A cold winter 1947

The story virtually ignores the Second World War as a minor interruption to the Wexford girl story. Maggie and her new husband, James, settle in to their new lives in England. Their friends, Jonty and Betty, in the years to the end of the war, increase the size of their family by four more children in addition to Veronica and her elder brother, Albert. By the end of the war, Veronica and Kathleen, Maggie’s daughter, become firm friends.

The tale instead moves on to 1947, to the coldest winter of the century on record at that time. Maggie and James worry about Jonty, Betty and their children. Money is tight and their old terraced house, like Maggie’s, is cold and damp, but James and Maggie are, relatively speaking, better off. James braves the snow and wind to buy boxes of food for Betty’s family. As an employee of the coal mine, James also has coal that he can spare for Betty’s fire.

The children play in the snow but the school had to close when Sister Mary slipped and ‘fell on her arse with her legs in the air.’ Veronica comes to stay with Kathleen’s family for the winter to ease the burden on Betty. All the children have only thin second-hand clothes to wear in that winter but neighbours help each other out. As winter progresses, even the coal mine has to shut down. The army is called in to clear the roads and railways. Thousands of people lose power to their homes.

Moving on to 1950, Betty’s family is relocated from their crumbling terraced house into a new Council house, two miles from Maggie’s. They promised to keep in touch and Kathleen hugged all her departing friend’s family – even Veronica’s elder brother, Albert. After his dad died, just after the war, Albert is now working and taking on chores that his dad would have been responsible for. Veronica and Kathleen remain close friends even after the house move.

As 1952 arrives, Kathleen receives a shock. Her parents, Maggie and James have decided that they want to return to Ireland, to their families and so that Kathleen can get to know her grandparents, aunts and uncles. Veronica isn’t the only one in her family to be devastated by the news. Her brother, Albert, has taken quite a shine to Kathleen. He will shortly be starting National Service and asks Kathleen to promise to write to him. She agrees on condition that he’ll write back.

Kathleen, who has been working for the priests for the past seventeen years gets a good recommendation from them to take with her. The teachers and sisters at the school all sign a greetings card for Kathleen. Meanwhile, Albert doesn’t know what to do. For the past four years he has been contriving excuses to visit Kathleen’s family hoping just to see her.

As the English shores disappear from the sight of passengers on the ship taking them to Ireland, Kathleen weeps, wanting to return. She’ll miss Veronica badly, but she’ll also miss Albert.

More tomorrow about their new life in Ireland.

I took today’s featured photo at Smuggler’s Cove, Ardgroom on the Beara Peninsula of County Cork Eire while I was on holiday. I used my former Pentax K3-ii 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/14 and 48 mm. The shutter speed was 1/40 secs and the ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Back to the drawing board

Yesterday, I said that I hadn’t made my mind up about which book to revise or re-write. I decided that it would need to be the Persephone story. It won’t need to be a root and branch revision, and while I’m working, there will be some time to think about how I’ll need to approach the New Tangled Tango storyline.

I’ve made a start. Persephone becomes Poppy; Chester becomes the city; the named council becomes simply the Council. Poppy and Adam no longer work in different Councils, but are now in different sections of the same council; the setting is Northern England rather than just the Wirral Peninsula and Snowdonia; At least one of the trips will be to the English Lake District; Welsh names of lakes and mountains become either anglicised or anonymous. Descriptions of photographic technique will be radically edited for simplification and to move the plot on.

Speaking of the plot, Adam will get a bit more spine – he was a bit of a ‘snowflake’. All that sounds like a couple of minutes work, but it will take several hours, if not days, to read the old file through – line-by-line, word-by-word – to ensure that my editing doesn’t introduce new problems.

So far I’m about a quarter way through.

As promised, today’s featured photograph is the first of two to show excerpts from the Liverpool River of Light fireworks display, 2018. The viewpoint is from near the Woodside ferry terminal, Birkenhead, looking across the River Mersey towards Liverpool waterfront.

I took the photo with my Pentax K3ii 24 MP cropped sensor camera tripod mounted and with an 18-65 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 21 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 8/5 seconds and the ISO was 100.

Brain Fog

This Blog is the only writing that I’ve done today. It seems that I’ve been spending too long staring at this screen lately – up to eight or even nine hours per day. I’d realised that my head had sometimes felt strange for the past week or so, but I had put it down to postural hypotension – an older persons’ problem of dizziness after standing too quickly after being sat down for a while.

When I arose this morning, I felt as though my brain was loose in my head in a sludgy pond; I couldn’t express the words I wanted to say; I couldn’t work out in what order to perform the simplest tasks. It also felt as though my loose brain was weighing down and putting pressure on my eyes. Added to all that was the feeling of tiredness. In short, my brain had fogged over.

Maybe some people always feel like that first thing , but I’m usually a morning person; aches and stiffness -yes, but I’m normally as bright as a button, fully ready to start my day.

I googled the symptoms. Straightaway different sources informed me that brain fog is an actual medical condition. Who knew? It seems that, as often as not, it’s the result of too much mental exertion – the remedy being to pace oneself better; to have a rest for a few hours or days.

I want to get back to writing; to my characters and the plot – but not at the cost of feeling like I did this morning. I do feel much better tonight as I write this, but I won’t be staying up late writing as I have been doing. I’ll see how I feel in the morning.

To accompany a condition such as brain fog, I’ve chosen an image of a foggy morning in Sutton Park, St Helens, Merseyside. I captured the image last December using my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera using a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 35 mm and f/5.6. The ISO was 200 and the shutter speed 1/80 seconds.

I chose a black and white rendition that I felt conveyed the feeling better.