Thursday, January 31, 2013

Religion is for people who can't handle science - Matt Westwood

Video Credit & Copyright: Mark Gee;

This a comment by Matt Westwood on Platitude for the Day  which I found so amusing that I want to share it with you. Really I think it says it all.
Religion is for people who can't handle science. After all, it's difficult and complicated, and requires that you paid attention in school. Not the sort of pay attention where you all sit and recite the words by rote, but the sort of pay attention where you have to think hard when the teacher asks you a question. Not the sort of questions where you are asked things like: "What was it that Little Miss Muffet sat on?" but the sort of questions where you are asked things like: "If you drop a hammer from the height of one metre, how fast is it moving when it hits your toe?"
My elder sister, who had religion when in her teens (still got it, poor thing) considered it completely beneath her dignity to know anything about science, even basic physics (so such domestic knowhow about centre of gravity and coefficients of friction were deliberately a closed book to her, which is why she managed to demolish such a colossal quantity of crockery etc.) but if you were to profess to be ignorant of the fact that her personal spiritual humility was right up there with Jesus, you were in Deep Trouble. 
Matt Westwood 
For those who have not yet discovered the Rev Peter Hearty's  brilliant spoof blog on the BBC's totally biased four minutes of belief system drivel on the today programme  entitled Thought for the Day when a  group of enthusiastic religious believers are given their heads to say what ever they like safe in the knowledge that no one will contradict them Platitude for the Day is the antidote.

Non believers are not allowed which is rather unfair and very un-British.

With a few minutes of the BBC broadcast the Rev Peter gives his version of what has been said and if you have, as I had, to sit through hours of sermons on Sundays for  years on end this is a revelation.

So enjoy!


Every day the Rev Peter includes an image from APOD and today'simage is the moon arising over Mt. Victoria, Wellington,New Zealand where I live. I cannot embed it unfortunately but HERE IS THE LINK. This is not time lapse but real time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Benjamin Britten surprise - Syphilis! Whatever next?

2013 is definitely going to be the year of Benjamin Britten. Every week there seems to be some new revelation and each one gets worse. The latest is in the new biography by Paul Kildea published on 7 February 2013 and shock, horror it appears that Britten was suffering from tertiary syphilis although he did not know it. I wonder? Evidence seems a bit flimsy. Maybe they should exhume him and find out. Poor Ben!

By accident I got to know Benjamin Britten. I met him when I was 14 at an audition for the first Noyes Fludde in 1958. I was a girl and Britten had difficulty finding girls who could sing. I could.  Britten was searching for a Flora for his opera The Turn of the Screw based on the novella by Henry James. He had looked since 1953, auditioned over 40 little girls and could not find one. The first production had a small adult which he found unsatisfactory as a young Flora is essential if the horror of the story is to be at its maximum consequently I was precious and always he treated me as an adult.

I think Britten knew that his reputation would always be open to speculation after his death and I think it horrified him as he desperately wanted to be considered normal but like everything he got used to it. Britten seemed to envy me my normality. I found this strange as  to me he had everything. Aldeburgh Festival looked so amazingly traditional Upper Class prim and proper but Britten knew one day this mirage would disappear. It has.

The tragedy for Britten is that it is not the homosexuality or the tertiary syphilis that is the problem today but Britten's liking for young boys which in his day was not considered a sin at all but will possibly be his current downfall. Today Britten would have kept this passion to himself. Many of us enjoy gazing at beautiful bodies. Look at the bookstands.  This is not a sin. Britten liked looking at young boys which is. Now thanks to the Roman Catholic Church and Jimmy Savile this is totally unacceptable. I find this unacceptable too and yet at the time in 1959 colleagues laughed at it. Sir Charles MacKerras, the conductor got hauled over the coals for a unwise but true remark!

Artists write about what they know and consequently all Britten's operas and especially his major works are on these dark forbidden subjects. Britten knew all about  the struggle between heterosexuality and homosexuality and he wrote about it. The Turn of the Screw which is considered by many to be his masterpiece and which I had the good fortune to be in, is all about this conflict. Like Miles Britten may have experienced the struggle between the love of a boy for either a man or a woman. Like Miles he could never choose which he liked the best. Maybe Britten only experienced male love although he was curious about the other as I know from my own limited experience. I do appear to be the only 19 year old girl with whom he had a relationship and actually took home in his sports car.

Male seduction of a young boy has never sounded so beautiful as in The Screw and this is Britten's gift to music but because of the Savile affair this opera is now unmentionable in the centenary year because of its unfortunate subject!

