When I was younger it never occurred to me that I would find a partner and raise children sometime in my life, in fact I resisted the idea so much I didn’t get married until I was almost twenty-nine years old. Anyone who has read my story (above) will know why. For whatever reason my life’s desires were held in abeyance and I ended up going down a different path. The result was marriage and children, the very things I didn’t think would happen to me. I can say with hindsight that I should have taken the other route rather than the one I did. However, I did eventually fulfill my desire to follow that route. Of course it goes without saying that I love my children and have done everything possible for them to be happy. They are now both adults with their own lives to lead. I have two sons, one, the elder, is married with a daughter and the other remains single. The younger son sometimes visits E and I and stops over. Last week he stopped over for the whole week! Now as much as I love him I am happy when he returns to his own home. The elder son, though living only three miles away we hardly see. The younger son lives forty miles or more distant. I don’t think I could bear living with them for too long now they are grown. They have their own idiosyncrasies and (bad?) habits which conflict with mine and they would become an irritation. Funny how when they were growing I wanted to spend more time with them! Ah but they were different then and so was I. Would I have chosen to have children had I really thought about it all those years ago? I guess not but I have a feeling my life turned out the way it was supposed to do. I cannot say that my life would have been better had I made different decisions when young but then who could? It could have turned out a lot worse!
I had to spend a little time over the weekend sorting through old bags and boxes which are stored in the first floor spare bedroom which I am planning to refurbish soon. I had to make sure there was no sensitive or personal items or things that belonged to my sons for most of what was in the room belonged to them. I had asked them repeatedly to check for anything they might want to keep but all I got as an answer was that they were not bothered. However and nevertheless I sifted through it all and did find some things which I have put elsewhere for them to have a look. I was amazed at what was being thrown away, numerous pairs of shoes and trainers, jumpers, hats and other items of clothing, even unused toiletries. In fact there was a large amount of clothing all neatly ironed and stacked on the floor! There were several gadgets and ‘toys’, a television, video tape players, old mobile phones and chargers, a desk-top computer, large amounts of CD‘s and odd items of all kinds. There were several books including a copy of The Karma Sutra fully illustrated with photographs (don’t ask). There were two sets of unused, still in their wrapping aluminium car mats of the type usually found in rally cars, a heated steering wheel cover, numerous photographs and reams of paper all to do with their university days. There was also a large box filled with various brand-new unopened games and a full set of snooker and billiard balls! The list goes on. There were at least six large ‘grips’ of the type used to carry gym equipment and clothing. I have not thrown all of them away but a couple were damaged and worn and those I did throw out, that is they were left in the room for the guy who removed it all. It wasn’t all about the boys though for in the room was a twin bed, a convertible settee/bed and a couple of old heated blankets and three chairs. No wonder the door was kept shut but as we didn’t need the room it became a dumping ground. That is the problem with a large house when some of its rooms are not in daily use. When we first moved in almost all of the rooms were in use because there were seven of us in the house; now there are only two. I suppose you could compare it to the story of the Ten Little Indians who all disappeared one by one. When the last two Indians depart all that will be left will be memories and empty rooms until someone else continues the saga.
I passed my driving test in April 1967 and soon after bought my first car, a Hilman Super Imp. It was maroon in colour and second-hand, though only a few months old. It lacked an interesting dashboard and I decided to make one and fit it myself. I constructed it from plywood and stained and varnished it to look like walnut. In it I fitted a rev.counter (or a tachometer) together with a voltmeter and an ammeter to monitor the battery state and charging. I fitted lights to monitor other functions and a radio too and by the time I had finished it was quite a work of art. The project gave me a couple of weeks of something to do in my spare time and I was well pleased with the result. As I grew older and bought other vehicles I found I was no longer interested in tinkering with them probably because they were better appointed and also the fact that I had other things to do with my time.
The other day my eldest son paid us a visit but he wanted to use one of the garages so that he could tinker with his car out of the poor weather we had been experiencing and also because it was evening and he needed light. He returned a second time on Tuesday at lunchtime so he could carry on with his little project. On both occasions he mustered a little help from me as well as asking for some materials which I was able to supply. His project? He was installing some red LED strips in the passenger foot-well and around the glove compartment and other discrete places. The idea is to give a gentle background red light effect inside the car when it is dark. He has learned to do these things all by himself and with very little assistance from myself though I have rendered some help whenever he has asked. He shows an interest and is not afraid of a hands-on approach when tackling any manual work. His brother is much the same but I have yet to see him tinkering with the electrics in his car to the same extent. I wonder from where they got their aptitude and inclination?
