I’ve changed first-thing-in-the-morning weekday roles with Petronela since school finished for half-term. When she was going to the school at which she taught for eleven years she was generally up first and made her coffee and my tea and I stayed in bed, out of her way, until she came back into the bedroom to get ready for school. At weekends and holidays it was usually I who got up first and took her coffee to her much later.

I did manage to stay in bed till 5.30 this morning, half an hour later than yesterday, but as I want to drink my tea before I do anything the roles have reversed and now I take P her coffee at 5.45. I think it’s going to settle down like this as she likes that 15 minutes more in bed.

Jobs piling up

As it now looks as though I’ll be driving her to school for a while longer, as the school asked her to go back and she cannot realistically get there on public transport, I’m going to have to think about coming home for a few hours on some days; there are jobs now piling up which I cannot do in Wetherspoon or the library. I have to come back on a couple of days next week for medical appointments so I’ll probably do a trial run this week to see how it goes.

Not a lot to say about today. Monday seems to be exceptional in Wetherspoon as there were not as many people in as yesterday. The male half of the couple I mentioned yesterday arrived at 9.05 and I had to tell him that I had not seen the lady. I had thought they were man and wife but evidently not. I saw her later on the way to Wetherspoon.

I was surprised to see a young mother feeding her baby with a beer close by at 9.30 in the morning.

Didn’t make the Brontës’ moors

I had thought of going to Haworth today and brought a camera with the intention of trying to capture the moors behind the Brontë sisters’ home as they evoked it. It didn’t work out; perhaps another day.

Keighley ‘picture house’

I would have liked to get in to ‘The picture house’ to get some pictures but it doesn’t open at a time I can do that so I had to be content with the outside. When I was a child we still called the cinema “the picture house”. Later, as a young teenager I didn’t do the usual ‘job’ delivering newspapers but was, at 14, ‘assistant projectionist’ at a local ‘picture house’ after school. It no longer exists.

Just opposite the picture house is St. Anne’s primary school. I used to go there not long after I came back to the UK after Romania to help Romanian immigrant children who didn’t speak English to settle in. I park the car close by now while I’m in Keighley.

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Looking across the room past the ‘pumpkin’ shape applied to the window towards the former site of my former school and the technical college behind

Did that horrible pumpkin gobble up my old high school? In a much more interesting building, it used to be in front of the grey and blue thing, the technical college

Half-term holiday is over so it’s back on the school run this morning, frosty (-4degC) but  a delightful run over the moor under a clear blue sky. Also, as the clocks went back an hour at midnight Saturday the sun was up. Still no sign of the ‘Arctic conditions’.

It was quite a bit colder when I took the header photo (on film) in one of the wilder parts of Yorkshire – so a favourite for me – several years ago.

That means I’m beginning to write this post back in ‘my corner’ in Wetherspoon in Keighley, with the log fire burning close by. An ugly pumpkin face, a ‘ghost’ and two skulls are glaring at me. I’ll be glad when it’s Wednesday and the horrible ‘halloween’ will be over for another year. I really dislike what has been done to it by big commercial interests.

Even cheaper coffee

One of many ghosts, made of a mask and a thin white textile, hanging around the place The coffee system has been changed. It’s now extremely dangerous. The price has gone down – yes down! – by 10p to £1.20 and for that you can have as many refills as you like. So I could sit here all day and kill myself with 100 double espressos for £1.20. I’m not suicidal so I’ll limit myself to two.

Yorkshire dialect

I’ve stayed here a bit later than before and it’s clear that this pub becomes a sort of social club after 9.30-10am. More than half of the clients are men over retirement age, the majority drinking beer which is also cheaper than other places; alcoholic drinks are not served before 9am but few arrive before ten. Listening to them talking I would guess many live in the countryside around the town and take advantage of their free bus passes, which can be used after 9.30am (after rush hour). It’s fascinating listening to the broad Yorkshire accents and even a sprinkling of local dialect.

Gambling

A favourite activity seems to be picking potential winners of today’s horse races. There’s a couple sitting next to me, I’m sure well over 80 years of age. With a coffee and a large brandy in front of him, and a more modest small beer in front of her, he is going through a racing paper and telling her the horses and betting odds for each race. I’m pretty sure her eyesight is not good enough to read the paper. They then discuss the race and he makes copious notes on one of a small pile of notelets then transfers something to a bigger plan on a large sheet of paper. I guess that this is the betting plan for today. That seemingly finished he’s got himself another coffee and her a glass of white wine. He was despatched, presumably to a nearby bookie, with £40 from her, so I guess she is the gambler.

