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Would you want to know?

January 19, 2018



I have written sparsely over the year just gone, despite the fact plenty had happened, but I jotted a few notes here and there, especially in recent months, so forgive while I try and make some sense of them now. Towards the end of 2017, Pa seemed to be going downhill health-wise, with visits to the doc raising more concerns, among them, anaemia, he’d been looking quite pale, as well as being ill rather too often. Blood tests confirmed an iron deficiency, iron supplements were prescribed along with antibiotics, but the Old Man, or, ‘Squire’, as we affectionately call him, reacted somewhat explosively to the medication and his condition deteriorated even further. His GP referred him to a specialist in gastroenterology, hoping to get to the crux of the problem. So up we went to Worthing hospital, not really having a clue about what to expect.

It just so happened that the old fossil was a bit wobbly on the day, and probably looked more fragile than usual. The specialist instinctively reached out as he saw the poor old fella stumble, got him seated, then talked through Squire’s recent medical history, the concern over his iron deficiency, and possible causes. He came across as quite serious, explaining the potential severity of the situation, before the unforgettable words, “if it were cancer, would you want to know?” arrived, followed by various reasons people do or don’t want to know, and about making plans in the event of the worst case scenario being realised. He went on to explain how, having now met Pa, that given his degree of frailty, most of the procedures to properly discover if any cancer existed might have serious consequences. He also added that even if a cancer were to be found, for the same reasons, they wouldn’t be able to treat it as his ‘functional status is too poor’, but a CT scan would be organised, which would give them some idea at least if anything major was going on. Squire told the doc he would want to know if it was cancer, and that at 90, he’d already had a good life, so let’s just see what turns up and take it from there

My head was a bit of a whirlwind by now, so I can only imagine what Squire must have been thinking.  The ‘would you want to know’ part, was on a repeat loop in my head, while I was trying to make sure I remembered the rest. Towards the end, the doc said he didn’t want to put worry in our heads, I just said, “it’s a bit late for that unfortunately”, to which he apologised. I didn’t mean it as a sarcastic response, it just came out. Thankfully I had my wits about me enough to say how much we appreciated everything he’s said, and what a tough job it must be to be giving anyone this kind of news. As we said our goodbyes, having been told Pa would get an iron transfusion in the next week or two, and a CT scan as soon as possible, we turned in to the corridor to be met by a nurse handing us a questionnaire about, ‘how well we’ve done’, and ‘would you recommend us to friends’. It gave me and the Old Man a chuckle in the circs.

That was last November. The CT scan showed all organs looking normal, but showed a thicker stomach wall than they would like to see, so they wanted Squire to have an endoscopy to get a proper look inside. Owing to ill health, one appointment after another for the endoscopy had to be cancelled, including gout, a chest infection, and a bout of hiccups which lasted 11 days over Christmas and in to the New Year. Finally, on the 11th January, he had an appointment he was well enough to attend, and despite a few concerns regarding the procedure, it all went smoothly. They informed us there and then that they had found no evidence of any cancerous growth, but had taken multiple biopsies for further investigation.

I can’t think of a better present to receive than that piece of good news, and now we can plan for the year ahead, the parents 60th wedding anniversary on May 3rd, his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary a couple of months later. I don’t mind saying, I had some pretty dark moments worrying over this, and although the Old Man seemed quite philosophical about the whole thing, it must have given him a few sleepless nights.


Sweet Potato Ram Haggerty

February 27, 2017


Having seen the Hairy Bikers version of the northern dish, Pan Haggerty, I have tried various different versions of my own since. This week I gave it a go with sweet potato instead of spuds, and added a few other changes to the recipe, resulting in what I have christened the ‘Sweet Potato Ram Haggerty’. It tasted bloomin marvelous, so I hope you’ll enjoy it too. It’s really easy to prepare, and delicious to eat. Vegetarians note, just remove the bacon, and it still tastes great. I didn’t take a picture of the first effort, but I’ll do it again this week and post a pic to go with this blog. If any of you try it, please let me know how it went and what you think. Ingredients and instructions below.


Ram Haggerty recipe


Olive oil- Lay as base in dish

2 or 3 good size Sweet potatoes- Peel, quarter, and slice

3 onions -Halve and slice

2 Leeks- Chop in to coins

1 Fennel- Halve and slice

¼ Red cabbage- Finely chop

3 Carrots- Chop in to coins

1 Tin plum tomatoes- Mix to a puree

2 Vegetable stock cubes



Using a dish big enough for servings required, lay a base of olive oil and roll it round to make sure entire base of dish is covered.

1-Lightly fry the sliced onions until soft, then spread about half over the olive oil base.

2- Sliced sweet potatoes. Lay a third of the slices over the onions in the dish, and season with black pepper.

3- Using 1 leek, and half the fennel, layer over the sweet potato layer

4- Next, put a layer of the finely chopped quarter of red cabbage over

5- Layer the rest of the lightly fried onions

6- 2nd layer of sweet potato slices, and season with black pepper

6-Pour over the pureed tomato, covering the whole top area

7- Layer the chopped carrots over

8- Layer the rest of the leek and fennel over

9-Final layer of sliced sweet potatoes.

10- Microwave the stock cubes in small amount of water for a minute, then add to make a pint with cold water, and pour over the contents.

11- Season the top after with black pepper

12- Cook at 130 Celsius for 2 hours

13- For the last 15 minutes, grate cheese over and put back in the oven at 160 degrees.


Works fine on its own, but garlic bread goes well with it too as a side dish



New Years coughs and wheezes

January 10, 2017



A New Years Blog


A nasty cold has a good part of the populace in its grip right now, some recovering, others still in its vice like grasp, our house among them. In the run up to Christmas I had decided to dispense with my usual antipathy towards the festive period, and push the boat out as it were by making a bit of an effort. The first stage of this entailed clearing the decks at home, a long overdue task in fairness, as we have gathered a clutter-lanche of stuff which for one reason or another had been deemed either, too valuable to chuck, or might one day serve a purpose.

Tidying up, if it is to be worthwhile, needs a brutal approach, and has minefields laying in wait. I made a few mistakes, not least of which, turfing out a load of old glasses which Squire later informs me came from the Royal Albion Hotel about 40 years ago. His buddy, Pete Gretton, was working on the refurb there after a fire, and asked the Old Man if he’d be interested in these glasses which were destined for the tip. It’s painfully ironic that I have been researching Harry Preston within my family history, and it is now with dread that I think of the sound those glasses made as I tipped them into the glass recycling bin at Shoreham tip. Harry Preston entertained people from the top end of every walk of life at his hotels, the earliest aviators, drivers, inventors, millionaires, boxers, newspaper magnates, theatrical stars of the day, and royalty. I wonder how many of them may have sipped from the glasses I so callously, or carelessly, lobbed in to that container? I did save a few, so all is not lost, but a pang of guilt hits me each time I think back on what I’ve done.

