Monday, April 30, 2007

April in Paris Easter 1974 (Pt. 4)

As I explained earlier, it was a mini-break and Sunday came all too soon. We were due to return that evening on the night ferry but at least we had all day Sunday to spend looking around the city.
We saw a very lively market and browsed around for a bit before lunching in a quiet bistro.
Afterwards, we walked along a large shopping centre in the heart of
Paris where many of the shops were open; I’d forgotten about the Continental Sundays!
Suddenly Iris gave a shriek that nearly deafened me.. “Look at that!” she cried. “That” was a cocktail length dress in deep scarlet. I must admit it looked very good. (and also very expensive!) Iris looked at the dress and looked at me. I remembered my promise to buy her a new dress while we were here so we entered the boutique. We looked around but Iris only had eyes for the scarlet creation; she tried it on. Iris was a very standard shape, 34B (just) and a slim waist. The dress fitted and she swirled around in front of the mirror! She looked exquisite in it but there again, she would have looked just as good in a bin-liner to my eyes! I remember thinking as we walked out of the shop with Iris clutching a large bag with the boutique’s name boldly emblazoned on it, that it was going to cost me another packet to take her somewhere to wear it when we got back home!

We left Paris at around 4pm and had a surprise stop at Amiens. We went into the city where dinner had been arranged. Before that, we ambled around the old place. It was the scene of a battle in August 1918 when Australian troops captured the city from German occupation.
An interesting fact is that in the cathedral, which was built in the early 13th Century, is kept the head of John the Baptist! Every year on July 24th, the head is paraded round the place on a cushion. Mind you, as Iris pointed out, it must be a bit niffy by now!
We left
Amiens around 8pm and headed back to Calais and the ferry. For some reason or other, we missed one sailing and had to wait until 11.15 pm before we could board.
The night crossing was uneventful and there were no delays passing through customs. In those days, the limit on cigs. was 200 per person and as both of us smoked, we made sure we got our full allocation!
We got back home just before 5am Monday. We were tired but we had enjoyed the break immensely.
Monday was a bank holiday, of course but we spent most of the day in bed catching up on some sleep. We went out that evening with some friends and Iris regaled them with the weekend trip. She said that she wanted to go again; I promised her that we would!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thick and fast!

Suggestions for names for our new moggie are pouring in!
While some of them are old hackneyed names that have done the rounds for years, like ‘Ginger’ and ‘Tigger,’ some new ones have been mooted.
like ‘Chivers’ and another lady, ‘Moonbird’, has suggested ‘Amber.’ I quite like that one.
Another suggestion was Jasper. This could be an ideal name. Red Jasper is a quartz crystal noted for sexual compatibility. Mind you, I reckon we’ll have to make sure the kitten is neutered in that case!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April in Paris Easter 1974 (Pt.3)

Gay Paree!
The next day, Saturday, we went down to breakfast or, in this case, petit déjeuner! It was a typical French meal comprising of crusty rolls, butter and confitures. (jam, to you!)
We were sharing the table with another couple who were a lot older than we were. It was their first trip to
Paris and we had noticed them the evening before in the lounge bar. The man, Alf, as it happened, said “Eyoop, tha goin’ ter get an eyful o’ t’tower?” I shuddered inwardly! I learned later that they came from Barnsley; I might have guessed!
Naturally, the
Eiffel Tower was a priority on our itinerary and we made our way towards it enjoying the scenery alongside the river. Iris was in a flippant mood, singing an old French song, “Sur les ponts de Paris” giving a passable impression of Eartha Kitt! We were walking hand-in-hand like a couple of teenagers but who cared? We were in Paris and we were in love!

The weather was very kind to us while we were there and our ascent up the tower really got to Iris. She’d never seen anything like it before, apart from a day-trip to Blackpool some years previously!
Naturally, we had coffee and gateaux in the café at the top of the Tower. Iris selected some postcards to send back and posted them there to get the special “Tour d’Eiffel” postmark. She was doing quite well, I reckoned. She had gone to the kiosk, bought the cards and the stamps, paid with francs and “Mercy bucketed” the sales girl. Iris was certainly turning quite Gallic!
It was quite warm for April so forsaking lunch for a baguette, we made our way to the river. There were trip boats on the
Seine and we opted for a journey downstream. There was plenty to see from the river and we both enjoyed the tranquil navigation through the heart of the city.

