Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Wimbledon

No, not how to cheat playing tennis at Wimbledon…

Nor how to cheat your way to the front of the queue the night before the gates open at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, or how to get a cheap ticket for Centre Court on Finals Day…

I have been to Wimbledon the railway station ( many times ), the town hall ( amateur dramatics ), but not the tennis. How do you cheat at Wimbledon without going there?

My best Wimbledon was played when I was at junior school. Our friends round the corner had six children in their family. The eldest girl no longer a child, but a sophisticated ( to my eyes ) teenager at the local secondary modern. One year she was going with the school to Wimbledon and had made her own tennis racquet brooch, properly strung with cotton sewing thread; a perfect miniature that fitted in the palm of her hand. The excitement filtered down through sister two and sister three, my best friend and with wooden racquets we played tennis in the middle of our little road. The sophisticated game consisted of seeing how many times we could hit the ball back and forth without dropping it; no referees, no losers.

Learning tennis at high school was quite fun and a friend and I cycled to a Saturday morning tennis club, where the height of our achievement was a certificate for doing 20 forehands and 20 backhands in a row.

green tennis ball on court
Photo by Bogdan Glisik on Pexels.com

For most adults, tennis means watching Wimbledon on television. This is where some of us have to cheat. I dread the frequent question at this special fortnight of the summer. Not how is your novel going or have you been busy in the garden but

‘Have you been watching the tennis?’

I cringe in shame, I could simply say NO, but find myself apologising… not yet or just caught the end of er um oh how about that fifteen year old who beat Serena or was it Venus.

It is very difficult to cheat at watching tennis on television, you cannot pretend you watched Venus Williams being beaten by Coco Gauff; even if you get the names right you need to recount how play went. You cannot claim to have watched avidly every day without knowing every name, who played who and for how long. Some people book their annual leave so they can watch it all properly, so why don’t I get around to viewing?

Perhaps the protestant work ethic, watching television during the day? Or the sunshine; I may live one hundred miles from Wimbledon, but if it’s sunny there it will probably be sunny at home and how could I stay indoors on a nice day. I have tried to watch, I like the notion of tennis and have a fair idea of what they are supposed to be doing; hitting the ball before it hits the court or not hitting the ball before it lands outside the court. It is exciting when players make horizontal leaps and lob the ball two inches over the net, five yards from their opponent. But you have to concentrate; don’t tackle a complicated knitting pattern, sneak a look at your smart phone, doze off, or pop to the kitchen to make a sandwich, for you will miss the shock defeat or the fastest volley in history.

If you have not been glued to teletennis you can cheat by catching up with the sport highlights on television in the evening. Write down the relevant names and scores and memorise them so at work the next day when someone asks if  you saw the tennis you can reply

‘Did you see Selina Kalashnikov in that last set?’

sunshine-blogger

 

Have you been watching Wimbledon?

Have you been there for real?

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Game of Thrones

Today I am delighted to welcome back Baz The Bad Blogger to talk about his new novel and the YouTube video he has created to launch the series.

14

‘Have you always wanted to write fantasy Baz?’

No, but if that chap can make all that money out of Game of Thrones I thought how hard can it be to write about dragons?

‘Have you watched all the series of Game of Thrones?’

No, have you?

‘No, but I imagine you must have had to come up with some very original story lines to compete with GoT and all the other fantasy novels.’

My dragon is set in the real world of the 21st Century; he comes from a lost island somewhere in the Pacific, but loses his way home and ends up at Bognor Regis. Notflex are going to love it.

‘That explains the scene where he nearly collides with the coastguard helicopter…’

But there is still the traditional castle setting… I can’t tell you any more, you’ll have to buy the book.

15

13a

sunshine-blogger

Friday Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – The Interpreter

Local man speaking in the tongue of his forefathers: It’s that time of year again, my annual trip out of town to see the land of my ancestors, earn a bit extra, but mainly have a laugh.

Interpreter: We have lived in this land for many generations, since time began, my grandfather was the village elder.