Photographs on the other hand, I would never dream of throwing out, but getting past them is fraught with problems, how do you stop yourself thumbing through and losing complete mornings and afternoons as these priceless memories soon have you forgetting what you were in the process of doing in the first place. An iron will is required.


Eventually I had cleared space, after a good few days spread over a couple of weeks, the will proving not to be quite so iron, and hours here and there lost discovering old stories. Squire, aka, the Old Man, John, (our dad), has often told me of his time working with his Uncle Neville during the 1950’s, selling fire extinguishers, based in Stratton Avenue in Piccadilly. He’s recounted many times one of Nev’s favourite lines, reminiscent of Del Boy in ‘Only Fools and Horses’, Nev would tell the Old Man, “We’re on our way to a cool £250,000, this time next year…”. Squire also told me there ought to be one of his business cards from that time around somewhere, but we had never seen one. Imagine my surprise and delight when clearing out the computer room, having spotted a blank white card on the floor, I was about to put it in the bin bag, but when I turned it over, there was this pristine condition card which read,

GROsvenor 1669

Ramus Agencies. Distributor of Kwik Fire Extinguishers.

6 Stratton Avenue, Piccadilly, W.1

Represented by Mr. J.S. Ramus


This simple card revived memories instantly, but I’ll return to that in another blog. Once the house clearance had created the desired space, I began to think about the festive decorations. With the parents in reasonable health at the same time, coupled with their advancing years, I wanted to see 2016 out with a proper Christmas, and with that came the decision to make a nativity scene as a centre piece, along with the tree and decorations which have stayed unopened for a few years.

Funnily enough, having expressed our disinterest towards the entire Christmas bandwagon for so long, I was surprised how such a simple thing as a nativity scene could have such a positive effect on everyone, but especially on Ma, although that should be less of a surprise, as she is the self designated family god botherer. Sad to relate, the backlit barn scene proved to be her guiding light for an altogether unintended purpose, after she took a tumble around midnight a few days before Christmas, landing heavily on her backside. The result of the fall was that Ma couldn’t sleep in her bed, and has slept in her chair in the lounge since, using the barn light to navigate to and from her chair during night time bathroom visits.


Christmas dinner proved to be a roaring success, except for Ma’s discomfort. My sister, Lizbet, had called around a few days earlier with her son, Reggie, his girlfriend Stacey, and their 3 month old son, Alfie. They asked if it would be alright to join us for Christmas dinner, which of course it was, in fact it was the icing on the cake come the day, resulting in possibly the best 25th December we’ve had in years. Nothing elaborate, but the basics were there, stockings filled with mini Mars bars, Milky Ways, clementine’s, and mini crackers with shockingly bad jokes. Dinner was Lamb Boulangere a la Tom Kerridge, roast brisket, steamed and roasted veg, and heaps of home made gravy. No turkey, no Christmas pud. For the bubbly, we had three bottles of Fat Bastard, a perfectly pukka sparkling wine, and ten around the table, which incorporated four generations from little Alfie up to the octogenarian Squire, almost the entire family, with just David’s two, Jack and Hannah, unable to attend.


Unfortunately a particularly virulent cough and cold descended upon us shortly after, hitting Squire hardest, requiring a doctor’s visit, and a course of antibiotics. Then Ma thought she’d like to try sleeping in a bed for the first time since her fall, only to find herself in agony at 3a.m, calling for help. Squire heard her calls, and went downstairs to see what he could do, before realising she was in the spare room upstairs, so back up he went, puffing and wheezing, then back down again to wake me for help, by which time he was shaking like a leaf. After nursing him back upstairs and in to bed, he was in a shocker of a state by then, I then had to get Ma off the spare bed, with every move pure agony for her as her back twitched, and gently manoeuvre her downstairs to her chair, where she has slept every night since.

Next day we called the surgery, and the same doc that saw Squire the day before came out to see Ma. This was her third doc in a week, agreeing with the previous two that nothing was broken, but changing her medication again, as the co-codomol, and Oramorph, had both caused stomach aches, now she is on slow release Oxycodone, but her appetite hasn’t yet returned, having to be coaxed in to eating morsels with her pills. The Christmas dec’s are down, but the nativity barn scene with its handy LED light got reinstated to assist in her navigation during the night as she sleeps in the lounge.


Today, (Tuesday), Ma’s sewing sister buddies turned up unexpectedly, they don’t communicate famously well at times, this being one of those times, but it seemed to be a bit of a bonus, giving Ma some much needed female company to natter with. We’ve had friends come round, Annie, and Hel’s, checking up on us to see how it’s all going, which has been priceless, especially as they’re both nurses, giving very useful advice, and welcome friendly faces into the bargain.


General musings

(Written 30-12-2016)
There has never really been a point in my life where I thought ahead about what I might want to do, I’ve just blundered in to one situation after another without any kind of plan, arriving at 53 years old with no more idea than when I left school at 16. Before that I couldn’t have cared less, which I believe is the way any normal child should be, at least that meant I had a happy childhood. My first job was only meant to be a holiday job while I waited to go back to school to retake exams, boat building in a barn up at Coombes farm for Kingfisher Yachts, they raised my money and offered me a full time job. It didn’t take me too long to think about it, the work was enjoyable, and the weekly wage far too tempting, I was off and running.

Nearly four decades later, I’ve recently found myself at one more crossroads, as home life began to take up more of my time, leaving less hours to spend on the tools as a carpenter. As luck would have it, I had already begun delving in to the world of drawing plans for loft conversions, doing the scale drawings for friends on jobs that I also went on to build. With the help of my work mate, Neil Gilmour, I built my first loft conversion in 1989, at my first and only house, 18 Crown road, Shoreham. I also had my first taste of drawing then too, as the architect had made a mistake, which we duplicated when building. A letter from the council planning department followed, bringing the mistake to my attention, (after a complaint had been made), and I was instructed to reduce the front dormer in size by about 600mm off the width. At this point I was working as a site carpenter in Maidenbower, Crawley, coming home every night and working on the house, so the day the letter arrived, I read it, and made the alteration that night, phoning the planning department next day to let them know. I can still recall the surprise in his voice when I informed him I’d already done the work required, the next problem he hit me with was the necessity for revised plans to show the alteration. I asked if it had to be an architect that did the drawings, apparently not, as long as they were to scale, with the address clearly marked on the drawing. So that was that, I knocked up a 1:50 scale drawing on A4 paper, and posted in next day.

