Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Be my Valentine!

St. Valentine’s Day dawned and I was still very tired from the previous night, not having got home until almost 3am. It was now 7.30am and time to get up!
I rose, showered and had a quick breakfast and was away to work. I made a detour and called in at Iris’ home. I knew she’d have set off for work by then but I posted the poem I had written just a couple of hours ago through the letter-box. She would find it when she returned later.
I couldn’t wait to see her that evening. I wanted so much to be with her, to see her smile, to hold her, to smell the fragrance of her hair. I couldn’t think of anything else all day.
I phoned her at work just to hear her voice and to tell her I loved her. I told her I‘d left her a note in her letter-box. I didn’t tell her what it was; I wanted it to be a surprise.
I had written her a sonnet, that is, a poem of 14 lines and very popular with the romantic and metaphysical poets of the 16th and early 17th Centuries. John Donne and Andrew Marvell, for example, to say nothing of the greatest bard of all, Shakespeare, who wrote no less than 154 of them!
I wrote many poems to Iris but I only ever wrote the one sonnet. It was always so very special to me. Even now, a tear comes to my eye as I reproduce it so many years later.

To my Valentine… A sonnet. Feb ‘73

Iris, my sweet, whom I adore,
I think I love you even more
Than ever I can say. I know
At last for me, your feelings grow.
And as I hold you by me side,
No secrets now your form does hide.
For I’ve caressed these tender places
And thinking of you, my heart races
Upwards into heights sublime
And through the very mists of time
And dances there with sheer delight,
My sweetest love is mine tonight!
Throw the world away; I need no other,
If you, my darling, will become my lover.

Monday, January 30, 2006

St. Valentine's Eve... So very special!

I didn’t see Iris for a couple of days as I was tied up at home Sunday and Monday. I only managed a quick half hour early Tuesday evening as I had arranged to take my mother to the theatre.
There was a dance advertised the next day at one of the clubs. It had a big concert-room with a polished sprung floor. About once a month it would put on a dance evening for members and guests. This one was billed as an “Eve of St. Valentine’s Dance” with a very comprehensive buffet laid on. I knew Iris would enjoy it so off we went.
Once again, we met friends from work including Andrea and the two of them seemed to get on like old buddies. During the course of the evening, while dancing with Andrea, she said that Iris had told her that she was getting quite serious about me; I said that I wished she had told me instead. Andrea teased me by saying that I should have known the signs; the new hairdos, her appearance, her wearing of my perfume, etc. All these things, she said, made it so obvious. As a mere man, I confessed that I wasn’t as observant as a woman in these matters!
The night wore on and Iris was snuggling up to me as we danced; I could hardly wait until the dance finished and we could go home.
We arrived back at Iris’ home around midnight and we were in each other’s arms as soon as we got inside the door. We didn’t speak; we didn’t have to. I guided her onto the settee and in a matter of a few minutes we were making love! It was a warm and passionate lovemaking; all those weeks of doubts and worries vanished into oblivion. I knew then, that there would never be anyone else in my life so important to me; nobody else would ever come between us. Iris told me she was so very, very happy.
It seemed as though we lay there all night but I remember it was around 2am when I finally and very reluctantly left. I had no choice; it was back to work in the morning and I had to return home to change.
Later that night, back home, I couldn’t sleep, even though I was tired out. I sat and wrote another poem for her; I had to, I wanted to tell her of my love.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The day after the staff dance saw me back with Iris around mid-morning on the Saturday. I took her shopping in town and we had a pub lunch there. I never was one for traipsing round shops; however, I made a special effort for Iris. (Traipsing; a word my old granny used!)
I noticed that even now, only going shopping, she had made an effort to look her best. This was something that she would never have dreamed of a few weeks ago. I commented on how attractive she looked and she said that she was doing it to please me! This was another milestone, as she had never bothered with herself much before. I could see that she meant it and I realised she did indeed care for me.
That night, we went out with the crowd from work (my workplace) with Andrea and friends. I was working one of the clubs in Barnsley. It was known as the “Comedian’s graveyard” but either the audience was tolerant that evening or I gave a much better performance than I realised. In any event, I went down very well and much better than I thought I would. I was still so happy with the change that had come over Iris; I could have done a song and dance act as well!
Later that night, back at Iris’ home, I thought that after waiting so long, I would finally enjoy a most intimate evening. This, unfortunately, was not to be; fate decreed that Iris was in no position for a passionate interlude. She was quite embarrassed about it and found it difficult to tell me. However, I got the message and we just settled down for a close embrace.
This was 1973, remember, and girls were very coy about talking about “Women’s problems.” I always thought that phrase was a misnomer; surely it should have been called “Men’s problems!

The last taboo

Society over the years has grown more and more permissive. I would say that the biggest changes came in the sixties with the “Hippy” generation; what had been frowned upon a decade earlier was now fully acceptable. It was accepted for couples co-habiting outside marriage; it was nothing out of the ordinary for someone to declare he or she was homosexual. Values had changed; some said for the better, some said for the worse. Personally, I don’t think there was more adultery, more homosexuality than there was fifty years ago; it was just that very few either spoke of it or practised it in the open before this time.
These days, just about anything goes and there are very few subjects that are regarded as too personal to mention. One of these subjects is menstruation
Way back in the seventies, it was never mentioned in normal conversation and only whispered about in various euphemisms. Even Iris, with whom I shared a close loving relationship, was a little embarrassed in the early days about telling me when she was “unwell.”
At first, she used that expression as it was the easiest explanation but she once told me that different terms were used depending to whom she was speaking. For instance, among her female workmates, it was “Auntie Rose is in town” or “Having the decorators in.” Other expressions used by women to women were, “On the blob”, “Mother Nature’s revenge” or simply “The time of the month", usually abbreviated to “TOTM.” She once told me that most women, even when married, disliked referring to it to their partners. She said that everybody at work fell about laughing fit to bust when one of the girls said she was “Riding the cotton cowboy!” Another of her friends said that she always told her husband, “You’d better go fishing this weekend!”
I once stumbled on a website that listed about a hundred different euphemisms. Quite frankly, I wondered why anybody had ever bothered to list them! Iris, however, used a term neither I nor anyone else I knew had ever heard of; she called it “Sorry, Graeme!”
I must apologise to readers if some find it rather offensive but I suppose, in the 21st Century, it’s no big thing.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The staff dance

