Pom pom wreaths

I bought a pom pom maker last year and it quickly became addictive. Every night whilst watching tv I’d make 3 or 4 in these Christmas colours hoping to make them into keyrings. Until I discovered pom pom wreaths on Pinterest.

At the Christmas Fayre they attracted a lot of attention. In the sale at Hobbycraft they were selling the base for making wreaths. This was a great improvement on my previous effort I used a wire hanger and shaped it around a waste paper basket. It lacked the professional finish – you be the judge.

I experimented with different colours for example pink and white.

Nice for a new baby gift.

Windrush Generation

As the fireworks explode and people hug and cheer to welcome the new year; my new year is tinged by sadness. Last year I sacrificed my attendance at Watch night service to spend it with my very ill aging parents. We toasted in the New Year hugged and kissed them so happy they’d made it through another year.

The year brought much laughter but also many tears. In March dad had a minor stroke according to the medics but it was devastating on top of myeloma. I struggled to breathe as I took in that the healthier parent was now struggling to speak, eat and walk. In the ambulance and the long wait in A&E he had to comfort me instead of the other way round. After 6 weeks in hospital they dismissed him with an 18 week waiting list for physio and speech and language.

Unsurprisingly, he did not manage to get this treatment; he deteriorated quickly. He managed to make it to my 50th birthday party – he refused to leave early despite feeling tired. It was his last venture into the outside world. My mum had to press panic button three more times before he was admitted to the hospital. Everyday he was less and less communicative; barely conscious; not eating or drinking.

Every day was filled with anxiety, would the hospital call? Would the carers call? Who would go first mum or dad? It was difficult to call. It turns out it was dad. From the cancer diagnosis to death it was exactly a year. The whole family was with him at the end – we prayed; we sang; we reminisced and he slipped away quietly and peacefully.

Mum seemed to handle his death with strength and resilience. She helped us plan the funeral right down to the coffin, his burial outfit, the songs and the tributes. I could only admire her courage, her husband of 54 years died in September ; it looked like she would be able to carry on. I was wrong. She said she missed him I thought I understood how much but the truth was she didn’t want to – she couldn’t live without him.

The 5 years of living with PSP took its toll on her fragile body. At the beginning of November she was admitted to hospital with a chest infection and by the end of the week we were told there was no hope.

I have no words to explain the devastation on the family. The matriarch who brought the family through all the highs and lows in our life would no longer be around. We didn’t want to let her go. Not now! So soon after dad it didn’t seem possible.

During the two weeks she was in hospital we spent time as a family and we could remember the hilarious stories from our childhood. Losing both parents in such a short space of time has left a gaping hole in my life, but occasionally I manage to fill that hole with the many beautiful memories they have given us. As the year comes to a close with fireworks and hugs there are two empty chairs in the living room and an occupied mansion in heaven. RIP Isaiah and Eulalee Jackson.

A Faithful Servant

My beautiful father at the age of 89 made his journey from life to death on Friday 7th September 2018 surrounded by his family. He was a man who always said he didn’t want a fuss but he was secretly happy when we did for his birthday or Christmas.

He took the scripture that there is life and death in the power of the tongue by never saying a bad word about anyone (no matter how much they deserved it). He chose to give life through encouragement and positivity – rather than the easy route of mocking or condemning anybody or anything slightly different.

In his last days he was in excruciating pain but he could still make me laugh through a facial expression or a reaction to a green concoction that I blended to force him to eat some vegetables.

I loved him so much, his treatment of others from a baby to his peers was unique, it was hard to be angry in his presence because he was always so calm.

When he died their was an overwhelming outpouring of grief not just from family but from his neighbours, church, community and friends. One former Sunday school student said her happiest times were spent in the church van, Sunday school and youth club surrounded by positive forward looking people. A friend said he was always a true gentleman.

Dad used to say ‘it is appointed to man once to die and after that the judgement.’ Well I think people will judge him as a good man; a man who tried under difficult circumstances to remain faithful to GOD.

Holiday Reads

The Longest Holiday

I took this book on holiday not really expecting much from it. However from the first paragraph I was gripped.

The main protagonist cried a lot throughout each chapter to be honest these type of characters put me off because they come across as weak and insipid but surprisingly I immediately connected with her. Sometimes it depends on the stage in life that you’re at. There are days when I feel like crying and I’m afraid to in case it never stops.

Back to the story each chapter is well structured to keep the reader turning the page. The main relationship in the story takes a long time to get going. I would describe it as Shirley Valentine in Miami.