It certainly never occurred to me then that this might be a new avenue of work, I was earning heaps on site, in fact the main reason for buying the house was to find something to do with all the money that was coming in. It would be a few decades later that I thought again about doing drawings, this time mainly to save friends a few bob, but also to get some experience with a view to doing more in that field. In fairness, I found the whole process of corresponding with the planning department to be quite tedious, especially their attention to what I considered unnecessary nonsense. Having worked from plans often barely fit for purpose, it irked me somewhat to be forced to show minute details which had no bearing for the people who would be using them to build the job. I have since come to terms with the fact that there is a way that planning want things done, and it’s best to learn their way and resist the urge to fight against it. I’ve sent a few caustic e mails to them that I wish I hadn’t, and deleted heaps that definitely would not have helped my cause.

I’ve been doing more and more drawings, gaining valuable experience, and the jobs keep rolling in, courtesy of friends and work mates. But here I am again, finding something else I can do, with the added bonus of knowing the construction side of things to help explain the whole process to the customers, but already my mind is roaming. I feel like there is something out there that I would love to be doing, just have absolutely no idea what that might be.

Dog Walkers

December 12, 2016

Dog Walkers

My last scribe mentioned the sad loss of dear old friends, and for many of a certain age, this will have been a familiar tale, the older you get, the more funerals you find yourself attending. There is another all too familiar kind of bereavement, of which I was reminded quite starkly today, when I heard the news that one of my fellow dog walkers had lost one of his dogs, Toby, to cancer. Roy is a well known character among us dog walkers at the Adur Rec, many of us mimicking his calls of frustration to Daisy, his little Jack Russell. “Daisy!, Daisy!”, we’d hear from wherever we are in the park, in a high pitched squawk of irritation as Roy struggles to convince her to let go of the tennis ball. The ever patient Toby would look on, hoping someone would wrestle the ball away from Daisy so that he might have a chance of running after it, and I, among many others, would try to help him out on occasion. Toby was a ‘bitzer’, we never were too sure which breeds might be involved. He was brown and black coated, about the size of a small Labrador, and had a deep bass line bark, in direct contrast to Roy, and Daisy’s diminutive yap. The two dogs would run around Roy, with Daisy demanding he throw the ball constantly, but then teasing the life out of Roy and Toby by refusing to relinquish her hold of it after clamping her jaws around it. This will be ringing bells for a lot of dog walkers I’m sure.
Roy himself walks awkwardly, owing to a childhood disease which partially crippled him, leaving legs which didn’t form properly, or at least, make everything a constant struggle for him. He’s in his 80’s, and when you see him with his walking stick and his ball chucker, Daisy snapping at his heels, and Toby roaming, hopeful of an unlikely opportunity to chase that ball, it brought a smile to your face. This week Roy was a bit subdued, he told me Toby wasn’t well and that he was worried about him, he was off his food, losing weight, and he’d be taking him to the vet later that day. As I stroked Toby it was evident he’d lost a fair bit of weight, but as with all dogs, his spirit was good, and he was keen to get involved. I didn’t quite realise this would be goodbye to that patient old boy with the deep woof. You can’t help but hope against hope that they’ll make a recovery. Roy’s voice told me he wasn’t optimistic.
Today, (Sunday), as I was walking Fred, we met with another dog walker, she had Daisy with her as well as her own dogs, and she gave me the bad news. Fortunately Roy lives in a street where his fellow dog owners are a close knit community, and they all make an effort to help Roy out when they can, even just by taking the time to walk at his pace around the park, to keep him company, but also to give Toby a chance at getting to run for the ball, and giving Daisy a run about also. Two of them had taken Roy in to Brighton, while this lady had said she’d look after Daisy in the meantime. I got down to have a wee natter with the bereaved pooch, she was letting out occasional whimpers, betraying her wounded heart, but still keen get get her snappers on the ball they were rolling around with them. You can’t help but feel for Roy and Daisy, it’s the worst kind of feeling to lose a loved one, but it’s reassuring to know he has a lot of good people rallying around him.
Earlier in the week, me and Fred bumped in to another of his old friends, George, also a Bichon Frise. George is a bouncy, lively, portly ball of energy, he just runs and runs round in circles, jumping up, and hilariously tries humping peoples legs as often as he can get away with it. His owners are away on a cruise, so Caroline has been looking after him, but it’s not going as well as it has done in the past when she’s looked after him, she told me he was pining, and off his food. I said that as Fred and him got on so well, and George knows us from years of meeting up at the park, why not drop him over for a play date for an afternoon. Caroline thanked me, and also explained that her dog, Bertie, would be grateful of a rest from George’s amorous advances. So there we had it, Fred’s first play date. It went like a dream, and Fred seemed to enjoy having a playmate to run around with, but it soon became clear George is a bit adhesive, I had a new shadow. Once he had investigated the house and garden with Fred, he decided to stick to my side after that, and snuggled up to me on the sofa, until I realised he’d been chewing at my jeans, as I stood up there was a damp feeling, and I looked down to see the large wet patch where he’d slobbered all over me. After a few times with the same nuzzling slobberthon, I decided to sit at the table, and he settled by my feet. He also pants heavily virtually all the time, which makes you feel out of breath just listening to him, sitting at my feet, I was pleased to hear the panting stop, and hoped this meant he had settled.

By the time Caroline came to pick George up, he seemed quite content, so I hope that continued once she got him home, and we extended the offer to look after him again any time should she feel the need. Non dog owners may not understand why I’d take time to write about our canine social circle, but they become every bit as important as any humans in your life, if not a little more so because they are so dependent on you. I, and many others I’m sure, feel terrible for poor old Roy, his Christmas has been ruined before it even got going, that in itself is a sign of just how important those little critters are to us.

Festive Lemons

Facebook may have many faults, but it also has many good points, not least of which, maintaining contact with people you don’t get to see too often. An old buddy, Jim Powell, recently suggested a get together, and to that end, he started a Facebook group to make it happen, calling it, ‘Festive lemons’. Last night was the culminating result of his idea, and grand it was to sit around the fire at the Duke of Wellington pub in Shoreham, and catch up. Jim, or, ‘Speckled’ as he is affectionately known, was once a lodger at my old place in Crown road, many years ago now, when he was a spotty youth, and deaf as a post when asleep. He had his alarm wired to his stereo system, which would vibrate the entire house when it went off, waking everyone except him, many was the time I’d have to barge into his room, and roll him to one side so that I could reach behind the bed to unplug the damn thing, and he never woke up, complaining later that his alarm had failed him yet again. He’s come a long way since then, and is now a hard working husband, and father of two delightful children. His efforts mustered a good turn out, and being the elder statesman as it were, made me feel even older to see this young group showing all the signs of time marching on in the shape of sense, sensibility, bald spots, and greying hairs, and that was just the girls! No, no, not really, but you get the picture. I managed to hang around for four pints of Conquerer, a rather tasty alternative to Guinness, but made my apologies for being a pansy in the drinking stakes these days, and was first to depart (Fail), not before having enjoyed a most enjoyable couple of hours with old friends.