The staff dinner-dance was on the Friday, February 9th at an hotel on the outskirts of the city. It was quite an event and the company that Iris worked for did their staff proud. The dinner started at 7pm and we got there half an hour earlier for the official reception. I only knew a couple of people there whom I’d met when picking Iris up from work occasionally; the rest of them were unknown to me.
There would have been about fifty or sixty there and as we entered the reception lounge, all eyes turned towards us. Iris, I could see, was feeling a little uncomfortable but she clung onto my arm as we approached the bar. It wasn’t long before several of her colleagues joined us and introductions were exchanged. Iris looked absolutely stunning in her new dress and once again she was wearing the jewellery I had bought her for her birthday. I could see that her friends were absolutely amazed as we walked into dinner to begin our meal.
Afterwards, it was the dance and we made for the floor straightaway. I’ve mentioned before that we were both very keen dancers and this was one thing in which Iris excelled. Her self-consciousness disappeared as we danced round the floor. We danced all night and as I was holding her, I detected that she was wearing the perfume I had bought her. She had put some on her tongue and that really aroused me! Several times Iris was asked to dance by her male colleagues; she said afterwards that it was the first time she had been noticed so much. I was so very proud of her that night.
I took her home around midnight and we were very tired. We just sat quietly together on the settee with my arms round her until after 2am. I had to tear myself away as I had an early start the next day; I wished I could have stayed there all night. God, how I loved that girl!

Friday, January 27, 2006

A new awakening

Returning once more to the Iris theme, (and why not?) I recall how February 1973 was so very different from those January days of doubts and dashed hopes.
After I had written the poem for her and told her how I felt, the next few days saw a change in her manner towards me. I was greeted with an enthusiastic hug whenever I saw her and our meetings showed definite promise of a lasting relationship. We were beginning to spend more and more evenings together and she would accompany me on most of my bookings. We were still not yet lovers but before the month was out, we would be.
One evening in the first week of February, she asked me if I would take her to their staff dinner-dance. Although she’d been working for this company for the past fifteen years, she had only ever been to the annual event about three times. Not having had a regular boy-friend, she wasn’t keen on going on her own. Naturally I agreed and I took great delight in persuading her to wear the same outfit as she had done at the engagement party a couple of weeks previously. She demurred at first as she thought it would be a little too much; her work colleagues had never seen her in anything other than skirts and tops! I told her that she’d knock ‘em dead.
After a little more persuasion, she said she’d wear the dress and she would have her hair done specially for the occasion. This was a new Iris emerging; she was coming out of her shell at last! I was so looking forward to this event.

More old movies

I mentioned previously, a couple of instances where actors had been misquoted; as in “You dirty rat”, where it was never said. Here are a couple more…
Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan, never said, “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” What he did do was that he thumped his chest and said “Tarzan!” and gently poked Maureen O’Sullivan and said, “Jane.”
In the film, Algiers, (1938) Charles Boyer was reputed to have issued the immortal lines to Hedy Lamarr, “Come wiz me to zee Casbah!” He never did!
Greta Garbo never said, “I want to be alone.” In 1955 in her retirement, what she said was, “I want to be left alone.”
There is a wealth of lore and legend in old films; actors and actresses were icons of the age and many of them were larger than life. I just might continue on this theme a little longer.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Old movies (continued)

Continuing on the subject of old films, I recently stumbled on a car boot sale where I bought several DVDs at a couple of pounds each.
These were of really old stuff from the mid 30s starring John Wayne, Cagney and a load of short “two-reelers” of Laurel & Hardy. I managed to get about a dozen of these and enjoyed every one of them!
I still miss going to the local cinemas though. As a child, I used to go a couple of times a week at least. I could get in for free as my school-mate’s big sister used to work in the ticket office!
I saved the posters that were displayed outside in a show-case for years until in the seventies, I sold them all to a dealer for £50. I wish I hadn’t; now they are fetching ridiculous prices of several hundred pounds each!

I decided I’d get a new scanner. I ordered one from a supplier on the Net yesterday evening…
Bugger me; it came this lunchtime! Now THAT is what I call service!
I found out why the new digi-box I got wouldn’t install… My present TV is about six years old and is not compatible. No good putting it off: I went out and bought a replacement today. It is being delivered later this evening. I dread having to set the bloody thing up though. It took me the best part of a day the last time!