Local man: Who’s this idiot with the microphone – still, at least they haven’t brought Jeremy Clarkson.

Interpreter: We welcome you back to our village, now we have the well you built last year our women do not have to walk miles to collect water.

 Local man: Thank goodness I don’t live in this godforsaken village, if only they had a decent pub instead of that hole in the ground which dried up two months ago.

Interpreter: I had fourteen children, only three live, if we could build a clinic other wives would not die in childbirth like mine.

Local man: These ridiculous rags are so uncomfortable, I bet the villagers will be glad to get back into their denims.

Interpreter: It is too far for the children to walk to school.

Local man: The village children have all got the day off school again, hoping to get some freebies if they smile for the cameramen.

Interpreter: We send greetings to our dear friends in Great Britain.

Local man: Must remember to skype my cousin in Slough, remind him to watch Charity In Action, see what he thinks of my performance.

 

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – No News

34670839_2115416058488173_7531615677732356096_n-e1528221128319.jpg

We were hoping to go over to our correspondent… somewhere, but apparently there is no news today. However we will bring you an update as soon as there is some news.

43456460_2318979864798457_8720894557241212928_o

Now we go over to Sally for the weather… oh, I’m just hearing there is no weather today… If you’ve just joined us we’re receiving reports that there is no news today. Those of you who are following us on Twitter please let us know what is not happening in your area and send us your pictures.

adult blur business indoors

Tributes are pouring in for a writer who didn’t become a household name, but her husband thought it would be nice if she heard some plaudits for her work while she was still alive.

DSCN0515

Reports that Stonehenge had turned into fudge overnight turned out to be pure fudge.

33788849_2106775056018940_8612084103417692160_n

Traffic delays are not expected anywhere today

5

and reports are coming in that nothing is happening in many places.

40406248_2262745383755239_8946729877604663296_o

Meetings were to be held, but there’s no point now.

34581733_2115415835154862_4465963687949107200_n

No one was called to 10, Downing Street.

30715864_2052914858071627_1881960102517276672_n

Businesses also reported a slump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us again for the lunchtime news when we hope to bring you some, in the meantime viewers have been sending in pictures of their pets.

33500818_2101460066550439_5825106909107060736_o

4

8

If you like looking at photos instead of the news there are pictures aplenty at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views/

Friday Flash Fiction – Go

When my agent called I was hoping it would be good news, or any news.

I’ve got you on a programme Brian.

‘Brilliant,’ I replied ‘is it the Review Show’?

No.

‘The Book Programme?’

No.

‘The Literary Quiz?’

No.

‘I don’t mind doing Brain of Britain.’

We tried that already.

‘Round Britain Quiz?’

No, they had a long waiting list remember… it’s a series about writers.

‘A Good Read? Who else is on it?’

It’s a new programme, not sure who’s been approached, Hilary said it wasn’t really her thing and Sebastian is too busy.

‘Radio or television?’

It would only work on television.

‘Will I get to talk to Kirsty Wark?’

I think we’re talking more Steve Redgrave, John Inverdale…

‘Okay, you’ve lost me now.’

The basic premise is that the author gets to act out the role of their leading character.

‘Oh that sounds fun, how about the scene where the poet seduces Lady Antonia?’

That is not quite what they had in mind.

‘Well I certainly don’t want to do his suicide scene, can’t stand the sight of blood for one thing ha ha.’

No, they were thinking of your thriller novels, not the literary ones.

‘Hmmm, the scene where Hammond Steele seduces Natalia Komenski?’

An action scene, they have half a dozen escapes or rescues they think would be ideal, several of them quite topical.

adventure blue mountains climb clouds
Photo by Terje Sollie on Pexels.com

In ‘Snow Diamonds’ Hammond Steele visits South Korea and a week later I too was in South Korea, dressed well against the biting wind, feet clad suitably for the snow, knowing I should never have agreed to this programme.

