It’s very nearly Christmas. Here at Mindfully Bertie we have a very special present for you. Our first book/booklet. Published in its 14 page entirety. Just as it was written in the fair hand of Diddley’s Cotswold Granny. Entitled “Things I Remember”. It’s best read in her beautiful handwriting but, if that is a problem, there is a type written script further down the blog.
Margaret Long was born in the five valleys of Stroud in January 1910. Living until 2001, she was Diddley’s Cotswold Granny. Her granddaughter had lots of stories about her, but this is Margaret’s story when she was growing up in Bisley in rural Gloucestershire. High up in the Cotswolds; surrounded by the valleys of Slad, the Golden Valley and Toadsmoor. Diddley told Bobby her granny had given her this book, but Bobby had never seen it until he was going through her own memorabilia recently. Inevitably, being written in Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie country, it is reminiscent of that era, but in fact represents a time probably a little earlier than his masterpiece.
The Kitchen Window.
But first. Here is our Christmas card for 2017. Bobby was going digital, but realised he liked the tradition of sending cards. There are so many ways now of personalising cards that you don’t have to buy the packs of really boring cards. The charities are complaining that they are missing out. But we hear that only a small proportion goes their way anyway. And there is the question of misrepresentation as a result. Whatever – here’s the electronic version of Mindfully Bertie. If you don’t get one through the post, let us know.
Small Talk Saves Lives.
Hasn’t it been a wonderful autumn! Here in the Surrey Hills that surround Laurel Cottage, the beech trees take your breath away. But, as I write this, the temperature is dropping, the wind gathering, followed by the leaves. Or as Eva Cassidy sang…
The falling leaves
Drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold.
I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold.
I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall. (more…)
Deep in in a gloomy corner of the dining room of Laurel Cottage lurks a dark green monster with long pointed teeth. Diddley hated it for its gloomy, “never doing anything”, dust gathering, countenance. To Bobby, it is his most treasured plant possession. A plant with history, charisma, and a longer life than any other plant he has been associated with. Trees excluded. It is a plant with mysterious connotations. One that symbolises a bygone age and the values associated with it. A plant Bobby has never seen in anybody else’s house. And yet over 100 years ago it was in most houses in the land because of its legendary survival qualities. The Aspidistra! (more…)
Private Evan Davies.
Poor old Bobby. His bonce is all over the place. So many family issues. So much emotion from the passing of Amber. When five grandchildren took over Laurel Cottage last weekend, Bobby slunk off to the the room at the bottom of the garden. Soon to be featured in “Room at the Top”. It has all you need. Heated radiator. Fold down bed. 1970s HiFi system. Records, tapes, CDs. Cobwebs and junk. The garden has an outside toilet. None the less there were a few little “tensions”.
The occasion was to take Amber’s three nieces to her flat in North London by car. There they would find boxes for each from her and an invitation to look at what else might be desirable. For a very sophisticated, stylish lady this was an irresistible invitation to her nieces. But a crowded car driven by Bobby right through London and back even more crowded was quite a challenge.
It was also Remembrance Sunday. Something observed with great respect by Diddley and Bobby. To Bobby’s eternal regret he forgot to tell them the big reason why Diddley was so keen on respectful observance. Private Evan Davies. (more…)
A Great Success!
Gor blimey … ere we go again. We were going to tell you about our latest trip to “ee by gum country”. But, instead, his mind has been hijacked, and he wants you to know about his Great Success. Just over a week ago.
What I am about to tell you, with a few pictures and music chucked in, may inspire you. Or leave you thinking … whattttt? For this is the world of GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) again and the GREAT SUCCESS. Here is the catalyst.
A Lifetime in Ties.
Bobby has never really liked ties. Most of his life they have been worn for convention. School and office work, where the “rules” had to be obeyed. To him they represent restriction. Having to wear appropriate shirts. Mums and wives consigned to endless ironing to satisfy the daily fresh shirt.
When he retired, he took the vast majority of office shirts and ties to the charity shop. Finding himself on his own now, the iron has only come out twice. To iron my bow tie. (more…)
Bobby: “How sad it is that two lovely, stylish, talented ladies died before their time. Amber at just 45. She had become a successful photographer in that cut throat freelance world. Fashion especially. Her distinctive style stood out when you read the colour supplements and other magazines that her mother saved with such pride. Her world where you are only as good as your last job. Her tenacity for her career left less time for relationships and I wish I could have got to know her better. Diddley was so proud of her. They shared a love of Leonard Cohen and it was Amber who designed the back page of Diddley’s funeral programme with those immortal words –
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
On the top deck of a No 410 London Country bus, Bobby was presented with a dilemma. Sitting there with one eye to his telescope, he was surveying the parked aircraft at Biggin Hill Aerodrome. 1961. Reading the registrations out for his girlfriend to write in his notebook. Suddenly, she declared: ”I’m not doing this any more. It’s me or plane-spotting”. Poor young Bobby made the wrong choice that day and continued making it for years to come. But, like so many of his generation, he never lost his love for all things mechanical. Planes, trains, trams, buses, boats. All were fair game in a world where you made your own entertainment. And still do, as evidenced by the dominance of that age group at all things old and mechanical today.
He pursued his love with regular visits to his favourite shop. Lens of Sutton. Just up the hill from school, selling new and second hand transport magazines. The shop in a precarious position; perched above a quarry now occupied by a giant, hideous B&Q. Lens of Sutton is legendary and many transport books on sale today will have credits for pictures to “Lens of Sutton”. Bobby still has a whole shelf of Ian Allan Booklets bought in that shop in the 60s.
Little White Van.
This is the first ( and maybe the last!) story about LWV. Little White Van. The time he spent with Little Miss Naughty. As you can see, it is an alternative story written in the Mr Men book of that name. Scribbled in a Youth Hostel at Trefin when Bobby, in his younger days, backpacked the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Stopping at Youth Hostels en route.
It’s up to you to decide as believers in talking, thinking bears whether or not the same claim can be made of a Little White Van!