Category Archives: me

On the move again!

In Work for today on 7th January, I was telling you about applying for my driving licence.

Move forward to 11th May and the following conversation took place:

After several attempts to try and get through to DVA in Coleraine, I finally managed to do so at 11:30. The long route of listening and clicking through a million options, brought me to a recorded voice advising me that I was number nine in the answering queue.


I was not moving. I held on listening to some gentle music and eventually spoke to a young lady.

I had of course to prove who I was etc., And having related the whole tired story, she put me on hold to contact the Post Room to check if they had record of receiving my money. Yes they did. (£30 I paid on 21st April).

Next she put me on hold while she went to check progress with the Medical department…

Back she came to tell me: ‘On 5th May my status was changed from Stopped to current by the medical team’??? The same medical team who gave me verbal permission to drive.

So in order for the new licence to be processed it must go to Swansea, in Wales. The DVA are unable to produce the little plastic ‘credit’ sized cards that include a photograph, in Northern Ireland… so it would be another few days before I got it.

Twenty five minutes to learn all of that and I was still a lady-in-waiting.

Another few days she said. It has been one hell of a long few days since 19-01-16.

And finally…

On 16th May my letterbox rattled and Lo and Behold My brand spanking new driving licence landed in my hall!

One whole week later I finally manage to share my delight with you. This new licence  is for three years and at least the next one will be free.


Growing up,I always thought that the colour puce was a yucky member of the green family shade card. Think mushy peas.

I would never wear a ‘mushy pea’ outfit no matter how carefully tailored or expensive, next my pale skin covered in freckles and topped with a crown of rich auburn tresses. Just thinking about it, is enough to bring on morning sickness…. Even at my age!

Then I discovered that Puce is a brownish purple or a dark reddish brown. I did have an outfit a few years ago that answered that description, I loved and wore it into the ground, as they say – who ever ‘they’ are. Nobody ever admired it, but they always told me how well I looked, when I was wearing it.

Years ago, I learned that if the first thing people notice are ‘your eyes’, then you are wearing the correct colour.

Then I learned that Puce is the French word for flea. It is said to be the colour of the bloodstains remaining on linen or bed sheets, even after being laundered, from a flea’s droppings or after a flea has been crushed. I don’t really want to think of that. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the first French use of puce as a colour name, meaning “flea-colour,” dates to the 17th century.

I would still go for clothes in brownish purple, but I think I would invent a new colour name first! 😉

Any suggestions?

No Broken Jug

“Are you free on Thursday?” was the question asked.

“I am not sure; I would need to check the diary. Why?” I asked.

“You might like to join us for afternoon tea!” was the answer.

I hesitated.

Afternoon tea involved tea, scones, small pancakes & cakes. Butter, jam & cream also play a part. People who know me well leave aside a plate with an unbuttered scone. Invitations to a new group can cause a problem. I soon discovered that the scones were halved, buttered and topped with a layer of Jam and then a great big blob of whipped cream. Cakes were filled or decorated with a butter icing or a generous layer of cream. Some people were affronted if I didn’t partake of their efforts. I know at least one hostess who half scraped the butter off a scone and then presented it to me. Come on now, that is like picking the nuts out of a Marathon bar and handing the remainder to someone who has an allergy to Peanuts!

Playing for time, I asked a couple of questions about the Thursday afternoon event.

“Oh, it is a meeting of The Minus One Group!” the lady said.

“Minus One” I queried. “I never heard of Minus One”!

Minus One was a group of widows who gathered once a month for a chat over the tea. I promised to check my calendar and get back to the invitee.

I made discrete enquiries and the more I heard, the less I liked the idea of Minus One! I was in the early stage of widowhood at the time. I knew many widows and they seemed to go everywhere in groups of three. For some reason they never went anywhere alone, and seemed restricted to the type of events they attended. I was never into girl only living, I grew up in a male world.

I did not want to go through life like a jug with a broken handle; I wanted to be treated as an independent person in my own right. My husband died; and whether I liked it or not, I was alive and the one left to face life alone. If I was to live as long as my mother and grandmother before me, that would be at least another thirty years. Being alone was certainly no picnic, but I was determined to rebuild a life for myself. I was preparing to return to the workforce and to find new outlets and interests for my long hours of emptiness.

I broke the handle of a jug the other day and it reminded me of Minus One. I wondered…. if I had gone along for afternoon tea on that Thursday how different would my life be. Would I be blogging today or have made and met so many new friends both virtually and in person? I am glad I took the road I did.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.~ Randy Pausch


My pocket began to vibrate.

It was an incoming call on the mobile/cell phone.  The time of day told me who it was without checking the screen.

“Hi Elly!” I said putting the instrument to my ear.

“Where are you?” she asked before adding “I tried the land-line and got no answer”.

If you wait long enough in life the answers come….

Several months earlier Elly had suggested that it would be a good idea for me to have a mobile phone.  Her reasoning was that I travelled about alone in my car, and should I have a breakdown or puncture in the wilds of nowhere, a phone would allow me to call for help.  I went along with the idea while wondering if that was a cover or the real reason behind the suggestion.  Now I had my answer…

“I’m not at home at the moment” I said into the mouth piece, while mouthing the word Elly to my companion.  He smiled, nodded and remained silent.

“So where are you?” Elly persisted.

“Right now, I am in Room six hundred and twenty whatever of the Europa Hotel in Belfast” I replied casually.

“O-kay!  After a pause she asked again “What are you doing there?”  This time it was a timid question.

“Well since you asked” I began, “I am watching a man put his trousers on!”

There was silence from the other end of the phone.  The man looked up at me and smiled a wicked smile.

“Are you still there?” I asked.

“Yes!” she began timidly, “Who is he?”  I was enjoying this!

