Poole Quay: 2018, probably vintage


Another buy from my favourite charity shop.  In pristine condition.  Slightly larger than most British touristy tea towels.  Good quality linen.  But those aren’t the reasons that I bought it.  I have been to Poole on many occasions and have some good memories but there are three things about Poole that have stuck in my mind all these years (a) Poole Pottery (b) Brownsea Island and (c) Ian Harrison.  So when I saw the tea towel (and I don’t already have one from Poole) I just had to buy it.

When my parents married, it was not long after the Second World War ended, and they didn’t have much money.  My mother kept a list of wedding presents that they received, which is now in my possession: bedroom furniture, chairs, towels, bed linen, glasses but not china.  Not even the obligatory tea service, common in the early fifties.  My mother always wanted a dinner service; I’m not sure why because they didn’t have people round for dinner.  She longed for 12 dinner plates, 12 side plates, 12 soup bowls, 12 pudding dishes and so forth, all matching.  She also longed for a matching gravy boat and custard jug, a tea service and serving dishes.  She knew that they would never be able to afford such a thing, all in one go.  My father had no interest in window shopping, let alone real shopping, so she had free-reign in choosing a set.

We had been on holiday in Sandbanks, another place I haven’t got a tea towel from, when we took a trip to Poole.  My Dad sat on the harbour wall, clutching his transistor radio right up to his ear, listening to the Test Match.  This was the story of all our Summer holidays.  My mother was happy enough with this because she was able to go off with me.  On this occasion we went to Poole Pottery.  All that lovely china, all manner of colours, whole matching sets.  She found what she wanted.  The chunkier pottery was much more fashionable than fine bone china.  She loved their ‘signature’ dinner service of Twintone Ice Green and Seagull; she loved the colours and texture, silky smooth; she loved the shape of the cups and serving dishes but especially the soup bowls; she loved the fact that there was a gravy boat and custard jug and there were things like ‘cucumber dishes’.  She had made her choice.  So what she did was buy one plate to show my dad, in the certain knowledge that he would agree.  He agreed and that plate was the start of the collection.  She got a brochure of the whole set, with a price list.  For the next three years, for every birthday, wedding anniversary and Christmas present, from everyone, they knew that she wanted something off the list.  Depending who it was, it could be several dinner plates or an egg cup; she didn’t allocate gifts to people, that would have been presumptuous.  In the main people gave her either a Gift Voucher or the money to ensure that she didn’t get duplicates.  She was canny; she started with building up to four of each piece of the dinner service, then to six, then eight, ten and finally twelve.  Once that had been completed she went for the ‘luxury’ goods: serving dishes, gravy boat, salad bowl, toast rack.  She loved the set; she displayed pieces and used it for many many years until the clumsiness of daughter, husband and cleaner meant pieces were chipped or, frankly, smashed to smithereens.  It was only then that she decided to use the same tactics and go for a bone china set from Royal Doulton.  The remains of the Poole Pottery set then went to her younger brother Chris, when he left home to go to university as a mature student.

Poole Quay is the starting point for a trip to Brownsea Island.  On a sunny day, with a calm sea, this is is a wonderful place to go.  With the sea breeze offering a cooling balm, there is plenty to see from the boat: the John Lewis hotel amongst the trees, a few houses and a harbour bursting with boats.  My day on Brownsea Island was certainly a day to remember (and there was a tea towel to go with it).

The third association with Poole is Ian Harrison.  Ian was someone I met in 1975.  At that time, he ran the organisation that I managed from 1999.  A disabled man who contracted polio when he was 18 and in the Merchant Navy; he moved on crutches, much faster than I could on two good legs.  He was born and brought up in Poole, learn to sail in Poole harbour and that love of water encouraged him to join the Merchant Navy and it was that love of the water, following his illness, enabled him to be a successful Paralympic and World Championship sailor.  When I first met him I thought he was a great person with a wicked sense of humour.  However, Ian was also a canny man with impeccable tactics.  He worked for a charity; he wanted to set up a group for disabled people, one day a week, in Birstall and he wanted a volunteer to do it.  He knew that was going to be difficult to achieve so he approached my boss, Ted Harris, who he knew very well.  He sold the idea to Ted as an ‘opportunity’ for someone who would benefit from a new experience; Ted had already proposed that Leicestershire County Council seconded me on a full-time training course starting in September 1975.  Ted suggested that I should be the ‘volunteer’ for six months before I went off to college.  If ever anyone was set-up, it was me.  I did need experience in that I had never worked with disabled people BUT my course had nothing to do with disabled people as such.  No one else wanted to do this job.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my six months; I met some fantastic people but it was the hardest work I’d ever done and I was on my own, no one to help.  I had to plan all the activities, each week, do all personal care, teach people new skills, keep cheerful, make the drinks, serve the dinner, clear the plates and find a never-ending energy.  Every Friday I was knackered.  They were right; it was good experience.