On another table three men had a lively discussion about one race after which one, clearly the most mobile of the three, was despatched to the bookie with an instruction “Put £10 on ?? to win”. I didn’t catch the name of the horse. One of them just got his third pint of Guiness from the bar; how they can drink that in the morning is beyond me.

… and Ayala champagne

Gambling is not one of my vices. I’ve placed a bet on a horse only once in my life, with quite spectacular results. I posted the story on this blog some time ago; if you are interested search for ‘Ayala’. The first post to come up is password protected but the second, ‘Gambling and champagne’, tells the story.

Now, 11.30am, approaching lunch time, the pub is beginning to fill up with, generally, a much younger clientelle. Breakfast menus are being taken off the tables, to be replaced with the lunch menu. Having had my second espresso it’s time to retire to the library next door, where I can recharge the iPad and battle with the HTML to change the text font. The default is not good for anyone with a sight problem.

The sun was so bright it chopped a slice of my head off; I think this is the first ever ‘selfie’ of the two of us, in the deserted pub.

Today is Petronela’s and my 17th wedding anniversary. Why the 17th is ‘special’ I won’t bore you with except to say that in Romania we lived at number 17, we bought our present home before we knew it would be number 17 (it didn’t exist when we reserved it) and there are a few other occurences of the number too.

On our anniversaries we usually do something ‘special’ – eg, go somewhere more exotic to eat or to stay. This being a more than usually ‘special’ day we decided to do nothing ‘special’, and so it became special.

The more so because the pub we chose to visit, just for a drink, on the other side of the valley, usually crowded on a Sunday lunchtime, was deserted. We were the only people in it (other than the barman). That was pretty special.

Then, having been warned of “Arctic conditions” by the weather forecasters it turned out to be a beautiful day, one of the best of the year. We reckon mother nature turned on her magic just for us.

 

High above Malham Cove on the way home – definitely ‘God’s own country’!

A beautiful day for the final day of the half-term holiday, with “Arctic” weather threatened for the weekend by forecasters. Where to go? We decided on Malham, about 25 miles from home, with an energetic walk from the village to the cove. The days when I would climb it have long gone. Back in Malham village a sandwich and tea (coffee for Petronela), in the delighful ‘Stream side cafe‘, with an equally delightful young Hungarian receptionist/waitress, went down a treat. Seemed a pity to go directly home so we climbed the long twisting single track road then descended into Settle before turning east to go home.

A lovely day.

As you see, I took a camera but all the pictures other than Petronela’s of me are on the iPad.

Today is my ‘birthday’ but not the day on which I was born. It is the day on which, 17 years ago, I ‘acquired’ my Romanian name – Dimitrie. My ‘ziua onomastică’ – onomastic day.

Few people call me that: the priests who married us 17 years ago just three days later, my Godfather (ie my ‘best man’ in English terms), my in-laws and a few close friends in Romania who know our story. I’ve had a few messages or calls from some of them today. Other than these a few people know it from questioning my ‘personal’ email address (I have a few addresses, for different purposes).

So, today is the day of Sf. (Saint) Dumitru (Romanian) or, with other spellings, Greek, Russian, English, etc – eg Demetrios, Dimitri, Dimitrie. I adopted the latter. He’s rather like St. George but he didn’t slay any dragons as far as I know.

Seventeen is a special number for Petronela and me. I have referred to it before I think but it may be the subject of a post in three days time.

PS. Some churches, eg the Roman Catholic church, celebrate St Dimitrie on a different day.

Odd weather yesterday (Wednesday) so with that depressing grey light in the morning, threatening  continuation of the heavy rain of the day before, and “Arctic” conditions forecast for the weekend, we decided to do a ‘big shop’ in the morning, visiting two supermarkets.

The afternoon brought almost black clouds alternating with bright sun for just a few minutes so we decided to take a walk and risk getting very wet. It didn’t rain, well hardly, so we enjoyed probably the last of the autumn colours on one of the few local walks not involving a hill, about an hour and half not hurrying.