I haven't mentioned Iris for a couple of days now; I'll continue our story tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Old movies

I’m not a great lover of TV and I loathe and despise sit-coms, celebrity programmes and pop!
Consequently, there isn’t a lot to hold my attention. It was for that reason, I bought a digi-box in order to access channels showing old films from the 30s to the 50s.
I love the old black and white stuff; Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes, for instance. In my opinion, he was the epitome of that character and nobody else has ever surpassed him. I also like the old gangster films with James Cagney, Broderick Crawford, etc. Incidentally, Cagney never once said, “You dirty rat!” Following on from that, Sherlock Holmes never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson” and Bogart never said “Play it again, Sam” in the film, Casablanca.
But once, just once, Boris Karloff actually did say, “Doctor, can you fix my face?” (Before I Hang, 1940)
I loved Abbott and Costello; they were one of my favourite double-acts. I used to crease myself watching the Three Stooges too! However, my all-time favourite actor was Humphrey Bogart; he was the best! One of my favourite films is To Have and Have Not, starring Bogart and an unknown 18 year-old girl called Lauren Bacall (real name, Betty Joan Perske) in her first film. The chemistry they created in some of the scenes was electric! Later, they married and stayed together until Bogart died in 1957.
They made only four films together. To have and Have Not, Key Largo, Desperate Journey and The Big Sleep. Yes, the old films were absolutely marvellous! No hidden messages, no overriding loud music score, just simple entertainment!
This theme of old movies has possibilities. I’m sure that there are people out there who remember these old-time greats! I think I shall continue with this thread and see how it shapes up.
Last weekend, the digi-box packed up! I went to the store and got a replacement under guarantee but it was a different make. On returning home, I tried to connect it…. I tried and tried and tried.
Is there a bright eight-year old reading this somewhere ‘cos I bet he could fix it in ten seconds flat!!!

I’ve been using the same scanner for the past five years. It has done excellent service and produces first-class results. It’s a Hewlett-Packard scanjet 4300c model and I have been more than satisfied with it. Recently, however, it has been acting up inasmuch that the images have been distorted and it is now virtually useless. Upon enquiring at my local supplier, the answer was, “If it’s five years old, dump it and get another!” Such is the world of consumerism these days!
It looks as though I’ll have to fork out for a replacement in the immediate future although I’m undecided just what to get at the moment.
Any suggestions out there?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to Iris

That very last day in January (see Blog, “I love you, Iris”) made up for all the heartaches and doubts that had been plaguing me since the New Year. The very next day, I told my secretary, Andrea, what had happened and she was overjoyed! She told me that she had been talking to Iris when they had last met at the engagement party a week earlier. (Gawwdd, was it only a week ago?) She said Iris had told her that she was so very frightened of being hurt again, she didn’t want to commit herself until she was sure of her feelings towards me.
Andrea was a no-nonsense type of girl; she said to her that I was, in her words, “Bloody crackers about you, so get in there!” Whether or not Andrea’s words did the trick, I couldn’t say but when I told her I was in love with her, she didn’t appear to be all that surprised! Her reply, “Give me time”, showed definite promise.
I didn’t see her for a couple of days as I had to go out of town to Coventry to attend a conference there but on Saturday night, I had a booking at a club in Rotherham. I took Iris with me as several of my work friends, including Andrea, were coming along to see my act. They usually did when I was working locally. I was sharing the evening with another act, a vocal duo, who were very popular at the time. It made it even more of a night as the duo comprised of the husband and boy-friend of two of my staff.
We were in high spirits that night and I remember that we all went to a Chinese restaurant after the show. Andrea was a little merry and suddenly proposed a toast to “The Happy Couple”! Everyone, including me, wondered what she was on about and she continued… “Graeme and Iris are now an item!” (pause) “And if they aren’t, then they soon will be!” I could have bloody strangled her! Iris, however, took it all in good part.
It was late when I dropped Iris off home and I only had time for the briefest of farewells. However, I detected a world of difference in her embrace as we parted.

Back to reality in 2006 and I’m still feeling so very bored with doing virtually nothing. I decided to rearrange my library and invest in another set of bookshelves, as the ones I had were crammed to capacity and then some! At least with more bookshelves, there is less decorating to do on the remaining walls!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A one-off

After Iris died in 1980, I never looked at another woman for about eight years. I had just bought a boat, a diesel-powered Seamaster and I was totally absorbed in cruising up and down the rivers and estuaries. At the same time, I was invited to join a boat club and I made quite a lot of new friends.
It was the usual practice when moored up in the evenings to join others on a particular boat for drinks and a natter. There was not always a pub handy so we made our own entertainment.
There was one woman who made a point of seeking me out as a partner when visiting other boats and helping me when I was entertaining on my own boat. She was divorced and had been a keen boater but it was her ex-hubby’s boat and consequently her hobby had been severely curtailed.
It is said that women go all romantic when on board a boat. I thought that this only applied to ocean liners but this one settled for a much smaller craft! She was in her mid-forties, attractive and most definitely man-hungry! Her name was V*******.
At the time, I had no intention whatsoever of starting a relationship but one evening, after the drinks were flowing and the evening wore on, I found myself sitting very close to her on a bunk on my boat. We were a little squashed for room, as there were about a dozen of us on board in the forward cabin. When all the other visitors had returned to their own boats, I found myself alone with her and we finished up in the aft cabin together where we spent the rest of the night. It was just a “one-off” and afterwards, I felt so terribly guilty as though I had betrayed Iris’ memory.
Over the next few years, there were one or two similar associations but none was to last more than a few weeks. By this time, I wasn’t getting any younger and members of the fairer sex were not actually queuing up for my attention! I wasn’t unduly disappointed; I’d had the best partner a man could ever wish for and nobody, not even Miss World, would ever compete with her!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bored out of my skull!

Recent blogs have covered the first month of my relationship with Iris. This happened way back in 1973 and in those days, the probability of a “quick shag” on a first date was virtually unknown.
This, coupled with the fact that Iris was not ready to commit herself to a serious liaison, meant that I would have to win her trust as well as her affection.
There were times that January when I despaired of ever getting anywhere with her but I’m so very glad that I persevered. From February on, we would be in love with each other until the day she died. No couple, married or not, could be happier than we were nor could they be more devotedly faithful to each other.
The story will continue in February but for the time being, on to other things.
In the meantime, would readers please leave comments on whether the Iris saga stimulates any emotional feelings or is considered boring and uninteresting.