Life is a waiting game. We spend many hours in our lives waiting for one thing or another to happen, We may not realise it but waiting promotes patience and patience promotes peace. We may not like having to wait for certain things but often we have no choice. Stuck in a line of traffic waiting for it to move can be infuriating especially if we have an appointment to keep but there is little we can do about that except start out on our journey earlier. Many think their urgency is the problem of others and get annoyed if the rest of us take little notice. Waiting for other people who might not be as reliable as ourselves as far as time-keeping is concerned can step up the anxiety in us unless we can remain at peace with it all. Those amongst us who seem to have no sense of urgency in their lives are our children. We have to keep on top of things and take control in some circumstances. Of course many children expect things to be done for them at home. It takes a disciplined heart to negotiate around that one. As they grow we expect more independence on their part and more responsibility for their own lives and by and large that is what happens. Once in a while they may return for help, perhaps some physical assistance with something or financial help to get them out of a problem or situation. I don’t remember ever having to rely on parental help once I flew the nest. Not so with my own children. It may be a sign of the times and probably is. Job prospects and salaries may not be as they once were when I started out in life. Both my sons have asked for financial assistance a couple of times, one more so than the other and I have obliged. What they both need, apart from better jobs, is a little spare cash for a rainy day. One of my sons is currently saving as much as he can for a deposit on a house so he will have such a pot of money to fall back on. The other son it seems hasn’t been able to save much and when something out of the blue happens he has to rely on my generosity. That has happened a few times over the last five years or so. It happened again on Saturday when I had to deposit some cash in his account to tide him over. The father of his boss has just died and for some reason that has affected my son’s salary getting paid on time. He hadn’t that financial cushion he should have by now. I encourage him to save something each month even if it is a small amount. Either his situation won’t allow a small amount of saving or he just doesn’t know how to save. Maybe he just spends too much. So I have been patiently waiting for better times in the lives of my children. It is a good thing that I save when I can isn’t it?
‘We played many different games as children much as they do now., hide and seek, hopscotch, tag, football and cricket, rounders, skipping and a few others. During the summer months mum and dad took us out on weekly day trips, usually to the seaside and it was such fun getting things ready for the day out. We would make sandwiches with all different fillings, take a cake and biscuits some lemonade and a few items of fruit. We had to be certain we’d packed our swimsuits too! Half the excitement was in the preparation and getting to the destination. If it showed any signs of possible rain dad would tell us that the trip was off but most of the time he was just teasing us. Unless it was pouring down with rain and unlikely to stop we would make the trip. Often on the journey home we would tuck in to the remainder of the sandwiches and we would all be very tired after the day’s events. Those days were some of the most enjoyable times in my life and were only made so because our parents loved us so much. I thank them both.’ (Extract from ‘My Story’ above)
How much do you remember about your childhood? Was it a happy time? Were your parents or parent, attentive, loving, generous? Did they have time for you? Many of the problems we have today could be attributed to a lack of involvement by parents. Parents who do not guide their children, do not show their love often end up driving them to become anti-social and unloving or caring themselves. The problems are passed down through the generations. Is it possible that those who take drugs or end up in jail for criminal activity may not be as they are had their parents been more involved, more loving? It isn’t a guarantee of course that anyone’s children grow up to be upright citizens but it surely must be a possibility that if their upbringing lacked a loving environment they would be more likely to end up as they are. In Scripture we are instructed to bring up our children in the ways they should go for it is their formative years that influence how they will live and behave as adults. I am so happy that my childhood was a pleasant time for me, at home at least. It wasn’t that way for me outside of my home. You can read something about that in my pages above. Alas, for many children though their lives are not filled with love, affection and attentive parents.
