Since I was a teenager, I have been very Spiritual. Our Father George, was descended from Romany Gypsies in Oxfordshire. Quite a few members of our family, including those of a younger generation, have what I term as The Gift. Being able to see and hear things, which are of another dimension.
Seven Facts you didn’t know about Lesley Cookman: 1. I was taken up in a glider over Delhi. 2. I was asked to audition as a Bunny Girl at the Playboy Club. (I didn't) 3. I was hoiked out of a car by armed soldiers one night in Lagos. 4. My dad was one half of a nightclub act. 5. I was once the editor of "The Call Boy", the magazine of The British Music Hall Society, and met many of the "greats". (Taken in to dinner by Norman Wisdom.) 6. I worked briefly at Butlins in Clacton. 7. I won the RSPCA regional story prize two years running when I was at school.
As you know, on the 3rd of September, 1939, war was declared. Eric has hand-written his autobiography 'A LIFE WORTH LIVING' and I've typed and tweaked it for him. It will, hopefully, be published shortly. Hereunder is an excerpt:-
Chickens And A Man-Eating Rabbit. Or How My Mother Fed A Family Of Six When Food Was Still On Ration
I rolled up my sleeves, screwed up my eyes and stretched my arm into the cupboard under the stairs. Feeling around in the darkness my hand found the shallow dish but as I touched the cold gloopy liquid I screamed. I was about six years old and had been sent by my mother to get some eggs out of the dish of water-glass under the stairs.
And so we reach the vexed matter of children's fashion. The more time I spend going round kids clothes shops with Little G - and I spend a lot of time, as it tires her out, the more I observe how little has changed on the colour palate front.
I was born in the dark ages of 1938, yes, I really am that old although I will deny it if you tell anyone! The above picture is of me in the snow during the winter of 1947.
Little G is now 18 months old and has just got her first pair of shoes. They are size 3, purple with sparkly bits and velcro fastenings. You must be mad says they will stabilize her and encourage her to start walking. As I know nothing of these matters, I remain silent.
Adding to my last story, I thought you may be interested in how it all came about, the marriage I mean.
My learner, Jovi, a Filipino, arrived back from his driving test scuffing the kerb, then managed to pull up so far from the pavement that a drawbridge would have been useful. I waited, watching through the windscreen as Jovi sat impassively while the examiner reeled off his faults and told him he had failed.
Despite her ongoing lack of verticality, Little G is advancing in other ways. You must be mad calls it Testing the Boundaries. I call it Karma. Suffice it to say, one can no longer rely on 100% compliance, and devious methods have to be adopted to stay one step ahead of her.
I was born in 1938, just a year before the outbreak of WW2. Whilst I was growing up, the war wasn't a new thing to me, it had always been there. Short rations and air raid shelters were the normal way of life to a little girl of that era.
My husband, Roger - who also went to school in Totnes, at King Edward V1 - has known Marie-Claire as long as I have. I knew he wouldn’t want to drive in Rouen (if you’ve ever done it you’ll know what a total scary nightmare it is!) and he’d never flown on a commercial flight because he’s always had a fear of flying.
‘If you want to go,’ my mother said when I came home from school with literature about a class exchange with a lycée in Rouen, ‘you’ll have to get a Saturday job and pay for it.’
Little G is back from her holidays, tanned, taller and still not walking. You must be mad is not happy about this, as she is about to graduate to the Toddlers' Room at nursery.
Little boys are so cute, especially when they are very young (like two of my grandsons – Joey, who is 3 and Harrison, who is 6 years old). And they are so ‘matter of fact’ as well at that sort of age.
Janice said she would like to hear more from me so you can blame her for this! I was widowed almost 5 years ago after a long and very happy marriage. I felt lost and bereft and felt my life was over.
My grandson, following the Yorkshire male rite of passage, is about to learn to play cricket. He is following in the footsteps of his father who, when he isn't watching the ups and downs of the English cricket team, coaches my grandson's football team.
It has been, as they say, a quiet week. You must be mad and Little G are currently away on a family summer holiday in Devon. First exposure to sea and beach for the baby.
One of the finest ways to enjoy the outstanding beauty of Britain’s countryside is to take a slow, meandering cruise along the network of canals and rivers that make up Britain’s waterways.
My granddaughter, when she was seven or eight gave an impromptu violin performance at family barbecue. It was an instrument that she had recently started to learn at school. She stood, with remarkable confidence on the garden decking in front of an audience of friends and relatives sprawled in chairs on the lawn.
The first days of peace whizzed by: adapting work schedules, newsreels (no tv), and Japanese conflict. Atomic bombs were terrifying, but 15th August became VJ Day.
