Time Warp

Today it is August 2016 but this afternoon it was the 1950s. I have lived in Denbigh for the past 10 years and have spent 41 of my 46 years living in the Vale Of Clwyd. I consider myself to be interested in history, having been Head Custodian at Denbigh Castle in the early 1990s. I am also quite proud of my little corner of the Principality and am a keen supporter of local businesses and the like.

When I was a Custodian at Denbigh Castle, The North Wales Hospital was still open. It’s close proximity to the Castle meant we were a magnet to the suicidal escapees and would often have phone calls asking us to look out for people. The residents of Denbigh had free entry to the Castle and it became a magnet for young people and a few disturbed individuals. As the Custodian I was a captive audience and all kinds of individuals came to while away their days talking to me.

On the other side of The hospital was a farmstead called Cae Dai. This was the home of Sparrow Harrison, grandson of two Generals and educated privately where he met and became best friends with the much missed DJ John Peel. So different to myself the daughter of a bus driver and a caretaker. But similar to me Sparrow found that people used to visit Cae Dai from the hospital too.

I subsequently became a Social Worker. Sparrow also became a Social Worker of sorts. He set up the Cae Dai Trust to offer support and a second chance to the former patients of the North Wales Hospital.

Alongside this venture Sparrow set up a 1950s museum which houses all kinds of memorabilia from the era. It was to this museum we went today.

Cae Dai is on the Nantglyn road just outside the Medieval Market Town of Denbigh in North Wales. It sits in the shadow of the North Wales Hospital. You follow a steep dirt track down to the farm and park your car outside a non description modern building. This is a TARDIS. It houses so much more on the inside than it seems on the outside and it is most definitely a time machine.

From the moment you step over the threshold everything is of the 50s and 60s. There is a cafe area complete with a Jukebox in the corner and mannequins dressed in colourful teddy boy jackets. Film idols adorn the walls. It looks like the kids have just left. There is a display of Coronation memorabilia and a cabinet full of photographic equipment. Books, typewriters, toys even a Punch and Judy Booth complete with puppets. A small area is given over to kitchen equipment and various irons and every available space has old bottles packages and tins. It is all encompassing and you can’t shake the feeling that the people have only just left and if you wait a little they will return.

In the next room there is a bar in the corner a posh cocktail bar. Round the corner there is a 1950s living room set up complete with a programme on Churchills resignation that plays on an unbelievably small Television in a large wooden cabinet. Books and magazines are on the coffe table and a radiogramme sits quietly in the corner. This fascinates me as my parents bought a radiogramme in the 1980s which became our hi fi of the time and led to my lifelong obsession with 78rpm records.

Then in the next room is an area dedicated to radios, reel to reel tape players, record players and radiogrammes. The radios are explained with neatly typed information and you can almost hear and smell the valves as you walk around.

There ar vehicles too. The Ford Fiesta once owned by Christine Keeler from the Profumo Scandal a beautiful pink Cadilac and much more. There is a whole shop set up and also a a fabulous tobacco and smoking section with an impressive collection of lighters donated to the museum by other collectors.

The 1050s Museum is a gem that cannot be taken in on one visit and the informative guided tour by Sparrow Harrison is a delight. He regains you with tales of the 50s and his work at the Kray Tepwins Night Club and his prized possession the Lordy used in The Great Train Robbery.

We left the museum after a couple of hours and returned to the 21st Century. But I know I will be back, there is so much to see, so much to experience.

The 1950s Museum, Cae Dai, Nantglyn Road, Denbigh

Open 11-4   Admission £5       http://www.50smuseum.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blast from the past

Forgive me dear reader for a very personal blog post. I live in Wales in the UK. It is 4am here and I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep despite having a busy day and a busy day ahead.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know of my ambitions to be a standup comedian. I have done a few gigs and am learning all the time.

This evening I was hosting an event in my hometown featuring ladies with talent. Included in the performers was my beautiful and talented partner Sarah doing her first standup set. I was the compere for the evening, a role which I usually relish. Tonight was different. Tonight everything was done in a bubble, on autopilot. The reason for my emotion or rather lack of passion? A member of the audience.

I arrived at the venue early and got set up. Sneaked out for a vape and then returned to the bar. And there she was. Sitting in the front row was a lady I hadn’t seen since 2004. My heart sank. This woman was the precipitator of one of my suicide attempts. But who was she? I have forgotten her name but she was an OT assistant at the local Psychiatric Unit I was on. She was loud and bossy and believed you could get better by pulling yourself together.

Back in 2004 I was in my final year of a Social Work Diploma course in Manchester University. I had been unwell since January and falling behind with my work. In June 2004 I found myself admitted to hospital. I had to make a serious decision. Was I going to try and catch up with the year or re do the second year. I had been communicating with my head of department for a couple of weeks. She gave me a deadline to decide my future and asked that I send her an email to confirm my decision. I decided this particular day to send the email from my friends house and I went there as I wasn’t sectioned and was free to come and go as I pleased. When I returned having decided to re do the year I met this OT Assistant who proceeded to tear a strip off me as I had not been at the mornings OT session. She said she had arranged creative writing which I had asked for and she wasn’t interested in my explanation. Having made a decision about the rest of my life I was stressed and also suffering from Major Depression. I was completely heartbroken with the attack and this unthinking act resulted in a suicide attempt.