“He is a very nice gentleman and he would like to speak to you”, I said before adding “Hold on while I give him the phone!”

Taking the phone the gentleman said “Hello Elly!”  Suddenly rather shocked, he looked at the phone and then to me he said “She hung up!”

“Nah!” I said.  “She has gone into a tunnel, she will phone again in a couple of minutes”.

Elly was at that time working in Glasgow.  Her homeward journey was by train and being confined to a small space for thirty minutes, she used it to call me.  There were two tunnels on the journey so I was quite used to the interruptions.  We were both on the same network so our calls were free.  She would call me and talk for up to 50 minutes and if needed I called her back for another 50 minutes.

The phone began to buzz once more…

“Hello!” I said again.

“W-H-O was that? she asked again.

It was time to come clean, I had my fun….

“Did you not recognise him?”  I asked.

“No!” she said.

“It is your Uncle D!” I admitted.

My brother had arrived with a group of colleagues for a three day conference.  When the first days meetings finished early he phoned me so I drove into Belfast to see him.  He had a couple of hours clear before going to a pre planned dinner engagement for the group.  We met in the bar for a drink and when the time came to wash and change for the evening he invited me up to the room.  While he showered, I sat on the bed and had a coffee.  Come on, give me a break, I grew up in a house with four brothers and was quite used to seeing them half dressed.

My brother got some mileage out of the evening too.  I said we met in the bar of the hotel.  He was sitting with his colleagues when I arrived and I walked straight to him.  He stood and kissed me.  I saw his colleagues give that knowing smile.  He introduced me without saying I was family.  They seemed surprised that I knew so much about him.  When he invited me to the room the teasing really took off.  We played to the gallery and enjoyed it.  Later that evening he explained to them who I was.  I went to meet him again on the second evening and when I arrived I was greeted with a chorus of “Hello Sister”

That episode was a great learning curve for Elly.  It taught her that mammy might actually think of meeting a man for a drink or dinner.  Nowadays when I say something outrageous there is always a small chance that I might be telling the truth.

Well…. I have to have some fun!

He was still there

He was sitting silently on the floor with his legs crossed, right outside the apartment door. He had been there for hours. I could see him through the peep-hole. The doorbell had stopped buzzing about 9pm. How did he get into the building? The front door from the street opened by a buzzer system or a tenant’s key. I had no phone buzz to ask admittance, somebody must have held the door open and allowed him through.

It was not the first time.

He was there a week previously and rang the bell at fifteen minute intervals before finally leaving at about midnight. Tonight he looked like he was there to stay. I hoped one of the other tenants would venture out into the hall on their way to or from the laundry room in the basement. Nobody stirred. The building was always very quiet it was one of the things that appealed to me about the apartment. I seldom saw my neighbours. We were all out at work every day. Our contracts did not allow for loud music and baths were forbidden after 10.30pm on a week night, in case the running and emptying water disturbed our neighbours on the other floors. There was no restriction about early morning bathing.

The building was four floors high with the owner having his office and living quarters in the pent house. The Janitor lived in the basement and we also had laundry and drying rooms down there. On each of the three floors between these two were four apartments. Mine was on the first floor up at the back of the building so there was no way of knowing if I was at home other than by pressing the buzzer. The large windows in my living room, bedroom and bathroom faced the back garden and there was no access from the street.

I was home early and it was still daylight when he arrived and rang the bell on my inner front door. The only other person to ring that internal bell was the Janitor. I didn’t have the radio switched on and there was no need for lights. I was writing letters to my family and friends back in Ireland so the place was silent. The carpet swallowed any sound from my stocking feet as I approached the door to look through the peep-hole. There was no way I would open that door!

When darkness fell I refrained from switching on any lights so as not to draw attention to the fact I was there. I had no telephone and we had no mobiles in the early seventies, so without going outside I had no way of calling for assistance. Once I stayed inside there was no danger. Staying calm I got into bed.

I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep! I counted sheep. It didn’t work. I named my 657 thousand cousins and was still wide awake. I looked through the peep-hole and he was still there and not sleeping either.

I poured myself a stiff drink and planned what I would do in the morning. In the morning! What was I talking about? It was already dawn. The drink relaxed me and my head grew heavy, I must have dozed off.

I woke with a jump! It was the sound of the door to the stairwell closing that woke me. I went to look through the peep-hole once more and to my great relief the intruder had gone!

My problem was I knew who he was.

His wife worked with me, we got on well together and I really liked her. She had invited me to join them for dinner a month previously. At the time I had no car, there was no need for one since I was within walking distance of work. The wife drove me to her home straight from work and at the end of an enjoyable evening the husband offered to drop me back to my apartment. Accepting the lift, I thought nothing of it, I had lifts before from other friends and there was no problem. That night things were different. The husband once in the car and a safe distance away from his home, made advances that were way beyond the bounds of decency. I threatened to report him to the police and got out of the car as fast as I could. I ran all the way home and thankfully he didn’t follow me.

That was the longest and loneliest night of my life. I felt dirty and damaged. I broke the house rules and ran a bath. No amount of bathing would wash those memories from my brain. I didn’t go to the police. I was in a foreign country, a guest at this man’s home, a passenger in his car, we had drink taken and it was my word against his. He was a married man and back then women were not really believed in such situations.

So now I had decisions to make. I dressed for work and prepared what I would say. It was not easy telling my colleague what her husband was doing. She was not surprised or shocked, but aware that he was out the night before and on several other nights recently. It turns out they had problems in the past and they were surfacing once more. She called for medical help and he was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. From then on, much as I tried to leave those dark events behind me, my job lost its lustre so I handed in my notice and made arrangements to return to Ireland.

Slowly and with time the memories faded and I was able to live a normal life. Good friends, love and laughter returned and life was worth living once more.