I had introduced a beginner at bridge to the Doyle House Bridge Club on the Thursday night sessions.   A few threatened to leave this small club should he be allowed to continue his attendance.    The same person had already been told he could not attend the Conservative Club bridge section, although he was a full member of their club.

When members of the Thursday bridge club had a grievance, the elected committee had a duty to call a meeting of committee members to sort out the grievance.   No such meeting had ever been necessary between AGM’s since the club had been formed in 1989 and called the Bedham-pton Senior Bridge Club.  

For the committee to discuss the grievance of those few members, it was necessary to have their complaint in writing, but no written complaint was received.   The committee meeting due to be held on the 22nd August was, therefore, cancelled, since those players were not prepared to spell out their grievance.   Thus, the club which had never had a need to hold a committee meeting for complaints, still held true and the general comment that it ran itself also remained true.  

Few knew that the member they were objecting to was a war veteran, who had fought on the Day One on the Normandy Beaches in 1944.   I was ashamed that some of our members should treat this Normandy war veteran in this manner.  I was pleased that all those who knew why the few left, kept it from him, for he did ask on several occasions the cause of their leaving.

Our relationship with the tenants of Doyle House, who approved the use of their common room on a Thursday night by the Bedhampton Senior Bridge Club, had remained excellent.    It was a vote of common sense indeed, when Mrs Brenda Battersly put it to the tenants to approve the bridge club’s use of this room.    We were approaching the tenth year at Doyle House, where we had found the accommodation ideal and their social funds had benefited by £150 annually.

They had a delightful warden, Jane, to whom we gave a special Christmas greeting each year.   It caused her great distress to tell the club, on a very rare occasion, that the tenants would be occupying their common room on a Thursday night.   When she notified the club she usually told myself - very apologetically, which generally produced a broad smile in response to such concern from her about disappointing her guests on that particular Thursday.

At the AGM of the bridge club, several of my nurse tutors, who had played at my house, and who had made a bridge school at the Midland Hotel, Bournemouth, were adopted as new members, being experienced in Chicago drives.     Bert Corbin, who had been the Chairman, wished to stand down, but agreed to become our Treasurer.  He had been a learner a few years ago, but it had been he, who devised a crib sheet, after only three months, that contained all the relevant information necessary for a beginner to know.   

This matrix of information had been sought after by many bridge players, other than those belonging to our own bridge club, and which I used for my bridge pupils, such as Anne Ashworth and Enid Billington, both nurse tutors and colleagues of Viv Mathews.

There were difficulties in getting a replacement for Bert as Chairman, so the meeting decided that this post should be combined with the Captain’s post, with the result that I was landed with both jobs.   We held this AGM in the bar lounge of the Havant Indoor Bowls Club, where a meal was served after the meeting, just prior to the opening of the indoor bowls season.  Bernard James, the General Secretary of the indoor club gave permission to use their facilities.     It could be claimed that our small bridge club was well endowed with the use of other people’s facilities.

Most of the bridge players were outdoor bowlers, some of them were members of this venue, giving them a preview of the artificial green that gave a faster pace, to which each outdoor bowls player had to adjust.  

Before the outdoor season terminated, each club usually made an occasion of the closing of their green.    Some clubs would make it a fancy dress affair.   A Bedhampton, the club would hold a fun drive, using the Instant Drive Movement Cards.    At regular intervals, all those taking part had to bowl with their non-bowling arm.   This caused the bowls to be delivered in all directions, causing general confusion on most rinks.   The winning of this event was considered secondary to taking part, and enjoying the last event of the outdoor season, with all players taking home their bowling gear, kept in the pavilion lockers . .

Not all bowlers took up indoor bowls for the winter months, although on a visit to the Havant Indoor Bowls Club, you could be excused for not thinking so, with its members and associates totalling around the 1,000 mark.   David Bowen, a former member of Bedhampton Bowls Club, edited and produced a quarterly journal for Dorset, Hants and Wilts Spiritual Healers Association.    I learned about his quarterly journal, when we were both attending a creative writing course in Emsworth in 1995. 

When I expressed my feelings to him that it would do a lot for my ego to have some writings published, he just smiled and said, “What are we waiting for?”   Since that conversation, I have submitted quarterly short articles under the general heading of ‘Helping Others’.

Here is a list of those articles which he has published, and in many cases has used his editorial licence to embellish my writing:

    Meet Sylvia Caring for the Mentally Ill

On a Chute and a Prayer

On Wheels and a Care

The Terminally Ill

Mind Over Matter

Hospital Volunteers

Caring and Supporting the Young and Homeless

Stroke Clubs

Blind Clubs.

 The objective in writing those articles was to draw to the reader’s attention the work of a humanitarian nature available, and the need in every case for more volunteers.   My next article, for the autumn edition was due in a few weeks time, so Alan, get on with it!    The subject chosen was The British Red Cross.   