Britten never came out during his lifetime. Britten said on many occasions to colleagues that he wanted to be normal. If anyone had hinted Britten was gay while he had been alive Britten would have sued. Britten was definitely gay but he was also bisexual and this has to be taken into account when trying to understand his strange character. It never is. Like Flora's personna this trait is never addressed and it should be.

Gradually over the years I have found out what was kept from me while I was at Aldeburgh.  I await Paul Kildea's book for further revelations. Maybe now I should write one of my own!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Performing Arts Schools are they worth it?

Arts Educational Schools, London and Tring
Is sending your son or daughter to a performing arts school worth it? An old school friend of mine asked me this question today. The standard required of performers today is so high I don't see how you can avoid it if you want to be employed. If you wait until they have finished their A levels at a normal educational institution it could be too late as the students who are professionally trained will have had a huge advantage and a head start.

There is always the exception to any rule but if you want to be a ballet dancer then waiting until 18 before applying to the Royal Ballet School is just too late. I have seen many girls who are encouraged to wait and who have regretted it for the rest of their lives and I have seen equally brilliant children have a dance career and then go on to become successful  doctors.

Here is what I wrote on Facebook in reply:

Arts Educational Schools London gave me the intro to the world of the arts and I don't think I should have got anywhere without it. It introduced me to the world of ballet and opera by getting me jobs in those fields and I could learn on the job. This part of the training was invaluable. I learned from the best and I mean the best although I possibly did not appreciate it at the time.

Our qualifications from the RAD counted for nothing in those days although they were very hard to obtain. You had to be really good to pass the RAD major exams! Many failed. I did my GCE's there and the educational standard was very high as we were all so bright but today the degrees that are offered for RAD exams are the same as A levels. RAD Intermediate is en par with A Level and  Arts offers a fully recognized BA.  

Janette Miller outside Stage Door Covet Garden 1957
I loved Arts but I was lucky. It offered a broad spectrum of artistic fields which I enjoyed as I had no outstanding individual talent but was competent in many and perfect for musicals. I think Arts gave me the practical skills, like learning lines, being on time, doing what a director says which sound obvious but many young artists fail to master. Also I had plenty of opportunity to practice getting auditions. I realized that this was the only way to get a job although I hated them.

It also helped me find employment but I don't know if they still run an agency. In my day it was very like the school in 'Ballet Shoes'. Most importantly it gave me the opportunity to become a professional. No school or training can wave a magic wand. You have to want to be a performing artist. I did. It was explained to me that being good was not good enough and that it would be tough. It was. It was also explained that you become a public figure and your life would be on show for all to see. It has been and I find this aspect 'difficult' even now as the past can catch up with you in unexpected ways as it has with Benjamin Britten.

I wish I had gone to Arts earlier. I went at the age of 12 and was way behind my school friends artistically and even educationally. Of all my arts schools it was the most helpful. However if I were starting out again today I should include a course of IT in the fields of video editing and production as this can help promote yourself which is essential today as on the whole nobody is going to do it for you. YouTube used properly is a magnificent window of opportunity. A subscription to where she can learn how to do this on line might be a good present.

Hope this helps. The young are so much better than we were and times have changed. I have had a challenging life, sometimes very tricky but I have enjoyed it and I did at least try.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Farewell Royal Institution? Never!

Is the game up fo the Royal Institution ? (of Science for those challenged in this area, I speak from experience as you will see if you read on!). I do hope not. Up until I married my GP Oxford educated husband in 1972 this hallowed hall of learning was really the only occasion when science and I collided and even then it was not until many years later that I discovered I had been an extremely privileged young lady.

In 1964 I had been a successful professional musical singer in London. I was appearing in The Desert Song at the Palace Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue. I also frequented the Variety Acts Club which booked cabaret acts and it was there I met a young baritone who asked me out to coffee. He was not after my body but after advice on how to work in my field. I was not much help as I too would have loved to know how to work in my field. I had been lucky!

As payment for this advice I was taken to the Royal Institution, an organization of which I had never heard at the time. My science education had been sadly lacking at all my schools. It was impressive and I thought I better look impressed. The young man was the librarian and I was duly ushered into the famous meeting room where he informed me that all the fellows of the RI meet. It had a beautiful Adam/Georgian table, I recognized that at least and walls lined with books in white gilded cases.

