Posts Tagged ‘Family’

April

September 13, 2017

 

I’d been trying to remember a quote I heard for someone dearly departed, which went along the lines of, “try not to be sad that they’re gone, but be happy that they were here”.  No words can ever really make you feel better, or cover how those closest must be hurting, but you know everything carries on, the unstoppable juggernaut of life relentlessly marches on. On Friday 8th September, Ma’s sister, April Weller, succumbed to her illnesses while in hospital, leaving Ma, (Lavender), as the last of the Courtney Bennett siblings. April had an accident while on holiday in the U.S a few years back, which needed surgery, with a wire cage being used to hold her leg together as part of the solution. Later down the line this wire cage caused complications, infections were becoming a repeated problem, eventually resulting in the leg having to be amputated. Despite all of this, April was ever upbeat and positive in her outlook, and her Catholic faith remained rock solid. She was determined that she would make this year’s pilgrimage to Lourdes, regardless of having lost her leg, and the Lourdes pilgrimage people made sure it happened.

April and Uncle Leslie were taken by ‘Jumbulance’ to Lourdes, Ma went with the medics charter coach and plane. Ma and April had been going on the Lourdes pilgrimage for some years, but this year it was looking as if it may not be able to happen owing to April’s ill health, her strength of faith, sheer determination, and the fantastic assistance of the Arundel/Brighton Lourdes Pilgrimage team, made sure it did happen.

Ma n April at Lourdes 2011

April and Lavender at Lourdes 2015

Only two weeks ago I saw a postcard on Facebook, and instantly recognised a very young April Courtney Bennett in a garden at St Martha’s Convent, Rottingdean. I printed it out, and when myself and Ma went to visit her next, took the photo along. April told us it was her first day at the convent school, around 1935, she would have been 5 years old, and the photo was staged for a postcard. She didn’t have a uniform yet, so they kitted her out in a borrowed one for the photo shoot. She also recognised some of the others in the picture, one of whom she recalled was Angela. Ma, (Lavender Courtney Bennett), joined the school sometime around 1938, with the threat of war looming, and it was from here that they both picked up their Catholic faith, which they have carried with them ever since.

April at St Martha’s convent, Rottingdean. (“2nd left) Circa 1935

 

The C.B’s:-Ma, April, David, Peter, and Jim at St Martha’s circa 1938

April and Ma were always very close, and I imagine their time at St Martha’s had a lot to do with that. They were at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham together in the 1950’s, training as nurses. In later years when they had both married, one of my earliest memories is of going by train to Hove with Ma, travelling in the guards carriage with the pram, then once at April’s, one of them would be taken for her driving lesson, while the other looked after all the children, and vice versa. I can still picture a sand pit in the basement, a faint memory of black and white tiled steps, and the concertina gates of the lift at Hove station. They both passed first time, and their driving instructor, Mr Doo, would go on to teach us all to drive many years later.

Further on, after a terrible case of seasickness while sailing to France in the teeth of a gale, I had to be farmed out to April and Leslie’s place in Hove Park Road whenever the parents went on boat trips across the channel. It seemed a very peaceful place compared to our noisy home, talking to Trevessa years later, she told me that April very rarely raised her voice, and taught them all not to raise their voices either. That has always been the thing about April, she radiates a kind of peace and tranquillity, and you can see that in her children, doubtless they have passed that on to their children too, all of whom April was so incredibly proud, and rightly so.

Leslie, middle of back row, April front left, Ma front right, Uncle Peter back right

As well as having a strong religious faith, April and Ma inherited their mother’s relentless industry with needle craft, knitting or sewing. Neither family has been short of jumpers, hats, or scarfs, and to that end, they began getting involved with friends in what we later laughingly called their, ‘Stitching and Bitching’ Tuesday’s, gathering at each others places alternately, to chat and make things. They all enjoyed a well told joke, so if I had come across something which made me laugh, often rude, I’d print it out and give it to Ma to take along. You knew it was a winner if you heard April laugh, not because that was unusual, it wasn’t, but she had a glorious laugh, her head would rock back, a kind of shriek would be the precursor to the following bellow of laughter, and it was totally infectious. The joke would never be read out loud, but passed around, so that one by one, the Sewing Sisters would wait their turn, and those that had read it already, would wait with interest to hear the ’pay off’. These sessions kept going until recently, but sadly with April’s illness, and other factors, came more or less to an end a while back.