Tonight I was back there. Back with the hurt and frustration. Back to the desperate darkness. This woman did not recognise me but I recognised her it was like a portal to the past and I was shaken to my core.

Ghosts can rear their heads at any time……………….but she was only a memory a bad memory. I am shaken……..but will not be stirred.

 

It’s a funny old world

It’s a month since Brexit and my how things have changed. We now have a new Prime Minister that has, so far, managed to make Margaret Thatcher seem positively cuddly. Theresa May elbowed her way into power and she is now strutting around as if she owns everyone and everything. I can’t say I have been overly aware of her in the past but the woman is pure evil. Her playground attacks on Jeremy Corbyn mark her out as the arrogant schoolyard bully she is. Getting into power b default she is arrogant and self assured.

I myself have been counting the cost since the brexit vote. To avoid being confused as Boris Johnsons love child I had to have an emergency haircut. When Michael Gove and Owen Smith came out of the woodwork I had to buy new glasses. The emergence of that moanng Minnie Angela Eagle made me ashamed to be gay and threatened to push me to Narnia and now Theresa May is Prime Minister I’m now considering a sex change.

Michael Gove disappeared and so did Angela Eagle, I’m told because Eddie Izzard wanted his dresses back!  Now we are left with Jeremy Corbyn and a Welshman no ones ever heard of so I guess I face a move from Wales to Scotland (that’s a thought that Nicola Sturgeon is one of my not so secret crushes)

On a lighter note Monday sees me venturing to the teeming metropolis that is Manchester for the Beat The Frog Open Mic Comedy Competition. A Comedy Club with a real pedigree stars such as John Bishop, Johnny Vegas and Sarah Millican have all appeared here. I am trying desperately to memorise my set leaving enough space for any last minute topical stuff that might just turn up.

I have spent the last month or so in a state of frustration and near constant state of anxiety so my comedy spot is likely to be an explosive ranty type performance about life post Brexit. Speaking to my CPN the other day I realised that Standup and Performance Poetry is my only way of releasing my anger safely. So watch out Manchester you have been warned!!!!

So I will watch the developments with interest in this messed up world of ours, examine and have a rant, after all if you don’t laugh you cry, it’s a funny old world.

Love and light

Mwddrwgimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the simple things

Last week was one of the most challenging weeks of my life. After a long time avoiding and ignoring my various debts………….they came knocking………big time. I will not bore you with the details here, suffice to say that Saturday, our five year anniversary consisted of phone calls to Step Change Debt Charity finally facing up to the level of my debt. There was incredulity and tears as I was forced to lay bare the details of my debts and the minutiae of my spending, down to the last penny, justifying why it would not be possible to reduce the amount of cats we had as four were over 15yo and on borrowed time and that time would sort it out for us. Little did the poor girl know on the phone that we would not eat so that they could eat. The future looked bleak the bailiffs were on their way and we had to wait till Monday to do something.

I  have been a volunteer for a charity for the past 22years and have helped hundreds of people in my time with debts and the like and for the first time in 22years I approached them to possibly help us. I spoke to a wonderful woman on the phone and I cried as I told her the story. She came round to see us the following day and went through the assistance form with us as I had done countless times for others. She was kind and non judgemental and very patient. As the visit drew to a close she asked for the bailiffs number and paid the outstanding sum for us. This was a gift to us from the organisation itself and I cried. It was a recognition of my 22years volunteering as well as my partners ex service history. I cried, cried with relief that the bailiffs wouldn’t be coming and cried that my voluntary service had been recognised. The charity is SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity and that day I was so proud to be involved with such an empowering organisation.

Be kind in your interaction with others, considerate and non judgmental for you never know when the boot will be on he other foot. In the darkest week of my life the kindness of a stranger changed my life for the better. It is the little things that are important. Today It was confirmed that funds had been granted for one of my cases which will enable a young man (who has been in hospital for six months) to come home. He will be home for his birthday which is on Saturday and his wife’s birthday is on Monday.

Be nice to people, you never know when you might need them x

Mwddrwg

 

 

I’m Scared

I’m scared. Really scared. For the first time since I was an anxiety ridden teenager growing up in the dark days of the Cold War in the 1980’s I am genuinely terrified. Back then I was an impressionable young woman terrified by the threat of nuclear war from Russia. I watched the Protect and Survive public information films with total terror. I lived with anxiety that my young life could be snuffed out at any time by nuclear war. I was so scared that I joined CND my life was blighted by the threat of annihilation.

Twenty years later I watched in horror as the planes crashed into the Twin Towers and I feared that life would never be the same again. The anxiety of my youth which had finally faded somewhere between growing up and moving on had returned. On September 11th 2001 I was due to attend a counselling session. This was part of an ongoing plan to assist with my depression. I remember thinking that life would never be the same again and spent the whole of my session talking about the event. The world didn’t end but was forever changed.

