Monday, June 26, 2017

Rent a Bridesmaid

Recently I picked up a copy of book I'd thought about getting late last year but as things are want to do with me at times I'd forgotten all about it, bought a copy  and sat across a few days reading it.

The story is about a nine year old girl, Tilly who can scarcely believe it when her best friend and class mate, Matty, is offered the role of being a bridesmaid for she is as much a tomboy as Tilly is more girly girl and really wasn't looking forward to it.
Tilly's parents had split up and the dress is very much the focus of Tilly's longing for her parents to be reunited as she missed no longer living with Mom.
After her friend had worn it and it had been cleaned, Matty offers her the dress as she could never see herself ever wearing it again and this leads into Tilly's favourite daydream of being a bridesmaid in the must beautiful dress, walking behind the bride and after talking it through with her best friend resolves to sort this by advertising herself as a Bridesmaid for rent at the local store.

This is the dress and most beautiful it is too.
The dress leads to her meeting different people such as an older couple, a same sex couple of professional people and a family who had planned a large church wedding with five other bridesmaids, all of which enrich her life.
The one thing sadly all of this cannot do is the very thing she longs for the most -to reunite her family- so when her Mom who it transpires later on hadn't been well mentally does come to see her after Tilly appears on a tv program about weddings, her hopes are dashed .
This said there does seem to be a relationship blossoming between Miss Hope her teacher and her dad and maybe if there's to be a sequel Tilly will be the bridesmaid at that wedding!
One of things I liked about it was the exploration  of the friendship between Matty and Tilly, that although being in so many ways polar opposites not just their personalities but lifestyles and that despite this they really do gel, becoming best friends. That comes over so well in how it is written showing how disagreements that for those of who remember just high emotional we were around their ages soon get minded with some tlc.
To conclude although on the face of it it's a relatively uncomplicated story about a girl and her dress it has more depth exploring the nature of friendship you can see at a more grown up level very intensely heartfelt and emotional coming over through intelligent use of subtle nuances of mood and character. It is a great joy to read.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hot Summer Musings

I can't speak for everybody but blowing on a Dandelion head and making wishes is something that I can recall from my actual childhood apart from making daisy chains during the summer months and actually that scene sat cross-legged on the school fields pulling them with the girls and making them has just come straight back into my mind this last rather hot week over here.
His furness has been demanding to come in all of the time from where our meadow flowers are even bringing two birds in which I wasn't too pleased about especially when they're baby chicks.
I did get down in record time yesterdays pots and pans from teatime too
I've redone some Mp3 copies from cd as I wasn't so happy with the original way of converting the full cd quality of the original discs to the smaller files I was using at the time.
Until next time...

Monday, June 19, 2017


In a week where events that have been dominated very much with a national tragedy, the full nature of we are still very much learning of as well as trying to come to terms with emotionally, I need go back in time to what helped and still helps the adult-child me.
 Jacqueline is a dolly I had now for over fifteen years, that I like to handle, feeling the fabrics and generally care for who has a soft dusty complexion and isn't so obviously pretty pretty with her blue eyes.
She has however seen me  through a number of less than pleasant experiences and situations, steady and reliably very much the girl in what was the equivalent in UK terms to Juniors who looked after me she was named after.
While not being particularly fussy her dress has a simple country print and just a hint of lace and a bow which is more where I'm at not being heavily into lace, frills and 'sugary stuff'.
I always found back then getting back to a bit that regular child structure when such awful things happened did help more than just going over and over the events and involved your dollies and teddies.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Wave Me Goodbye

It was just about three months ago that I was given by a kind relation who enjoys reading, a gift voucher for a well known book and stationery store and in early June, a new book by a favourite author of mine came out so I called in and used it to buy this book.