That evening, there was an optional trip to the Moulin Rouge. About half a dozen of us decided to go and we arrived there about 7pm. Everybody was given a half-bottle of champagne as a courtesy and the meals were absolutely the finest that Paris could offer. I remember choosing escargots in garlic butter sauce for starters followed by fillet of beef in red wine. Iris also had the beef but demurred at snails, opting for moules marinière instead.
I had seen the show a couple of times before, some years ago, but Iris had never seen anything like it. There were two hours of non-stop entertainment including, of course, the famous ‘Can-Can dance.’ She enjoyed every minute of it; she was absolutely over the moon!
We returned to the hotel in the early hours of the morning after a wonderful night and proceeded to do what every other lover in
Paris was doing!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A most happy event...!

Yesterday, my daughter’s cat had kittens. Three beautiful bundles of fur; one black and two ginger.
Naturally, they don’t have their eyes open yet and are so very, very tiny.
I’m a sucker for animals, especially cats and we have decided to adopt one of the ginger kittens
I don’t know how this decision will go down with Tiffi, our present lovable and adored pussy but I think she may take to the newcomer very well.
It will be a couple of months before they can be separated from their mum and in the meantime, we have to think of a suitable name for him/her.
Forty years ago, we had a couple of ginger cats called Rusty and Rufus who both lived for over 20 years. They were wonderful companions.
Any suggestions for a name for this one?

Friday, April 20, 2007

April in Paris Easter 1974 pt 2

Ooo, la la!
The Easter weekend was approaching and Iris was becoming a little nervous about the trip. I reassured her that it was no big deal; a trip to
France wasn’t much different from a trip to Scotland in travel time but she was worried in case she became sea-sick. I told her that I’d crossed the channel several times with no ill effects and it wasn’t as though it was a long crossing; just about two hours.
I stayed overnight with Iris on the Thursday before we set off. She was so excited she could hardly sleep. It was an early start and
5am saw us having a light breakfast. 5am is, in my opinion, strictly reserved for late night revellers and stray cats! However, we boarded the coach and were away just after 6.
I remember we stopped twice en-route to
Dover; once at Leicester Forest services on the M1 to pick up a few more passengers and again just after Dartford Tunnel for a coffee break.

We arrived at Dover around 11.30am in time for the noon ferry to Calais. Once on board, Iris was almost jumping up and down like a six-year old at Christmas! We stayed on deck as the ferry cleared the harbour and Iris gulped a little as the boat met the rollers as we entered the Channel. She was fine after the first gentle sway and we went below as it was rather dull and overcast and it was starting to rain. (Well, it was a Bank Holiday; what do you expect?)
We had a light lunch and Iris was looking out of the window at the sea. She said she felt fine and no queasiness at all. She was really enjoying the crossing.
We arrived at
Calais around 2pm; although it was 3pm Central European Time. There were no hold-ups and we were on our way to Paris!

The coach only stopped once, just outside Abbéville for a short break. We went into the cafeteria for coffee and croissants and something Iris said started me laughing fit to bust! She turned to me and said, “Isn’t it funny? Everyone’s speaking French!” Some members of our coach party were nearby and they too heard her and were chuckling away. As we approached the check-out with our snack, I reached for some money (Francs) and paid the cashier. She was asking me if I’d come far and I replied we had travelled from England and were going to Paris. Iris thought it so strange to hear me speaking in French. She had learned the language, albeit rudimentary, in her school days but had never spoken it since. I told her that now was the time to remember some of it! She made a face at me and said, “Mercy bucket! How about that?”

We got to Paris just before 7.30pm and the hotel staff were on hand with dinner as soon as we’d checked in and cleaned up. The meal was excellent and by that time, we were ready for it. Afterwards, we took a stroll round the area, although it was getting dusk by now. In the distance, the Eiffel Tower was lit up and I told Iris that we would be going there in the morning. We popped into a small bistro for a couple of drinks and then went back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. There was a piano-accordion player entertaining the guests and we sat around for a while. We were both very tired after the journey so we had an early night. We slept like logs until the morning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It looks as though the disruptive posts are a thing of the past. We have managed to eliminate unwanted remarks both in the tag-box and in the comments box.
Every time someone posts a comment, he or she leaves behind an ip reference that can be checked against known offenders.
The obvious ones, of whom there are just two, are easy to spot and stand out like a sore thumb.
Another, however, is someone with whom I though I’d buried the hatchet. Not to worry; there will be no more disruptions! This is just one of her comments:

"Pass the ash tray. Iris is here."