The librarian took out his key and removed a large, old leather bound book. It was the Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most famous and valuable books in the world. He put it on the table and allowed me to handle and look at it which I did. I may not have known what it was but I have always loved old books. If only I had known what is was I was handling! I would now. After a decent amount of time he locked it up again.

That was it! It was only many years later I realized how lucky I was. My husband quickly filled me in and gave me an excellent Science education for which I am extremely grateful. In fact one of my little YouTubes has made it onto A Best of Science List and it mentions Sir Isaac!

It would be a pity to lose this famous building and I do hope that my country  has enough common sense to save it for further generations. Schemes to make money can sometimes go wrong and this it appears is one that has, scientists are not banksters but that does not mean the building should not be saved. I have every confidence that it will.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lip Synching good or bad? My terrifying experience on live TV

Performing live for any singer can be a nightmare and I don't blame Beyonce one bit for choosing to mime. If I had been her and I had to sing live on such an occasion I should have refused too.
At the age of 16 I sang live in the first British opera on UK TV, The Turn of The Screw by Benjamin Britten in 1959. Because of time lapse the orchestra was in one studio and we sung live in another with the help of monitors and a spare conductor.
The studio was dead. We couldn't hear ourselves sing. We rehearsed from 7 am and recorded at 8 pm. The performance went out as if live with all mistakes. No editing was possible. It cost a fortune.
The first Act went well but on the second a camera went wrong and panic ensued. We were 'live'. We could not stop, our monitors were cut off from sight as the production was changed. We could no longer see the conductor.  He had vanished. It says a lots for our soprano Jennifer Vyvyan that she never batted an eyelid.
The result under the circumstances was exceptional and the world never knew but I did. At 16 I vowed never to do this again. Even today the thought of going through that again scares me stiff.
Today audiences expect good sound and that means studio sound. I hate live performances as the balance is usually wrong and always under-rehearsed.
If you want live sound my answer is - you go and sing it live yourself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michael Winner The Joker

Michael Winner 1935/2013
It is always sad when a person of character dies so it is with sadness that I see that Michael Winner the film director and restaurant critic died yesterday of liver failure. I never met Winner although our paths crossed once when I spent two memorable nights in Eton courtyard chaperoning one of the actors, William Kendall who was in Winner's film The Jokers.

Michael Winner was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had no money worries and could please himself and he did. I suppose I was jealous of his ability to fund his own projects and envious of the perks to which only an Eton educated man could aspire. For Winner to hire Eton Courtyard for two nights with a full film crew and turn it into the Keep of the Tower of London was no problem. As an old boy he was allowed carte blanche.

The shoot was well organized and Winner obviously knew what he wanted. There were no major catastrophes but it was amusing to watch Winner work with his stars, namely Oliver Reid and a young Michael Crawford . All three were eccentric and spent most of the waiting moments seeing who could spit the furthest! The rest of the huge crew and cast were spell bound.

I did know Michael Crawford quite well having worked with him at Aldeburgh but he had become a Star and I did not feel up to coping with him at this moment. The three of them had challenging personalities and could be quite rude if they felt like it. I did meet Oliver Reid later on another film set and he was quite charming.  I remember he bought me a drink!

The film was average of its type for the middle sixties and you can see it on YouTube if you look for it. I was not very impressed at the time. William Kendall plays the Governor of the Tower. He was Daddy's drinking partner at the Seven Balls in Whitchurch Lane and needed a chauffeur to get him from Stanmore to Windsor. It was fun and I got paid. 

Still it is always sad to see a character go and Winner seems to be in this category. The arts needs patrons of any kind.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Education by BBC

John Charles Walsham Reith BBC
The BBC's founding charter states that it is to inform, educate and entertain and in my case it certainly did educate. I am a testament to Lord Reith to whom I have been extremely grateful all my life because without him and the BBC  I could never have achieved or in fact enjoyed my life to the full because I received no formal education. I am self taught or rather BBC taught and it sure made a better job of it than the nuns.

My father, Major Hugh Miller who had the very best education himself and went to the finest educational establishments that money could buy decided that his daughter should go to the local convent. This was a disaster for me because in 1947  Rosary Priory was mainly run by 18 year old Irish nuns, They did their best but basically had no idea of how to teach. Consequently I was six and a half before I learned to read.  They had no idea of how to teach reading. The nuns were really only happy when teaching the faith and they definitely were brilliant at that. They taught me rather too well the importance of Adam, Eve and Original Sin. This turned out to be a big mistake for them.

