Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The power of advertising – 35 years later.

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Dear Boys,

When I was about 5 or 6 years old there was an advert on the telly for a brand of bubble bath called Matey. We didn’t have bubble bath in our house, it was seen as an expensive extravagance but this didn’t stop me and Uncle Phil pestering Grandma Audrey in an attempt to get her to buy some. We didn’t try it on with Grandpa John as we knew we could never convince him.

The advert promised that Matey would not only clean the children in the bath but the bath itself, which I thought was the angle I could use to sell the product to my mother. Surely never having to washout out the bath after Uncle Phil and I had been in it would be enough to secure a purchase? No. My mother didn’t believe adverts, pure and simple. In her life time cancer causing cigarettes had been advertised on the TV, even claiming that they were good for you!

Our pestering must have had some effect because eventually we did get some bubble bath but I’m sure it wasn’t Matey. I do remember using the shower attachment to swill away the remnants of bubbles.

So fast forward about 35 years and I was out shopping and I needed to get bubble bath. And then I saw a bottle of Matey next to Sainsburys own and started to hum the tune from the advert. When I saw that it was on offer at half price and cost less than the usual type I had no excuse not to buy a bottle. So I bought some. It may have taken about 35 years but the advert never left me. I remembered the tune and one of the three selling points.

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Written by Administrator

January 1st, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Posted in Culture,Family,Memories

PPPPick Up A Penguin

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Dear Boys,

When Uncle Phil and I were younger Grandma Audrey used to buy Penguin biscuit bars. Grandma Audrey told Uncle Phil and I that the blue biscuits were the best. This wasn’t true because all the bars were exactly the same, it was just the wrappers that were different colours. As children we didn’t know this and we took our mothers mischievous joke to be real and argued about who should get the blue one. Usually in a packet of 6 there would only be one blue, the rest would be either green or red. And Grandma Audrey would take the blue one and tell us how nice it was!

If one of us managed to get the blue one then we would laud it over the other, telling them how great our Penguin was while the other begrudgingly ate our own, unable to enjoy it because the other one had the blue one.

And such is life. I have given up looking at what other people have and wishing that I had it too. Instead I have decided what I want and how I want to live and then do it and enjoy doing it.

Written by Administrator

February 2nd, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

1983 Election

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Dear Boys,

I wrote about the first general election that I remembered and now I want to share some thoughts on 1983’s election.

By 1983 the family had moved from Grimsby to the North East and by the time the election came around in June 1983 we still hadn’t got used to the colder weather. Margaret Thatcher won the election by a huge majority for a number of reasons. The main reason was the Falklands War the year before.

I remember waking up one morning and hearing on the radio that Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands as well as South Georgia. We were still living in Grimsby and I my first thought was: Scotland has been invaded. I had no idea where the Falkland Islands were but they certainly sounded Scottish. Also I wasn’t really sure where Argentina was so in my mind it was quite clearly possible for Argentina to invade some Scottish islands – why they would want to do so didn’t enter my mind. My father explained that the Falklands were in the South Atlantic which didn’t help much. He then explained that the Islands were about 8000 miles away. I felt safer at that point as we used to go on holiday to Scotland and stay in cheap and grotty cottages. Argentina were more than welcome to dusty, smelly cottages without TV’s, central heating and had burn water coming out of the taps, that tasted rank by the way. Of course not all Scottish self catering cottages were in such a state, it was all my parents could afford at the time.

As an eleven year old child I really wanted a war because war was exciting. Bombs, bullets and airplanes. As the diplomatic efforts sped up many people around us, my parents especially, were hopeful that war wouldn’t come. They had both lived through World War 2 and many of the older people at church had fought either on the home front or the actual front. When an old man asked me what I thought about the Falklands, I told him that I wanted a war. I didn’t understand the look on his face at the time by I know now: pure pain.

Before long the boats were off to take back the Falklands including two aircraft carriers, HMS Hermes and Invincible. Military bands played as the boats left port in a “Task Force” and different news readers tried to pronounce “junta” correctly. Even with the Task Force sailing 8000 miles, peace was still a possibility because it would take 6 ot 8 weeks for the Task Force to get into position.

