England 40 Years Ago — November 23, 1980

Lisa says of her brother, “He’s a clever little freak.”

The uninitiated would wonder why the toilet brushes are on the backs of the toilets, the bathroom waste basket is on the hamper, and the bed crowned with a clock, hand lotion and a tissue box. Things on tables recede inch by inch, as if the tide is going higher week by week. I’m afraid the passerby will soon think the refrain here is, “NO!”

Guess who John saw this week – no less a person than the Queen of England! The King of Nepal had arrived at Victoria Station, was met, and processed by open coach to Buckingham Palace. John was waiting for his lunch appointment to arrive at the restaurant and could look out the second floor window with the clearest view. I saw it all later on TV, but seeing it in person was marvelous he said. Also saw Prince Philip and Prince Charles.

Bet you think you know how to pronounce the names “Launders” and “Saunders.” In America, yes, but here the “d” is pronounced as a soft “g”. Comes out “Laungers” and “Saungers.” Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?

This week our car had her 5,000 mile check-up. I had a little blue Renault to drive. Wouldn’t start very well, but once you got your foot on the gas pedal, away she went! The electric locks were the most fun. Instead of a button there were plastic jiggers in which a red stick would pop up when the lock was engaged. I unlocked the car to put John $ in and discovered undoing one undid them all!

We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving. This past week I de-cobwebbed the house with the special wire brush on the end of a bamboo pole. I try to think of this as just removing cobwebs and not dwell on the fact that they were once INHABITED!!

I almost witnessed an accident. When I got on the scene a little red VW was overturned, and I could hear the screams from quite a distance away. In reconstructing the event, I think $ stood on the toy car, reached in the toy box, and tumbled in. When I got to his room, all I could see under the partially open box was a pair of streaming eyes and one little hand trying desperately to push up the top which was resting on his head. The shock of it wore him out – sang him two songs, and he fell asleep!

The old dead tree at the front of the property was removed this past week. The tree surgeons also “stopped” the row of trees between the back garden and the tennis court. They trimmed 5 or 6 feet off the tops and squared off the bottoms. Certainly looks different. I comfort myself that most of it will have grown back by the time the owners come back. Looks scalped.

I finally got everything together that we needed to begin getting a doctor. Didn’t take much, but I kept forgetting to do it. Here you have to ask a doctor if he will accept you on his register. I made the first call and got a very friendly and informative lady who told me just what to do. She explained that Dr. Ingram, who I think lives on this street, would accept us. It helped to give our address and the assurance that we wouldn’t be here more than 18 months more. She told me to hang up and call for an appointment. Did this, and the appointment lady asked if I was the one who was just talking to someone else in the office. They work not more than three feet apart, but have no switching equipment for the phone, so you have to hang up and dial another number.

Took $ to see about his immunizations. Dr. Ingram was interested in seeing what is being done in the States, but explained that they don’t do rubella for boys at all and they don’t do mumps. He didn’t think he could even get the serum for that. He did agree to do measles, polio and DPT. He wrote down the measles vaccine and told me to come back this week because they do shots only one day a week. There was nothing like a routine examination – no weighing, no looking at ears, etc. I was just asked if there were any questions or anything he should see.

I had 45 minutes to kill after dropping off the girls for school and the time for the doctor. The two things were only one street apart, so I couldn’t see battling rush hour traffic for that. $ and I took a nice walk and discovered a whole block of offices and workrooms for the blind. The shop wasn’t open, but there were some nice looking things inside.

Have I mentioned that there is a super drying rack hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen? Now that the heat is on from time to time, it is an excellent place to dry things. All the clothes get hung on hangers before dangling from the rack, and we have to eat without getting the coat tails of things in our food. (Usually things are removed before breakfast, and we eat in the dining room at night. It is mostly me dining among the clothes.) The other day Kate and I were eating, and she’d moved her stool under a particularly long nightgown. We hadn’t been there long before she was playing with the hem of it and finally tied it in a knot under her chin!

