Little Women Revisited…

With her arms wrapped tightly around his waist, off he cycled towards home with her riding pinion. Home, back then to both was in the Lane at Kent House. It was always a blast when Laurie met her outside the school gates and took her home on his shiny metallic blue Chopper bike. Chopper bikes were right on trend in the early to mid 70s. The other girls always looked a little envious, either because she got a lift or maybe because it was on a Chopper. If her Mum had known, she would have had her guts for garters, and most likely Jo would have been grounded indefinitely, or at least until she got round her Mum with a nice warming cup of tea or some other such bribe. Chopper bikes were decidedly dangerous contraptions, some would say death traps but they looked good, and were fun to ride but the handle bars were lethal, a visit to casualty in the waiting. He, Laurie lived at number 4 with the mustard yellow door with his Dad John, Mum Doreen and younger sister Sarah. She, Jo lived a little further along the lane, on the same side of the road five doors up at number 14, where the front door was a sort of muted red, not quite scarlet but lighter than crimson. At Jo’s house were Dad Hew, Mum Mary, and her three sisters Meg, Beth and Amy. Jo and Laurie were friends, childhood friends, and had been since 1974 or thereabouts when Jo and Laurie were heading towards puberty. Between 1970 and 1974 they saw each other but that was all.  Their friendship when it started was platonic, nothing more, nothing less, and if it was more than that they never said a word. Sometimes words can spoil a friendship, sometimes words can spoil a marriage. Words have been known to bring down governments and make complete fuck-ups of families. Can boys and girls ever have a platonic friendship? Some, maybe many would say no but who are others to judge? Sometimes things are left unsaid, and one day everything changes because kids become adults and childhood gets lost somewhere in the archives of time. It was the early 1970s, and they were just children learning how to live, learning how to love and trying to fathom things out as they muddled along the road that is life. There was a crowd of boys and girls who lived in the Lane who sometimes hung out and sometimes did not, each with stories to come and histories to make. These were the kids of Kent House Lane.

Jo was actually Joanne Mary Huett, the Mary being named after her mum. Being somewhat of a tom boy she liked to dispel with the ‘anne’ bit and just be called Jo. Short and to the point, just like Jo who was petite in stature, and down to earth in character, always saying what she thought, often without thinking but never meaning any harm. Her rosy cheeks demonstrated a love of the outdoors. She had a mass of wild unruly raven curls, and preferred to wear washed out jeans and tee shirt given the choice.. She had no airs or graces, loved being out in the fresh air, and sometimes wished she had been born a boy as they seemed to have all the fun, or at least more fun than their female counterparts.They never got stuck with girl stuff  like washing up, sweeping and tidying, though in truth when there were any chores to do Jo  somehow  always managed to sneak out of the house and back to play. Meg, the eldest also always managed to evade household chores. Amy was still too young to be expected to do much around the house, so poor Beth, who was always so helpful and  so responsible got stuck with being the helping hand of the family. Beth was the second eldest. There were just eleven months between Meg and Beth. Then came Jo, three years after Beth, and then two years later came dear little Amy, the baby of the family. They were the Huett girls;  four little women of the 20th century.  Jo was just seven when she moved to the Lane. Before the Lane she had lived with the family in Sydenham in a rather large caricature of a ground floor flat in a large red brick Victorian House but that’s another story. 

This is Jo’s story as seen through her eyes. 

1970 The Move

“Come on girls…it’s time to leave” Daddy called out with that beautiful precise diction that was Daddy’s . It’s what my Mum, Mummy had initially fallen in love with!

We were all enormously excited because we were moving house. It was a big new adventure! Up until now we had lived in a flat, a big flat but still a flat. We were moving to our new house, and we would be occupying all of it, not just one floor. Just us and nobody else. The new house was in Beckenham which was considered so lardy da!  Just a couple of miles away,  so not too far to go.  Mummy and daddy had got a GLC Mortgage in order to buy it, though at the time we did not even know what a mortgage was, let alone a GLC Mortgage.  We just knew we were moving to a brand new house. Well, not a brand new house as it had been built during the 1930s, another thing we were not really aware of at the time, as children do not tend to dwell on such things too much when they are very young but to us it was brand new. We had never lived there before, so it was to all intents and purposes as new as they came. We were to have our very own front door, a front garden and a back garden,  just for us. I do not really recall being sad when we left the old house in Hillcrest but children look at things differently to adults. Looking back, I am sure leaving Hillcrest must have been sad to some degree for mummy and daddy as they had history there, and it had been their first home without Nana, and Aunties May and Connie. It had been a compulsory order for us to leave the old house, as the remaining old victorian houses in Hillcrest were to be demolished to give way to new flats to extend the nearly new  Hillcrest Estate which was full of high rise flats, all granite grey and concrete.

When we arrived at Kent House we all piled out of the car, crashing unceremoniously through the garden gate, down the short path, and all but stumbling into the house, all trying to be first in, and not quite managing it. Meg and Beth were to have the back bedroom that overlooked the back garden and and an expanse of land beyond the garage and back alley. Me and Amy were to have the small box room at the front of the house which looked out into the lane so we would be able to see the comings and goings on. We were the little ones so it was the little bedroom for us. They were the big ones and got the big room. Of course Amy and me had bunk beds. Me on the top and Amy on the bottom, though sometimes Amy  would join me in the top bunk as siblings often do, at least until she fell out and really hurt herself, and then she stopped coming in to my bed.  Mummy and daddy took the front bedroom with the bay window which I guess was the master bedroom. There were no ensuites in those days. There was a compact, some may say tiny bathroom with a toilet next to Meg and Beth’s room, and there was no downstairs toilet as there are in many of today’s houses. So if someone was having a bath you had to check to see if they needed to go to the loo first, or they would just have to wait but you never really thought anything of it as it was just the way it was. It was just lovely having a new house. We were all going to be very happy here. When you go into a house or any building you can often feel if it is a happy home or an unhappy one. Kent House was the former. We were home now and you know what they say. Home is where the heart is and all that mushy stuff that us sentimental types tend to fall for, hook, line and sinker whatever that may mean. So what’s the story behind the girl? 