I should have taken a camera but, as I’ve said before, I’m ‘off’ photography at the moment so just slipped the iPad in my pocket; you’ll see the limitations in some of the pictures. Petronela wouldn’t be satisfied with that so took her Nikon.

Way back at the beginning of September our writers’ club was, as usual, given a theme to write on: ‘After four failed marriages, the world’s tallest woman …”; there was more which I won’t bother you with. The theme didn’t do anything for me so I didn’t write anything. Yesterday I had an urge to write a short story about a tall lady. It’s raw, pretty much unedited.

___________ § __________

The Girl in Block 18

Elenor, aloof yet smiling as I passed her small office at one end of the lab. I fell in love with her almost from the minute I first set foot in that section.

It was the section to which I had been posted after completing the obligatory three months training in each of the sections devoted to mechanical, electrical and glassblowing work. The first section in which I would be doing real work; its staff worked on developing applications for semiconductors, particularly radar. Even without Elenor I would have been excited by that posting.

Elenor’s office, the section secretary’s office, had windows giving a view down the lab and thus giving me a view of her tapping away on her typewriter whenever I diverted my gaze from the oscilloscope, the Avo multimeter or the soldering iron. I frequently burnt my fingers.

Her slender figure curved over the typewriter, she being four or five inches taller than my not inconsiderable five feet eleven and a half inches. She was also two years older than my seventeen years, a fact elicited from the all-male team around me. I also learned she was “cold”, having refused all invitations to have a date from each of the several quite attractive young males – mid twenties to mid thirties – in the department, all graduate physicists.

She was, I was assured, “odd” as she had never had a boyfriend, as far as anyone knew.

Several times a day she would walk down the lab to deliver some document to one of the staff members and I was quite unable to prevent my eyes following her, there and back. As she passed me, before I could lower my eyes in confusion, she would look directly into them and smile.

It was perhaps in my third week in the section I was asked to deliver a bundle of papers to her. The words tumbled out, partly gibberish as I said something about the documents then, to my amazement, I looked directly into her eyes and heard myself saying “You’re very beautiful.”

She said nothing but, as I rushed out, I just caught her smile.

It took me a week to summon courage to enter her office again, a week in which she walked past me several times a day as usual, never saying a word but always meeting my gaze with a smile.

Meanwhile I had asked some ‘disinterested’ questions of the colleagues around me and discovered she was passionate about ballet.

I became more courageous, entering that office at least a couple times a week over the coming weeks. Early on I broached the subject of ballet, saying I’d heard that she liked it and telling her of my visits to all the best known classical ballets with my grandmother. She told me she had had ballet lessons for years with the aspiration to become a ballerina; then she was told she had become too tall and, disappointed, stopped the lessons.

I was due to be in that section for six months before moving to another. For four months I cut out smoking, ate little, economised on everything possible and put as much of my weekly wage as I could in a money box.

Four months later, with what I thought was sufficient in the money box, I entered that office and, visibly trembling, I asked her if she would like go to Covent Garden with me. I was truly amazed when she immediately said she would love to.

I was awkward on the tedious train journey to London, never having been in her company for more than a few minutes. In the opera house I felt more at home though I’d never been in it before. I almost forgot about Elenor once Swan Lake got underway, until I felt her hand find mine. Her passion for the dancing and the music was transmitted by frequent tightenings of her grip. We chatted animatedly during the interval, or was it intervals, and I easily took her hand after each act. She never withdrew it.

I remember little about the meal we had in a good French restaurant close by, other than we chatted easily about almost anything; none of the awkwardness of the train trip down.

The last train back was almost deserted and we were alone in the compartment. Within minutes she was asleep with her head on my shoulder. She woke just once on the two hour journey, when I gently kissed her on the forehead. She opened her eyes, smiled, kissed me gently but firmly on the lips and was immediately asleep again until we reached our destination.

I walked her home; this time the kiss was an affectionate one on the cheek, again the smile.

Monday came and the walks up and down, my eyes following her, resumed, with occasional short visits to her office in which sometimes we had a brief chat. Always the smile.

The following week, six months up, I was assigned to another section, maybe fifteen minutes walk to Block 18 where Elenor had her office, through the jumble of huts making up the central research laboratories of one of Britain’s largest engineering companies. I never made the walk.

Sixty years later, I often think about what might have followed had I done so.

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