However all was not lost as my Grandfather Henry Thorpe was a self educated man and had risen from railway clerk to the head of Ceylon Railways. Pop owned one of the first televisions in about 1946 and I was captivated. Televisions were rare then and the content limited but Lord Reith had taken the educate seriously and the BBC saw to it that the audience was educated by providing the best.

Every week we were treated to excellent drama on Saturday and Sunday, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Wilde, Shaw. I saw my first Midsummer Night's Dream at the age of five and loved it. I watched and enjoyed opera and ballet as well as more typical musical and variety shows. The BBC showed films too and I loved those of Alexander Korda. I was introduced to Great Expectations and Dickens this way. I started to read Dickens which was in my grandfather's library but I preferred Ibsen and Austin and my favorite Shakespeare, I adored Romeo and Juliet.

BBC was good at science too and the new inventions and discoveries were featured. I watched everything especially the test programme every morning which presented classical music. The Waltz from Act 1 Swan Lake and Lena Horn featured. I enjoyed the BBC News and knew everything that was going on in the world. I recall Bernard Shaw's famous interview and also the atomic bomb tests. Aged 4 I saw the opening of the Belsen Concentration Camp and I knew then there was no God. This one news item changed my life. I grew up.

By ten I had started to read Shakespeare and I analyzed  Oliver's Henry V, which the nuns had taken their pupils to see. It was not as I remembered from the text. I discovered that Olivier had taken a lot of licence and I was shocked!

At 13 the nuns introduced us to Dickens  for the first time. It was Great Expectations which I had read when I was 9. We never got past Pip's early life. For me it was a wasted year as I was bored stiff. Later I told one of the nuns about this and she apologized for the dreadful education we received. I felt sorry for all my classmates.

My father realized that I was not thriving at my convent.  As he thought all my brains were in my feet he sent me to a ballet school Arts Educational in London. There I received a secular education for the first time. The Headmistress was the most wonderful English teacher. I can parse my way out of a paper bag.

The BBC had educated me in the arts well so when I got my chance to work at The Royal Opera House as a child I appreciated the opportunity. The management could see and in fact were astonished at just how much a tiny 13 year old knew. I could discuss opera, ballet, Shakespeare on their level. I had a wonderful time as everyone helped me as they enjoyed talking to me. I met many of the finest artists of the day from Sir Malcolm Sergeant down.  It was because of my knowledge of modern music I got to know Benjamin Britten. I was the only girl favorite and I certainly would not have been able to cope with my brilliant Oxford educated GP husband  Miles Heffernan who did not suffer fools gladly. It was he who completed my education in the field of science.

Without this grounding by the BBC none of this would have happened. So when I say I received no education it is not really true. I had one of the best educations money could buy. Thank you Aunty BBC.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to live like a millionaire and pay little tax.

There is no doubt that I live like a millionaire and like millionaires I do not pay much tax. How do I do it? As you can see  below I am extraordinarily fortunate.

I have a beautiful house looked after by the most competent housekeeper who sees to it that the house is kept clean and tidy. She is so careful too that I can safely leave dusting all my ornaments of which I have many in her capable hands. She sees to my clothes and laundry and even starches the sheets and napkins as she knows I enjoy the feel of cool starched cotton sheets.The going rate for a 40 hour week is around $1200 a week or $62,400 a year and is worth every penny to stay in my own home. Many solo elderly have to pay for this these days.t

I have a wonderful cook and every meal she cooks is a delight. She knows exactly what I like, is very good at presentation, all my meals are a delicious to eat and I know I my digestion is safe as she always washes her hands. For each meal I have to pay $30 plus food, around $45,000 a year.

I employ a professional gardener to keep my glorious garden looking it best. Good gardeners are not cheap $40 an hour at the moment my garden needs about an hour a day at least.  In Auckland everything grows so I need a lawn contractor at $30 per month, this is cheap at $360 per year. Then I need a tree pruner to trim all the trees and hedges at $420 a go at least three goes. $1,260. I also have a jobbing gardener for all those nasty jobs my other gardeners won't do like clear out the compost bin or do the occasional spray, organic of course and prune the odd branch out of the power lines and tackle my very pricky roses.

Then I have a competent general hand who clears out my drains and cleans out the bath plugs, washes the car every time it needs it, changes light bulbs, turns mattresses and clears out the attic. I also have an excellent house painter who does a thoroughly professional job inside and out. I have an old wooden villa and the ten year old paint job is still holding up. Good preparation is the key.