Shoreham got busy

It seems as if you can see a crane from just about anywhere in Shoreham at the moment, from the 7 storey concrete monstrosity being erected on the old Parcel Force site, the flood defence scheme cranes on both sides of the River Adur, and further up river by the Ropetackle North development, materials and labour are being poured into our once peaceful town. The Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls project is part of a government investment in flood defence schemes in West Sussex, allegedly at a cost of £25 million, which by the usual cost assessments standard, will doubtless end up as £75 million, but should benefit everyone in the long run. It could be argued that they can’t build properties at the rate they are when they’d likely be under water in 20 years, or less, so perhaps this tactic of smothering the area in ever more houses will help guarantee its safety from inundation by the sea. Inundation by people and cars however, I mean to say, I’ve noticed there have been gaps in the traffic jams recently, and we can’t have that, more should be done to make the traffic jams continuous, to keep track with the unreliability of the rail service. Also, to sustain the global warming which is coming along so nicely, we clearly need ever more humans, driving ever more cars, and using ever more fossil fuels, unless of course that wise old sage Donald Trump is right in his climate change denial, probably is, as he’s another super intelligent President elect, much in the same mould imtellectually as that former Pres, George W Bush, they both ‘know words and stuff’. Just tuck that soap box away for now.

And finally, with Greg Lake of ‘Emerson Lake and Palmer’, passing away this week, some lyrics from his fine addition to the Christmas song catalogue.
I wish you a hopeful christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
Hallelujah noel be it heaven or hell
The christmas we get we deserve

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

August 27, 2015
Shoreham Toll Bridge Memorial

Shoreham Toll Bridge Memorial

My blogging has taken very much a back seat over the last year, turning out a paltry six blogs, three of them in the first five weeks, and the other three devoted to a historical mystery I’ve been researching. I could make excuses for why, but that’s all they would be. Today I’m writing because I feel like this point in time should be remembered in future, I’ll want to look back and see what I was thinking, in detail.
Last Saturday morning I had to go to the Shoreham Beach roundabout garage to get some oil for the car, all the signs were already up directing the airshow traffic for later that day, and marshalls at their posts to assist the visitors coming to see it, but it was still early and all was moving smoothly. I saw Jamie Benson in the garage, we chatted about the day ahead, neither of us would be watching the event, he had work in his relatively new business as an electrician, I was going to watch the Albion, and as we agreed, we’d seen it all before down the years, plus there would always be tomorrow. He shot off to work, and I back home to fill up with the newly acquired oil, and check the water, I thought I might be driving to the football, as Alfie, who usually drives to the football, had been suffering a bad back recently.
Mid morning I took our pup, Fred, out for a walk, and there was a formation of brightly coloured byplanes in the skies above the airfield, we always get a decent view of the aerobatics from Shoreham Beach, weather permitting. Beach airshow tourists were already filling up the roads around us, and hauling their picnics, rugs, and wind breaks up to the beach ready for the entertainment in the skies above. As we walked along Beach Road, I saw a flag pole proudly flying a Battle Of Britain flag from one of the houses near Widewater lagoon, and thought, “here’s an enthusiast”, Freddie just saw an opportunity, and did what dogs do against it. After returning, I called Alfie, and he told me he’d be ok to drive, but would be leaving early to make sure of a decent parking place at the Sussex University car park, picking me up at 1 o’clock instead of the usual, 1.15.
It was a warm day so I wore cargo shorts, and one of my Albion shirts with ‘Wolf E Boy’ on the back, deciding not to bother with a camera for this game. When Alfie picked me up the roads around had very few parking spaces left, and as we approached the roundabout off the beach, it was clear the sunny weather was going to ensure a big turnout for the Shoreham Airshow, the traffic was busy and slow moving as a result. The Adur recreation ground was being used as a car park for the weekend, and filling quickly, the Amsterdam and Red Lion pubs by the mini roundabout next to the Tollbridge were chocker with customers, and as we ascended the Adur Flyover bridge towards the A27, before heading east to the Amex stadium, at about 10 past 1, it looked for all the world to be the perfect start of a perfect day for the event.
It was an uneventful drive, but memorably hot when we got there. We got a reasonable car park position, and headed to the stadium. As we approached the bridge under the A27, Alf realised he’d forgotten his pain killers, so I legged it back to get them, finally catching back up with them at the ground, sweating like a pig and feeling none too healthy. As we went our seperate ways here, Alfie’s last words were to leave 5 minutes early so he wouldn’t struggle in the crowds afterwards, and off I went in to the North stand, grabbed a programme, burger, and beer, and after consuming them in the concourse, went to my seat, it was about 2pm by then, and I heard the first announcement about the match kick off being delayed by 15 minutes, but I didn’t catch why. Thinking no more about it, I read my programme, and watched Stockdale get some goal keeping practice in right in front of me. By about 2.15, I was joined by my mate, Stv’s, father in law, he had the ticket as Stv was away, and he proceeded to tell me something had happened at the airshow. There had been a crash, but no more details, then he brought up some video footage on his phone, someone had filmed the accident from the Downs overlooking the airport, it looked bad, but difficult to see exactly where it had occurred because of the trees. As kick off neared, we heard that there were no fatalities at that point, and that the pilot had been retrieved from the wreckage.
It wasn’t until after I’d left, meeting up with Alfie and Den, that we started asking each other what must have gone on. I said I’d heard there were no fatalities, Den and Alf both said there must have been, they both had phones with internet, I don’t possess one. A quick check by Den confirms our worst fears, 7 dead, 14 other casualties, the drive home was a chilling succession of eye witness accounts on the radio stations, a major disaster had occurred, and all traffic was ordered to avoid the A27 at Shoreham, it was closed now. As we approached the Sainsbury’s turn off at Portslade, the road ahead was cordoned off, forcing all traffic towards the Old Shoreham Road, and it was eerily quiet for what would usually be a busy road. When we got back to the mini roundabout outside the Amsterdam and Red Lion pubs, there was an ITV news van parked opposite, and doubtless many others nearby, Shoreham had become the centre of attention for the worst imaginable reason. Passing the Adur rec, the cars parked there had been left, to be picked up later, many more had to be deserted in the airfield.
As the days have passed since,seven dead rose to eleven, and we were told to prepare for the possibility this number may rise still further. The internet has been swamped with emotion as people desperately try to come to terms with what had happened, wondering if anyone they knew might be involved. About town, many like myself, have a feeling of numbness, like a deathly veil has shrouded this small community, it’s hard not to talk about when we stop to chat, but what do you say, other than to express a deeply felt shock, and sorrow for whoever the victims are. As I walked Fred later that Saturday, the flag I had seen earlier was now at half mast, traffic all around was gridlocked, you couldn’t escape what had happened, everywhere bore a reminder. That flag is still at half mast, the traffic is still in gridlock most of the time, but it seems everyone is dealing with it without the usual annoyance that goes with traffic jams, aware of the tragedy which has caused it.
Battle of Britain Flag at half mast on Shoreham Beach