We were the last family to get a colour TV in our street but we were the first to get one with TeleText. TeleText was a massive revelation at the time. While watching TV you could press the “Text” button and you would get a “page” of information usually a menu on Page 100. From there you could enter page numbers to get the information you wanted. News was on pages from 102 to 125 and if you went to page 150 you got a news flash. The news flash page allowed you to see almost all of the screen and a few lines of news. If you pressed the Recall button the news flash would disappear and you could carry on watching the TV until the page changed and then it would pop-up again. The problem was you couldn’t change channels because the TeleText was tied to the TV channel you were watching. This wasn’t really a problem for us as we tended to watch BBC1. One night we were watching TV when the News Flash come up on the screen. I read it incorrectly as I though it said that Sheffield had been bombed by the Argentinean’s, in actual fact the ship HMS Sheffield had been hit by an Argentinean missile. My heart fluttered at the thought of a city being attacked, could it be Grimsby next? Our teacher at the time had been a little mischievous in the run to the war telling us that if things got bad and escalated we, his class, could be drafted in to the army to fight. It had happened elsewhere in the world he told us. This information didn’t dampen my desire for war and when I re-read the New Flash and saw that it was a British ship that had been sunk I really was excited. I asked my dad: “Does this mean war?” “Yes it does” he replied with much foreboding. I looked at Uncle Phil and we smiled at each other – nothing like a good war to get an 11 and 13 year old excited.

It must be remembered that in 1982 we only three channels on the TV and no rolling news. Before the news every night there was a half an hour program dealing with the days war news. During the conflict the Argentinians claimed that they had sunk Hermes at least three times. They also claimed that they had shot down a considerable number of Sea Harriers. This lead to the famous quote from John Hanrahan: I’m not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back. They used this quote during the opening titles so it was repeated every night and soon learned.

I remember watching some war footage with my mother not long after the conflict finished and it showed a Harrier launching an air to air missile that followed an Argentine plane before hitting it and blowing it up. I let a “YES!” at that point but my mother rebuked me: “That was someones son that just died” she told me. I think that was the point that it all started to sink in. War isn’t a game, it isn’t fun – it is about people trying to kill while not being killed themselves.

The British eventually won the war and returned home to massive adulation. I remember being at South Parade Middle School on the day victory was announced. The lads who played football in the top and second to top year spent the morning play time singing songs about beating the Argies. I’m sure where the songs came from – someones dad probably went to football matches as there was plenty of swearing. Being only 11 and knowing that “your” country has just won a war, against the odds and thousands of miles away from home filled me with euphoria. Along with other feelings I experienced as a child, I have never experienced anything like it again.

My mothers reaction to the death of the Argentinian pilot has stayed with me because it showed a little split of her personality. She was born in 1937, two years before the Second World War kicked off so she got a full dose of the anti-German propaganda that was pumped into the population from 1939 – 1945 to justify the bombing of innocent German civilians – in the same way that the Germans were busy de-huminising their own population in order to justify murder. Some of this propaganda stuck as, from time to time, she would come out with something very anti-German and then laugh it off as rubbish. I remember just before we left Grimsby we were looking at tapes in Woolworth’s and she found one that had lots of songs on it that she liked. She showed to me and said “I was going to buy that, then I saw that it had ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ on it. I don’t want it now” and she put it back.

I went to a ruby match between England and Argentina recently and I was a little perturbed to see Sea Cadets holding an Argentina flag.  War propaganda leaves it mark. And so it did with the electorate. Just over a year later Margaret Thatcher was re-elected with a massive majority which she used to pass the most divisive of legislation. She was able to satisfy the needs of the people with money while pushing whole segments of society into poverty – poverty that remains today.