I also found a wonderful doctor. I needed her this year as I had a tough time with my NHS medical practitioners who it seemed were unable to diagnose my three illnesses  With out her I should be dead.  She took the trouble to listen to me and research my problems and find me excellent specialists. Medical expenses do not come cheap. A first class nurse was needed to make sure I ate properly, got enough exercise and enough rest. She has been brilliant and I owe my recovery to her. Again around $45,000 for a full time nurse and at least $15,000 for medical fees.

Then I have a first class inter net genius, that's what Apple Techs are called, who can help me with computer problems when needed. At $180 an hour. There are many others who feature during the year, my dressmaker for alterations, my manicurist, my decorator, my florist  oh the list goes on.

These wonderful people make my life a pleasure. They give me the chance to pursue my hobbies. I am extremely grateful.

If you add this up it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. How can I afford all this? I do it myself.  $300,000 + is a conservative estimate of the cost of what I do for myself every year. There is earned income the one you go out and earn, unearned income from investments, both of these are taxed to the hilt  and real income which is the income you would have to pay for services if you had to employ someone to do the work for you. Most wage earners have to do this.

I am lucky as I can do so much for myself to a reasonably high standard. Over the years I have had little money and have had to learn to make the little I had go a long way. Today the fact that I can sing, dance and read music a bit has enabled me to make videos which I enjoy and would not be possible if I had to pay even one artist.

My income is tiny that is why I pay little tax but because I have learned all these life skills I live as well as any millionaire possibly better. Once I worked out what I would need to be paid to still maintain the standard of living I now enjoy. I should need a huge salary or be a billionaire.

When I can no longer look after myself  and have to pay agencies my standard of living will fall but in the meantime I am going to enjoy it. In a way it is a pity for the IRD I do not get paid for what I do as they are the ones missing out.

It is not what you earn but the way you spend it. Careful use of time and money together with a broad spectrum of skills can mean a most enjoyable life. however I do not think many will agree with me!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learning Poetry by Heart - the latest educational fad in UK

How difficult is it to learn a poem by heart? Stephen Moss a Guardian journalist makes a pretty good stab at it. It seems the British Government wants all school children to learn poems by heart as I was forced to do when I was a child.

Is it worth it? Not sure. I just know I spent hours and hours memorising poems  which I did not understand. I can remember little of Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality today. Never did find out what is was about and it seems I am not alone.

Once I had to learn the 32 verses of Grey's Elegy in a Country Churchyard during the Easter Holidays. I did this on the seven hour train journey back from Devon. Lucky I did because the headmistress, a Mrs Jack, examined us on arrival. Mark you I was at a stage school, AES London. She did me favor because the ability to learn lines  is an asset if you want to be an actor which I did. 

Mrs Jack also made us do this in French, Le Lievre est la tortu springs to mind. Only French I know and not very useful when trying to find the way out of La gare! Never could spell in French or English come to that!

When I eventually got into professional theatre I was amazed at just how long it took some actors to become word perfect. Some never managed it until after first night.  I got my chance in London because of this ability as I was forced to takeover a huge lead role with no rehearsal. I knew the lines and never looked back. I think the huge bunch of roses from a fan convinced the management I had something and I kept the role. 

Still I don't think this skill is useful in everyday life and it takes hours to memorize properly. Don't think I could do it today. Is it worth the effort? No! Far better to learn about The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution! Now that is useful!

Monday, January 7, 2013

About Death - Something to Tell Your Family

Peter Goodwin's funeral Auckland 2011.
I wish I could find a happier way to start 2013 but over the past 18 months I have had four close deaths of people very dear to me and in three cases I nearly didn't find out! The plea is Please friends, let your family know I exist so that I can grieve and come to your funeral!

Life has changed! Families now do not play the important part in many people's lives than they once did. Many families have split up and live countries apart and so friends and next door neighbors start to occupy a more important place in one's life than perhaps they once would have done.

I was told immediately in fact the same day as death on the family member but in the case of my dear friend above who I saw at least twice a week and with whom I spent many happy hours, I was not informed. I nearly missed his funeral and as he was a mason and the church was full I nearly didn't get in. He forgot to ensure that his other friends, like me were told. The Masons were not to know. What he needed to do was to make a list of people to be told.

Few do this. In the case of my neighbors I too was the last to know. I had lived next door to one neighbor for 38 years. I knew he was dying but not one member of the close family thought to tell me that the man I spoke to daily, who banged about doing up his house, who helped me repel intruders and picked me up when I fell off the ladder was dead. I learned exactly five days later from another neighbor, his niece.  I was very upset at the death of a friend I had come to well the word may be misconstrued if I say love but to me he was almost my family.