While April was in the Sussex County hospital, Leslie was making the trip in everyday to visit, parking at Bristol Gate, and climbing the steep hill each time. Whether this had an effect or not, Leslie ended up in hospital himself, having suffered a stroke. On Friday, 8th September, came the worst of all news, April had passed away, with family around her. Ma had gone to visit, but got there too late. I don’t think we realised just how bad April must have been, but I’ll struggle with the fact I didn’t insist on driving her in. Ma had been visiting April by bus for so long, other than the couple of times when I drove her. I packed her off with some fresh pineapple chunks, as April had said she’d rather have that, than the tinned stuff they served up.  When I picked Ma up from the footbridge, she told me she had been too late. We drove back quietly, I know how close they have always been, and how devastated she must be, as will Leslie and the family. She will be missed, and greatly, but she will be remembered well. For now it’s the difficult process of becoming used to that fact, while trying to tap in to some of April’s quiet, determined, positivity.

 

May you rest in peace Auntie April.

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William Ramus family tree

May 17, 2017

 

17-05-2017

Ma at Ransoms 1957

Having recently posted an old photo of my mother, Lavender Ramus, in Ransoms record shop, 33/34 Bond Street, Brighton, in 1957, to the ‘Brighton Past’ group on Facebook, I received a comment from one member, saying what a lovely name she had, but also that her husband had relatives by the name of Ramus. This lady wondered, as Ramus is such an unusual surname, whether we may have a connection, she then mentioned her husband’s uncle, William Ramus, who is apparently in his 80’s, and his sister, Deirdre Ramus. This was enough information for me to get going, and while I already suspected our lines would not coincide, I knew of this particular family line from my earlier research, and enjoy a challenge.

The family line of William and Deirdre was soon unearthed in an hour or so, I had done much of the work a few years back, purely because so many of this family have names and dates similar to my own family lineage, and I wanted to be certain which name belonged where. Having happily given this lady the family line dating back to 1725, and a Louis Ramus, born in Cudrifin, Vaud, Switzerland on the 1st May, I then began fleshing out the family info. Without going in to too much family detail, I’ll list the direct descendants here:-

Louis, (William’s Great Great Great Great Grandfather)married Ann Hibberd (1740-1782), and they had 4 children:

Joseph Ramus: Born 1766 Bungay, Suffolk

Ann Ramus: 1769 Bungay, Suffolk

James Ramus: 1771 Bungay, Suffolk (William’s Great Great Great Grandfather)

Joseph Ramus: 1772 Bungay, Suffolk

 

After Ann’s death, Louis married Sarah Ann Cobbet (1730-) on the 21st Oct 1783. According to 1774, and 1780, UK Poll Books records, Louis was a ‘Cheesemonger’, in Charing Cross, London.

 

James Ramus (1771-1837) married Elizabeth Elmore (1869-1839), among their children, they had a son:

Charles: born 05-02-1800, Bungay, Suffolk

 

Charles married Sarah Rebecca Rudland (1802-1881), on the 6th August 1822, at Walpole, Suffolk. (Charles is William’s Great Great Grandfather). They had four children that I have traced:-

 

Charles Henry Ramus: Born 28th July 1823 Bungay, Suffolk (William’s Great Grandfather)

Rudland Ramus: Born 16th March 1830, Bungay, Suffolk

Alfred Ramus: Born 8th Jan 1832, Bungay, Suffolk

Ann Ramus: Born 22nd July 1836, Bungay, Suffolk

James Ramus death, 21st June 1837

 

Charles Henry Ramus married Maria Hall (1825-1903) on the 19th July 1846, at the parish church of  Lambeth. (On the marriage record, both Charles Henry, and his father, Charles, are listed as, ‘Carpenter’s’, for their occupation). They had 9 children, one of which was:-

Charles Henry Ramus marriage to Maria Hall 19th July 1846

James Ramus: Born 22nd April 1864, City of London. On the 1st August 1886, James married Jane Hall (1866-1915), at the parish church of Christchurch, Southwark, London. James’ occupation on the wedding certificate was listed as ‘Tea Cutter’. (James is William’s Grandfather). He and Jane had 12 children, of which 9 had survived to the 1911 census report, which found them living at 62 Windsor road, Holloway. James’ occupation here was noted as ‘Printer’ in the newspaper industry.

James Ramus marriage to Jane Hall. 1st August 1886

Their children living with them at this time, were:-

 

James Ramus: Born 7th April 1888, Islington. Occupation-  ‘Sorter’ Post Office

Charles Ramus: Born 1891, Islington. Occupation- ‘Musician’ Board Ship

Sidney Harold Ramus: Born 3rd April 1893, Walton. Occupation- ‘Barman’ Public House

Mable Ramus: Born 16th Feb 1895, Holborn, London. Occupation- ‘Dressmaker’

John Ramus: Born 25th Sept 1896, Holborn, London. Occupation- ‘Messenger’ Post Office. (John is William’s father).