Battle of Britain Flag at half mast on Shoreham Beach

The Tollbridge has since become a shrine to the poor souls that have perished, people are coming to it like a form of mourning pilgrimage, to offer their condolences, and show it in the form of hundreds of bouquets. I haven’t been past it since we came back from the football, but I know I will at some point, as most Shoreham drivers will, and others from surrounding towns and villages, because they have to, but many will go because they want to, I will too. I heard a song on the radio, which since I heard it, has resonated more with me now, than it ever did, and it was always one of my favourite tunes anyway, Bridge Over Troubled Water, by Simon and Garfunkel. It’s a tune that makes you feel, but now it’s a tune which will always bring me back to the saddest event in this town during my lifetime. Our oldest bridge, which crosses the beating heart of our beautiful town, the River Adur, this will take a long time to heal.

Mystery Bracelet: Part 3

August 18, 2015

Lt P.F.H.Simon

C of E


Philip Frederick Howard Simon. The high resolution picture kindly supplied by his grandson, Andy Quinan.

Philip Frederick Howard Simon. The high resolution picture kindly supplied by his grandson, Andy Quinan.


After a whirlwind couple of months of research surrounding the silver identity bracelet that Gloria Wall dug up in 1988, we have finally gone full circle, and today had a chat with Lieutenant Simon’s grandson, Andy Quinan, of Cape Town, South Africa. He also filled us in on the last part of his grandfather’s military career. Philip apparently was deployed in Palestine after the war, where he suffered yet another wound, this time to the leg, and as his grandson, Andy, told me, “He was sent to Egypt to recuperate and while in Alexandria he was invited by Phylis’ aunt for a day’s outing on their houseboat on the Nile, where he met Phylis.  It was love at first sight, and they decided to emigrate to South Africa. Once Philip had emigrated to South Africa and started his farming venture in Stellenbosch, Phylis sailed out to join him.  The day that she arrived in Cape Town, having sailed from England on the mailship, they didn’t have a wedding picture taken as they were short of money, and thought they should start off their reunion with lunch at the Mount Nelson Hotel rather than pay for a wedding photographer. They then went to St George’s Cathedral (of Archbishop Desmond Tutu fame) for the wedding ceremony. There they found some surprise guests, as the officers and many of the passengers from the ship had come to the wedding with a fresh flower bouquet. Obviously Phyllis had made an impression on the voyage to Cape Town.”


Mount Nelson Hotel, circa 1910

Mount Nelson Hotel, circa 1910

Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town


Chatting to Andy on Skype, with Gloria, and her daughter Jo Parsons, he informed us that his family had talked together and decided that they would like the bracelet to stay in Shoreham, with the new museum at Shoreham Fort. They had all enjoyed the story of the bracelet, but believed it would be better served staying where it has been for nearly a hundred years now. Andy is also going to try to find some pictures of Philip and Phylis together.


I’ll add any new pictures as they come along now, in the meantime, look out for this story coming up in the Argus sometime soon. I would like to say here how grateful I am for the help everyone has given me, hopefully all mentioned through the piece, but especially to Andy Quinan and his family for their kindness in allowing their family story to not just be shared, but also for the flesh they then added to the bones we discovered.

Please feel free to share this on whatever social media platform you use,

cheers all.

Good Times, Sad Times, Wild Times

February 15, 2015
For some years now I’ve been researching the family tree, along the way unearthing a remarkable story, with a previously unknown Jewish heritage, or more precisely, a Spanish Portuguese Jewish heritage, otherwise known as, ‘Sephardim Jews’. The overall story of my research (written up so far that is), can be found at, at the page- ‘My Ramus Family Tree’. On the off chance recently, I googled ‘Hampstead Sephardim cemeteries’, and sure enough a few came up, so after checking which would have been closest to my Great Grandfather’s home in 1911, the Hoop Lane cemetery in Golders Green, London, I found their e mail address and rattled off a message to them, asking if they might have a record for Henry Ramus, died 20-11-1911. Imagine my good fortune to get a swift response letting me know they did indeed, and he was, they assured me, the only Ramus they had at that or their other Jewish cemetery at Edgware road, they also sent me the plot number, row, and section, where I could find him.
I set off yesterday to catch a train up and find his grave, also hoping to find the grave of his business partner and friend, William Walker Sampson, who I have found is buried at Hanwell cemetery in West Ealing, for the fascinating story of these two, (mainly Sampson, owing to the early death of Henry), check out the page at under ‘The Ring Master and John William Godward’, an insight into the art dealing world of Christie’s in the early 1900’s.  I never tire of the trip to London, especially crossing the Thames as you approach Victoria Station, and the underground now appears to have a new celebrity, in the voice of the Victoria Underground tannoy, a lovely West Indian lilt, hammed up to the eyeballs, telling us how, “evry ting be cool runnings”, among many other highly amusing pieces of useful information. All around were smiling faces at the sound of this humour filled accent, and it occurred what a great idea to amuse and raise the spirits of the passengers.
After a few changes I arrived at Golders Green underground station, and once outside, consulted my pocket A to Z, turn right into Finchley road. A news seller confirmed I was on the right path, ten minutes later I turned into Hoop Lane, a nice sounding, but unremarkable road. It wasn’t long before I spotted the graveyard, and a few hundred yards later, the entrance. I had been feeling a tightness in my chest, probably wind, but it added to the experience I thought, there was a gatekeepers office, and a helpful attendant soon pointed me in the direction I needed to be heading, section A, row 10, plot 30. I felt sure I would be going back to that attendant pleading stupidity when I couldn’t locate the grave, but no, it was all quite straightforward. And then there it was, a fine looking, long domed marble cask, laid out horizontally in the Sephardim tradition, in immacualte condition for 104 years old. Inscribed were the words, ‘Sacred to the memory -of- Henry Ramus, who departed this life July 20th 1911 Tamuz 24th 5671 In his 39th year To the everlasting sorrow of his widow, sons, relatives, and very dear friends’. As I read the inscription, I could imagine his wife, May, aged just 29, their sons, Reginald and Neville, aged 10 and 6, William Walker Sampson, and doubtless many other family and friends, stood around this plot. The next thing that struck me was that it appeared to be a double plot, with what should have been May’s plot laying empty, unfortunately she died in 1956 at Brighton, and had dementia towards the end, so I guess her space next to Henry had been forgotten by then, which was a bit sad to think of. The whole experience definitely stirred something inside me, maybe more wind, but I prefer to think not.
Henry Ramus headstone at Hoop Lane cemetery, Golders Green, London

Henry Ramus headstone at Hoop Lane cemetery, Golders Green, London

This is the top of Henry's gravestone, with the inscription

This is the top of Henry’s gravestone, with the inscription.