38 years is a long time but I was reminded that I was NOT family. Again  a list of friends would help. I was not the only one to be disappointed at not being told. Nowadays few read the death's column of local papers that families rely upon. I could easily have missed the funeral and then the family would be annoyed that a next door neighbour of 38 years had not turned up.

It happend again when another neighbor died. I only knew her for two years but as she was terminally ill and we did spend a very meaningful time together. The family in their grief closed rank. All outsiders were kept at bay. I was told nothing. I did not know she was dying and when I asked was told that a mutual friend in Christchurch would let me know.  They did not think that a woman across the road mattered. I was told of the death by a mutual friend in Christchurch.

Again it seems friends however close do not count.

This seems to be the modern way of death. Family who may not have been around for years takes over and close friends are excluded. I do not think this is done on purpose it is just that they have no idea of their relation's lives. I was guilty of this myself when I had to go to Bournemouth on my father's death. I did not invite friends to his funeral because I had no idea who they were. A close friend of his soon put me right and she was quite right to do so!

So my friends please leave a list of people you want informed of your death to avoid this unpleasantness. I shall tell my daughter! Make this your New Year Resolution. It is a good one!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bill O'Reilly Christianity Is Not A Religion!

Bill O'Reilly of Fox News has excelled himself today. In his round up of the last year  2012, he announced more than once that Christianity is not a Religion. Let me say that again, Christianity is not a Religion. Christianity is according to O'Reilly, a Philosophy.

"Christianity is not an organized religion that can be imposed.  I do not know if Jesus existed. You do not have to believe in Jesus to admire his philosophy."

According to O'Reilly the Roman Catholic Church is a religion based on the philosophy of Jesus and came centuries after Jesus lived, if he did. I feel sure the Pope will  be delighted to learn that his one and only true church is just a sect based on this philosophy.

Then O'Reilly had a four minute rant about what to call a traditional Christmas tree. He did have a point because the Xmas tree is a pagan tradition but who cares what it is called.

I am listening now to a repeat right now. O'Reilly never lets his guests  speak and as my father used to say he just opens his mouth and lets his tummy rumble.

So as Bill O'Reilly is infallible Christianity is no longer a religion folks. What a hoot! I do love Fox TV. When there is nothing to watch Fox TV is great entertainment. 'Tide goes in, Tide goes out' and O'Reilly has no idea how this works scientifically and is proud of it. All he knows is God did it! Where does one start?

Merry Christmas!

Introducing Janette Miller's Strange Life Blog

This is an invitation to all my friends to visit my Janette Miller's Strange Life Blog and believe me I have had a strange life! This is not my judgment but a very perceptive lady at the local Probus Club.

My New Year's resolution in 2012 was to write this Strange Life Blog almost every day if I can for my grand daughter Alice who lives in Christchurch, that's in the South Island of New Zealand for my geographically challenged friends, and no NZ is not part of Australia. I only see her occasionally as Christchurch is a long way away so I want her to know about her Grannie and her family when I am no longer here to tell her.

These short anecdotes are what I should tell her  about her family if I could. My father did this for me orally and I didn't listen. All those stories about the Second World went in one ear and out the other so this way I shall have it in writing and this is the best bit, it can be printed out. Also I shall only have to tell it once!

It didn't happen because I was so ill.  I started but B12 Deficiency thought otherwise. Fortunately at the moment in January  2013, I am almost back to normal but I still need to rest for long periods so hopefully I shall have the time to pursue this blog.

As I said in 2012 I shall tell the truth as I see it. I am not going to go in for character assassinations so my friends and family even if you have been off colour occasionally need have no fear.  Your reputation is safe with me. Also if you can be bothered to look you will get to know the real me and not the one that you see socially when good manners and  tact will tie my tongue.

Mark you once dead all gloves are off and belief systems look out! I never discuss these in social situations as I hate embarrassing my friends so my religious friends may care to skip these pages.

If I can I shall supply references but all will be true, I was raised as a good catholic girl and look on this bog as a final confession!

So fingers crossed for 2013  and here goes. I'll start with an easy one. My mother's bravery, sense of humor and determination in the face of adversity during and after the Second World War tomorrow.

A very Happy New Year 2013 and go out and smell the roses and come along for the ride. I really am not that bad!