Other authors manage to sell thriller novels by the million without even leaving their computer. We were doing the scene where Hammond has to escape his pursuers; they must not get their hands on the precious package, even if it means forfeiting his own life.

At the very top my instructor was giving me last minute instructions, I braced my knees; I could hardly feel what my hands were gripping in the thick gloves I was wearing. He was telling me to watch the light, wait for the amber, wait for his command and the green light…

Why oh why had I made Hammond Steele escape the villains by pretending to be a participant in the 2018 Winter Olympics… Men’s ski jump, soar in the air and ski swiftly away down a valley into the woods. The light turned green, someone shouted GO.

The Ghost of Christmas Presents

‘How was your Christmas?’

As you go back to work, or your classes, clubs and groups resume, that is the question you can’t avoid. Mother Nature is no respecter of Christmas or New Year, nor is Lady Luck. Volcanoes blow up, oceans swell and man made disasters occur, so making a drama of your turkey exploding ( yes that did happen to a friend’s family ) is rather pathetic, but everyone has Christmas and New Year tales to tell.

48396186_1347570032052702_8168762453912453120_n

We had our Christmas early; Christmas is a date where nothing happens in your home unless you make it. Ours was great fun and the participants could disperse for another Christmas and more presents. But out in the further reaches of the family universe another Christmas has gone by with a rift unhealed, though thanks to technology most of the family are always connected…

A year ago our joint present to ourselves was an ipad so we could abandon Skype and do Facetime; everyone else was already ‘on Apple’. I Facetimed with my mother and sister in Australia and the connection kept unconnecting and reconnecting. Considering what a technical marvel it is in the first place it doesn’t take us long to get frustrated when it doesn’t work. We Facetimed Canada and they were upside down and so were we. On Saturday three of us Facetimed Australia and talked to four people and two dogs, picture and sound were perfect.

42464994_2295089690520808_1144213162061463552_o

Presents: Secret Santa for seven adults was a success; it had been decided to use a website that secretly allotted the anonymous givers and receivers. My parcel included a stuff your own teddy, complete with birth certificate and heart – age 8 plus. We make photo books every Christmas for the pre-readers. Three year old’s was ‘Choclate Moose Comes to Stay’, but it was his thirty three year old uncle who was more engrossed in the book. You are never too old for Lego it seems, Lego caters for big boys and girls with Creator Expert and a red double decker bus and camper van were among the creations in progress that appeared on Family Facebook.

49130418_1288887577919112_588939182781497344_n

Traditions: There are many treats to choose from over the season. At our local garden centre you can visit two live reindeer for free; they look a bit bored in their pen, probably missing the rest of the herd grazing on the pastures of Dorset. You can also book in advance and pay a lot to visit Father Christmas’s grotto, passing giant singing penguins on the way.

Baby and three year old went to their local ‘country house’ to visit the magic elf forest. This involved getting on the elf train ( a decorated truck ) and visiting Father Christmas at the top of a tower. They were the last ones to visit him and when they came back down, the elf train had left, they could have been lost in the magic elf forest forever!  But that was not their only meeting with Santa. We were astonished when pictures came through the ether on Christmas Eve afternoon of Real Father Christmas sitting in their living room… An older tradition is the pantomime; the little ones were taken to their town’s lovely old theatre on Boxing Day to see Jack And The Beanstalk, the three year old was mesmerised.

47689412_2100638626623858_4149638904217075712_n

With Christmas being done and dusted in our house I was able to indulge in that Christmas Eve tradition, watching Carols from Kings on television. Even if people don’t go to church themselves they expect the real meaning of Christmas to still be celebrated in wonderful cathedrals with angelic choir boys. Later in the evening we watched a year inside Saint Paul’s Cathedral with lots of quirky adults and dear little choir boys in their boarding school.

45188729_260490784667675_3292565076355055616_n

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bwdbq7

Walks: on Christmas morning we went down to the beach, along with many others, but were surprised to see some stripping down for a dip in the sea, they didn’t stay in long, but the solitary surfer in shorts, no wetsuit, stayed in a good while.