Sad Times
It was with great regret that I heard our Uncle Don had passed away last week, with the funeral at Chichester last Thursday. I couldn’t go as I was going with the old man for his lung specialist check up at Worthing hospital, and Ma couldn’t go as she is still recovering from deep vein thrombosis. It’s been a blur of hospitals and doctors at home for some while now, I have a far better knowledge of the geography of Worthing hospital than I ever wanted, and know virtually all the doctors names at our local medical centre now too. Dear old Don was our Auntie Sheila’s second husband, an ex copper, and salt of the earth, an absolutely lovely bloke, full of good humour, but had come to the point where he was happy to be going. Cousin Matt told me Don had instructed him to make sure no one tried to bring him back if he were in hospital and things went wrong. I’ve seen this, and heard it, a few times before. Ill health and old age are difficult enough, but many times worse when they have lost the person they truly loved, and it becomes a struggle to actually want to go on, despite all the best wishes of loved ones around them. Don will live on in our memories, but right now, Sheila’s children and Grand children, who adopted this lovely man as their own, will be hurting the most, so I hope their memories help them through this horrible time.
Wild Life 2015
I have to say I thought our local council showed themselves up for the waste of space most of us consider politicians to be, letting us know that the company behind this concert at Shoreham Airport had sneakily gone behind their backs and set the wheels in motion before our inept halfwits in local government could act. I couldn’t really care less about the concert, despite the fact that pretty much the entire town will be hearing it whether they want to or not, but what got to me was that the idea had been mooted, and from that point our trusted representatives had put their collective blinkers on while the industrial strength machine that is SJM Concerts, got on with its business. I have to say, my age reveals itself when I admit to not having heard of 95% of the line up. I had already been told by a friend in the music industry, Dave Lamb, that if this mob were behind it, it’s going to happen, but you would like to think that elected politicians, voted in to represent their constituents, would at least make sure they were in a position to say yes or no to this concert going ahead. What we got instead was, ‘oh deary me, erm, it looks like these big boys have hoodwinked us by doing their job properly, if only we had been capable of doing ours’. I know the concert will obviously be popular with a great many, especially the younger fraternity, and I sincerely hope they’re not disappointed, but I wonder how many of our inept councillors will be there, and in what capacity. I suspect, in a quite comfortable position, as revered guests, a reward for being crap at their jobs, or for turning a blind eye?
Shoreham Fort, Volunteers, Professionals, Babies
Researching the Fort history has been an ongoing pastime for some while, but recently I have unearthed a few gems which help explain the position regarding the status of the Fort soldiers. From the beginning I had believed the fort to be garrisonned by professionals, and indeed it was built to accommodate as such, but their is also a wealth of evidence suggesting the heavy involvement of volunteers, or militia. I have so far traced 12 children born to soldiers stationed at the ‘Shoreham Redoubt, Lancing’, as it was known back then, the earliest birth, that of Frederick William de Velling, born 17th Jan 1860, son of John de velling, Gunner, Royal Artillery, and Sarah de Velling, nee Langham. The latest birth I found was for John William Burrows, 10th November 1891, son of Joseph Burrows, Sergeant, Royal Artillery, and Bridget Burrows. So we know for sure there were professional soldiers stationed at the fort, it would seem, for the entire time it was manned, but it took a couple of old newspaper stories to shed new light upon this mystery.
These are some of the birth certificates of babies born at Shoreham Fort, and the death of a Gunner

These are some of the birth certificates of babies born at Shoreham Fort, and the death of a Gunner.

The first story I came across, in the Brighton Gazette, dated 27 Oct 1864, told of a cracked gun at the fort needing to be changed, explaining how the guns had previously been fired, ‘partly by the Coast Brigade, and partly by the late 4th Sussex Shoreham and 1st Sussex (Brighton) Volunteer Artillery.’ . It states further on how, ‘the gallant Major of the 1st Sussex Volunteer Artillery is always anxious for the corps to learn something about gun mounting, and to the small number of the Coast Brigade stationed at Shoreham being insufficient to perform the task, he offered to dismount the old gun, and remount the new one’. So there you have it, proof evident of professional and volunteer working side by side. I expect that day must have been one of excitement for the people of Shoreham, seeing a large detachment of soldiers alighting at Shoreham station, with a 12 foot barrelled gun to replace the condemned fort gun. With no footbridge to cross, I don’t imagine they would have floated a heavy gun like that over the river, but who can say. I rather imagine they would have marched through town, across the old Norfolk Suspension Bridge, and around close to where the river footpath meets the Brighton road. Where were the photographers then??

It was an article I found in the Newcastle Journal, dated 12th Nov 1859, which finally nailed the situation, and gave a surprising addition to the story. The headline was ‘The Coast Brigade of Artillery’, and the column begins, “Horse Guards, S.W., Nov.1. Her Majesty having been pleased to approve of an augmentation to the Royal Artillery of one major, seven captains, eight lieutenants, one sergeant-major, one quartermaster sergeant, five staff-sergeants, 24 sergeants, six corporals and bombardiers for the purpose of forming a new brigade, to be called the ‘Coast Brigade of Artlillery’, the present invalid artillery being amalgamated therewith’. Further on it says, ‘As its name implies, the Coast Brigade will be distributed among the forts, batteries, and towers of the United Kingdom’. Towards the end the article explains, ‘The instruction of the Volunteer Artillery companies will be one of the principal duties of the brigade, and too much attention cannot be paid to uniformity in the manner of imparting instruction’
This letter was signed off, ‘By command of his Royal Highness, “The General Commanding-in-Chief. “G.A.WETHERALL, Adjutant General”
So there you have it, the Coast Brigade appears to have been an early version of Dads Army, if we can’t get a TV show out of this then there’s something wrong! After all, Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Grandfather, Francis L Lyndhurst, was making films at the fort just a few years after the last soldiers left, and with Nicholas having played the time traveller in Goodnight Sweetheart, surely a script almost writes itself.

Shoreham Redoubt, the Adur, and two thousand years of coastal defence

February 12, 2015

I have discovered new information since the original blog, which includes the 1891 Fort census, the children born at the fort, and an explanation of the professional/volunteer status of the fort soldiers.