Lydia ramus: Born 1899, Holborn, London. School

Winnie Ramus: Born 1901, Shoreditch, London. School

Frank Ramus: Born 1902, Islington, London. School

Bessie Ramus: Born 1906, London. At home

Walter Ramus: Born 1907, London. At home

Doris Ramus: Born 1909, London. At home

James Ramus 1911 census report.

 

 

When the 1914-18 war began,  James, Charles, Sidney, and John, all joined up.

 

James joined the 8th City of London Battalion, Post Office Rifles. Regiment Number-2401

Charles joined the 10th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment. Regiment Number-4559

Sydney also joined 10th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment. Regiment Number- 4560

John joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner. Regiment Number- 45717

 

On the 25th May, 1915, James was killed in action at Flanders, and buried at Flers, Department De La Somme, Picaride, France.

James Ramus WW1 Effects, 1915

Sadly, the news of James’ death hit his mother, Jane, particularly hard. She had been informed of the dreadful news by letter from a friend of James, who had seen him killed in action. This news sent her in to a deep grief, so much so that she became depressed, leading eventually to taking her life by poisoning.

Jane Ramus suicide 1915 copy

On the 19th November, 1915, Sydney Harold was killed in action at Camiers, buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Calais, France.

Sidney Ramus WW1 Effects 1915

On the 21st September 1916, Charles was killed in action in Flanders, buried at Flers, Departement De La Somme, Picardie, France.

Charles Ramus WW1 Effects, 1916

 

During this dreadful time for the family, their mother, Jane, also died, within a month of her eldest son, James, death. She was buried on the 22nd June, 1915, at St Pancras, Camden, London, Roman Catholic cemetery.

 

John Ramus survived the war, and was registered on the WW1 Service Medal and Awards Rolls, 1914-1920 as ‘Entitled to the Victory Medal and/or British War Medal granted under Army Orders’

John Ramus WW1 war record and medals roll

 

In 1929, John married Alice Dorothy Lowndes(1902-2001), at Islington, London

 

Going Going Gone

May 9, 2017

 

09-05-2017

Three weeks on since our dear ole Pa’s 90th birthday celebrations, and the time seems to have whistled past already, but the memory of the party is still bright. What a day it turned out to be, with friends and relatives coming from far and wide. There was a veritable small army of volunteers helping to make it happen, and on the day, Saturday 15th April, the decorations, murals, balloons, and guests, brought a smile to the old mans face that lasted a good week at least.

The mural of pictures from Squire’s life, was the master piece of Charlene, my brother David’s better half. I had given her a memory stick of photos to work with, and she worked through nights to produce through digital mastery, an eight foot by five foot banner, printed on acrylic material, a pictorial history the old boys life, with names printed on each photo. There were a few little typos, but we all agreed it added to the fun, and drew a wry smile from one family member who happens to be a proof reader. In fairness to Charlene, English is not her first language, she was working in to the wee hours on a tight deadline, and was also slightly mis-directed by her not insignificant other half when it came to some of the names.

Throughout the afternoon, Squire barely sat down as he enjoyed chatting to his many friends and rellies, not least of which, the second meeting between himself and his brother, Ian Ramus, and Ian’s lovely wife, Jill. I wasn’t there to witness the hug, I’d been conscripted to taxi duty, but my brother, Stig, described the moment to me later. Inevitably, Ian and Jill found themselves to be one of the star turns on the day. For those that don’t know, Ian is actually Squire’s half brother, they both have the same dad, Reg/Roy/Bob, some of the names he went by, but Ian had never been made aware of his other siblings existence. We as children had been told the story of this other brother, but knew nothing of his whereabouts, or even his proper name, Squire had told me he thought it might have been Ian, but he couldn’t be sure. He also believed Ian was a doctor. From grilling the old man, it turns out that his sister, Sheila, had maintained contact with their Uncle Nev, and he had kept her updated on her dads news, which was also how they found out when Reg died in 1967.

Squire(on the right) and Ian

I will tell this story in more detail another time, but suffice to say, it’s a great delight to have welcomed Ian and Jill in to the family since we first met in 2013.