DSCN1218.JPG

Yesterday, on New Years Day, the sun at last came out and the beach was as packed as a summer’s day for the final tradition of the festive season – a walk. A brisk walk was difficult on the crowded promenade and there were long queues for the cafes, but that’s all part of the tradition.

 

Silly Saturday – Queen’s Speech Leaked

An unnamed source, claiming to be close to a Buckingham Palace spokesman, says part or all of the Queen’s Christmas Message has been leaked to a little known writer and blogger.

15b

Queen Elizabeth the second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, broadcasts her message to the nation and The Commonwealth on television at 3pm on Christmas Day. How hard it must be to condense a year, a lifetime, the longest reign in the world, into ten minutes of wisdom interspersed with family movies.

But this year it seems the Queen is set to shake the nation out of their after lunch stupor.

15a

“It was with great joy that I and my family celebrated two weddings this year, plus the birth of a new prince, reminding us all how important families are. We take comfort in the love of our families while all around us the world seems to face so many problems. The Christmas message of peace and goodwill can sometimes seem so far away and the World so hard to change, but we can all play our part. We must hold on to hope, at the same time taking every opportunity to offer help in practical ways. When my family and I took an AncestoryDNA test earlier this year we looked forward eagerly to the result, wondering what surprises lay in store. When the Duke of Edinburgh and I received our results we were reminded just how close we are to European Royalty, to mainland Europe itself; 33% Europe West, 33% Europe East 33% Europe Central were our precise results. It is for this reason, among others, that in 2019, the Royal House of Mountbatten-Windsor will be relocating to mainland Europe before the finalising of Brexit in March. The House of Liechtenstein have already offered us sanctuary, as has King Felipe VI of Spain.

1

But though Europe has been occupying our thoughts this year, so too has the Commonwealth and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia were a great showcase. By the time of the next games in 2022 the Commonwealth of Nations will be larger. Last month a delegation from the United States of America visited Buckingham Palace to request closer ties between our two nations. As a result of very positive discussions my government will confirm that the monarchy is to be restored in the north american colonies. They will henceforth be called the United Kingdom of North America and the coronation of King Harry will take place on May Day 2019. Spring will also bring the arrival of the baby expected by King Harry and Queen Megan, this baby will be heir to the throne of the UKNA. It will be a great blessing for Megan to be reunited with her family and for her subjects to be united with their neighbours Canada in the Commonwealth of Nations.

May all our countries, ancient and modern know peace in 2019, I wish God’s blessing for you and all your families.”

Sunday Salon – the alternative to the Sunday Supplements

Dip into two books and two television dramas.

I review every book I read on Amazon and Goodreads and also share my reviews here.

This week, two very different English novels; one dark, one light.

Out of Time  by Jaye Marie

4.0 out of 5 stars In the mind of a killer.

By Janet Gogerty on 21 September 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I hadn’t read the previous novel about Kate, so knew nothing about her, but Kate knows nothing about herself either when she wakes up. This is a thriller with no heroes, the Snowman is desperate to help her and it seems at last he can, but it is not to be. If this was a television thriller the Snowman would save the day, but the story becomes more complex. We follow the killer’s thoughts as well as the other main characters, an advantage of books over screens. The reader will never sympathise, but we might comprehend what’s going on in Jack’s mind. Michael is another character who we think might save the day, but he is a mix of flaws and must face up to the grief he has caused the woman he loved and the other woman who loves him. This is not a novel for the faint hearted; what starts as a mystery of unconnected murders is also the story of those unfortunate enough to be in the path of a killer or know his intended victim. We know from the news that bizarre killings can occur when a murderer becomes obsessed and this murderer is obsessed with Kate.

Mum in the Middle by Jane Wenham-Jones

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and humorous.