I had no electrical work to do on Friday. I had arisen reasonably early so after breakfast I thought I might carry out a repair on the smaller greenhouse where a panel had been partially blown out of the frame because of the recent high winds we had experienced. I had placed the green (garden waste) wheelie bin alongside the panel the previous evening after discovering the damage and in order to prevent further damage. The small greenhouse is fitted with plastic panels rather than glass. However it began to rain and the wind had picked up again before I got the opportunity to do anything so I decided just to leave it until the weather improved. I did other things indoors instead, like re-registering online with my main current account provider after they had finally sent me the new password and security details. Even so the process wasn’t at all easy and it took E and I a fair amount of time to do it. The bank’s security measures are certainly robust to the point of being over the top. At last I could do some online housekeeping and moving about of my spare funds after three weeks not being able to. Of all the good things about using the Internet, online banking is near the top of my list. We have certainly come a long way since the days of standing in a queue waiting for a teller. E mentioned that our eldest son would be paying us a visit just after lunch and had asked if I had an electric multimeter he could use whilst working on his car.
I have a few meters of course, what electrician hasn’t? We had just finished lunch when he arrived with his young three year-old daughter. He had wanted a meter in order to find a suitable supply for the newly installed ‘dash cam’ he had bought and fitted himself. I rendered my assistance whilst he successfully located a suitable supply. It took us some time to connect a couple of wires to the car’s fuseboard for it is located below the dashboard in the passenger foot well area. The supply had to be one that was switched on when the ignition was switched on so that the camera was not switched on permanently. Once the work was done he drove off to purchase a cigar lighter socket which would be connected to the two wires we had installed. The camera lead cable would plug into it out of view beneath the dashboard. There was no option but to connect the camera this way as there was a special voltage control circuit inside the camera’s lead plug which had to remain in circuit. Anyway everything worked in that the supply was at the camera when the ignition was switched on but unfortunately the camera itself wouldn’t automatically switch on, which is what it is supposed to do. It could be switched on manually at the camera and it would switch off when the ignition was switched off. It was by now getting dark and so we left the car and went indoors for an hour before he and his daughter left for home. E had been entertaining her granddaughter whilst we were working on the car but now it was my turn. We don’t get too many opportunities to see our granddaughter (who calls me Aunty Shirley) so it was nice to be able to spend some time with her. Our son will investigate why the camera doesn’t operate as it should and perhaps it is only a simple matter of programming the device. He will of course return the camera if it still refuses to work properly. The camera itself is very small and hides behind the interior rear-view mirror so effectively you wouldn’t know it was there. Once they had gone home E and I had to prepare the evening meal so the day had been spent doing something completely different from that which was planned.
Children, who would have children? They are a responsibility that’s without a doubt at least whilst they are growing to adulthood. We expect them at that time to be able to stand on their own two feet and take upon themselves the responsibilities that the world throws at them. We want the best for our children if we love them and we help them as best we can when they come across problems they find difficult to cope with once they leave the nest. It is a burden we must be prepared to bear as loving parents. Both our children have flown the best, the eldest son is married with a young daughter but hasn’t a home of his own at present and he lives with his wife’s parents until they can accumulate enough funds for a deposit on a property of their own. They spent the first couple of years in their own house until they chose to sell it. It was a nice house but too small for a young family and it wasn’t in a very desirable location. It made the journey commuting to and from work too long and time-consuming so it was better that they moved out. Our youngest son has been living away from home for some years firstly in an apartment in another town until his friend’s father who employed him decided he didn’t want to any longer and our son lost a good well-paid job and apartment and had to find employment. He returned home for a while and found himself a post in the housing industry with an estate agency but the pay isn’t as good as it could be. There can be bonuses to earn but because the housing market has been struggling over the last few years those bonuses are hard to come by. He moved to a new apartment with his girlfriend last year closer to where they both work in a city a few miles away. They have been looking for a property they can buy and finally found what they thought suited their needs. They needed proof of a healthy bank account to pay the deposit they needed to get a mortgage. That cost me a few thousand pound, our contribution to the sum they required. His girlfriend’s parents contributed the other half. They expected to sign the contract this week and be able to move into the house immediately but there was a snag, there always is. It appears that the lender of the mortgage wanted a more thorough survey conducting before they would loan the cash. The survey was to cost another few hundred pounds and resulted in the need for an extra six thousand pounds of remedial work to be carried out either before they are allowed to move in or soon after. Those funds will probably be tagged on to the mortgage so they will not have to have the money up-front. Just as well really as they cannot afford it. However they made the mistake of declaring their intention to leave their apartment on Tuesday this week without securing the right to move into the house first which will result in them being homeless for perhaps a week or so. They shouldn’t have cut the cord before they had somewhere to go. It would only have meant renting the apartment for another month and they could then have taken their time sorting out the problems with the house purchase. This means that they have to pack up their belongings and put them in temporary storage and find somewhere to live in the meantime. They will probably move here in Southport for the duration. He will come here and she will go and live with her mum who lives here too. To that end E and I had to rent a large van locally and drive the forty-something miles to the apartment to collect their belongings and bring them home. They told us to leave the furniture in the van and park it on our driveway but later we were asked to store it in the house which meant we didn’t need to rent the van for more than a day. As it happened we knew the hire company folk who were members of the church I used to attend and we kept the van over the weekend at no extra charge. We will need to re-hire the van for a day when the move finally takes place. It is just as well we have the space isn’t it? It’s just as well we have the time isn’t it? It’s just as well we have the funds too! Children, who would have children?