Not that I understood all of this at the time. On the day Thatcher won I cut out her picture from the paper and attached to the car window on the way to school. I understood what Thatcher said when she said that the country must compete with other countries and that meant reducing wages. As a 12 year old this made sense and it’s true. Unfortunately there is no way to compete against countries like China that use political prisoners as slave workers although this escaped me at the time as I was caught in the smoke and mirrors that is capitalism – or the version of economics that is called capitalism. But these are my memories of the 1983 election.

Written by Administrator

May 13th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Getting the mental side right!

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Dear Sons,

yesterday I removed the suspended wooden ceiling in the kitchen in preparation for the new kitchen being fitted. It was quite a job and took some inner resolve from me on a lot of levels.

First of all every part of my brain was screaming at me not to do the work and do something else instead. Lots of different negative thoughts were coming to the fore – your knee hurts, you have had a cold and need to rest, there is too much to be done by one person …. I was able to silence the thoughts by simply thinking of Sir Ranulph Fiennes having a heart attack on Everest in 2005 and returning 4 years later to summit.

The job was not that big but it was going to be a long day with lots of steps. First I had to load the dishwasher, put away the stuff already in the dishwasher and then put away the stuff on the draining board. This seemed to be the hardest job as my sub-conscience seemed to object to it most. The rails that the top draw of the dishwasher run on keep coming out and I had to mess around to get the draw out and then back in again. The vocal saboteur in the sub-conscience had a field day with this; why are you having to fart on with the dishwasher just to get the ceiling done? Well he over played his hand because we are getting a new dishwasher with the new kitchen – the sooner the ceiling is done, the sooner the new kitchen is fitted and the sooner the new dishwasher takes pride of place.

I packed the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher up in a box and stored it out side and then moved the chairs and everything else that could be moved outside, outside. It didn’t take me long to have 95% of the wooden suspended ceiling down. The final 5% took far too long and was getting frustrating. My neck was aching from looking up. Also the guys who fitted the ceiling must have run out of screws because a few of the boards were nailed to the ceiling. I was able to smash the wood around the nails – I’ll grind them off tomorrow.

As I removed the wood I was throwing it out of the back door. When I looked out I saw a huge pile of wood that needed breaking up so it would fit in the back of car so I could take it to the tip. My first thought was “I’ll do this tomorrow”. The only problem being that the tip is closed on Sunday’s and I would only get the opportunity to dump the wood a week later. I didn’t want the back garden out of use for today and the rest of the week so I put my mental defeatism to one side and started breaking up the wood. After what had felt like an age I looked at the pile waiting to be broken up and it hadn’t gone down. Defeatism came back in swathes but I fought it again and this time indulged in some day dreaming; I was walking up to the Tete Rousse and looking forward to an omelette when I reached the top. Before my day dream was over the wood was broken up and in the back of the car.

Now all I had to do was clean up the kitchen. This I did and waited for Heather to come home with my lunch. It took another supreme mental effort to get myself geared up, sweep the floor and get the bits, handful by handful, into the bin.

The lessons from yesterday were clear – I am only constrained by my mental application. If I want to finish something then I need to get my head sorted first, then a make a list of what needs doing and then, most importantly, do it!

If I can apply the lessons I learnt yesterday to my Mont Blanc preparation then I’ll have no problems.

Written by Administrator

May 24th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Family

More thoughts on my dream

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Dear Sons,

I have spent most of the day thinking about the meaning of my dream from two days ago. Like I said yesterday I don’t believe in messages from beyond the grave but what if?

It is impossible to prove a negative but I’m going to have a go. In my dream my mother specifically mentioned Lewis and asked me if Lewis was with me. But what could that mean? Well taking on the role of a Spiritualist I have decided to interpret this dream. Unlike a spiritualist I can’t ask leading and vague questions to a large audience until I can home in on someone – I can only ask myself questions and that wouldn’t achieve much as I already know the answers. Read the rest of this entry »

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March 20th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Culture,Family

A strange dream

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Dear boys,

last night I had a really strange dream that has left me in a very funny mood today and the only way out of this rut is to explore it.