This evil bitch has sunk to gutter level. Although she has a severe mental problem, there is no excuse for such behaviour. Thank God she's only a cretin who can't do any lasting damage.
However, if tits were brains, she'd be a genius!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

April in Paris 1974 (1 of 4)

This is an account of one of the most memorable Easters we had. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

It was coming up to Easter when Iris rang me at work to tell me about an all-in four-day break in London that was being advertised in a travel agency near to where she worked. We had discussed a London trip a few weeks ago and she was looking forward to it.

It was a Friday evening and it was the day I used to take her shopping on our way home. She pointed it out to me in the window when I stopped to pick her up. I wasn’t really interested; I had already made plans for driving down there by car and staying at an hotel I knew. However, something else immediately caught my eye and I said to her, “How about Paris?” There was an offer on for a three-day trip to Paris at a very reasonable price. Iris was all for it! She had never set foot outside this country and began asking me all sorts of questions. We went into the shop and made further enquiries. It was an Easter break holiday from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Travel by coach via Dover–Calais ferry and on to Paris. We booked then and there!

We took the brochure back home and later that evening, Iris was reading it avidly. She asked about the food and the hotels. Were they the same as the hotels here? What were the toilets like? (Women always want to know about toilets when travelling anywhere; have you noticed?)
I told her the first thing she’d need would be a passport. As it was only a short stay, she could apply for a Visitor’s Passport that was valid for a year and easily obtained at a Crown Post Office.

Saturday morning saw us in the post office where there was a photo-booth. It took all of fifteen minutes for her to get a passport. The next thing was the age-old cry, “What shall I wear?” I said she had enough suitable clothes without needing any more but I promised to buy her a dress from a Parisian boutique. That did the trick!
Easter that year was from April 12th-15th and we were due to depart on Good Friday at
6am from the city centre. Iris couldn’t wait!

My wife never liked going away at holiday times. She preferred to go when places weren’t as crowded and the roads were less busy. The kids were growing up and, like most teen-agers, wanted to ‘Do their own thing.’ To expect them to spend a holiday on the beach as they did years ago would have been met with the most scornful derision. I knew that Barbara wanted to go to the Chelsea Flower Show in May as usual, so I said that although I’d be tied up over Easter, I would be free to take her to both the Chelsea show in May and the Southport show in August. This made her day, as she was an avid gardener and took a great interest in all things horticultural. Personally, I’m bored out of my skull looking at floral displays but it was a small price to pay in exchange for being let off the hook over Easter!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A complete waste of time!

I have been sent several anonymous posts recently regarding this blog. They range from the utmost stupidity to the downright poisonous lies.
Whoever it is, and I have no doubt in my mind who is responsible, should realise that anonymity will not be recognised and no anonymous posts will be published. It's as simple as that!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter 1974

Over the next couple of weeks, I shall be recording the events of Easter 1974. It was a wonderful time, especially for Iris as she had her first Continental holiday. Admittedly, it was only a short break over the Easter weekend but she was absolutely ecstatic about it.

The Paris trip will be in four parts describing the journey going, the time spent there and the journey back. I got a great deal of pleasure when writing this account as it brought back so many happy memories. Iris took to Paris like a duck to water; she was in her element there! The next year, we returned to Paris for a longer holiday but these few days at Easter 1974 have always stuck out in my mind as unforgettable.

We enjoyed many holidays over the years. We went all over the place and made many friends. However, even now, 26 years after her death, there are places I could not visit again. It would still be too painful. Berwick, for instance, is a wonderful place for a holiday but I could never return.
The next time I go there will be when I’m in an urn. My daughter will scatter my ashes from the cliff-top to join those of Iris that I scattered there all those years ago.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More domestic reminiscences

I’ve been waxing lyrical about Iris not being just a pretty face and her prowess in the kitchen but I could say the same about my wife; she was very attractive and a brilliant cook.
I could never find anyone to beat her where culinary arts were involved apart, perhaps, from my mother who was Cordon Bleu trained. My wife was brought up in a household that thrived on good plain cooking. So much so, that one could tell what day of the week it was by the meals prepared! I’m glad to say that after we were married, with the help of my mother, the ‘Cold meat on Mondays’, ‘Stew and dumplings on Wednesdays,’ and ‘Fish on Fridays’ went by the board!
Barbara was, and still is, an adventurous cook as many of my friends will tell you. We have always eaten well and Barbara has put on meals at very short notice when friends have descended on us after a meeting, etc.