Right now, I’m going through a period of melancholy ennui. My recent semi-retirement is getting to me as I have always been so active and had so very many interests.
I think it’s because I’m not writing as many articles for magazines as I used to and I am not chasing up and down the country delivering speeches. From an early age, I have been a committed nationalist and have been proud to have associated with well-known nationalists and to have gained their respect. I find that retirement isn’t half as attractive as it’s cracked up to be!
My other interest is boating but in the icy throes of the winter season, this is totally out of the question. I am seriously considering writing a book on the canals and rivers that I have navigated but I have yet to find a publisher that appears to be more than mildly interested. There is no guarantee, of course, that if and when I complete the book, it will be accepted for publication.
I have written in various magazines about my journeys up and down the waterways but unlike most writers, I didn’t bother about how to get from A to B but I delved into the history of the places and turned over a few stones to see what lay underneath. Quite often I discovered a wealth of interesting lore that way which made for a good story.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I love you, Iris!

Monday, January 29th 1973, saw me back in my old office once more. While the two weeks away in Warrington made a change, I was happy to be back. The events of last Saturday evening and the improved relationship with Iris made me pleased that I hadn’t accepted a permanent posting there.
Iris and I were out together several times this week. Wednesday, Jan. 31st, saw the end of our first month. I had taken her out to dinner and she looked so very attractive. It was though she had made a special effort for me after being away for the past couple of weeks. It was on this occasion that I plucked up courage to give her the poetry I had written earlier. She read it and said that nobody had ever written poetry for her. I told her that I was in love with her. I dreaded what she was going to say but she replied, “I know you are, please give me a little time.” They were the most marvellous words I’d ever head from her. She could have all the time in the world!
That January was a strange time for me. The early days of doubt and uncertainty were followed by a feeling of utter frustration. However, those last few days at the end of the month made up for all the knock-backs and disappointments that had plagued me earlier. February was going to be much better!

Poetry was going to figure quite a lot in out future relationship. Over the years, I wrote more than forty poems to Iris. I never missed writing one for her birthday and for our (unofficial) anniversaries.
The earliest one I wrote was not one of my best but I’ll reproduce it here as it was the one in which I first told of my love for her.

To Iris… Just hoping. Jan ‘73

I dream of holding you so near
And hope your doubts will disappear,
And let me to your heart endear,
And prove to you my love.

I think of you when we’re apart,
I wish that I could melt your heart
And make your loneliness depart,
And prove to you my love.

And waking in the early morn,
I hope this day, some love is born.
I rise to greet the lonely dawn,
And prove to you my love.

Since first we met, my feelings grew,
Now I can’t hide my love for you.
I pledge this heart of mine so true,
And prove to you my love.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The engagement party

During my second week of voluntary exile to Warrington, Iris phoned me at work. Andrea, my secretary, took the call as I was out of the office at the time. She introduced herself to Iris and told her that I would ring back when I returned. She also asked Iris if she would be going to the engagement party that was being held the next Saturday. Two of my staff were getting engaged and I had been invited to the party. Iris knew nothing about it, naturally, as she didn’t know them. However Andrea insisted that she came with me.
Returning later, Andrea told me that Iris had rung and had accepted the invitation to the party. This was Andrea’s way of getting to meet her! A crafty gal was Andrea!
The week went by and I remember that we finished early Friday lunchtime and I was hot-foot for home. I popped in to see Iris in the evening but couldn’t stay long as I had promised to take the kids to the pantomime that evening.
The engagement party was uppermost in my mind on Saturday and I picked Iris up in the morning and whisked her off into town to an exclusive dress shop. There were several dresses that were her size, (10) and I persuaded her to try a couple on. One of them was a perfect fit; it was pale lilac in colour and she looked lovely in it. I bought the dress and we went and got a pair of shoes for the occasion. Iris wasn’t altogether happy about it but I explained that the party was a bit special and the dress was just the thing. She had never been used to being treated like this but I would have bought her the moon if it made her happy! I dropped her off at home and went home myself to get ready for the evening.
Saturday night came and I picked Iris up around 7pm and headed for the venue. She had done her hair, and was not only wearing the new dress and shoes but the choker and earrings that I’d bought for her birthday! She said she felt a little self-conscious in it but she looked absolutely drop-dead gorgeous and I told her so. I had also bought her a bottle of expensive perfume that had just become very popular. I couldn’t resist buying it, as the name of it was also my nick-name! She loved it as soon as she saw it and dabbed a little behind each ear. I took the perfume and dabbed a little on the end of her tongue; she made a face but didn’t object.
Iris was a little shy at meeting my work friends but Andrea was there to introduce her all round. I remember that when I was at the bar getting drinks in, Andrea and Iris appeared to be in deep conversation. I don’t know what or whom they were talking about but I figured that I would be one of the main subjects!
We danced quite a lot that night and to feel her so close was almost more than I could bear. The party finished late and we left around midnight. It was almost 1am when we arrived back home and we had both had quite a lot to drink. (It was ok; we got a cab there and back!)
Iris made ourselves a coffee to sober up a bit and we sat together on the settee. She was feeling rather romantic that night and before I left, I was rewarded by getting as far as No.4 on the International Snogging Scale! Things were definitely on the move!

