. My dad never knew about Julian; in Julian's adoption paper's this is made clear as they state the adoption forms to be signed by mum must be sent in a plain brown envelope addressed solely to my mum.



This is my mum's oldest sister, Aunty Peggy's, wedding in 1950 or 1951 in Paddington, London; mum would have been 18 or 19 at the time. Mum is on the far left in the plaid dress; next to Aunty Betty, (her confidante); behind Mum is Aunty Mary and next to her, Aunty Ita.

Much of what Julian puts in the song above 'The Ballad of Kathy Flynn' is true but not all. We don't know how, when and where mum and Julian's dad met. We don't know if it was a one night stand or a relationship. We think the asking to marry bit is right because it's stated in the documentation Julian gathered together in his search for mum. I think it highly possible that getting married would have entailed mum moving to India and that she probably didn't want to leave England - but we'll never know.

Julian went to drama school aged 16 and has spent the rest of his life performing, singing, playing and composing. You can see his bio here. It's very strange to think that when I was a student nurse in the early 1970s I used to watch 'Rainbow' - a children's programme on at midday - in the nurses lounge whilst eating my lunch. I must have seen Julian on TV dozens of times but never knew he was my brother!

By 2005, Julian's adoptive parents had died. Julian knew a lot about his birth mother and her subsequent family, but he couldn't out find where she lived. One evening, after a gig two fans came back stage to see him; he found out they ran a business tracing adopted children's birth parents and or families. Within two weeks they had found mum living in Kettering; and as the song says a phone call was made and mum wrote Julian a letter, but didn't want to meet.

I've read the letter she sent Julian and it is a beautiful letter. But, I still find it really difficult to understand (although I do, in many ways) why she didn't want to meet him. By 2005, mum knew she had COPD and that it would it kill her soon. As her children, we would have been delighted to meet Julian and would have welcomed him with open arms and would never have judged mum's actions. Mum must have known that about us as well as we were all very, very close. I'm just so sorry that they didn't get to meet because mum would have had almost four years left with Julian in her life.

You must be curious to know how Julian did eventually find us and I'm now coming to that part...

Julian discovered mum had died using 'Google' (God bless the internet - it's a marvellous invention but what a horrible way to find out about your mum's death). We had published a small notice of thanks in the local Kettering paper after the funeral in 2009. Julian waited for several years (I can only marvel at his restraint) and one day in 2013 he was on his way to the Derngate theatre in Northampton, with a group he was managing at the time. They knew his story and pointed out that Northampton was only 14 miles away from Kettering and as he knew my brother Mark still lived in the same house he and mum had moved to in 1999; he should, at least, drop a card through the door. So, he did!

When I rang him that morning in February 2013 we spoke for two hours! We arranged for Julian to come to Bedford the following weekend and we would all go out for a meal and get to know each other. So, we did!

4th March, 2013


 At my house looking at Julian's paperwork. Seated L to R:  Brother Julian, me, brother Mark and standing, brother Tony. Someone's cracked open the beers!
Image may contain: 5 people, indoor
After the meal we went to a local wine bar and had a few more beers and bottles of wine...that's my OH, Wesley on the far left.
Image may contain: 4 people, indoor 
Time to go home, lads!
  
It has been a wonderful experience meeting our 'new' brother. I have to admire his magnanimity and his generosity of spirit; he holds no hard feelings about his circumstances. He is not bitter that my mum wouldn't meet him. (I think I would have been, had it been me given up for adoption). We share a mother and although Julian was raised in the Home Counties in a nice middle class home and we were raised in the inner city, children of poor, working class immigrants, we have nothing but love and affection for each other.

We meet as often we can - Julian is always busy (thankfully, in his line of work). The one nice thing we were able to do for Julian was ask him to help us scatter mum's ashes (her ashes had been living in the sitting room for four years) later that same year; 2013. We videoed the ceremony - it was just laughter and jokes all the way.

RIP Mum - I'm sorry you had to live in such unenlightened times but your four children are united in their love for you.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

How I found my brother - Part 1


I said I would tell you about how we found our brother and here it is - true to my word. How my brother found us (Part 2) will follow soon.
=======================================================

One Friday evening in February 2013, my OH and I were on our way to Kettering to meet up with my brothers. We were stopping at the eldest brother's to pick him up and then go on to the the youngest brother's for a drink and a catch up. My mum and eldest brother had moved to Kettering from London in 1999, and my youngest brother moved to Kettering in 2006. My mum died in 2009 and my dad died, aged only 47, in 1980.

When we got to the eldest brother's house he told me that someone had come to the door earlier in the day; spoken to him and had left him a card. He said the person - a man - said that he used to work with my mum. This immediately rang alarm bells because I knew my mum had for most of her working life, worked predominantly with women.