Yes E and I did go out on Sunday at around 10.30 to drive to a warehouse miles away to collect a vanity unit we had bought on-line. Unfortunately we were not given the correct address to collect the item and we ended up at their showrooms which is 11 miles further afield. No problem, our satellite navigation got us there but even so we were a little confused as to which lane of traffic we were supposed to be in when we passed through one or two of the junctions en-route. At times like these I stick very closely to following the little yellow arrow as it meanders along the highlighted green road. On the screen there is a little square in the top left corner too with a more accurate picture of my immediate location with distance in yards to the next manoeuvre. Suffice to say the device is invaluable at times! We arrived I guess at around 11.30 and went to the reception. We were told it would be about a half-hour before we could collect the goods. The reason for that was due to the many other people there doing the same as us. Before anyone collects their goods they had to inspect them and sign to say they are satisfied that there is no damage. Fair enough but to do that the staff have to open everything and remove some items from their boxes then repack them once checked, hence the time spent waiting. In our case it turned out to be far longer than we had anticipated or had been told. It would be an hour and fifteen minutes before we finally were able to leave. We discovered that we had paid for a hand basin as well as the vanity unit base but hadn’t realised it when we ordered it items. The advertisement did not mention that the sink was included in the price! We were prepared to spend the £80 on just the base as that is all that we needed and at that price it was a bargain compared to what we had been quoted at Homebase which was more than £200! We may use the spare basin for our next project so all is not lost. Now it was 12.45 and we were both hungry. I had planned to surprise E by stopping off at a restaurant and this I did but I left it until we were nearer to home but still twelves miles out. I made a sudden turn into the car park of a restaurant we have visited a few times and off we went inside. It was reasonably empty now that it was approaching two o’clock and we were able to be seated straight away. We had been sitting for a mere two minutes waiting for our pre-dinner drinks when a small boy of around six years of age accompanied by his parents entered the room. He was complaining about something in a piercingly loud voice and seemingly in a bit of a tantrum. His parents were very calm about it all but lacked any willpower to chastise him allowing him to rant. Eventually he calmed down but during their meal and ours frequently made his presence known. All we wanted and I guess everyone else wanted was to be able to have a quite and relaxing meal. Personally I would have taken him outside and given him a dressing down for his misbehaviour but I wasn’t his parent. I loved my children (and still do of course) enough to chastise them when they were in the wrong and would never let them dictate to me how things were to be as this little fellow seemed to be doing. We arrive home after five o’clock and E went to collect her mum and take her to see our eldest son as it was his birthday on Sunday. I asked to go with her and she thought I might not wish to go so didn’t ask me. I was a little hurt and explained that he was my son too and I would like to see him. So I thought I would be going but as it turned out she left without me. Maybe that was for the best as her mum hasn’t spoken to me for more than eleven years even though on many occasions I have asked E to invite her along for lunch in the past to break the ice. E made excuses saying that her mum always had lunch at twelve o’clock and refused to change her schedule whilst we dine out usually a little later at two o’clock. What can I say? I didn’t get to see my son on his birthday and although I could have driven there myself, it is only a three-mile journey, it wouldn’t have looked good for E with me not traveling in her car.