Et sequens

This morning, I received the final details on the research I was doing. I am now in possession of that information which I set out to find. I think that I can wrap this up now after passing on the data to my friend. I still hope that I did the right thing and haven't caused any sadness or upset to the recipient. I can't help feeling like an intruder, having delved into someone else's very private life. I hope that I will be seen to have acted in the best interests however.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In absentia

As nothing on the Iris front would be happening for a few days, I decided to skim through a few diaries and find out what we were doing in later Januaries…

Jan. 1974… After a year together, I was spending more and more time with her and we were regarded by our friends as a couple. I would spend Sundays and Thursdays with my family and the rest of the time with Iris.
Jan. ’74 saw me doing quite a lot of local bookings in Social and Working Men’s Clubs.
In those days, there were over 90 clubs in this city alone so there was always a ready market for singers, comics and groups as they were open every night of the week. The pay wasn’t marvellous; it worked out at about £20 - £25 per booking but it was pleasant work and I usually worked three shows a week. Iris invariably accompanied me as she loved the atmosphere and it was a night out for her. I worked with several artistes who went on to gain fame (and fortune!) on the TV. Most of them were working the clubs full-time whereas I was only doing it on a spare-time basis.
Jan. 1975, 76 & 77 were very much the same. I used to get as many bookings as I could in the winter months when there was nothing much else to do and then ease off later in the year when the weather picked up. Later, from ’78, I got a bit cheesed off with dashing about all over the place and I usually cut it down to just one booking per week.
Funnily enough, I knew the first comedian who earned £100 for three 20 minute spots. He was Bobby Nutt and thereafter, we all called him the “Pound-a-minute comic”! They were good days but like all things, came to an end in the mid-eighties when tastes changed and comics and singers were replaced by pop groups.
Iris and I must have gone all over the place to various clubs at one time or another, yet after she died, I never went in a club again for over ten years!

Before I started writing a blog, I’d never heard of the term. Being of an inquisitive mind, I decided to find out a little more on the origins of the word.
In actual fact, it’s so very simple. ‘Blog’ is a condensed corruption of the term, ‘Web log.’ It was first used in advertising in about 1990 with the modern personal blogs coming in a few years later.
Some blogs are extremely complex and require a lot of updating. This type of blog, however, suits me fine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Working away

January 22nd 1973…
I was back at work in Warrington for the second week of my temporary transfer. I was in a much happier frame of mind about Iris. At last, she had given me some indication that she had missed me the previous week and the fact that she’d finally broken all ties with her ex was heartening indeed.
I had taken my personal secretary with me to Warrington this week, as I needed someone I was used to working with. She was a very good secretary, divorced, quite attractive, with a bubbly personality. She had been with me for about four years. We had very little to do in the evenings and we went out for a meal and a drink most nights. I had confided in her about Iris some time ago and she was eager to be told the “State of play,” as she called it. I found that by talking about her and telling her of my ups and downs of the situation, helped me to make it easier to be apart.
Andrea, that was her name, had looked after me like a mother hen from her first day as my personal sec. and she knew me better than most people. There was nothing between us, however, although I used to take her to dinner or to a club occasionally. I asked her one evening if she thought I was wasting my time with Iris. She told me that on the face of it, I most probably was but said that women are fickle beings and quite often do the unexpected. She asked me if I had told her how I felt and I said I hadn’t, I didn’t want to scare her away. She suggested that when we were back home, I should introduce Iris to one or two colleagues from work one evening. Andrea said that she would have a discreet word to find out if she was really interested in me. I wasn’t too keen on this idea but Andrea overruled me and persuaded me to go along with it. I showed her the poem and she said that it was a very touching gesture. She went on to say that if Iris didn’t like it, there was no point in pursuing her. Short and to the point; that was Andrea!
I wouldn’t be seeing Iris until the end of that week.

Things are moving quite rapidly on the research I have been working on. I got a letter in the mail this morning informing me that the documents I had requested were now to hand and would be made available to me. I spoke to the friend about the information I had received recently and she took it very well. I was so afraid that it may have upset her but I was assured that it didn’t. I hope that the final piece in the jigsaw will be in place very soon now.

Monday, January 16, 2006


After my bitter disappointment on Iris’ birthday, I decided that I was wasting my time. I had recently been asked to supervise a new project at the company’s depot in Warrington for a couple of weeks and I accepted. I thought that if I distanced myself from her for a time, it may help. Two days later, I was ensconced in my new office sixty miles away. There was a lot to do and I got stuck into the task straight away. Being in a strange town and in a small mediocre hotel, the nights were very boring. This was when I first started to write poetry. I had never done this since my schooldays when I had a crush on a girl I met at a friend’s party. The poem wasn’t particularly good so I scrapped it and wrote a better one. It was one describing how I felt about Iris and hoping that she may yet some day feel the same.
I came home on Saturday morning for the weekend and straight away was aching to see Iris. I called round that afternoon but she wasn’t in. I wrote a hurried note and pushed it through the door. I was very surprised to receive a ‘phone call from her later that day asking me where I’d been as she had rung my local office only to be told I was working away. I explained that I had taken a temporary transfer and would be going back first thing Monday morning for the rest of the week.
I suddenly knew I just had to see her that night and asked her to go out to a dance. Dancing was one thing that we both loved and she readily agreed. That evening was absolutely marvellous; she even told me that she had missed me. Later that night, back at her house, she told me how her ex had called to ask her to patch things up. I was thinking that this was where I got the old ‘heave-ho’ but contrary to my fears, she said that she wasn’t the slightest bit interested and that she had told him not to bother her again.
Before I went home, she asked for my new office number so that she could ring me to find out when I would be coming back. This, coupled with the fact that she had completely lost interest in her ex, boded well for the future and I began to think that I would find her more receptive towards me. I told her that I would be back at the end of the week and with that, I left. I hadn’t given her the poem I wrote as I thought that she wasn’t quite ready for it and quite frankly, wondered if she would think me so very stupid. Probably next weekend may be more suitable.


This morning, I received some information about something I had been working on for the past couple of weeks. I had anticipated that any info. would reveal that which I had already suspected but I wasn't quite prepared for this.
I now find that I have a very difficult decision to make in regard to what I should do about it. My first, and indeed only, concern is the effect that it may have on others. I wish to hell I didn't have to be the harbinger of such bad news. I feel quite sad about what I have discovered and I know that whatever I decide to do, it won't be easy.