There are many unexpected outcomes to minding a small baby. An increased appreciation of alcohol at the end of a 10 hour shift is one. Upper arm definition from pushing a purple top-of-the-range buggy and lifting a top-of-the-range baby is another.
I've been listening to my granddaughter talk excitedly about her new teacher; he announces the end of lessons by playing a trumpet! She will remember this wonderful teacher all her life. When I was about her age I had a memorable teacher.
Many of us dream of escaping to the countryside. Others, like a dear friend’s daughter who met her husband-to-be on a gap year in Australia, set off for a new life in a completely different country.
By A. Davey from Where I Live Now: Pacific Northwest [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Common
Many of the people that I teach to drive are migrants from Africa. They are inspiring, gracious people with good hearts. This is a story about Yonas from Ethiopia.
It is a paradox but 'constant change is here to stay' as far as small babies are concerned. When I first started minding Little G, she was a year old, toothless and verbally maladroit. Fast forward seven months and the changes in her are amazing.
Over the years, you come across in teaching, some memorable students and the odd one or two you want to forget! When I went to teach in Brussels, it was from the sublime to the ridiculous, having gone from an inner city comprehensive to a school where the fees were higher than Eton.
It is becoming clearer every week that passes that in taking over the care of Little G from You must be mad, I am morphing slowly but inexorably into Wonder Woman. To give you just one example: I spend a lot of time wondering where all the dropped kerbs are.
My wartime memories are still vivid: On 6th June 1944 rumours bounced around the Pharmaceutical Company that paid me the princely sum of one pound four shillings pw as filing clerk. The News at Six was exciting. We had invaded France. It really was the Beginning of the End but, with many cousins in uniform, my prayer list was full.
We are in the midst of a heatwave. Day after day of shiny sun and blue skies. Sadly, Little G and I belong to that worrying category: the elderly and the very young (in reverse order) and the government has issued guidelines for our health & safety.
When my father died, my mother proved incapable of living on her own. Left to her own devices in Roslyn, near Edinburgh, she stalked her GP, Dr Pope, phoning him at five in the morning with imaginary ailments. Dr Pope, desperately seeking a quiet life, contacted me, pleading that I do something.
It's a memory that has stayed with me for over half a century. It was 1958 and coming to the end of the school year.
While I was stationed with the RAF Police at RAF Marham in Norfolk in 1983, the conversation one day in the Sergeant's Mess centred around the subject of practical jokes.
One of my early memories of my schooldays is of a flickering film in a classroom in a small school in Lasswade, Scotland.
They always say you can learn so much from being in the company of small children. To which I would add that most of what you learn is that you know very little.
According to statistics, researching genealogy on a home computer is the third most popular activity after shopping and…erm… porn.
And what is it that people hope to learn? For some it is collecting countless names with no real purpose other than to add them to a database.
On the 2 days that You must be mad entrusts her into my rickety care, I am responsible for Little G's meals from breakfast to dinner. Sometimes I am left instructions as to what is available in the fridge. Sometimes I am left to my own devices.
Remember your first date? Were you nervous? I was absolutely terrified. I remember it like it happened yesterday.
When You must be mad was young, the nearest park involved a fifteen minute walk and crossing a very busy road with no traffic island.
Spring is in the air and it is time to hit the park. Not that Little G and I haven't been there before - it is our default location as there is a long hill leading to the lake that generally sends her to sleep on the way down, and gives me arm ache on the way up.
It doesn’t take much to capture the imagination of young children – especially when they think it is a special secret (known only to them of course).
There were male Military Police stationed at number 47 Rodney Street and we used to use their canteen if we wanted cigarettes etc. In 1944 I met a sergeant in the canteen when I went in one day.
And so Little G's teething marathon continues. I do not know what lap we are in, but I'm hoping we are about to complete it.
Geoff and I have just returned to the UK after 5 weeks in the USA. We've possibly had the best 5 weeks ever.......the reason being, we became Grandparents in January and were so excited to be meeting our new Grandson, Harry for the first time.
I’m a grandfather now (known as ‘Pop’ to the immediate family – in honour of my own dear departed grandfather Bates) and blessed with 4 grandchildren – 3 of whom who live in Herefordshire, plus another 4 ‘honorary grandchildren who are Judith’s great nieces and nephews (who, sadly, have no grandparents of their own on our side of the family).
It is amazing how one forgets so many things about bringing up a small child. I know You must be mad produced teeth at some time.
It is becoming clearer by the week that it's impossible to navigate modern city streets with a baby in a buggy and the current meagre allocation of upper limbs.
My father, Bill Chambers, joined up in January 1940 and spent the next five years as a Sapper, a private in the Royal Engineers.