Our eldest son and his wife had a little house in another town some 20 or so miles away. They lived there for a couple of years but wanted to move from the area before they started a family. The area wasn’t a good one although the house was. However, the house was quite small and really unsuitable for family life. Their baby girl was born whilst they were living there but they were able to finally sell the house but at a loss. The idea was to move back to Southport until they could save for another deposit and start again. They live with her parents now, about three miles from where we are. Our youngest son moved out a few years ago and for a while held down a well-paid job in another town and he lived in a nice apartment with the friend whose father had employed him. Sadly that job was taken from him for no apparent reason and he was forced to relinquish his apartment and move back locally. Another of his friends gave him a room in his house and he has been there a while. We did suggest he move back with us until he found his feet as it were but he is independent and wanted to do things his way. Eventually he found a reasonable job, though the pay isn’t as good as he got before. During the last year or so he found a regular girlfriend who lives and works in Manchester, some 40 miles distant but he works in an area far closer to Manchester than Southport. He was commuting by car to and from his place of work and Southport but now he and his girlfriend have found a large apartment to rent close to where she was living and in a decent part of the city. They will be moving in later this month. I am well pleased that he is beginning to get on his feet and settle down at last. No matter what our children do we feel for them and only wish them the best but it is a hard world out there, more difficult now than it was when we first started out on our own.
After a rather busy week I planned to have a good lie in bed on Saturday morning then get up say around 9.30 to exercise on my treadmill. During the week I had been watching the trilogy Lord of the Rings (yet again, I love the story) broadcast on three consecutive evenings, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 9pm. I don’t know how I managed to keep my eyes open on Friday as the film finished at almost 1 o’clock in the morning but as it was Saturday the following day I knew I could rest that extra time in bed. I slept solidly until 6am when I had to visit the toilet and still tired, went back to bed. I was awakened rather abruptly at 8am by my mobile phone. A lady I have worked for a couple of times wanted to know if I could repair her smoke alarm units some time in the coming week! Her brother had died on Wednesday and she didn’t have the time of his funeral so couldn’t say which day she would be at home. She explained that one of the smoke alarm units was ‘hanging from the ceiling ‘. Evidently she had pulled it off its fixings whilst removing the battery. I must explain something here for those who are not familiar with smoke alarms. Some of them are stand-alone, battery-operated (as the one shown above) but some also have a mains electricity supply and are often linked together to other units in the building. She has that latter type installed. She hadn’t pulled out the mains wiring so the unit was quite safe for the time being. She seemed more interested in the aesthetics, not wanting to see the thing hanging from the ceiling!. When I answered the call she said she hoped she hadn’t disturbed me or woke me up! It was 8 o’clock in the morning on a weekend and especially in this case, an Easter weekend! What did she think I would be doing so early in the morning? I told her that she had woke me up, which is perfectly true. The job wasn’t urgent so she should have phoned at a more respectable hour. I asked her to call me on Monday evening or Tuesday by which time she hopefully could tell me when it would be convenient to call, if at all. Incidentally she lives about eight miles away from me. The cheek of some people! I returned to my sleep-in and actually didn’t wake again until 11.30! I will be checking her smoke alarms today (Wednesday). I seemed to recall a faint tap-tap-tap on my bedroom door sometime before I finally woke and E told me that it must have been our youngest son. When I finally got up I dressed for the promised exercise and went downstairs. I asked if she knew what he had wanted but she said she didn’t know. I got on with my exercise and just as I had finished my mobile phone rang. It was my son. It appears that his car had a problem and he had limped home to his apartment. He had arranged to have it repaired and E collected him from the garage and took him back home, visiting our house along the way. He said he didn’t know what to do, meaning he didn’t have the cash to get it repaired. Evidently it was going to cost in the region of £500 to £600, not the sort of money he has available. I mentioned in earlier posts about his financial predicament and how he is at present struggling a bit. Later in the year things will improve for him but in the meantime he has to rely on my help from time to time. I assured him that I would foot the bill. Hopefully his car will be ready to drive again on Thursday. He will either have to hire a car for a couple of days in the meantime else make other arrangements at work. Over the years I have always put cash away for a rainy day, a habit some people struggle with but even small amounts soon build up to a substantial amount with time. Lately though, money I have been able to save seems to slip through my fingers instead of getting deposited in the bank. Oh well, that’s life isn’t it?
Since writing this post a few days ago my son tells me that he has made other arrangements with a friend of his who is a vehicle mechanic. His friend has offered to fix the problem for a much cheaper price, in fact probably £50. I am relieved at hearing that, I could do without throwing money away. It just goes to prove that garages will gladly take your money if you are daft enough to let them.