I can't write about Iris just yet; probably a little later today, I will resume my story.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Birthday girl

Monday Jan 15th 1973...
I remember this day so very well. I had booked a table at a very up-market restaurant and had bought Iris a beautiful choker and matching earrings as a birthday present. It was a working day for both of us and I couldn't wait to see her that night. I had telephoned her earlier at work saying I would be picking her up around 7pm. I was looking forward to a memorable evening; sadly, I would be disappointed.
We went to the restaurant and had a very enjoyable meal. Iris had fixed her hair and was wearing a new skirt and top. She had never been one for dressing for the occasion; probably because she hardly went anywhere of note. However, the evening passed pleasantly and upon returning to her house, I gave her the birthday presents that I had bought her and I thought she'd be really pleased with them. It was an anti-climax; she didn't appear to be over-enthusiastic. She thanked me but I could see that there was something wrong. It was getting very late and I had to get off home.
Before I went, I asked her if she liked her gift and she replied that they were very nice but I shouldn't have bought her such very expensive jewellery; the evening out would have been enough. Once again, I seemed to have loused it up and I went away wondering if I should pack it all in and try and forget her.
That night, at home, I drowned my sorrows until the wee small hours, cursing the fact that I was so helplessly in love with her.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Not much fun!

In the summer months, I spend quite a lot of my leisure time afloat. I have a boat moored on the River Trent and I go down to it most weekends.
In winter, it's a different story inasmuch that the weather isn't conducive to spending nights on board. However, there are quite a few boaters who gather together at weekends in the local pub and I usually get down there for a noggin and a natter. I have written a boating magazine for the past fifteen years and it has proved very popular in boat clubs and waterside pubs. It's amazing the lore and legend that is to be found up and down the waterways. There are stories of dragons, (yes, dragons) ghosts, murders and witchcraft and over the years, I have accumulated and published numerous accounts of these. In the winter months, I have to content myself with enjoying the company of my fellow boaters round a pub table reminiscing about the warm days of last summer! As I said, in winter, it's not much fun!

To continue the Iris saga...
After my disastrous faux pas on the Friday evening and the cool reception the following day, I knew I had to make up for my rash stupidity. Not only that but Monday was her birthday and I wanted to make it so very special for her.
I went to see her Sunday evening taking a big bunch of flowers with me. Iris wasn't expecting me so it was a surprise when I showed up. The flowers did the trick! Nobody had ever bought her flowers before in her life and she was most impressed. We chatted quite amiably for a while; I couldn't stay long as I had a prior engagement.
When I left, I was rewarded with a hug and a warm kiss.
I went away walking ten feet off the ground!

Friday, January 13, 2006

The good, the bad and the ugly!

You will notice that a visitor counter and a tag board have been installed on my blog. I'm greatly indebted to a young friend who set this up for me as the finer points of PC management are a mystery to me; probably, I'm of the wrong generation!
Indeed, whenever I need the DVD player or TV to be re-tuned, I automatically ask the nearest eight-year-old!
This was the good bit.

Going back to January 1973, I remember that this weekend was fraught with disappointment and frustration. It was, I recall, mostly of my own doing.
The weekend started out fine. A new novelty had opened in Wakefield, it was a bierkeller. They became quite popular in the 70s but this was the first one I'd been to in this country. Naturally, having worked in Germany for a few years in the 60s, I was no stranger to this type of entertainment and Iris and I went out there for the evening. She hadn't seen anything like it before and she really enjoyed it. We drove back late that night and this is where I blew it!
I stopped for a quick coffee before going home and I became a little too amorous. It had been a wonderful night and I made a clumsy pass at her. My fault entirely and all the pleasure of the evening was replaced by a frosty "Goodnight!"
Saturday morning, I had to go into work but called in on Iris after lunch. She was very cool towards me and I offered an apology. It was grudgingly accepted but there was a definite chill in the atmosphere.
This was the bad bit!

I've been looking at a web-site that allows you to vote for the things considered to be most representative of England. (http://www.icons.org.uk/)
I voted (among others) for St. George, Nelson's Column and the Tower of London.
At the same time, I voted against the Notting Hill Carnival, Aldermaston Marches, Brighton Gay Pride March and the foul brainwashing multicultural soap, Eastenders!
That was the ugly bit!

Today is Friday the 13th... As a matter of absolutely no interest whatsoever, people who suffer from a fear of Friday the 13th have paraskevidekatriaphobia.
People who suffer from a fear of the number thirteen have triskaidekaphobia.
Not many people know that... Or even care!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I suppose I couldn't expect two good days in a row! Today has been a veritable sod!
This morning, I tied up a few of the loose ends of the job I was doing and managed to contact the last source of information reasonably easily.
The frustration came when I discovered that I could get no further until I could get hold of the friend for whom I was acting. However, all's well in that direction as I managed contact later. The only delay now would appear to be the speed at which local government operates!
I had a disappointing reply from the editor of a magazine today. It would appear that I am still non persona grata Oh well, bugger it!

I don't want to talk about Iris today; I shall busy myself on other things instead.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A better day today!

Some days are crap; you can usually tell early on. Other days are quite rewarding. This is one of the more rewarding days. Just for a change, things slotted into place quite easily.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chasing about I have been doing over the past few days has paid off! I was beginning to think that I had come up against a brick wall. Suddenly, I got a result and this will mean an awful lot to a friend who was relying on my help. It isn't quite cut and dried yet but there is every chance that I shall complete what I set out to do.