Jo

Sometimes you have to go back to before the beginning of the story.  It’s a lie or maybe not a lie but a fib,  when they say a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Most stories have lots of beginning, lots of middles and many endings. It just depends on who is telling the story.  The Storyteller gets to pick and choose, and tell or not tell but the Author gets to show.  Jo wanted to write, did write and wanted more than anything to become a published Writer. She wrote poems, stories, snippets and anything else that ignited her rather overactive imagination. At the age of 5 or not quite 5 but nearly, Jo had started primary school and could already write her full name which was considered an achievement for a child at Kelvin Grove. Furthermore, she knew the alphabet off by heart. Yes, Jo loved to write, loved the language with all her being and wanted to get what was inside her out onto the page. 

Jo was the third daughter to be born to Hew and Mary. 

©. Liola Lee 2019

One of my favourite novels/books  as child/teenager/adult was ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. Being one of four sisters, I was able to identify with the characters in the story to varying degrees. My plan is to revise/combine the story with my own, so a mixture of fact and fiction. Whether I complete the project or not is another matter but it is an idea in my head just now….and I mean just an idea but maybe it could lead somewhere or maybe not…would love to know your comments on my idea!

. 

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Talking to dead people…

Daddy came to say hello and tell me that he was proud of me.

This happened five and a half years after he passed to the next world. Daddy drew his last breath on 29th December 2013 in the early hours of the morning.

Daddy died. There, I have said it. It’s been hard to say it, even though it’s true. When he passed from this world to the next, everything that had been constant in my life changed. I’d been right at his side at the end, right until that moment when he felt able to let go. From arriving at the hospital, until he inhaled his last breath, I and two of my sisters and of course our Mum had kept a vigil by his bedside.

Watching the life leave his once such strong body and mind was not instant. We had slowly been witnessing his decline for a long time. He had suffered with mixed dementia, which was a combination of Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s, so a double whammy!  Such a cruel blow of fate for a man who in his day had been so academic. My Dad, Hugh, was by far the cleverest man I have ever met! He was a one in a million type of man! They really do not make men like him anymore! He epitomised the term gentleman being a truly gentle man with impeccable manners. He was one of those who always let a lady go first, who would hold the door open for you, and who would stand up when a lady entered the room. He spoke the King’s/Queen’s English, pronouncing every letter and syllable perfectly.

He really was quite something!

His was a life well lived and he was a man well loved, who lived his life well.

He was my Dad, my hero!

It was a truly traumatic time for me and my family when Daddy left to go to the other side as it were! Towards the end I told my Dad it was okay to let go now, and not to worry, and that we would look after Mummy.

A couple of days back I decided to consult a Spiritual Psychic Medium who is also gifted in reading the Tarot, and other of the esoteric arts. You have to go into these things with an open mind as you do not know really how it’s going to go.

I have to say it was fascinating, mind blowing and really comforting. I cried a bit, and I laughed but mostly I felt connected. My Dad came to say hello, and to tell me how proud he was of me. He thanked me for all that I do for my Mum, and said no more tears, time to move forward.

I am not going to go in to too much detail as things were said/revealed that are very personal to me and my family. Many people are skeptical about this sort of thing, and yes, there are unscrupulous people out there who prey on those who are vulnerable and maybe grieving etc.

All that said, I did not go into this with my eyes shut. I researched and checked out the credentials of my Medium, and to be honest I just sort of got a feeling/connection with him. He was brilliant! He said things that no one else in the whole world could have known. He told me things that were in my head, and that I had not revealed to anyone. However, what truly reassured me, sold it to me, however you want to put it, is that my Dad gave a message to me that only me, my mum and sisters could know about, and of course my Dad.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and that everything we have ever done gets us to this point. All I can say is that I connected to the spirit world through the help of a gifted Medium, and now I feel able to move forward as my Dad has reassured me that it is okay to do so.

We may call it ‘talking to dead people’ but we are thinking of it in a physical sense. We are merely chatting to those who have gone from one room to another. We can still talk to them but just need to learn the language. Those in the Spirit world know what they are doing. We just need to learn how to receive messages, signs, wisdom, guidance, advice.  It’s sort of like learning a new language. The language of energy.  Everything is energy, and the energy never dies!

Just recently I have been, or rather for a long time have been thinking of learning a new language. I was pretty much thinking maybe French, possibly Italian but after my recent encounter with the Spirit World I have decided to try and learn the language of the Spirit World. For some that is weird, for others you will understand!

Best wishes,

Liola

The image is of me and my Dad on my wedding day on 5th May 1984 which was also my 22nd birthday…I got to do a waltz with my Dad as the first dance. Wish I could remember the song we danced to. It will come back to me one day…

Heron

1I7A7248fb-1‘Make a stand for what you believe in and do what feels right in spite of any judgement or disapproval from others’.  ~ Heron ~ (author not known)

~ Heron symbolism ~

Image captured by LiolaPhotographic in Warminster, 2019

© LiolaPhotographic 2019