Wolfeeboy's Blog

Having recently responded to a request for help to try and dig up archive information for what I’ve always known as the Old Fort, I found myself returning to many different ‘histories’ of Shoreham in my quest, so I thought, why not try and bring them together for a brief history of the town in an attempt to explain why it should be considered important enough to warrant its own coastal fortification, also how that need was originally acted upon at least a thousand years ago during Norman times, and quite possibly a thousand years before that when the Romans ruled Brittanica.
Shorehams history will always, inevitably, be linked with the River Adur, but it was a very different river and town as you drift back through the ages. For a start, the river apparently once used to go straight on towards the sea, as it passed by Ropetackle…

View original post 2,722 more words

Ramus family tree

August 27, 2014

(This next section was added this day, Wed 27 Aug 2014, and is already integrated with the history of the Ramus line so far over at ).


Along with so many other Sephardi Jews of their time, Isaac and Rosa Ramos most likely lived in the eastern quarter of Amsterdam, known as the, ‘Jodenhoek’, ‘Jews Corner’, on a bend in the river Amstel. The main, Breestraat, had become known as ‘Jodenbreestraat’, ‘Jewish Broad Street’, owing to the Jewish settlers who congregated there, starting with the Sephardim Jews, from the 1600’s, escaping persecution elsewhere in Europe, and the whole area was a thriving market place as a result of the Jews conducting their business there. It was the partial tolerance of so called ‘religious refugees’ that made the Netherlands so appealing to the Sephardi from Portugal and Spain, and the wealth, trading, and financial knowledge they brought with them ensured they would be a boon to the economy. They were still barred from guilds, as Jews were in so many other countries in Europe, but their financial nous, and trading links around the world, would soon help increase Amsterdam’s position as an economic hub, most notably with the Dutch East Indies Company. That said, there was still plenty of poverty among the Jewish communities, which encouraged many to move on to London, or New York in  search of the chance for a better life.

The area inhabited by the Amsterdam Jews, was prone to flooding from the Amstel, and disease was often prevalent, possibly as a result of this situation.
These are the most distant ancestors I have traced so far on the Ramus side:-David Van Joseph Ramos, born Amsterdam 27 March 1719. Died 1781, buried at the Portuguses Israelite Cemetery, Ouderkerk.  Buried 4th Nov.
David is my 6 x Great Grand Father.
He married,
Ribca de Leao (Lion), born 1732 Amsterdam. Died 1799, buried at the Portuguese Israelite Cemetery, Ouderkerk. Buried 17 May
Ribca is my 6 x Great Grand Mother.Their children were:-
Esther, born Amsterdam 1747
Isaac de David, born Amsterdam  27 May 1752 (See below)
Rachel, born Amsterdam 11 Feb 1756
Judith, born Amsterdam 9 May 1758

Isaac de David Ramos, born Amsterdam, Netherlands 27-05-1752. Died 1830 London, England. Isaac is my 5th Great Grand Father
Rosa de David Lopez Penha, born Bordeaux, France 1751. Died 16-05-1843 London, England. Rosa is my 5th Great Grand Mother

Rosa had been born, ‘Rosa de David Lopes Penha’, 1751, in Bordeaux, a French city with a long history of Jewish tolerance, the Sephardic community there were known as the ‘Portugese’, in recognition of their flight from the Iberian peninsula. (The situation in Bordeaux was apparently considered the most favourable towards Jews than the rest of the France). Isaac de David Ramos was born in Amsterdam on the 27th May 1752, son of David Van Joseph Ramos, and Ribca de Leao, their very names advertising their origins. (On some records, Ribca is called ‘Ribca Lion’, so on a hunch I checked Leao in Portuguese, and it happens to translate as ‘Lion’). It’s possible Isaac and Rosa met through some of the established Sephardic trading routes, or perhaps her family left Bordeaux for Amsterdam, in search of better opportunities. They had their first son, David, in Amsterdam on the 9th March 1778, followed by Abraham on 30th June 1779, but David died just two years later, child mortality not being uncommon. In 1886 they lost a son, Jacob, under two years old, while in Bordeaux, and had a son born there in the same year, Samuel. A two thousand kilometre round trip across land from Amsterdam to Bordeaux and back in those days would have been quite some undertaking, or maybe they went by sea, we can only speculate on the reasons, perhaps a family wedding for one of Rosa’s relatives, and/or business at the same time.
 In fact, by the time Isaac and Rosa took up the opportunity to leave Holland on  the 23rd June 1793, Rosa had lost four children in the previous four years, three unnamed, presumably soon after birth, and Salomon at seven months, who was buried at the Portuguese Israelite Cemetery at Ouderkerk, 12km south of Amsterdam on 7th February 1792.
Isaac and Rosa had taken advantage of a Dutch Government decision to pay Jews to leave the country, on condition they did not return for at least twenty years. Documents reveal that on the 23rd June, 1793, Isaac de David Ramos is listed as having left for London from Amsterdam, he is stated as being married, taking four children with them, and the amount they were granted being 150 HFl (Holland Florins) the old style currency of the Netherlands.
Records from the Ouderkerk aan de Amstel cemetery for Portuguese Jews, coupled with Bevis Marks, London, records, show that the four children would have been Abraham 14, Moses 12, David 11, and Symon 4. Isaac’s parents, David van Joseph Ramos, and Ribca de Leao, stayed, registered at the Ouderkerk cemetery as having died in 1781 and 1799 respectively.

At this time huge numbers of European Jews were arriving and staying in London, mainly up the Thames and starting off around Whitechapel, Bishopsgate, and Aldersgate, but the Sephardim Jews were known to be the wealthier of the differing Jewish refugees, as opposed to the Ashkenazi Jews, (German/Polish Jews) that had been pushed out from much of eastern Europe with almost nothing to their names.


August 17, 2014

Squire and Freddie

It’s funny how the simple things in life can give you so much satisfaction, walking the dog on the beach, drinking a nice cup of tea, eating at the table with your family, or watching them peacefully sleep. Right now all these things seem like a precious gift, like you’ve just been dragged off a life-raft and into the safety of the Lifeboat.