ByJanet Gogerty on 8 October 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I downloaded this novel onto my Kindle as it sounded fun and we have relatives who have become DFLs* on the Isle of Thanet. But this is a story that would make an enjoyable read for anyone with family or lively family as neighbours. Whether you are married, divorced or thankful to be single, the lives of Tess and her family and friends will probably sound familiar. The story bowls along, with prospects of romance dashed at every twist and turn and plenty of modern life problems.

*‘Down From London’ – a good train service from St. Pancras, lower property prices and the seaside have made the Isle of Thanet, Kent a popular choice for workers needing to commute and also artists and entrepreneurs.

closeup photo of person holding panasonic remote control in front of turned on smart television
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

How do you watch television these days, perhaps not even on a television set? But drama serials are still ever popular, whether we sit down each week, catch up digitally or binge watch. I like the idea of the TV schedule, but inevitably if we’re out or have visitors I am thankful we can record or catch up. PAUSING programmes is also a brilliant asset as my good intentions to leave the computer or the kitchen by 9pm always fail.

There have been so many good dramas lately we have some still to watch. My two recent favourites were very different.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray is a long novel that many people on social media have confessed to not having read. But with a film and at least four television adaptations we can be forgiven for not being sure if we have actually read the book. BBC 1967, 1987 and the one I remember really enjoying was a few years ago – no it was 1998! So how would ITV’s new production compare?

Thackeray, played by national treasure Michael Palin, took his rightful place as the narrator at the beginning and end of each part; he watched his characters go round and round on a carousel.

The story starts in 1813 England, a turbulent society embroiled in war for twenty years. Thackeray introduces a world where everyone is striving for what is not worth having. The impossibly smart red and white soldiers, beautiful women, lovely horses and clean streets were not out of place because he wanted us to watch his characters in a performance. The battle field sequences contrast with this.

Becky Sharpe has nothing, but is determined to have everything, whoever she hurts on the way. We are whirled through years of love, heartbreak, family troubles, business disasters and tragedy with one love story ending happily.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-10-12/vanity-fair-cast-itv-amazon

BBC4 on Saturday nights is a must if you love Scandi Noir or anything with sub titles. We have followed Danish politics, Swedish thrillers, Sicilian detectives, Paris police, Belgian undercover in French and Flemish, but most recently it has been Outback Noir.

Mystery Road in six episodes, was filmed in the Kimberly region of north Western Australia. Having lived in Perth, Western Australia and with family there, I try and watch any Australian series that come our way. I have never been to that part of the state, another country to suburbanites in the city. The series was worth watching for the scenery alone, wide landscapes of dusty red soil and long roads, a fascinating country town and a cattle station homestead that makes you yearn to live somewhere with endless space. A great cast did justice to a complex story linking past and present with layers of secrets. The old landowning family, the indigenous people and European backpackers all find their lives bound together in small town life.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/mystery-road

 

 

Three Billboards, Three Episodes, Three Continents

Once upon a time you could watch television or go to the cinema. If you loved a film, chances are you would never see it again, unless it ended up on television. If you missed an episode of your favourite serial, that was it, gone for ever. The advent of video machines changed everything; you could go to Blockbusters and rent a video of your favourite film to watch at home. If you were going out or did shift work you could record your favourite programme and come home to find you had pressed the wrong channel…

34670839_2115416058488173_7531615677732356096_n

Since then viewing has become far more complicated and gone are the days when everyone watched the Sunday night drama and talked about it on Monday. Catch up, iplayer, fire sticks, boxes of all sorts, Netflix, cables and satellites; gigantic screen televisions down to watching programmes on your phone; take your pick. But a good film, comedy or television drama still stands out.