I have enclosed a copy of my first publication, Sylvia, which is in Volume Two, Part Three, Page 186, as she had been a great support for Harry and all her residents, who were former long term care patients of St James’ Hospital.    I also had a lot to thank Sylvia for, having peace of mind that Harry was being cared for by a loving and sensible housekeeper.

God works in mysterious ways, for he had not only found a guardian angel for Harry, but he had also found a Fairy Princess for his Dad.   Since researching material at St Mary’s Hospital, in the Public Relations Office, for an article on hospital volunteers, I first met Pat, who aided by her colleague, Leigh, had been a source of moral support during three years of sadness and ill-health.

During this period she had learned from my scripts, my total life, and in particular, Harry’s disturbed state, where, due to Sylvia’s influence, he had become comparatively stable.   

Unknown to Sylvia, the residents wished to nominate her for an award, which Pat had organised in making an application to Buckingham Palace for consideration.   Harry would only agree to this being made, provided that the address at Outram Road was not made public, should she receive an award.

There had been major changes in the Wallace Arnold Autumn and Spring breaks brochure.   Excluded were the weekend breaks to Wolverhampton, with the excursion to Shrewsbury.    Also gone was the trip to Llandudno, staying at the Evans Hotel, with an excursion to Snowdonia.   Harrogate remained in the brochure, which I intended to go on, without taking flowers, since I got no refund from Leigh when they had been non-productive on my last visit!

Throughout most of my life, I have had little need to call on the Health Service for support, for which I should consider myself to be extremely fortunate.     The first support when I required continuous attention, during my mid-70’s, was from the Hearing Aid Clinic at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.   Whenever my fitted hearing aid had failed, I received immediate attention, and was supplied with adequate batteries.    With my hardness of hearing, I have had a need to call on further support in the home.    I have failed to hear the doorbell ring on several occasions.   I was unable to hear what is said on the TV, apart from the news, without having the volume loud, which would be unfair to my Commander neighbour, who made sure that I could not hear the sound from their TV.

The hearing aid section at the hospital notified me to get in touch with the Social Services clinic at Malmesbury Lawn, Woolston Road, Leigh Park.    When I had the appointment with S A Stroud, I was delighted when she informed me that I could have an improved doorbell system, a Sarabec home-loop system, to improve TV listening and telephone amplifier - all on loan from the Social Services.    An appointment was made for a member of the hearing aid staff to check out that this equipment was justified and practical.

I was not aware of the home-loop system, but at St Thomas’ Church, I had heard people talking inside, when standing outside, with my hearing aid fitted.   This was due to the fitted loop system in the church.   All these units were installed and proved very effective, so once again, I had to praise the Social and Hospital Services for improving my quality of life.

Most bowlers, who are members of both outdoor and indoor clubs, particularly if retired, take a holiday betwixt the two seasons.   In my case, the short breaks in the autumn and spring served as my get-away for the season.   I was grateful to Joy, when she offered to take me to Shrewsbury to stay with Joan, Linda’s Mum, who lived only three-doors away in a bungalow.   This trip provided the opportunity to visit Ludlow Church, where Ella’s ashes are strewn in the parish churchyard.    Once in Shrewsbury, I would be able to visit my sister, an hour’s journey by car.

It was quite an experience to be driven by a teenager, as Joy was, at 19.   It was a divergence from her usual route to stop at Ludlow when travelling home to Shrewsbury.     I felt that if she travelled faster than usual, she made up for the extra distance it required to visit Ludlow.    She told me not to let fast speed worry me!   I tried to keep relaxed and told her that I had my eyes closed for most of the journey so far.     In truth, once off the motorway between Kidderminster and Ludlow, it was a nightmare experience, the route consisting of narrow and winding roads.   For the young, when travelling between A and B by car, it was a matter of how quickly you drove the distance.   Certainly Joy was no exception to this custom, by pointing out that by taking the route through Ludlow, it had increased the normal time for this journey by more than an hour.    My priority was to arrive safely and to see Ella’s burial spot, if at all possible, and lay some flowers.

To arrive in Ludlow was like suddenly being moved to the medieval period, with its prominent castle, dating from the 11th Century, surrounded by medieval buildings, representing architecture of different periods.    This town was given the role of the administration of Wales under the Stuarts and Tudors, making Ludlow a social centre similar to Bath at a later period.    Both these towns had happy memories for me, which were revived when I returned to them. 

On this occasion, on entering the church graveyard, I recalled Ella’s eyes as she came out of a coma.   It was a long look, as she mouthed, “I am dying.”   I did not want her to think that this was true, and I replied, “I’ve been chasing the nurses.”   What better reply could I have wished for, when she slowly mouthed, “Trust you.”   I knew then that her brain was still working, and she was very much with those sitting around her bed in the hospital.