In my childhood, my old granny used to swear by a good breakfast and I never went to school without having either cereal or eggs in one form or another.
Iris wasn’t used to breakfast, as her mother was too idle to prepare it and Iris just didn’t have the time before starting off for work. About six months after we first met, I moved in and lived there four days a week. It was then that Iris started preparing breakfast. There was a little more time in the mornings as I dropped Iris off at work before going on to my office. Sometimes, however, evening meals were a little hurried, especially if I had a club booking that was some distance away. Usually it was a case of a quick snack and a late supper after the show.

I remember one year, I think it was 1973, that there was a sudden sugar shortage. We had gone out for dinner to a Chinese restaurant after a show and Iris, very surreptitiously, went round swiping as many sugar lumps as she could find! Fortunately, sugar supplies were back to normal after a couple of weeks or so.
That was, I think, the same year that out of the blue, there was a temporary petrol shortage. It was around Whitsuntide and it had a devastating effect on motorists. Garages cut their opening times and Green Shield stamps suddenly ceased to exist! The shortage didn’t last all that long but for quite a time afterwards, many filling stations closed earlier and it was hard to find one that opened all night.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Tommy rot!

I have it on record that Tommy (scum-bag) Williams boasted that he had been one of Iris's lovers.
I would ask you to think on this:
Iris died in 1980; Tommy is about 38. He would have been eleven years old the year that she died!
Once again, Tommy Williams is exposed as the liar and and mental cripple that he is!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A mention in passing...

Once again, the odious Tommy Williams of Sheffield has seen fit to libel me in his gutter-level blog.
He doesn’t bother about the accuracy of his ravings; he just says what he wants and publishes it. He is of the firm belief in why spoil a good story by telling the truth?
I shall state here and now that the said Williams is a liar, a malcontent and a deliberate trouble-maker. If he wants to come and burn my house down as he threatened to do over the telephone recently, he’s welcome to try. (Incidentally, that call was recorded!)

I don’t know exactly what he’s on at the moment but it must be mind-blowing stuff!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A much-needed refurbishment

It’s over three weeks since I wrote about Iris as other current events needed to be posted. However, now it’s back to the original theme of the blog and back to the Seventies.

Last October, I wrote about our revamping the house and how it had taken us almost up to Yuletide to redecorate the bedroom and living room. We had papered and painted the rooms and bought a new bedroom suite and we had moved the old suite into the spare bedroom and also tidied it up a bit. However, three months later, Iris suddenly developed the Spring-cleaning bug. I admit that the place needed to be spruced up a bit as it had been sorely neglected by her mother for many years.

While we had refurnished the living room with a new settee and a couple of easy chairs, we had never modernised the fireplace and it still had the old coal-burning fire that has featured so much in many of my poems. I offered to install a gas fire in its place but Iris said that the local council had told her that she could have it done free under a house improvement scheme. Besides, I think that she liked the old fireplace and wasn’t in a hurry to get rid of it. What she would like, she said, was a colour television.
The present TV was an old black and white
Ferguson of indeterminate age. Indeed, it was one her mother used to sit glued to night after night with the result that Iris, who never went out much at that time, had got utterly sick of the thing and very rarely watched it these days. She said that she felt embarrassed when friends dropped in and saw the old set. By this time in the early 70s, most people had changed over to colour so I could see her point. I think that my wife and I bought our first colour TV in 1968 but that was mainly for the kids. I very rarely watched it and even today, I’m still not a ‘Telly addict’!
However, Iris wanted a colour TV so we went out and bought one. Fortunately, I had a friend who was a TV engineer and he recommended a decent set and he also rigged up a new aerial for us. Iris was over the moon with her new TV but it never interfered with our nights out.

I’m recalling this episode to illustrate how little Iris had in the way of modern domestic items. She had a noisy vacuum cleaner that was at least 20 years old and a gas oven that was of the same vintage. While we were about it, we replaced both these things with new models together with a selection of new saucepans, etc. At the same time, I got someone in to replace cupboards, sink and draining-board. I remember that we were given an electric tin-opener by one of the shops and Iris was really chuffed by it. (‘Chuffed’ is an old Yorkshire term meaning highly pleased)
Of course, a new kitchen meant only one thing; we had to invite friends round to dinner! I warned Iris that the new cooker may take a bit of getting used to but she said that a cooker was a cooker and that was it!
I must admit that the resultant meal she prepared for six of us was absolutely first-class! Iris was in her element with her new kitchen. I regarded myself most fortunate in having a girl who was not just a pretty face but was turning out to be an excellent cook and hostess!