When I read the card (I still have it), I literally went weak at the knees and had to sit down, but I knew at once that what it said was inescapably true. On 13th February, 1953; thirteen months before I was born in March 1954, and before my mum married my dad; my mum gave birth to a baby boy whom she called 'Julian Jerome Flynn' - (her maiden name was Flynn). She gave birth to Julian in St. Pelagia's Home for Penitent Girls (I kid you not) which was  in Highgate, North London. It's since been demolished and is now a gated development.

All three of us were very close to our mum. We all loved her deeply. She was our rock, we knew she loved us unconditionally and she was always there for us. She was great fun to be with; we loved her company and spending time with her. Yet, none of us knew about this other brother. On that night I could only feel shock at the not knowing as we set off to the younger brother's house.
Image result for St Pelagias Home for Penitent Girls image
 St. Pelagia's Home
LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON

St Pelagia's Home
St Joseph's Maternity Home
34 Highgate West Hill, N6 6NJ
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1889 - 1972

Maternity
St Pelagia's Home for Destitute Girls at No. 25 Bickerton Road in Upper Holloway was founded in 1889 by the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters Servants of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.It provided  accommodation for unmarried mothers and their first-born babies, who were allowed to enter the Home when the child was a fortnight old.
The girls were admitted free of charge on condition that they contributed to the earning power of the Home by working in its laundry.
The Home later occupied the neighouring house at No. 27 Bickerton Road.

In 1934 it moved to West Hill Place, a large house on Highgate West Hill, where it re-opened in 1936 after the Convent of Sacred Hearts had been built adjoining the original mansion.

In March 1948 Mayfield, an adjoining 2-storey Victorian house, was bought and equipped as an antenatal and maternity home.  It had 18 beds and was named St Joseph's Maternity Home.

The Labour Ward was on the first floor, while the ground floor contained 6 antenatal beds, and 12 postnatal beds in 3- or 5-bedded wards, with 12 cots for the babies.  An isolation room was added later.

The patients, who stayed for an average of 12 weeks,  were cared for by three nurses.

The LCC paid a guinea (21 shillings - £1.05) a weeks to the Home for expectant mothers and 25 shillings (£1.25) for mothers and babies (this was later increased to £2 10s (£2.50) a week).

In 1954 the Homes had 70 beds for mothers and their babies.  Both properties had extensive gardens of 2 acres, but the buildings were in much need of repair, with damaged ceilings in St Joseph's and a leaking flat roof.

The Homes closed in 1972.


Present status (February 2009)
The Homes and the convent were demolished in 1970.  Their site now contains Hill Court and the West Hill Park estate.



Source: Google (for both photos)

This is an article about St. Pelagia's from the Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10932969/Convent-that-forced-young-mothers-to-give-up-their-babies.html

It is certainly worth reading although I don't believe my mum was forced to give Julian up by the nuns, but it would have been extremely difficult to have kept him. One, it would have got back to her parents in Ireland and the shame of having an unmarried daughter with a child could have led to ostracism by their community. Secondly,  in England there wasn't much in the way of good affordable childcare in the 1950s and mum would have to have worked to support herself and her child. There was a lot of stigma and shame attached to being an unmarried mother at that time.

When we got to the youngest brother's house I told him get himself a glass of wine and sit down as we had some news for him! We spent the rest of the night on the computer trying to find out more information. The one thing we did know was that our dad wasn't Julian's dad. 

I rang Ireland and spoke to two of our surviving aunts - my mother's sister's - they were totally unaware of Julian. One of the aunt's told me they had only been made aware of my existence (and my mum's marriage) when my mum turned up in Ireland with me aged 11 months! I was left  with my grandparent's and my aunt's, who were only young teenagers at the time, for about 3 months whilst she returned to England and work - of which more later.

Our searches on the computer kept taking us to an agent who represented Brian May (of Queen) and eventually brought us to a picture of someone called 'Julian Littman. This person looked exactly like one of our first cousins; the eldest son of my mum's older and closest sister, Aunty Betty.  Unfortunately, this aunt had died in the late 1980s.

The card that had been left had telephone contact numbers on it and we agreed that in the morning I would call the numbers. I didn't sleep a wink that night and got up really early to search on my own computer for any information. This is what I found:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH_1j-JxftU

Unfortunately; the youtube link does not work. but this one will give a sound clip:
http://www.soundhound.com/?t=100946292571723461

On the album entitled 'Life's Rich Bloody Tapestry' - Track 7 was called: 'The Ballad of Kathy Flynn'. My mum's name was Kathleen and she was known as Kathy Flynn. As soon as I saw this and then listened to a clip of the song; I knew Julian was my brother. I rang my brothers in tears and told them to listen to the song clip.

To be continued...