34581733_2115415835154862_4465963687949107200_n

I love a good comedy. We don’t have Netflix, but we know someone who does and the fact that they moved thousands of miles away doesn’t seem to have stopped us using it. So we have been catching up with ‘The Letdown’, the hilarious and realistic Australian portrayal of parenthood. If you have ever had a baby or there are new babies in the family you will recognise the scenarios. Gone are the days of sitting bored and lonely in the dark watches of the night, feeding a baby who is very cuddly, but not intellectually stimulating. Modern breastfeeding mothers are on their smart phones exchanging sympathy with sleepless mums all over the world and probably looking up the latest advice on the many Facebook support groups. The downside is that new parents are under pressure more than ever to do the right thing, whatever that is. If you get the chance, join Audrey as she meets other mothers and thinks they are all doing it better than her…

33421551_2100265946669851_1418245127951876096_n.jpg

We have finally caught up with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. After seeing it reviewed on one of our favourite film programmes, knowing it was co-financed by Film4Productions, I was confident it was my sort of film, even though I don’t like films with lots of swearing and violence. The next day, talking about cinema with a friend, I mentioned there was a film coming out that Cyberspouse and I both wanted to see, though by then I had forgotten what it was called and what it was about.

https://www.film4productions.com/productions/2018/three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri

It completely lived up to our expectations. Dark indeed, with violence and swearing, but the humour was brilliant, the story poignant. To carry off a film like this you need the best actors. My only pre conceived idea was that Francis McDormand would be good, but Woody Harleson and Sam Rockwell were also brilliant.

34584556_2115416028488176_6752829577438953472_n

A Very English Scandal on BBC television was three episodes of perfect Sunday evening drama. Russell T Davies’ production was blackly comic (are you sensing a theme here of my taste in viewing? ) and has had viewers agog.  Political scandals are not new, but the 1979 trial of Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party and Member of Parliament for North Devon, revealed years of cover ups, lying and a farcical attempted murder that you couldn’t make up. It was also a story, familiar now, of a man in power abusing the trust of the most vulnerable. Even today, politicians who are gay often don’t ‘come out’ till their mother has died, or to avoid upsetting their family’s religious sensibilities. Before 1967 all sexual activity between men was illegal throughout the United Kingdom with heavy criminal penalties and was a sure way to destroy one’s career. Thorpe’s sexual encounters with other men and his affair with Norman Scott had to be kept secret, even if it meant killing the young man. Perhaps the public were most upset that the Great Dane was killed by mistake, Norman was only spared because the gun jammed.

34345408_2115415915154854_5134085360246063104_n

The most scandalous thing about the trial was the judge’s totally biased summing up for which he was later lampooned by comedian Peter Cook. All those accused of conspiracy to murder were found Not Guilty.

This delicious three part drama, with its dark humour, worked because of the excellent acting in every part, it was Hugh Grant’s best ever role and Ben Wishaw is always brilliant in every character he takes on. We watched in real time and the icing on the cake was the showing straight afterwards of a 1979 Panorama documentary, intended to be shown after Jeremy Thorpe was found guilty. It had never been shown before. And there was more drama to follow. Tom Mangold who made the documentary, was walking his dog in the park and met a man who claimed to have also been hired to kill Norman Scott, but didn’t go through with it. Andrew Newton, the man accused of the attempted killing was claimed by police to be dead, but is now claimed to be very much alive, living under another name. Gwent Police have reopened their enquiry into the scandal. Sunday night news showed a plainclothes officer knocking at a front door; of course no one was in, another amusing post script.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/a-very-english-scandal-review-bbc-episode-3-hugh-grant-ben-whishaw-a8381421.ht

 

Quarter Acre Blog

The first time Australia was mentioned was at breakfast on a school day. I was astonished when Mum said

‘How would you like to go to another country?’

Where had this idea come from? The furthest we had ever been was a hundred miles to visit my aunt in Cheltenham.

I replied instantly ‘If I can have a horse.’

I had always wanted a horse and what other reason could there be for going to another country? I would need no help caring for it due to my extensive reading of the Kit Hunter Show Jumper series and all the other pony books I could lay my hands on.

37731933_2198003693562742_2018051222237347840_n

 

‘Australia?’

