So, why has it taken me so long to return to this memoir? In truth, the local historian and writer in me has yet to finalise how I want to proceed, plus the fact that I returned from London in 2013 to find our cat, Markiza, was ill. She had come to live with Susan, who I have lived with since 1975 and married in 1977, and me after a close friend went into a nursing home in 2008, by which time Markiza was already quite elderly. We knew Markiza as long as our friend Michael had because I had gone with with him to the Cats Protection Shelter at Watnall, near Nottingham, and was there when he chose Markiza.
In early November 2013, Markiza was put to sleep in our arms at home. It really was a peaceful end. We had been thinking of downsizing for several years and her passing was the trigger. It took us a full year to move, even though we sold the house quite quickly. We didn't move far, just under three miles to nearby Beeston, an area we knew well. It was home from the day we moved in, my daughter Alicia and her partner Steve came and stayed a couple of days and did all the grunt work.
2015 was election year and though I was no more than a Labour Party foot soldier, living in the marginal Broxtowe constituency meant there was a constant stream of delivery to do, plus work on the house and the largest garden we have ever had in our lives. Fortunately, the latter was well maintained and our plan for 2015 just to pull weeds, pick the fruit and cut the grass. The first time I did the latter I coughed up blood, which led to me having an x-ray on the day after the general election. Ten days later I was being seen in the lung assessment unit at Nottingham City Hospital, because the x-ray had revealed 'established fibrosis of the lungs' (I have never smoked), with the doctor asking me 'How long have you had a heart condition?' 'What heart condition?' I replied. At the time I felt in the best of health, but the NHS picked me up and has spent twenty months monitoring me. To cut a long story short, my lungs are 90% normal and my heart condition is congenital (I was born with two cusps in my aortic heart valve instead of three), but it has reached the point where I am down to have open heart surgery later this month (January). In the last few months I have become a 'half-day person'. Right now I consider myself one lucky bunny, the NHS have been faultless in their care and support and I am looking forward to getting back to my old self.
In readiness, I have cleared the decks and decided that post-op I will have three interests: the garden, writing and my memoir, beginning with my Wembley years, so here I am, about to climb back on the bike so to speak, knowing that I may disappear from view again for a few months, but with this posting anyone who chances upon this blog will know it does have a future.
After my October 2013 visit to Brent Archive I prepared three tables based on electoral roll information. I include the tables below without comment other than what I may have already included. I know there are people missing, some of the lodgers at 36 Swinderby Road for example, and those faces I can see from my childhood days, but to which I cannot (yet) attach names.
To see the tables more clearly, click on to enlarge:
A CAT PS...
Eileen Matthews and me with our cats c.1951–2 at the back of 36 Swinderby Road. My cat Tibby died when I was about 18.
Me in the early-1990s snoozing on the sofa, with our then cats Coco and Jenny above me sleeping as well.
We have not had a cat since Markiza passed on.
NOTE: * I lived with my mother and step-father in Swindon when I was 12–13 for about four months before coming back to Wembley and returning to Alperton School. I cannot remember the exact year (something I still have to check).