In the dream I was at the top of a staircase playing with a toy Lego truck while being bullied by my brother (Uncle Phil). We were both adults and I didn’t recognise the house we were in, it wasn’t somewhere I have lived. I was getting annoyed about being bullied when I heard my iPhone ring at the bottom of the stairs. Read the rest of this entry »

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March 19th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Family

On the train, on the ‘plane.

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Dear sons,

We tried to sell the house before Ken was born but we had no offers despite reducing the price from £330k to £290k. It was too close to Ken’s due date to think about moving so the house came off the Market and we are staying put for the near three years.

We are going to get a downstairs toilet put in, a new bathroom up stairs and get the kitchen done so we can enjoy the next few years.

With house prices falling like a stone it will be interesting to see where there are in 3 years time.

We will be getting the loft insulation redone now that the government said it would pay half. As soon as the scheme is announced we’ll be getting it done as I was about to do it anyway. I need to block off the letter box hole I’m the inner front door to stop the draught that blows through in the winter – a job for this weekend I think.

Ken is now sleeping for 3 hours at a time and William is getting used to his brother. It will soon be time for William to move to the back bedroom and sleep on the bed Grandpa John made for Uncle Phil about 25 years ago.

Today it was announced that XL Airways had gone bust. We flew with them to Barbados early this year for Lawson and Alison’s wedding, Alison being Bajan she decided to get married in her local church. The flight was terrible because the plane was falling to bits and filthy and the seats were very small and uncomfortable and also very shiny meaning that you slipped forward all the time or were pushed against the seat belt. Flying back over night was worse as it wasn’t possible to sleep. 67,000 people have been left stranded by the collapse. That is a lot of people stranded, most of whom are going to be out of pocket big time as they will need to pay for their flights home – single flights being almost the same price as return flights.

Our next trip to Trinidad will be with either BA or Virgin into Tobago. Grandma Claire is looking forward to seeing you both but especially Ken as it will be her first time.

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September 11th, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Family,Misc

Kenneth Jeremy Caudle

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Born today at 15:07 weighting 3.5kg’s.

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August 19th, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Family

In the hospital

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In the hospital and waiting for Ken to be born.

I paid £9.50 to park for 3 hours. I can extend the time for one more hour and then I have to move the car. Hopefully I’ll find a space near by as I don’t think baby will be out by then. Tower Hamlets council must love people like me.

If I move to Whites Row I have to pay the congestion charge. I’ll look to see where the nearest car park is.

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August 19th, 2008 at 11:54 am

Posted in Family

Sunday cooking.

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Dear Son,

we had a quite a good day yesterday. We managed to get around ASDA in Leyton in less than 35 minutes – a new record. This was due to two factors; a short shopping list and a lack of people in the shop. We missed going early on Saturday because I was having a well deserved lie in. We did manage to hit the sweet spot yesterday when there are no queues at the tills.

While you and your mother had afternoon sleeps I made a salad, two pizzas and some desert using the old apples and plumbs. I used 120 grams of sugar, self raising flour and margarine, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt and a palm full of cinnamon plus some old plums and apples. I simply put everything except the fruit in the mixer and whooshed it until it was a batter. I chopped the fruit, put it in an baking dish, poured the batter on top and cooked it for 30 minutes in the oven.

You ate the pizza, but didn’t want the salad or the pudding. I was hoping you would eat some pudding and get part of your 5-a-day but you told me you didn’t like it.

We are getting nearer to having the house ready for number two. Your mother threw out a hold load of rubbish on Saturday and I took some furniture to be recycled along with a broken television and computer monitor. We can’t seem to find the “0 to 3 months” baby clothes that are in the loft somewhere so I will have another look this evening as we need to get them out and washed. The buggy should be ready to go this evening after all the bits were washed – just need to reassemble.

After picking up my mum’s car (Grandma Audrey’s Car) from Uncle Phil I am still trying to sell the Skoda (the new car). I have just dropped the price from £3200 to £3000 and I’ll keep dropping £200 each fortnight until it’s sold. Hopefully before I’ll sell it before your brother is born.

Sleepless nights will soon be back!

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August 11th, 2008 at 8:44 am

Posted in Family