Yesterday, I mentioned the week I spent in early January without seeing Iris.
It was the Saturday of that week before I saw her again. I went to her house around mid-day and had coffee and chatted very amicably. She appeared to be pleased to see me and I told her that I had missed her. I took her into town shopping in the afternoon, came back and stayed with her. In the evening we went out to a show and I took her for dinner afterwards. It was so very enjoyable for me to be with her again. Iris was quite attentive towards me that night. When I dropped her off later, I was rewarded by a very warm kiss. This may not seem worth mentioning these days but it was the first time I had ever seen her display any affection towards me. I drove home that night as happy as a pig in shit!

Monday, January 09, 2006

January 1973

Referring to old diaries, I remember having to go to a conference in Birmingham that lasted three days from Jan. 10th to 12th. Normally, this would have been a welcome change to my usual work pattern but I found it so agonizingly frustrating. It meant three days without being able to see Iris and I had an inkling that her ex was going to come back on the scene. I didn't know the man; never met him but I hated him all the same!
To be fair, the conference was interesting and very beneficial to my career but I couldn't wait to get back home on Friday evening. Unfortunately, it was very late when I got back and much too late to pay a social call on her. I had no contact with her all week apart from sending a postcard showing beautiful Birmingham!
Laying in bed that night, I was picturing her with her ex whom I imagined had come back into her life. I never slept a wink!

I have been chasing around today trying to get more information for a friend. I wasn't very successful but there is the possibility of help from a couple of obliging archivists. I hope I can access the relevant records as I am beginning to get quite absorbed in this incident. In actual fact, it has nothing whatsoever to do with me but it means a lot to another and I would hate to fail after I promised I would get a result.

Apropos something entirely different... Over the Christmas period, I noticed that chestnuts were virtually impossible to get. I tried several supermarkets with no luck whatsoever. The market stalls I visited didn't have any either. Very unusual at this time of year. Wonder where they all went?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

January blues

Looking back to that first month that I met Iris, I remember that it was not all a bed of roses by all means. All through early January, I was trying so very hard not to spoil my chances of winning her affection. Although I realised I was in love with her from the first date, I never told her until after her birthday in mid January.
We went out quite often but in the early days, it was mainly because she had never had the chance of a social life and it was quite new to her.
She enjoyed my company, she loved dancing with me as she had been taught as a child and then as a teen-ager; she was a very good dancer indeed. I, too, was very proficient on the dance-floor. My cousin and I were encouraged to learn dancing at an early age and in adult life my wife and I also were keen dancers. We attained Gold Medal standard in both Ballroom and Latin-American. We would help to pay for our lessons by teaching some of the beginners the basics.
There were dance-halls and ballrooms all over the city in the 60s and early 70s and it was a social asset to be able to dance.
Iris never had a regular partner before and I took great delight in teaching her new variations. She found it very enjoyable and this, I think, was one of the factors that helped me to gain her trust. That January, however, wasn't always the happiest of times for me even though I was seeing quite a lot of her. At one point, I was tempted to pack it all in as I thought that I was wasting my time with her. In fact, she said as much one evening. It almost broke my heart.

Writing these memoirs is helping me to keep my mind away from present-day problems and gives me a break in the rather dull and boring routine that I'm going through at present. I think that I'm so used to being involved in day-to-day participations, that coming down from a life of intense activity to an almost static state is getting to me.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Plodding on

The first week of 2006 is gone. I suppose that all I have to look forward to for the next few weeks is cold damp weather. It makes me wish that I were a bear and could hibernate until the spring!
I went searching for some information for a friend yesterday but I drew a blank. However, I did get a couple of promising leads so I'll be pursuing those early next week.

I've been looking through some old diaries today and found that I was doing very similar things all through the 70s on this day; it's quite amazing!
Monday Jan 8th 1973... 'Took Iris to Midhill Club.'
Monday Jan 7th 1974... 'Went to Arundel Club.'
Tuesday Jan 7th 1975... 'Took Iris to a New Year dance' (She loved dancing)
Wednesday Jan 7th 1976... 'Went to Carlton Cabaret Club.' I was performing there that evening.
Friday Jan 7th 1977... This is the odd one out... 'Took car for MOT test... Failed!'
Saturday Jan 7th 1978... 'Went to dance in Chesterfield. Won first prize in Latin American dancing. (we won a beautiful Waterford crystal salad bowl.)
Monday Jan 8th 1979... 'Took Iris to Grange Moor Club, West Yorks. (I was on that evening)
Monday Jan 7th 1980... 'Went to staff dance at Charnwood'
Sadly, there was no similar entry for 1981.

A couple of those years, January 7th fell on a Sunday. I was rarely with Iris on Sundays as I spent it at home with my family.

It's a similar story right through the 70s; just the two of us together.
Now, 25 years after her death, I'm still just as much in love with her as I ever was.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Old memories

I have just been browsing through an old diary from 1973. This was the year that I have been talking about; my first year with Iris.
Turning to Jan. 5th 1973, I saw that this was the day that I first took Iris out for the evening. We went to a club in the city and introduced her to a local popular singer who was appearing that night. He rose to prominence in later years and we kept in touch. He was Joe Longthorne.
Entry also says that Iris wasn't very sociable that night. I think I can remember that it was because her ex. had been in touch and wanted her to go back to him.
She didn't tell me at the time but she mentioned it a few days later.

I am a confirmed diarist and have them going back many years. They have been very useful when I wanted to check on times and events. Sometimes, I go through these diaries just to reminisce to myself how wonderful life was then. Iris started keeping a diary when we first met. I gave her one and she took up with the idea almost immediately. I found some of them after her death some years later. It broke my heart to read them and to know how much she loved me.

Enough of this; getting too maudlin. Tomorrow I'm off to Chesterfield to check up on a few things. Hopefully, it will be time well spent.

Coming back to earth

It usually takes me a few days to get over the Yuletide holidays. I suppose that after all the activity, getting back to work is about as exciting as a wet Sunday afternoon. I have one or two projects to work on that should keep me busy for a while and activity is the best cure for boredom I know!