The invite to Squire’s 90th party came with a proviso of no presents, just donations to the RNLI, and to add a bit of fun to the day, we chucked in an impromptu auction to try and raise a few more pounds to that worthy cause. My eldest brother, David, fancied being the auctioneer, so an hour or so into the party, he took the bull by the horns and got the auction going in typical David style. Bull in a china shop might be over doing it, but if you imagine his 18th birthday present from his mates was a beer tankard with the inscription, ‘He Came, He Saw, He Broke’, well you may get an idea. Item by item, he was briskly selling the lots, all the while, watchful cousins wondered on his behalf how he would remember who had bought what. Cousin Sam Ramus was soon on the case, writing down the names and amounts on a serviette, while cousin Nicola C.B, with beaming smile, jumped in as assistant to the auctioneer, handing him the lots, having noticed his difficulties in diving back and forth under the table to grab and unpack whichever item he was trying to get ‘knocked down’.

David the auctioneer

Stig the auctioneers assistant

While this barely controlled pandemonium was entertaining the crowd, we had other members of the family joining in the fun, my brother Stig, (Anthony), giving vocal support in case his elder brothers voice had not carried to the back of the hall, and also jumping in on the count down, ‘going once’, ‘going twice’, ‘sold to….’, all with great relish and embellishment. Then you had little sis, Lizbet, doing her best to bid for half the items going up, not least of which for the set of pewter model cars that Squire had donated, she paid £60 for the set. His still boxed collection of model trains were going for between five and ten quid each, a hundred year old book of cartoons that I picked up at a car boot sale for a quid, went for £30. The finale was a day with the Shoreham RNLI crew, which went for £60. I have to say I was a bit gutted about that one, I missed it, and would have bid at least £200, but there you go.

The overall figure for the auction came to £450, and just under the thousand for the RNLI on the day, with plenty of laughs all round. Towards the end, we realised the gorgeous maritime cake that Annie had made for the occasion hadn’t been cut yet, so what better way to bring up the final hour of the party, than to make a big deal of our dear old dads 90th cake cutting ceremony. Cousin Michelle it turns out, is a semi-professional cake cutter, and straight after Squire’s initial incision, she was up and slicing, notwithstanding Auntie Manuela’s comment that perhaps Ian Ramus, (who happens to be a retired surgeon), might be better trained for such a job. Ian caught the quip, and respectfully suggested his knives used to be on a rather smaller scale than sufficient for such an operation.

Squire cutting the cake

Michelle the master cutter

I can safely tell whoever might be interested, that both Squire and Ma had a wonderful day, and talk of it still. There was one last addition worth a chuckle to finalise the story. David had written out a cheque for the RNLI, for the amount he was told had been raised, or at least, he was told the figure was a fraction below the thousand mark, so he made the cheque out for the round grand, only to find that many of the donations were by cheque too, about 200 quids worth, so the total became £1200 donated to the RNLI on the day. Not a bad way for an old salty sea dog to celebrate his 90th.

Two days later, on his actual birthday, Monday April 17th, a bank holiday, Brighton and Hove Albion gave him his last present by securing promotion to the Premier League when they beat Wigan 2-1 at the Amex Stadium. Two weeks later, on May 3rd, Ma and Pa celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary, for which we had a bottle of bubbly left over from the party, so what better accompaniment than Shepherds Pie?

Negative Response

April 12, 2017

 

12-04-2017

Ma n Pa on their wedding day, May 3rd 1958

With our dear old dad, aka, Squire’, coming up to 90 years old, naturally we have arranged a big get together of family and friends for the occasion, but how do you go about something like that? I mean to say, you don’t come across many nonagenarian’s, and they must have seen and done so much during their tenure on this blue marble. First up, family pow wow to talk the idea through, and see who could do what regarding making the actual event happen, and who else might be called upon. Next thing was to make people aware, so I took the easy route, and set up a Facebook group for it, then started inviting everybody, family and friends, asking them to invite whoever I may have missed, or who they know doesn’t do Facebook. Luckily Squire is a popular old buzzard, and a reliable team were soon assembled, cake, decorations, and moral support are in hand. Location was a no-brainer, his beloved Sussex Yacht Club, of which he’s been a member since about Nelson’s time, although we nearly missed out as we’d left it all a bit late, but luckily got an afternoon slot for Saturday 15th April, 2 days before his actual birthday. They have an in house catering mob, so food was covered, all we had to do now was make sure people had enough advance notice, and keep the date alive in their minds.