I returned from my reverie to hear what Mum was saying. A new picture presented itself; warm weather, living by the seaside and swimming every day. I couldn’t actually swim, but had been up to my chest at Frensham Ponds and in the sea, while Mum and Dad sat in deck chairs huddled in coats and rugs.

But my most vivid image of what our Australian life would be like came from my favourite television programme, The Adventures of the Terrible Ten. Ten children living in rural Victoria, who all had ponies, discovered some old packing cases and built Ten Town. They never went to school or saw their parents.

Mum said I might get a horse, would probably get a dog and would definitely go swimming. But for now the whole adventure must be kept deathly secret; until we knew for sure we had been accepted for migration. This meant absolutely no one, not even my best friend or my younger brother and sister. I kept the secret.

 

It was spring now and by autumn we would be ready to go, not on the dangerous voyage of the early settlers, but Mum and Dad would be burning their boats. Cheap flights at ten pounds each for Mum and Dad and free for children; but it was a one way ticket. My parents expected never to see England or their relatives again.

In the meantime a momentous year lay ahead. It was our last year at junior school; the first year Top Of The Pops was broadcast and in the garden shed our pet white mice were multiplying rapidly. As top years we went on school holiday for the first time to the Isle of Wight. It was a very pleasant holiday, but two strange things happened. As a Church of England school we knew several of our classmates were Roman Catholics, it made no difference to them or us. But on the Sunday of the holiday, one poor catholic boy was to be marked out as different. All of us were to attend morning service at the local church, but Eric’s mother had decreed that Eric must go to the catholic church. As a relatively new boy he was already slightly different; now as his lone figure trudged off in the opposite direction, to the mysteries of candles and incense, he had become an outcast. Later that day, as we ran around in the grounds of the hotel, some primeval, sectarian instinct took over and we all chased Eric; convinced in that moment that we were going to lynch him. Luckily the teacher came out blowing her whistle and normality was restored.

Peter was another unfortunate boy. For some reason he was the only child of our class of forty who didn’t come on the holiday. As we ate dinner one evening, the headmaster came into the dining room looking very distraught. Peter had run away from home and managed to reach the island before being caught by the police. We all thought him very clever to have got that far and very sad that he still wasn’t allowed to join us.

35886313_2139447919418320_9163025049106513920_n(1)

 

Back at school our summer term was nearing its end; we practised maypole dancing ready for our centenary celebrations and Mum and Dad visited the headmaster. Later that day he entered the classroom to chat to us; a common occurrence, but this time I realised with horror he was talking about me. I had kept my promise and not told a soul and now was mortified the headmaster was telling everyone I was going to Australia! Having spent four years mostly unnoticed, I was now the centre of attention as everyone turned to look at me.

DSCN4068

As autumn arrived life became surreal. The date was set for our departure. I had passed my eleven plus, but it would make little difference to my future, the Australian schools were comprehensive. Our little school gang had been split in half, four of us were going to grammar school; one mother didn’t come out of the house for a week with shame that her daughter had failed. For a few weeks I experienced a glimpse of what my life might have been at a girls’ grammar school, dressed in bottle green uniform with the excitement of Bunsen burners.

Soon our house was sold and we had reached the point of no return. As the taxi collected us for the airport my grandparents stood stoically waving and my school friend Wendy skipped up the road after us; she would be the only person from those days to stay a lifelong friend.

DSCN4070.JPG

The taxi had been late, very stressful for my parents. As we arrived at London Airport     (now Heathrow) our friends and relatives were waiting, wondering if we had changed our minds. We rushed through with hardly time to say goodbye. The airport was much smaller then; as we climbed the steps to the plane we could see our loved ones gathered on the balcony waving. Except for Dad, it was the first time we had been on an aeroplane. I was really excited until I noticed the big card in the seat pocket. How to put on your lifejacket! Until that moment I had not considered the possibility that planes could crash. I wondered if we would reach Australia.

6

 

My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our family’s experience. It is not autobiographical, but people who have read it ask which things were ‘true’. Find out more at my website.   https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus