Posted in Family, Writing

Sock Drawer Technology

In the April edition of the Tetbury Advertiser, I’ve been praising local technology experts for their patience with my stone-age husband.

The ulitmate sock drawer organiser?
The ulitmate sock drawer organiser? Photo by http://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk

This month, my technology-averse husband finally agrees to invest in a new PC for his study. Our cottage is not large, but by sacrificing the dining room and third bedroom, we have engineered to each have our own study. This strategy has helped preserve our marriage and my sanity. It spares me from his one-way conversations with his laptop and his pathological untidiness. Continue reading “Sock Drawer Technology”

Posted in Events, Family

History is Relative

My February column in the Tetbury Advertiser reflects on my father’s role in historic events and looks forward to a talk I’ll be giving next month to the History of Tetbury Society

photo of toddler Debbie with toy washing machine
Before I was old enough to start mangling words, I love the mangle on my toy washing machine

While in my head I still feel about 12, there’s considerable evidence to the contrary, January marked my twenty-fifth anniversary of living in the Cotswolds, and then came my birthday, which occasioned a nostalgic flick through old albums of me as a child at my parents’ house. Continue reading “History is Relative”

Posted in Family

Like Peas in a Pod

My column from the June issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News

Photo of Debbie's dad by Land's End sign
No, he hadn’t just walked all the way from John O’Groats

When I posted a photo of my dad on Facebook yesterday, a friend who hadn’t seen him for decades remarked how similar we are. That’s nothing, I told her – you should see how much I resemble his mother. I added a picture of my Grandma, aged 60 when I was born, by way of demonstration.

Only then did I realise that my older brother is about to turn 60, and how much he looks like our father and our grandfather. When family resemblances are so strong, it’s easy to see why older people often call relatives by the wrong names. Grandma often resorted to a roll call of possible candidates, stopping only when she hit the right person: “Thelma, Sheila, Merna, Mandy, Debbie.” At least she didn’t include the cat, unlike my friend’s mother, much to her disgust.

old photo of my Grandma
My Grandma

When did my brother and I become this old? I should take comfort from recent reports that no-one should now be considered old until they hit 85. I prefer my own definition, which works on a sliding scale of my current age + 10 years. The elegance of this system is its “jam tomorrow” principle: by definition, I will never grow old.

I also recommend the ploy of marrying a Mr Young, another way to ensure I remain forever Young. It’s also a great incentive to avoid divorce.

With my husband on our wedding day
I knew there was a good reason for doing this…
Posted in Family

Vote, Vote, Vote…

My polling card

As anyone living in the UK will know, today there is a General Election. Opening the shutters this morning to glorious sunshine rather than the grey rain of the past few days, I wondered to what extent the fine weather would influence the end result, encouraging more people to go out to vote. 

Suddenly an old playground skipping rhyme popped into my head. The rhyme probably represents the dawning of political consciousness in my childhood – that and the fact that our local MP, Edward Heath, had been persuaded to open my brother’s school’s summer fete.

While I’m usually glad to hear my daughter (11) play clapping or skipping games that I recognise from my own childhood, this is one that I hope has by this election become obsolete.  it’s a group game, played with a very long rope, with children lining up for their turn to jump in. The name in the verse changes, according to who is skipping, and the last line is shouted as the skipper leaves the turning rope.

Vote, vote, vote for little Debbie

Calling Debbie at the door

For Debbie is the lady 

Who is going to have a baby

So we won’t vote for Debbie any more!

CHUCK HER OUT!

A decade after I last jumped to this rhyme, our country’s first female prime minister was elected: Margaret Thatcher (aka “Milk Snatcher” for abolishing free school milk for children while Minister for Education). I was astonished to discover just now that she was a year younger than me when she came to power. That would have precluded her from having babies during her term of office. Which might be one reason it took us 13 long years to chuck her out.

Whatever your political affiliations, if you are a British citizen of voting age, please make sure you use your vote. Elections really aren’t a game, as I learned from my grandmother (born 1900). She had to wait till the age of 28 to be allowed to vote. Read more about her experience and influence on my political thinking in a post that I wrote during the previous General Election: I Wear My Vote On My Sleeve

Posted in Family

Celebration Time

A post celebrating wedding anniversaries and other special occasions – with tips on how to pick a date for your wedding

Cover of April Tetbury Advertiser
The closest I’ll ever get to being a cover girl – my column being billed on the front page of the Tetbury Advertiser

Writing this month’s column for the Tetbury Advertiser in the run-up to my parents’ 62nd wedding anniversary, I’ve been thinking about how we choose and mark the days we wish to celebrate.

How to Choose a Special Day

My parents’ choice of wedding date has always struck me as the romantic ideal: 21st March, the first day of spring, subtler and wiser than Valentine’s Day. If a Valentine’s marriage ends in divorce, that day is forever blighted with a reminder of rejection.

For some events we must take pot-luck. My brother had the good fortune to be born on Midsummer’s Day – surely the perfect birthday, half way between two Christmases – whereas my sister’s Trafalgar Day birthday was fitting for the first-born of my father, then serving in the Royal Navy. Continue reading “Celebration Time”