From the description given to me from Janet, I knew where her tablet was positioned and I had no difficulty in placing my flowers where her ashes were strewn, alongside her mother’s.   Joy stood silently by me, no doubt thinking of Gladys, who had played with her as a small child, bing her Nan.   God giveth and taketh, in his good time, and those that remain have a duty to those who have departed, to remember the happy times together and support those that need us.

It was still holiday time for schoolchildren, which meant that Kingston Drive was a hive of activity throughout the day and every day.   Each of the six offspring had their own friends coming into the house, plus Robert who had come to stay while gaining administrative experience at a local hospital, as part of a university course.    It was fortunate that their ages ranged from 6 to 19, for their friends arrived at varying times of the day, with the teenagers calling last, in the evenings.

Staying at Joan’s bungalow, a few doors away, I could obtain quietness, a commodity unobtainable at Andrew’s house, for if it was not so, there would be something wrong with their health.

Joan, being a whist fanatic and out most evenings, looked forward to me accompanying her.    This I did, but missed bridge, which allowed me to make phoney bids to make the game more interesting.   As with most activities of a team game, those taking part develop friendships and this was very much true in Joan’s case.    She was frequently going on short breaks with these whist friends.

Linda, who had travelled to and fro from Willenhall to do her teaching, had succeeded in gaining a teaching post at a local Shrewsbury School.   Gone were the daily 40 miles or more there and back, with all the wear and tear on the human body, plus stress on the nervous system, especially during foggy or misty weather.

Andrew gave her plenty of assistance in preparing notes on his word processor, which Linda needed.   This post was a big challenge for Linda, the headmaster had explained to her that there was no head of her department.   She had to take on both departmental head’s and teacher’s roles in her subject.   No mention had been made that her pay would reflect this joint role!

Joy had planned to stay a further week in Shrewsbury, giving her time to renew her friendships and especially those at Christ Church.   It was a midwife who was a member of the congregation at this church that had influenced Joy to take up a similar career.    I was told by Joy that she had taken part in the delivery of births when on duty in the maternity ward that would go towards qualifying as a midwife.

I would have a more mature driver to whisk me back home, and although they would be the same speed as Joy, being in a larger car, a cavalier compared to an Astra, I would feel safer.   Our trip back, with Andrew, Linda and younger members of the family not involved with paper rounds, included a stop at Ludlow on Saturday, where we hoped to call at Burway Crown Bowling Green.

This visit proved very fruitful for we not only saw the standard roses in bloom that were donated by Ella, but her friends, who organised their planting.   This was Mabel, Ken and two other ladies, who I had met, one being Dot Wainwright.   They were sitting alongside the standard roses, and this made an ideal setting for their photograph.   I asked Dot if she had obtained a Salvation Army hat yet, for I always joked about her dress appearance, resembling that of the Salvation Army.   Our stay was brief, while the bowlers were busy in the crown green.   Mabel made certain that we knew of Ella’s cup-winning achievement, before we left for home.

This had been an altogether useful stay at Shrewsbury, having also visited the farm to visit Edie at Whitegate, thanks to Joy, who took me.    David had always been resourceful and had been recognised by the National Farmers Union as a valuable member of their National Council.   During the past few years, he had built a large Swiss Villa close to Edie’s cottage.    This being on private land was given planning permission.   Work that those on the farm could not do themselves was put out to contract, such as the brick work.    

Susan, the daughter, was very artistic and had a sign-writing business.   She put her artistic stamp on the decorations, particularly the wall friezes.  John, her husband, a draughtsman by trade but also a handyman, produced all the working drawings and most of the carpentry, such as the stair fittings and doors.   The feature I admired the most was the balcony overlooking the green fields, where the cattle grazed.   Anyone strolling down the lane to Common Farm could be excused if they spotted this Swiss type villa, for thinking they had been transplanted to Austria or Switzerland.

When David decided to go ahead with this project, he imagined that Stephen, his son, would soon be married.   David, and Doris, his wife, would then vacate the farm and move into their new villa.    He did not allow for unpredictable happenings of the female species, for Stephen’s fiancée chose to take another educational course, leaving Stephen and the farm to look after themselves.   As there were no immediate prospects of Stephen finding a farmer’s wife, the work on the Swiss villa became extended.  

Whenever Edie and I had a phone conversation, I generally had an update on the latest work going on at the villa, which Edie looked on to.   It was the forecourt that was receiving David’s caring attention.   His scheme consisted of a brick-laid surface with raised rock gardens, banked on either side.    She thought this job could go on a long time, and would allow Stephen time to sort himself out a wife from the Young Cheshire Farmers Club, of which he was chairman.

On a field close to the cottage owned by David, were usually caravanners, enjoying the quietness of the farm in contrast to the built up areas where most of them came from.   They were generally a family unit, complete with young children and dogs.   Edie had them calling in frequently with friendships forming in cases where they made a regular routine of staying on David’s caravan site.

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© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: February 04, 2001