There are a number of twists and surprises in what is quite a simple plotline. I found it hilarious when she describes her friend falling in love on holiday and leaving her at the airport to face disappointed parents. It reminded me of my one and only venture to Kavos a girl at the airport still high saying she didn’t want to go home.

Towards the end of the novel – the reader becomes caught up in the protagonists dilemma. Which man will she choose? Does she have the capacity to forgive?

Elmina’s Kitchen

Elmina’s Kitchen

A harrowing drama about two generations of black men dealing with what it means to be black and British. The language is strong but it is a good attempt to capture the authenticity of spoken language in the area. The characters in the play are imprisoned in a world of crime and violence they struggle to avoid being sucked into the dark underworld. Love and respect are powerful themes that significantly challenge the traditional father son relationship in the drama.

There is a noted absence of female characters in the play which on the whole allows many sexist and misogynistic comments to go unchecked. The huge portrait of Elmina Deli’s mother watches over the action but she is helpless to prevent the dark criminal underworld encroaching on her family.

The antagonist Digger is an ever present malignant force but at times reveals a vulnerability. He is aware he is an outsider as his friendship with Deli is based on fear and intimidation. Digger successfully grooms Ashley into his criminal and violent activities with money and expensive gifts which eventually makes him choose where to place his loyalty.

The play opens with the song Sufferer by Bounty Killer – the song captures the many years of injustice and racism endured by the characters in the play. There are choices presented about how you deal with the injustice, through: crime and violence; hard work and self determination, wider reading and education. Ashley’s dumping of his school books in the bin is symbolic of him choosing the fast route to ‘success’ regardless of the consequences.

The writer also presents the values and beliefs of the older generation through Bayjee and Clifton. Bayer never married but he is prepared to take advantage of any woman on his rounds as a travelling salesman. Whereas Clifton was married to Delie’s mother Elmina but left her for another woman. There are no happy marriages/rela

The ending of the play shows how the values and belief systems of the early West Indian pioneers have been distorted through the character of Ashley.

A summer of pointless stabbings across London of young black men adds poignancy to the themes and ideas in the play – now a prophetic voice warning of the bloodshed on the streets.

New Term

Summer’s over, days are shorter and much colder. Time to.start taking notice of those back to school signs that have been in your face since the beginning of the summer holidays.

A time of transition for many; start of primary school, secondary school, sixth form, university etc. An anxious time for parents experiencing separation of varying degrees. Will they be Happy? Will they fit in? Will they be safe?

The obligatory photograph at the doorway in pristine uniform circulated on social media hoping for likes and comments like, ‘really! Where has the time gone?

All teachers up and down the country have wasted their last week counting down the days before their return to the classroom. What’s on my timetable? I hope I have my own classroom. I should have written that scheme of work earlier.

Prepare for that sleepless night tossing and turning having anxiety dreams, about clothes, teeth and falling – all perfectly normal. You are entering an extreme sport where you are challenged on a daily basis to entertain, challenge and get results. Like a gladiator you must enter the arena and battle with the mobile phone, the hat, the coat and the disengagement.

How many weeks to Christmas?

50 book titles that reflect my life

1. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

2. The Color Purple Alice Walker

3. Far From the Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy

4. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

6. A Thousand Splendid Sons Khaled Hosseini

7. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

8. Bridget Jones Diary Helen Fielding

9. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

10. Persuasion Jane Austen

11. Mansfield Park Jane Austen

12. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

13. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

14. I know why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

15. The Bluest Eyes Toni Morrison

16. A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens

17. Pygmalion G.B. Shaw

18. Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller

19. A View from the Bridge Arthur Miller

20. King Lear William Shakespeare

21. Hamlet William Shakespeare

22. Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare

23. A Doll’s House Henrik Ibsen

24. Look Back in Anger John Osbourne

25. Educating Rita Willy Russell

26. Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt

27. Miss Smilla’s feeling for Snow Peter Hoeg

28. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

29. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

30. Regeneration Pat Barker

31. Journey’s End R.S Sherrif

32. The Color Purple Alice Walker

33. The Third Life of Grange Copeland Alice Walker

34. Freaky Friday Mary Rogers

35. Welcome Home Jelly bean Marlene Shyer

36. Red Sky in the Morning Elizabeth Laird

37. 1984 George Orwell

38. Animal Farm George Orwell

39. Why I’m no longer talking about race.

40. Small Island Andrea Levy

41. White Teeth Zadie Smith

42. A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry

43. Catcher in the Rye J.D Sallinger

44. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

45. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

46. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

47. Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry Mildred D. Taylor

48. Waiting to Exhale Terry McMillan

49. After you’d gone Maggie O’Farrell

50. Ethan Frome Edith Wharton