Ma n Pa on honeymoon in Windsor, 1958

It had long been my intention to get an old box of family photo slides scanned in somehow, but lacked the technology to make it happen. Trawling the internet I found a slide and neg scanner which seemed to fit the bill, ‘DigitNow high resolution film scanner’, for £50, unfortunately it wasn’t fit for anything but the waste bin, so I returned it the same day as it arrived, and left a scathing review of the worthless product. I went back to the internet, checking the reviews more thoroughly this time, and found this ‘Ion Pics2SD’ slide and negative scanner on e bay, with great reviews. Having ordered the device it was now a waiting game, so when it arrived I was full of excited anticipation, this soon turned to further disappointment when I discovered this item was even less use than the first scanner. It did nothing, and looked wrong compared to the sales picture too, so I rattled off a message to the seller, informing them of my disappointment. After a number of messages back and forth, I sent the item back and awaited their verdict, which thankfully was swift, I had been sent a duff product, one they don’t even sell apparently. When the replacement arrived a couple of days later, I wasn’t going to get my hoped up, but within minutes all the previous let downs had been forgotten, and I found this little light box to be just what the doctor ordered. Slides that haven’t been viewed for getting on 40 years were revealing the past in glorious technicolour, saved to my laptop, and shared on the newly created Facebook group for the old mans 90th birthday. The images went back further than 40 years, some of them are from the 1950’s, including the parents wedding and honeymoon. After that I was like a kid in a sweet shop, finding one treasure after another as I downloaded the priceless photo-documents of our family, friends, and cousins.

Ma n pa on holiday in Cornwall with Uncle Mike, Auntie Manuela, and their kids, circa 1963

Having saved all these slides for posterity, I went to the cupboard where they had been gathering dust all these years, and stumbled upon 18 packs of black and white negatives, each pack with between 30 to 40 images. My new toy meant I could instantly check this rich new vein of photos out, and what a joy that has been. I have to say I’ve been very happily impressed with the quality of the scanned images, and not to mention the fact that the photographer, my dad, had done a bang up job with his camera work, with a very low rate of failures among these pearls of photographic family history. Since then I’ve been scanning and sharing this new found archive via FB, and if I were a Facebook ‘Like’ junky, I’d have enough to see me through to New Year 2020, and that’s only with 10% of the photos shared so far. What better way could there be to ignite interest in Squire’s forthcoming birthday celebrations, and give everyone something extra to chat about come the day, not that we really need any help, family gatherings have always been something to look forward to. There is also the not so small matter of Squire’s brother, Ian, who until a few short years back, believed himself to be an only child. I tracked him down while doing family tree research, and we have been in contact since 2008,  meeting for the first time in September 2013 when he and his lovely wife, Jill made the journey down to see us. The two of them will be making the trip down for Squire’s 90th, and meeting a lot of nieces and nephews for the first time, hopefully they will enjoy the newly found archive of family photos too. I can’t wait.

Our family, circa 1970. Dad the photographer

Life Goes On

February 12, 2017
Crown road days. Left to right, Self, Chud, Taylor, Billy Boy, Hannah Cabana

Crown road days.
Left to right, Self, Chud, Taylor, Billy Boy, Hannah Cabana

 

12-02-2017

 

Before recent events took over, I had been intending to write a blog about life with the parents, with its ups, downs, joys and worries, worries that you carry around through the days and nights, and joys, simple things such as hearing they slept well last night, or being sat around the kitchen table having cooked breakfast at the weekend, bacon and cheese omelettes today. With Ma and Pa being ill at the same time over Christmas, then Ma being taken seriously ill and having half her stomach removed a few weeks back, that was my real ‘Zombie Mode’ time, you feel so helpless, but do whatever you can to keep things going, keep busy at home, visit Ma at hospital every day, make sure the old man is fed and well, walk the pup. Dog walking, that’s when my mind relaxes and I rationalise everything to a state I can accept, the little fella keeps putting a smile on all of our faces, a priceless commodity.

The curtain has now been officially drawn on the court case, and my friends were hit by a bill for £13,500, comprising of £6000 damages settlement to the parasites that we had helped out by getting them away from living in a car, and in to a nice home. £7,500 in the legal fees for both sides. Purely because legal advice was to settle, despite the fact that these two sharks had invented a pack of lies to make their case, my friends were told it could get a lot worse. This still makes me feel angry at the outrageous injustice, basically, because they were on legal aid, they had on intention for settling for anything less than a decent sum, and doubtless their legal team knew only too well that the defendants would have to settle rather than rack up legal fees they would have absolutely no chance of recovering.

Since I had the phone call letting me know they had finally settled, I have actually found myself feeling strangely relaxed, glad this nightmare is over at last, and that it hopefully can’t get any worse. I say ‘hopefully’, mainly because, if this has taught me anything, it is that right or wrong can sometimes have nothing to do with anything. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to hear these two have done this before, and if they hadn’t, I’m sure they will have learned quickly what a useful little money spinner that scam is, and doubtless hit some other unsuspecting victim further down the line. And all of this from someone who should be behind bars already. Doubtless they’re strutting around like the cock of the walk now, boasting about working the system, and probably indulging in a drug fuelled celebration somewhere, but who can really say. Maybe they used their winnings to put a deposit on a nice little beach hut somewhere, and buying nice clothes to impress at the next job interview, looking forward to getting custody of their 6 children back from the people that have been raising them, who knows?.

 

Well, it’s 2017 now, and Trainspotting 2 is out at the cinemas, so to paraphrase one of the original films lines, I choose life, I choose not to be a victim, or as a good mate of mine is known to say in such situations, “move on, build a bridge, get over it”. It’s only money after all, no one died, and there are much more important things to consider in life, like my own family. My savings have taken a hit, but I know people that have been hit harder, much harder. So now is time to reset the clock, everything begins anew from here, concentrate on my new vocation of drawings for loft conversions and single storey extensions, but also try and make time for my favourite pastime, family historical research, and the stories which spring from this research. Obviously all of this takes second place to Ma and Pa, and the pup, Fred.

 

Me and a few old friends will be making the trip up to Wales for the funeral of Richard Miles Wilson next Friday, which also has a link back to the original Trainspotting. Richie was living at my place the year that film came out, 1997, and I was at college on a Film, Video, and Script Writing course, having taken a couple of years out from work to do it. Blur and Oasis were taking the music world by storm, but Richie’s preference was for Green Day, and he had discovered the old band, Procul Harem. He also introduced us all to the classic Welsh version of Trainspotting, Twin Town, which came out that year. Thinking back to that now, we had such a laugh at my place in Crown road, the crowd we had was extensive, eclectic, and close, how I wish I’d been blogging back then. I do have a lot of photo’s from the time, and they make me smile every time I thumb through them.

more-chud-at-the-cricks-1996

Richie’s sad passing is one more reason to get on with life, and try to make the most of the minutes, hours, days allotted. He took his own life for reasons we can never be sure of entirely, and in what state of mind?, but who knows when the time may come without warning. I’m going to try to make sure I get the things I want to do, done, or at least give them a shot. Trevor Hardy, an animator friend, has put the word out for set and prop builders for his short animations, so I’m going to give that a try and see how it goes, while keeping the drawings going, and as much as possible, keeping a happy, healthy household. Life goes on.

Welcome 2015

January 27, 2015

27-01-2015

Family travels/travails

2014 wasn’t the greatest year for us, with Squire contracting pneumonia back in August, and the long road to recovery which thankfully he is now on. The year was lousy for a number of other reasons, but with the advent of 2015, and a wedding for little sis on the 2nd January to her long time partner Steve, preceded by an engagement announcement by big bruv and his significant better half, it felt like a corner had been turned. Admittedly, the two of them embarking on second marriages before the other three of us managed even once between us might be considered a poor return for our Aged P’s, but for the time being we could enjoy the moment, and look forward to the year ahead. This is also my first blog since last August, so please forgive a little ring rustiness.

If either of you can remember, when researching our family tree, I made contact with Squire’s half brother, Ian, who turned out to be a highly accomplished surgeon, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons no less. He had no idea of any other family, believing himself to be an only son, so when I popped up and made contact it must have been quite a shock for him. Since that initial contact, we have met, got on famously, and maintained contact since. Quite unlike our mob, his family are all high flying professionals in medicine and law, they also happen to have avoided the short gene with which we are cursed, then to add insult to injury, full heads of hair. Did I mention they’re talented musicians too? I told Ian his old man must have saved his best for last! It was just a shame though that we only found each other after Auntie Sheila and Uncle Mike had passed away.
We had planned to meet up again this week, booking up the Bath Spa Hotel for the visit, and then disaster, Ma goes down with Deep Vein Thrombosis. We had been getting Ma and Pa down to the swimming baths, hot pools, and physio’s, in a bid to improve their overall health, then bam!, out of nowhere poor old Ma has a swollen foot, which quickly escalates to a swollen leg, doctors appointment, and diagnosis of DVT. In between all of this, she trips and smacked her noggin, incurring an impressive shiner to add to the ignominy. So Ma is now feet up, looking like a car crash victim, on blood thinner injections which district nurses come round to administer, and booked into the hospital for x rays and other tests on Wednesday. This is a good time to point out how lucky we are to have the NHS, with both Ma and Pa, from telephone contact, to the service and treatment, every step of the way our National Health Service has given them the best care we could have hoped for. If the NHS have any problems, they are caused by the interference of politicians, and especially by the Tory party, who would privatise it in a heart beat in a bid to help their big business buddies make a profit at the expense of the British people.
Work has been out of the question really, so I’ve been trying to farm whatever comes my way back out again. In the spare moments in between all of this, I’ve been researching family trees, and unveiling a story of Edwardian art dealing chicanery which involved my Great Grandfather, Henry Ramus. My research is currently being edited for an issue of The Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, due for publication in March, and there is talk of the possibility of a book if I can tie it all together, but that will require an awful lot more effort on my part, so we’ll see about that.
Gerald
I was a late starter at cricket, and entered the sport entirely untrained, but with a keenness and spirit which seemed to pacify any possible ill feeling towards this ‘non cricketer’ from all but the affected purists. Most sports have their characters, cricket is no different, but among them are the umpires that give up their own time to officiate, and these are often characters that stand out among a sea of eccentricity. In the years I played cricket, Gerald stood alone in the pantheon of eccentric umpires, first at Shoreham, and later during my ill fated comeback at Beeding and Bramber CC. If you meet anyone that played a game in which Gerald had umpired, they will like as not have a comical memory or two of the proceedings. Unfortunately he passed away late last year, but a few of us managed to get to the funeral at Findon, and afterwards shared a couple of beers as we mulled over those glory years in the Cricketers pub, Broadwater.
He wouldn’t win any prizes for his umpiring, indeed some of his decisions defied belief, and if you were stood too close when engaged in conversation with him, a welders head guard might be handy. Many of his curious decisions are remembered better than the game in which they were given, but Gerald loved to be involved, and loved the game. I like many others will never forget him, and always remember with a smile. Hopefully a few of us can get together some time and get some of his finer moments down for an umpire special blog.
Joke
To finish off, I’ll share with you a joke which a friend shared with me:-
An old lady was very upset as her husband Albert had just passed away. She went to the undertakers to have one last look at her
dearly departed husband. The instant she saw him she started crying. The mortician walked over to comfort her. Through her tears
 she explained that she was upset because her dearest Albert was wearing a black suit, and it was his fervent wish to be buried in a
blue suit.
The mortician apologized and explained that traditionally they always put bodies in a black suit, but he’d see what he could arrange.

The next day she returned to the funeral parlour to have one last moment with Albert before the funeral the following day.

When the mortician pulled back the curtain, she managed a smile through her tears as Albert was resplendent in a smart blue suit.
 
 She said to the mortician, “Wonderful, wonderful, but where did you get that beautiful suit?”

“Well, yesterday afternoon after you left, a man about your husband’s size was brought in and he was wearing a blue suit,”
 
 the mortician replied. “His wife was quite upset because she wanted him buried in the traditional black suit.”

Albert’s wife smiled at the undertaker.

“After that,” he continued, “it was just a matter of swapping the heads.”

Squire

August 17, 2014

Squire and Freddie

17-08-2014.
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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Going into Battle

June 5, 2010

Going into Battle

06-04-2010

 

Having been given a call to arms from cousins Fred and Nicola over in Hastings, I took the opportunity to combine working and catching up with our rels from Ma’s side. Work not exactly overflowing this year, or last, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make, so on Tuesday I gave the vans new engine its first real test of endurance, and very nearly didn’t make it past Tesco’s.

As I was driving along the riverside towards the ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Red Lion’ pubs, on my way to the Adur fly over, I was a tad concerned to notice some black smoke emanating from the rear in my wing mirrors, which by the time I was on the A27 was now a filthy grey cloud enveloping anything unfortunate enough to be in my slipstream, while at the same time the van was labouring up the hill and struggling to get over 40 mph. In a state of mild distress and irritation I decided to take the Tesco roundabout turn off and head back, cursing the fact that I’d been lightened of 1200 quid to have a second hand engine fitted which appeared to be no better than the last bloody one. Steam may well have been venting from my ears as I was heading wearily back from whence I’d been only moments earlier, a metaphorical cloud over me, and a real one following.