Entitled Wave My Goodbye, it is about the world of one Shirley L. Smith who lives with her Mom who works in an office and Dad who has joined the Army in the centre of London in Nineteen Thirty-nine.
It has been decided all the children need to be evacuated as the threat of war with Nazi Germany for their own well-being from bombing and it is being done on a school by school basis.
The whole of Paradise Road Junior School is called up, so Shirley has to have a suitcase packed with a change of clothes including night wear plus her favourite dolls and  books before her mommy sees her off at London Victoria railway station which after some fuss she is allowed to sit with the girls of the St Agatha's Convent School of whom it transpires seem to get the best of everything, enroute to Meadow Ridge way out in the countryside.
Arrangements for billeting the children and staff seem very rushed as nothing had been prearranged between the W.V.S. and W.I.and the children are taken around the village until someone claims  them. Unfortunately Shirley plus two east end boys, Kevin and Archie appear to stuck with nowhere to go until with some reluctance Mrs Waverley and Chubby who is her assistant at the Red House, decides to take them in although it appears they hadn't enough food in for them straightaway nor beds .
The children are bought new clothes which for Shirley includes a School Tunic and tie as she only had a pleated skirt with attached bodice and a party frock to change into plus Mrs Waverley also loves reading so they have something in common.
The story sees them attending school in extra classes of the villages local school with lessons by  who is brisk, kind in some ways but not opposed to strapping misbehaving children.
They appear to get on although life has it's ups and downs not least with one of the boys having a problem with bed wetting that creates a lot of work but following an accident  when Kevin follows Shirley who can look at Mrs Waverley's dolls house from the end of the war and to which is a kind of model of the life who had hope to have until her husband was killed in the Great War (W.W.1) and in the course of playing with it breaks the arm of the dolly of him, she gets upset and Kevin and Shirley run off back to London where she is met by her dad for a few days.
He returns them and smooths over the misunderstandings with Chubby and Mrs Waverley so they feel at home and so stay there until the war is over.

The story is one that is undeniable moving, based on what happened across much of Great Britain during the build up and shortly after World War Two, when our major city areas were deemed to unsafe for children and they travelled often more in hope that everything would work out being without their parents.
It is also true that some didn't want 'city children'  and their ways around and others only wanted them for much more for what they could bring them on say farms for labour rather than providing a safe place to live and yet for others it did bring changes for the better in their lives having access to fresh air and countryside.
As a book I found it highly enjoyable although a bit sad in places, telling an important story about the social history of being a child caught up in the storms of war having to adjust to vastly different realities.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Me votes by Marmalade

I dunno about this going to the polls business they keep on talking about at my house, as far as I'm concerned I'm in the lead of the popularity poll as everybody keeps asking about me although the other day I was accused of leading the other cats astray by holding out branch meeting of the 7th North Staffordshire Tom Cat Club branch out in the village park and sending everyone out to test the local bus service by walking them to our bus stop!
I have this strong leadership thingy that Mrs May talks about down to a tee-I just does it!- am as peace lovin' as Mr Corbyn and like Mr Farron believe in a referendum on the CHEW-IT negotiations as us cats must have the final say not the people easily brought off by Pedigree Foods.
All being well they'll buy me some fish tomorrow when all the mice have finished counting and the results declared or maybe de-cleared as I scuff the lot!
Until next time, M

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thanks Ariana

Following the bombing two weeks ago today of the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande concert that resulted in 22 deaths, over 159 injured some quite horrifically that affect us all over here quite badly - in my district alone we had a fourteen year old fatality and a number injured - and resulted in the suspension of her European leg of the Dangerous Woman tour because of how it impacted, I am making this post.
Yesterday, a special all star charity concert featuring Ms Grande, Take That, Robbie Williams, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Coldplay  and others took place at Old Trafford, Manchester - the home of Lancashire County Cricket - entitled "One Love"  amid extremely tight security following Saturday nights terrorism incident in London.
This is to raise funds to look after the young people  and their families in recovering not just physically but mentally from both the incident but also how that has left them.
I sat here at home watching it with my cats ears on as did many of her young followers enjoying the performances some of which from artists I generally hadn't  much enthusiasm for but actually showed on a stage they could perform well such as Justin Bieber singing and playing with an acoustic guitar and for once seeing this was a concert that was for children, no bad language either.
Upon her arrival on Friday, with no prior publicity, Ms Grande, spent several hours visiting Manchester's Children's hospital were so many of the victims - aged from eight through to teens - were talking, having pictures taken with them and being generally comforted by her and her team.
Given how the incident had affected her, to do this must of been heartbreaking but she did it, bringing smiles to young faces that so badly needed it and contributing to helping them in time to move on.
All I will say is I am very moved by her response to this, to offer something that does help, for her being prepared to comeback putting together with the help of others this one off concert for love must and does conquer hate and division
Ariana Grande rocks!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nancy to the rescue

Seeing this is 'Whit' bank holiday I thought I'd write another shortish book review.