Over the last few months I have watched in horror as people are set against each other to divert attention from those who are really corrupt namely the establishment and the government and I have been concerned if not outraged at the evil rhetoric spouted by the government and the press about immigrants and benefit claimants.

America seem on a collision course to elect Trump as President and it is truly terrifying. Then came the shootings in Orlando in a Gay club. Things were hotting up becoming ever  closer to home. Then last week Jo Cox was murdered and I am truly afraid again. I am afraid for all of us, fighting amongst ourselves destroying our own. Life will never be the same again.

I would like to think we will learn from this ,I fear we will not. I pray for the strength to live in peace and tolerate our enemies so that it becomes the politics of love not hate. I am a Christian and I seek the strength of my beliefs to share love not hate so that I am not frightened anymore.

i will pray because I believe in prayer and I don’t know what else to do…………..I wish us all peace and love, we need it now.

 

 

Death Of A Friend

On the 27th April this year I lost a close friend. She was a year and three days older than me and she died a month before her 47th Birthday. I attended her funeral, even did a tribute, but I have, as yet, shed very few tears. I am still in shock that her death was so sudden, if expected and still can’t believe she’s gone. I hadn’t seen her for a long time but I spoke to her most nights on the phone and eight days after she told me she was dying she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, I avoided it and now it’s too late.

Tonight watching Holby City I witnessed the death of a fictional character in the drama and I cried, I cried a lot. Why was it okay for me to cry like this for a fictional character yet not shed a tear about my friend. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Was this some kind of displaced grief? Was it safer to mourn the death of a stranger than a close friend?

My friend has made me question life. How is it possible to be here one day and gone the next. What are we here for? What’s the point? As yet I haven’t found the answers and I still sit in a daze that my friend has really gone, there will be no more pot noodle for breakfast or late night phone calls. She is gone, she is gone, she is gone and I guess I must go on…………………………I miss her!!!!

Finding your way home

Today, despite a paltry three hours of sleep, I volunteered at Abandoned Animals in Prestatyn, a short drive from my home. Because of the disturbed sleep and mixed up meds I was emotional (I had been in floods of tears most of the morning) As I drove my mind wandered, what would I find today? Would any of the cats have found new homes or yet again would it be a matter of loving them a while as they continued to wait patiently for someone to pick them.

i arrived at the gates and beeped my horn to be let in and parked my car and looked over to the cat enclosure. The five little souls looked out from their pen over the desolate car park. Hugo a nine month old tabby with attitude. Nyla and Tash White and black affectionate cats about four years old. In the corner my favourite boy Chop an enormous bundle of fur and his sister Tuna. It had been a fortnight since I was last there and they were still waiting. Naturally I was pleased to see my feeling friends but my heart broke that they were still waiting.

I went to the staff room to sign myself in and then let myself into their little world otherwise known as the cat enclosure. I greeted them all by name and stroked them and I swear they understood that their friend was back again. And then I saw him…….my special boy Chop. Now Chop is very big but he has the softest fur and the loudest purr. I picked him up and held him in my arms, he wasn’t sure at first, but then he relaxed and sang me a beautiful song. I nuzzled my face into his soft fur and chatted to him quietly.  He looked me right in the eye with soft pleading eyes that seemed to ask why? But then something amazing happened. Carol the Manager came over and told me Chop and his Sister Tuna had found a new home. I was glad, I held him a little closer and told him he was such a good boy. Maybe his eyes would stop asking me why? I cried with relief for Tuna and Chop had endured nearly two years at the rescue without any interest. I buried my face in his soft fur once more as tears streamed down my face. I put Chop down as my arms had begun to ache and went to find Tuna. Tuna had always been more stand offish than Chop but today she sang for me and rubbed her head against mine. I told her I was pleased she would have a new home and that she was a good girl.

All this got me thinking. How many people are there out there that need a home, a place to be, a place to cling to. I am lucky my mum is still alive and still lives in the family home where I lived from five yrs old till I was 36. I visited her recently and spent some time in my old bedroom. It is now a store room for my brothers children but some of the furniture is the same and the bed. The walls have been repainted but I could still see the faint marks of sellotape and blue tack that held my pictures and posters when I was a teenager. There was an old wooden letter rack on the window ledge and looking insid I found a couple of letters from Zoos in reply to my letters about becoming a Zookeeper…..from the dates on.the letters I was only sixteen an entire lifetime away. I stayed a while but then headed back to my Mum downstairs having briefly glimpsed the past.

How things have changed. The letters had been typed on a typewriter, today they would be emails. Back then I had ambitions of a very different kind to now. Back then my mum was my rock. Now I am facing loosing her far too soon to pulmonary hypertension and for a moment I wished it was not so. This had been my home for so many years and I wondered for how much longer.

I have a new home. A home I have built with my partner Sarah our seven cats and a budgie. We have guitars on the walls, saxophones in the bedroom and bikes in the living room. We have a memory wall adorned with tickets and photographs of our various experiences. It is here I now call home with Sarah and the cats and I thank the Lord for such luxury. If we spend too much time in the past we will be consumed with regret. Visit it sometimes but always live in the present.

Mwddrwg