Saturday, August 29, 2009

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I watched the tribute to Edward Kennedy live from the JFK Library in Boston last night. It was a moving celebration of this larger-than-life man's life.

Nobody thankfully, talked about the tragedies that this man had endured in his private life under the spotlight where the critics were and still are, so harshly unforgiving. No one is perfect. This man lost three brothers - one during WW11 and the remaining two, to an assassin's bullet. He came from a family of achievers - a precedent set by a not-so-nice father and had a great deal to live up to. People with far less on their plates have turned to the bottle and women. I am not condoning his somewhat shady past but he did admit publicly to his shortcomings and took full responsibility for his irresponsible actions. When he did get his act together, he turned out to be possibly the greatest Senator of our time.

Last night his family, friends and colleagues and members of both parties told wonderful stories about him that unfortunately never reached the press. Good stories don't always make the newspapers because, let's face it, good news rarely sells newspapers. As one person whom he had helped said 'if only they knew'.

Teddy Kennedy loved to sing. I know all about that coming from Irish stock on my father's side. So when they closed the evening with a wonderful rendition of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" my eyes filled with tears. For the first time during the amazing tribute, I cried. Not only for someone I did not know but for my childhood memories and the memory of my father's eyes filling with tears whenever he sang an Irish ballad, especially when we all broke out into "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Woodstock Couple

The famous photo above, says it all. It was a time of hippies, drugs, non confrontational demonstrations, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, protests, ban-the-bomb, peace and love. Free love. Is love ever free?

By now, people are probably totally fed up with hearing about Woodstock but I wanted to share the story of the Ercolines who are the couple in the picture that said it all. I also wanted to share it because my friend Kennedy James has written two fantastic blogs on Woodstock, one of which carried the 'famous picture'. When I commented that the London Daily Mail had tracked down the couple he seemed surprised (or was it wonder?) and wanted to know if they were still together. Well blow me down! Yes they are and here is how they are today.

Woodstock 2

Bobbi and Nick Ercoline by kindness of the London Daily Mail.

Forty years ago, the couple joined an estimated 500,000 for an event that was to become legendary. Two years later they married, had two sons and now still live not far from the concert site at Bethel in upstate New York.

Now both sixty, the Ercolines last week returned to the site for the anniversary event.

'Who'd have thought that our 15 minutes of fame would last 40 years?' said Nick, who now works for his county's housing department.

He and Bobbi, a school nurse, never intended to go to the original concert. But as the couple sat listening to the radio that weekend, the crowd swelled, police closed the roads and broadcast appeals for people to stay away. This made them determined to join in the fun.

They grabbed a gallon jug of red wine, some bags of crisps, and headed for Woodstock, abandoning the car six miles from the concert and walking the rest of the way.

The couple were pictured by a wandering photographer and the shot made it on to the cover of the Woodstock triple album featuring, among others, Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

Nick recalls that he and Bobbi were listening to it at a friend's house when he picked up the sleeve. 'I said, "Hey that's our blanket." Then I said, "Hey, that's us!"'

Woodstock 3

So there you go! A photograph that defined a generation and a great on going story to boot!

©Barbara M Lake

(With thanks to the London Daily Mail)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Indulgence

Last Saturday my daughter gave me a delightful surprise. She presented me with USD50.00 worth of gift vouchers to be used in a local book store, Nigel Khan.

Oh heaven! My idea of bliss is browsing in a bookshop. I used to take my children to a book shop in the Piazza, Covent Garden, London and there they could sit on cushions and bean bags, flicking through as many books as they wanted until they decided which to have. Meanwhile, I would sneak next door to the adult section. I can get lost in book shops, music shops and chemists. That's because in England, chemists stock the most amazing things from basic pain killers to Clarins make up.

But back to last Saturday! When I asked my daughter why she had given the gift vouchers to me she replied that it was about time that I indulged myself in something that I liked indulging in. The gift vouchers ended up in my hot sticky paws because she had actually steered me towards the book shop and told me to choose some books.

I like to browse.

She likes to shop.

I was browsing.

She was in a hurry! The clothes shops were near to closing.

I was still browsing.

She said she was off to buy a book.

Five minutes later she returned and gave me an envelope containing the treasured gift vouchers.

She left the shop. I continued to browse now with a real warm, glowing feeling. I was going to indulge!

After about an hour during which my husband called me three times; "Where are you?", I decided on just one book for the day. An A S Byatt novel, The Virgin in the Garden. It is the first of a trilogy. It will be followed by Still Life and Babel Tower.

I went to the desk, handed over one precious gift voucher plus a TT$10 bill (my daughter had warned me 'no change'!!), watched my book being lovingly wrapped and put into a very pretty carrier bag - a huge carrier bag that if truth be told, would have held half a dozen books.

I put a smaller carrier which held Obama's "Dreams From My Father' which my daughter had bought for her father, into my carrier and strolled out of the shop into the gentle drizzling rain.

I felt wonderful and couldn't wait to get home to curl up with book and a large glass of Australian Chardonnay!

Happiness is what you make it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Muse is Back!

My blogging definitely came to an abrupt halt a few weeks ago and much as I tried to get myself together, the Muse had abandoned me! I suppose Muses get fed up with waiting around if one doesn’t listen! My excuse is that since the close of my regular blog spot, I somehow have not had the desire nor the inclination to ‘get going’ elsewhere. Many in ‘the group’ had the same problem and some even said that the loss of our ‘home’ where we had made friends and shared so many experiences had sent them into what could only be deemed as a sense of loss and grieving.

Many good friends are thankfully still around and have not, as my Muse, abandoned me. I had to wonder whether or not my humour, my ‘Our House’ series, my venting and my sometimes strong opinions would fly on another site. I have read that a blog is a ‘thing of the moment’, a ‘diary’, a ‘journal’ and even just a fleeting few minutes of ‘me’ but when elsewhere the visitor figures clocked up just four thousand short of one hundred thousand over a period of fourteen months, the thought of building up yet another group of friends is somewhat daunting.

The truth, no matter what anyone says, is that we all like to be liked and we all like to have people visiting our page and commenting on our daily/weekly/ rare/ regular offerings. The beauty of bogging is the diversity and there is something for everyone. We all have our favourites and miss them when they don’t appear for a while. Then there is the deliciousness of discovering someone new to add to one’s list of favourites. The people from whom we learn new things, those who are in life changing experiences and are able to write about it honestly and openly and sometimes with humour; those who are suffering and in pain, those who are witty, the poets, the geography teachers, the history teachers, the movie buffs, the chefs and those who with just a few lines can remind us perhaps of what we once knew. The blogger’s world is different to any other ‘world’. Would-be writers are in abundance,

So having said that and made an effort to blog my thoughts, I have made myself a promise to return to this world which I love and find so fascinating.

Apart from the Muse abandoning me (what an excuse!)I have been preoccupied over the last few weeks with a husband whose blood pressure has gone through the roof, dropped to a figure which by rights should have had him in a coma and a pulse rate that is so low, it is well into the danger zone. Visits to doctors have proved frustrating and the best attempt of humour I can make is that when the doctor told my husband that he had an enlarged heart, he turned to me and with typical bravado said, ‘You see, it’s your fault! I keep telling you how much I love you and now look what you’ve done to my heart! It is big with love for you’. Well the doctor collapsed laughing and I retorted with some smart arse remark to break the tension. The doctor is now convinced as are many of our friends, that we should have a double act. Friends who know me by now think that my house should be the subject of a television situation comedy series. They couldn’t pay me enough!

The second reason I haven’t been ‘into’ blogging is that my boss of nine years is no longer my boss. That you may say is of no consequence but as a friend pointed out to me, my ‘security blanket’ has been whipped from underneath me. Life will go on, the job will go on and I will continue to do what I am doing but at the moment, not knowing who is coming in to ‘fill the big boots’ is somewhat concerting.

Life goes on and I will be screeching back into blog land very soon.

The Muse is back!
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