Well this was clearly not a ‘good day to die’ for my Mercedes work horse, and it soon became apparent as I headed back along the Upper Shoreham road, that the emissions on my tail were diminishing somewhat, so I began turning over in my mind what the possibilities were, call out the guy that fitted the engine?, ring the scheisters who supplied it and vent my spleen at them?, eventually concluding that it was worth taking the old beast for another belt at the short strip of 27 between the Flyover and Tescos on the off chance that it had just been jettisoning old oil residue left in the exhaust. Oh joy! No more embarrassing cloud of smoke billowing behind me, I could continue, checking nervously for any further signs of trouble, but ultimately problem free.

Feeling quite buoyant afterwards, having risen from the deflation of potential disaster, I figured this to be a fine omen by contrast to the earlier situation, and drove eastwards with a smile, not even cursing the fact that I’d left my beloved radio behind, eejyot that I am.

Arriving in Hastings it was soon brought to my attention by cousin Fred on the dog n bone, that I was expected to be in Battle, ‘had I not got his text?’, I had, but for some bizarre reason, known not even to me, chose to blindly heave into Hastings anyway, only to need Fred to redirect me back inland another ten miles to the Court House in Battle, which was where I was meant to be. Again, fekken eejyot that I am.

Potential disasters and stupidity aside, you can’t really help but be smacked in the face by the history of both Battle, and Hastings, you know, 1066, Bill the Conk, ‘one in the eye for Harold’, and the general frenchness, or I should, more accurately, say Normandyness, of the blot on our historical copybook. Apparently old Billy boy had Battle Abbey built to thank god for his victory, while he went about slaughtering ever more indigenous foes as he rampaged through our beautiful country, permeating it with his whiff of garlic. He ought really to have built a homage to the Vikings, because without the Battle of Stamford Bridge to sidetrack Harold, he’d have kicked some Royal Norman arse. Well ha bloody ha ya Norman git, there is no god, and you became worm food the same as any other lowly creature. I salute you with my two fingers and their Welsh heritage! (it’s a bowmen thing for those of you not in on the joke).

Any road up, I digress. The Battle Court house scheme is the brain child of Fred and Nicola, and hopefully their pension in years to come, but it had a few little structural issues, which is where yours truly came in. Nothing too taxing, but the chance to catch up with my not seen enough cousins was why I was there, the work a little bonus.

I got to see quite a bit of Hastings while I stayed with Fred and Katie, not by choice, I just kept getting lost each night coming home, finding a longer, ever more circuitous route each time. It’s a bit like a mini Brighton, with a San Francisco feel to it with the steep hills and tall terraced houses, it also looks like it was being built with big ideas for the future, as if perhaps its designers expected it to rival Brighton as a destination. Unfortunately geography was not on its side, (excepting the aforementioned Norman invaders), and Hastings as a result is blighted by a shortage of tourist traffic, and high unemployment owing perhaps to the lack of revenue being generated. Either way it’s a shame as it’s a great looking place, for the most part, although I’d say it could do with quite a few more pubs on the seafront, but maybe that says more about my own shortcomings than it does about the town itself!

Our East Sussex cousins, well first off, they’re frightfully well spoken, (which we were too at an early age, but we soon lost that after joining Cardinal Newman comprehensive), but mostly you’re hit by their joy of life and enthusiasm for it, they seem to have an uplifting effect on you. I feel after a few days with them as if I’ve been away on holiday rather than working, evenings spent chatting over a bottle of wine as the sun set behind the Sycamore trees, possibly boring them with my family tree stories, but if they feigned interest, they feigned it well. During my stay we caught up properly, having time to see a conversation through to its conclusion, which you rarely get to do at family gatherings because there are so many relations to see in so little time.

And to finish things off, work concluded with time to spare, we tucked into some early evening lager in the sunshine, being joined later by another of the tribe, Hannah, and her fella, Ken, before going on to a curry house. I could see quite soon that Ken was not going to be a sobering influence, and he didn’t disappoint, that last night was a bit of a blur, making perhaps inappropriate jokes about Chinese speech issues with Katie, as she teaches them how to teach English, ‘harro, I ruv you’, mimicking as I was a fictitious student, only for her to correct me ‘rub you’, so I learned something there. Eventually arriving back at Fred and Katie’s place to be assaulted by some poisonous firewater called ‘Marc’ out of shot glasses. My resolve to avoid it weakened by the previous lagers, I was soon gulping the revolting stuff, pulling faces, and descending into a barely concealed blithering mess. I’d been Marced.

How I arose at ten to six next morning I couldn’t say, and the drive back was an endurance, but one made easier by the glorious countryside I was driving through. Let’s just say I look forward to any more ‘little jobs’ my lovely cousins may have for me in the future!