Yesterday Lisa went to Natasha’s birthday party which lasted from 1:45 until 7!! They assembled, went to the school which her brother attends for three short plays put on by the boys, and came back for a meal of hamburgers, chips (French fries) and cake. Today she went to Andrea’s party. Philippa’s parents were going somewhere and asked us to take her, and they’d pick the girls up. Merrin also needed a ride. So, we had Philippa go to church with us, picked up Merrin, and drove a fair distance to get to the party. It was nice to put the car away and have Lisa delivered back home.

Kate was angry, came storming up the stairs and said, “I’m going to give up my temper!”

37 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — November 23, 1980

  1. I love reading these letters Anne. Is the “Clever little freak” one of those lines that has been brought up often at family gatherings? It seems like something that my family would get many laughs about.

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  2. I hadn’t thought about electric door locks in decades! Wasn’t it fascinating?? Ha ha! My dad was a mechanic and he grumbled about anything electric on a vehicle… that would just be something additional to go wrong and not be able to fix (doing your own mechanics). He was right, back in those days, electric windows and locks did fail a lot in the first years.

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  3. I love reading about your time in England, your kids were a mess! So cute!
    Interesting that we are doing a lot of the same things right now preparing the house for Thanksgiving and company. Trimming trees, decluttering and cleaning, donating, selling, shopping, and reorganizing! The house is looking better already! I don’t decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving though. 🙂

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  4. It must be amazing for you personally to read all about what you were doing 40 years ago this very week. These letters are such treasures…and in your handwriting! No one “writes” anymore…most letters-if written at all-are usually on a keyboard.

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    1. Some years ago I retyped the letters to have them on the computer. They were originally typed on an old portable typewriter. If they had been written by hand, I would still be trying to read them. I am enjoying reliving the events I wrote about.

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  5. I went right back to the times when any object was fair game for a “relocation.” The difference in recommended vaccinations was interesting. I wonder why the discrepancy.

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  6. How absolutely exciting, the Queen!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wish I could have seen her. Such an exciting life. I saw a squirrel yesterday, which is as exciting as it gets around here. I envy your life.

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      1. Not this one. He was just sitting on the other side of the glass, an inch away, eating and mocking me because he knew if the glass weren’t there, I would KICK HIS ASS!!!! But the glass was there, so he just mocked me. Not exactly the same as seen a Queen.

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  7. I borrowed a truck during our move this month, and the thing actually had handles to roll down the windows! I haven’t seen that in a long time, yet the truck was around a 2008 model. He must have special ordered it with handles instead of electric windows.

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  8. Kid-proofing the house works well when young kids are underfoot. I think dog-and-cat-proofing also has to be done for some pets. After Marge lost her cat to dementia she went to a shelter to get another companion. “Sassy” was a black cat with wild-looking eyes … it turned out the eyes matched the personality. Marge returned home from work the next day and found the Victorian Christmas tree on the floor, garlands and bulbs everywhere, front window sheers ripped to shreds. Sassy was gone in short order. When we were in England in 1979 we saw one of the royal carriages going down a street. It happened so fast. We were sitting, taking a load off our feet on a park bench and saw it. We did not see who was riding in it though.

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        1. I save my writings electronically now, but I didn’t value them in earlier years. When neighbor Logan writes us a thank you note, I scan it and put it with the photos of him at the event.

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  9. “They don’t do rubella for boys” – what’s up with that? Seems odd. I trust they do *now* though.

    I had to take my toddler Kathy to a doc in Athens when we were there, for an earache. Gave us a liquid antibiotic which worked great. It was pink in colour, so I told Kath it was “cherry juice.” Yum yum! Lol.

    I also saw a doc in hospital there for stitches to my arm. It was harrowing; I did a blog post on it a few years ago! I think you saw it – it’s here: https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/greece-episode-two-i-knocked-harder/

    It sure gives another view of a place when you’re living there with a kid or kids, plural, eh?!

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