In the last blog, I described how I met a strange, quiet girl at a friend's party in late December one year. I happened to bump into her again at a New Year's party and I began to learn a bit more about her. She had worked at the same place for the past fifteen years in an all-female environment. She had had only a few male friends and only one recent boy-friend who had treated her abominably. This had ended only a few months ago. Since her mother died two years previously, she was living alone and she only went out when invited by friends. She would never dream of going out on her own.
It was a lively party and we danced and shared a few drinks. I learned that she was 34 and her name was Iris; I was 38 at the time. I took her home afterwards, stayed for a coffee and asked if I could see her again. She agreed and with that, I left.
For the next couple of weeks, we were going out regularly but she was a little reluctant to take the friendship any further. She had been let down badly recently by her ex. and she was in no mood for anything other than a casual, friendly association.
It was now over a month since we’d first met. Unfortunately, I had fallen completely in love with her. Those next few weeks were agonizing for me. Here I was with a girl I loved, who, although she liked me, made it perfectly clear that she didn’t want a serious relationship. She was still so very scared of being hurt again. I thought that if I pushed it and told her how I felt, she would have run away like a scared rabbit. She wasn't used to going out regularly and certainly not used to the sort of attention I was giving her. I suppose that I was different from her previous ex. inasmuch that I always treated women, whoever they were, with consideration and respect.
We would go out to clubs together and quite often with my friends from work. They weren't the sort of clubs that attract young people of today, ther were Social Clubs where entetainment was the order of the day. At that time, I was working the clubs myself as a stand-up comedian and Iris was really pleased when I introduced her to my fellow artistes who were apearing on the same show. She was happier than she had been for many a year.

It was January when we started our relationship and those first days always come back to me at this time of the year. I find that talking and writing about Iris and our life together is good for me. I hope that any regular readers (if I have any) will not be too bored with this narrative.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Upon reflection

Anyone who has been reading these blogs will, no doubt, see that a couple of the most recent ones have been altered.
I'm rather new to blogs and I probably went at it like a bull at a gate. In future, I shall try not to use a blog as a means of expressing my displeasure.

Second thoughts

I wrote previously that I thought that January was the cruellest month. In my case, it's because I was so very happy at one time when I was with my love. We went to all the parties, all the functions and as it was her birthday in January, we celebrated that as well. I have decided to write about her and I shall begin by describing the most momentous January I ever had in my life.
Some of this, I have written about previously in a potted biography of our life together; I shall start by recalling how we first met.
It was one December, I was invited to a housewarming party by two of my friends. I knew a few people there but most of them I had never met before. During the course of the evening, I noticed a girl who had been by herself most of the time and it transpired that she was a regular baby-sitter for my hosts. I found that she was being ignored by most of the guests as she wasn't one of the regular 'in' crowd. I think that she had just been invited to make the numbers up and she looked so lonely and out of place. I struck up a conversation with her over a drink and learned that she had recently split with her boy-friend after a two-year on/off relationship. Her invalid mother had died a couple of years ago and she had spent most of her life looking after her. She was dressed in a skirt and top where most of the others were in semi-formal attire. A rather mousey creature, I thought and not one who said a lot. She left the party quite early as she had quite a way to go and relied on public transport to get home. However, there were two things about her that caught my attention. She had long dark curly hair (I'm an absolute sucker for long hair!) and she had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. They were warm grey eyes and when she smiled, they seemed to light up her face. The party continued and I left in the wee small hours. As I was driving back home, I kept thinking about this strange quiet girl and I realised that I had never asked her name!
This was my first meeting with someone who would change my life forever just as I would change hers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to reality

It's time to get back to the humdrum business of everyday life after the Yuletide break.
Someone once said that April was the cruellest month; I think it was T.S. Eliot. From my own experience, January is the cruellest. It is in this month that old memories return and past heartaches are relived. It is a dull and dreary month with little prospect of the warmth of summer returning.
January was the birth month of the woman that I loved above all others. I was so very lucky to find her and so totally devastated when she died. I'm still wondering whether to record our story or not. I think that most probably I may do.
On a lighter note, what do you do with all the mince pies and Christmas cake that you got for the holidays that were never eaten? There are always a few left and by now, you are heartily fed up with them! In the north-east region, Newcastle, for example. there is a night set aside for the eating and drinking of everything left over from Christmas. Friends and neighbours will pool together whatever that they have left and hold a party. This usually occurs on the first Saturday after the New Year and it is a tradition that has been observed for several decades.

As I said in my previous blog; I am not one for making resolutions but I think that I may just be tempted to make one; that is to try and mend a few fences and to hold out an olive branch to one or two people. I hope that I am successful in this venture.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A New Year, a new hope

This is the last day of the holidays and tomorrow will see a return to the bustle of the world.
I haven't made any resolutions; past experience showed that they're a waste of time as I never keep them for more than a few days anyway!
I have quite a bit of work to catch up on and several jobs I put off before the holidays. On a different note; this time of year always makes me feel sad.
Some years ago, something happened that would change my life forever. I was (and still am) married with children and was quite content with a happy family life. We had been married for about fifteen years. I had a very good job; money was no problem and I was working away from home most of the time. My wife was a very good cook, mother and companion. While I loved her, there must have been something lacking because suddenly, I fell in love with someone so completely different. This subject is a very personal one and I'm undecided whether to continue with it .
However, back to today and today's issues. I have several articles to write for one or two magazines; some political, some not. In the political field, I need to take a hard look at myself to decide what to do and how best to do it in a different environment than I was hitherto committed.
This is only my second blog and I'm still unsure how it will turn out or even if it will be remotely interesting to anyone else! Time will tell.