Following on The New Girl and Nancy, this installment is set at the start of the Autumn term with Nancy being moved to the Upper Fifth  Form with Desda (Desdemona) Blackett which is seen as being a more dull but worthy form more centred around academic work.
It is soon resolved however to do something about this not least by making a AM. group which is really an Amateur Dramatics and Arts group where they'd study to put on short productions, recitals and undertake some games.
Followers of the previous entries might recall this series started not at Maudsley Grammar school but at St. Brides and this past of Nancy's is a key theme in this edition as we are reintroduced to Althea who we learn has moved to Maudsley in somewhat distressing circumstances, her mothers ill health and given the era we are is the nineteen-twenties there is no Welfare State, they ate in a state of acute poverty where Althea and her mother at at risk of losing their rented home and from which Althea has had to leave St. Brides because of being unable pay the school fees.
Nancy's after school life involves her being in charge of ("Maid of Merit") of the Guildry where the adult Miss Knevitt, is talking about setting up a new unit and that it would involve some changes in unit leaders including Nancy.
It was coming back from a meeting where this was being discussed that Nancy hears a flute being played as it happened rather well and upon coming across her realizes this is her lost friend from St.Brides who is malnourished  and Nancy takes her to a cafe for a drink and food and soon realizes things are very bleak.
Disturbed by this, she takes a long detour to Lord Woodridge a local land owner and 'big cheese' of the town and discussed her friend and mothers plight with him suggesting with his mothers knowledge of nature that an offer of the post of Curator of a museum he is about to open soon be given to her and with it a place to stay.
Like many of her generation Althea's mother would feel they could not just accept a place out of charity, it would have to be seen as being in exchange for her services and this way is accepted by him.
Equally Althea herself needs to continue in her education but there is a stumbling block which is that while a 'scholarship' can be issued for any form it is not generally accepted for 'upper school' which is where she belongs but it is in his remit to award one he does and so Althea now goes to  Maudsley Grammar in the upper fifth like Nancy.
Unfortunately, a small rather voracious group of girls lead by Elma hold to the notion that having a Free Scholar rather lowers the tone especially one held to do something vulgar like play a flute for money even though Althea only did this to raise money where her Mom was down to her last three pence and facing eviction and make things difficult by having so they would not play games with her so she helps the Fourth and lower Fifth out instead and having made a big deal in bring her poverty stricken flute playing out so embarrasses her that an offer to join the AM. for which she has considerable talents is just too embarrassing for her to take up.
In time however Althea joins the Guildry, just at the point Nancy is pondering a change to the 2nd new unit as it's leader so she feels supported although the behaviour of those other girls is really bad.
Just before the Museum is about to open and Althea's Mom has moved in, a mysterious Japanese man comes in a demanding a Cedar tree that her Mom refused to sell, refusing to leave until he's gotten it. Nancy and Althea trap him and just by luck Lord Woodridge comes by and has him arrested. It transpires what was so desirable about the tree was a Crystal which was buried beneath it as an insurance against hard times for Althea's Mom.
Althea's new found status as an heiress impresses those who so rejected her as the Free Scholar, the shallow meanness thereof not lost on Nancy and clearly transmitted in the book to the reader.  
A area competition for the arts is held called the Rosebury Festival and Nancy's name is put forward as a soloist but Nancy feels strongly this is Althea's time and so puts forward to the Head Mistress that really a change of entry to Althea is really called for as her skills as flautist are the stronger but she'd accompany on piano.
This is accepted so the pair go in the competition judged at City Hall and Althea wins the gold medal  and Nancy awarded a special commendation for the accompanying so the pair have brought honour upon their form and school.
Although in some respects it's a relatively simple book in the series, I think it's strengths are that it tackles head on social prejudice, and poverty in a compassionate, thoughtful  way that reminds me very much of what it felt like being 14 or 15 felt like, caring deeply about issues and each other, wanting to help in the way Nancy did her friend and mother, trying to make a difference for the good.
Making a stand for decency, treating people fairly are important lessons we need to learn to keep our society holding to civilized values.