The last time I blogged, we had just come back from France, having left wee Freddie at House of Hugo for the weekend, a knackered but happy little pup. In the week that followed, Squire’s cough was becoming more noticeable, enough to put him off his cooked breakfast on Sunday, and he had stopped smoking, two sure signs that he was under the weather. He came back early from work on Monday, and felt too unwell to join us at the trough that evening for the weekly big family roast, his favourite meal of the week.
By Tuesday things had moved along, and after a quick google of his symptoms, pneumonia  the cyber verdict, I was worried. Answering a few questions over the phone to the health centre, telling them my google diagnosis, I was assured we would get a visit from our GP at some point. Dr Verma called round later, and after a thorough check, confirmed the pneumonia, prescribed anti-biotics, and paracetamol, then gave us the option of hospital or care at home. Between us all it was decided looking after him at home would be best, much to Squire’s relief.
Later that day it became apparent we had another problem, he had hiccups, and it was recalled that paracetamol had had the same effect on him after his quadruple heart bypass operation back in 1998, the consequences of which were unbearable to watch at that time. Too late had we realised, and a chain reaction had been set off, so now on top of the pneumonia, he was debilitated further by hiccups, and rising temperatures were becoming a problem. Next day I spoke to Dr McIlroy, and it was decided to drop his blood thinner pill, and replace the paracetamol with cuprofen to get on top of his temperature. All of this on top of his multiple meds he is already on for his heart.
For four days from diagnosis, the pattern seemed to be, wake up feeling a little better, then gradually go downhill through the day. We tried to care for our precious Pater, while watching his condition deteriorate, calling the surgery to let them know of our concerns, the last call to them on Friday left us with the instructions to pick up a request for a chest x-ray for Monday. At this point I was almost shredded from worry, watching someone you love suffer so much is not fun. The hot weather was making matters worse, cooking poor old Squire, so we were backwards and forwards with cold flannels to cool his head, rigging up fans, and wishing for colder weather, anything to help him feel at least a bit less uncomfortable. All the time during this, making sure he was drinking water to keep hydrated, giving him refrigerated pineapple chunks and grapes to nibble at, and he developed a taste for orange juice.
On Saturday, after a better nights sleep, and managing to eat some scrambled eggs on bread, Squire appeared a little more comfortable. I was encouraged by Ma and Ant, to go to watch the Albion that afternoon, playing Sheffield Wednesday, I didn’t feel much like it, but went anyway. An uninspiring game did little to take my mind off things, looks like the Albion could be in for a difficult season on that display. On return, it was clear Squire was in decline again, and now he was suffering from nausea on top of everything else, with feelings of sickness sweeping through him. So now he was coughing, hiccuping, sweating, and feeling on the verge of being sick, he looked dreadful, I needed advice.
I made a desperate call to my mate, North, a highly qualified male nurse, and he talked me through the situation. Yes I was right to be worried, phone the NHS out of hours line, make sure they send a doctor out, don’t take no for an answer. I followed his advice, and the system worked perfectly, we had a visit within an hour, but the  doctor wasn’t at all happy with Squire’s condition, and seemed surprised he hadn’t already been sent for an x-ray. After another thorough check up, including urine sample, he talked us through the possibilities. Midway through explaining, Freddie had crept up, and was about to slurp Squire’s pee out of the glass, which had been set on the floor with the litmus paper in it, this brought a fleeting smile to our faces as I quickly removed the offending article. The doctor discussed with us whether we could carry on treating him at home or not, and then went outside to make a call. That call had taken the decision away from us, an ambulance was on its way. The doctor apologised as he left for Squires impending hospital admission to the Acute Medical Unit, Worthing, and Ma set about preparing a bag for Squire to take with him, while I got his various medications to go.
The paramedics were great, using humour to ease Squire’s, and our, tensions, assuring us they would look after him. When they asked him, “you don’t mind coming with us do you?”, his answer was, “as long as I come back again”. I felt quite ill at that point, sick with worry, I can only imagine what was going through Ma’s mind. It was about 10 o’clock in the evening.
Sunday first thing we called the hospital A.M.U to find he hadn’t slept well as it was an admissions unit, we could bring stuff in to him at 9, but visiting wasn’t until 3 in the afternoon. He was having antibiotics intravenously, and had a drip putting fluids in too, on top of a new range of pills to add to the mix, while still feeling sick, and with hiccups. The staff were great, and the ward looked decent, he was in good hands, but still in a very poor condition, which at 87 years old, is not a good thing.
The next couple of days were like a trance, going through the motions, trying to find things to do to occupy the mind, while your stomach feels like a tumble drier, on the verge of bursting in to tears. You feel so bloody helpless, utterly drained, but know you have to keep all the normal things going on, and hope everything is going to turn out ok, with absolutely no guarantee of anything. Watching Squire suffer was bad enough, not having him around at the same time as not knowing was worse. Freddie has been a happy diversion, we even took in a framed picture of the wee pup to put by his hospital bedside, while David and Jack sorted out an I-pod loaded up with Squire’s favourite classical music to give him something to soothe the soul and keep out the surrounding noises in the ward.
While this was all going on, I was in contact by text and e mail to our new found uncle, Ian, Squire’s long lost brother. He is a retired surgeon, and explained all the procedures to me as I updated him on events, which at least helped us understand what was being done and why. It also gave us a little comfort during a pretty harrowing time.
On the Monday, which is our bin day, I was putting out the bins in the morning, when Derek and Rose came past with their dog, Diesel. In the confines of your own home, you can find places to hide when you need to let yourself go, but here I had no escape, I felt immediately exposed, confused, and soon the bins were falling over, Derek and Rose rushing in to help me as I just momentarily fell apart. Trying quickly to recover some composure, I hurriedly explained it wasn’t what their worried faces expected, Squire was still with us, but seriously unwell. Eventually I apologised for losing it in front of them, but they’re a lovely couple, and as good a pair to talk to in the situation as you could wish for.
On the third day Squire was moved on to Eastbrook ward, by the fourth day in hospital, he finally showed signs of improvement, and we were given hope that we might be able to take him home on the Wednesday, dependent on his blood test results. Feeling better in every department, Squire had all his stuff packed and ready to go when the day came, I was with him when the doctor gave him the bad news, the bloods were too abnormal, wildly different from just a couple of days earlier. He had had a liver scan, which showed no problems, but was going to have to stay for further blood tests. We had taken the Devil up river earlier in the day, taking advantage of the high spring tides to get her out of the water, and have below the waterline jet washed, and check the prop, rudder, and keel, after our mid channel drama on our way to France two weeks before. Me, Ant, and David, motoring up the Adur, looking forward to seeing the old man out of hospital later, and the chance to tell him something positive about his beloved boat. Didn’t quite work out that way.
Thursday morning I phoned the hospital, only to be told they couldn’t tell me anything regarding Squire’s blood test results over the phone, and they told me he was sleeping, so I didn’t want to disturb him. Having chatted to Ma, I said I’d put it to the doctors that we wanted to take him home if at all possible, and await any results in comfortable surroundings. As it turned out, when I got to the hospital, they hadn’t had the results until just that moment, and the doctor was looking through them when I saw him, he would come and chat to us after conferring with his superior. I told him we’d like to get him home, and he agreed it made little sense keeping him in when he appears so much improved, but the decision was not his to make.
Suffice to say, the doctor came back and gave us the good news, on the proviso that we get his bloods checked at our local health centre, maintain the medication, and he could come back in to hospital should it be necessary. So right now, it’s like a nightmare has ended, and we can enjoy the simple things again. His breathing is still weak, his chest feels tender, but he has the colour back in his cheeks, and is just happy to be back home, as we all are. There now lays ahead a good few weeks of recovery, but fingers crossed, we’ve survived the worst of it.