It was 25 years later that I met Ian again.  I’d read about him in the papers but not met him since that fateful day in 1975; suddenly I found myself being interviewed  by him when I applied to be the Director of mosaic: shaping disability services.  It was a bit of a shock.  By this time he was the chairperson of the organisation.  He didn’t remember me; mind you, I had many more wrinkles than the last time I met him!  I worked under him for 16 years at mosaic and not only had so much respect for him as a manager but also genuinely liked him.  He had a great sense of humour.  Although I had retired, I was devastated when he told me that he had inoperable cancer.  The last thing he said to me was “I have had a charmed life; I have done everything I wanted to and had more opportunities as a result of the polio than I have lost because of it”.

So when I saw the tea towel I had to have it.


Bar-B-Q: 2018

This is stunning summer weather.  Wherever you go, people are saying that this is the best summer that they can remember.

The summer was like this when I moved into my last house in April 2003.  I had breakfast everyday of the week from April 5th to the middle of September on the patio, overlooking the garden.  It was a joy.  I could sit there to plan the garden, imagine the chickens running around and the raised vegetable beds.  I could picture the flower beds and fruit bushes.  I made big plans.

All I can say is that I am mighty pleased that we are experiencing the same sort of weather in the year that I moved house again.  With all the building work that is going on, being without windows on some days, doors on another, furniture all in storage, I am delighted that I can sit in the garden and once again think about what I am going to do once the building work has finished.  I hate to think about the mud that would have been around if it had been a rainy May and June.

This is the sort of weather to have a Bar-B-Q, if only I liked Bar-B-Qs and if there was room to set up a Bar-B-Q amongst the concrete mixer, piles of bricks and sand.  No Bar-B-Q doesn’t mean I can’t use these magnificent tea towels.  They came as a pair, one dedicated to those chicken drumsticks and sausages and one for the steaks, very stylish and well worth doing the wiping up with.


Tracks: 2017


At the start of the term, Cathy offered the Creative Writing Group the chance of a 1:1 discussion with her to talk about any aspect of our writing that we chose; it was not compulsory.

”If you want to take this up, you need to let me know in advance what it is you want to talk about so I can be prepared.  It will be more useful”

The list came round with ‘slots’ to fill in.  I need all the help I can get and I did have something specific that I wanted to discuss.

“If you have something you want me to read, just email it to me a few days before our session with some ideas about what you want help with.  Or if it is a more general discussion, just tell me what the topic is”

A week before our session, I sent an email:

“I want to know how to start creating fiction from the inspiration of a tea towel”

I explained that all the writing that I had ever done had been factual, anecdotal but based on the truth.  I have never written fiction and I am coming to the stage that after 550 Tea Towel Blogs that there are some tea towels I have nothing to say about.

“Give me an example” she replied.  “Can you bring one with you?”.

”Ooops, no; they are all in storage but I will send you a scanned image”

It’s a good job this was all done by email because I could feel that sense of confusion in Cathy.  Here is a published writer, being asked to take an interest in one of her pupil’s tea towels.  In the end, I chose three, one of which was ‘Tracks’ (bought at Tebay Services on the way back from holiday last year).

”I don’t know how to start.  It’s not like I have never written anything but everything I’ve written is factual.  I want to be inspired to create fiction for a Blog”

Always practical, Cathy says “What’s the word length?”.

”There’s no limit.  My shortest was 169 words, the longest more than 2200”.

”So you could do ‘Flash Fiction’ or a Short Story.  What appeals to you?”

”I don’t know.  I haven’t got that far.  I don’t know how to even start thinking about this”.

”Let’s look at one of the tea towels.  Which one?”

”Tracks because at least I was responsible for buying it”

”What do you see?” she asks

”Footprints, tracks, tyre marks, hooves”

”What does it make you think of?”

We go on like this for ages.  It was when she said “Is there a character?” that I was totally dumbfounded and she began to realise that this was like trying to get blood from a stone.

”No.  No character.  My mind has gone blank.”

”You need to free up your mind” and she leads me to the flip chart.  “The first word you said was ‘footprints’ so let’s put that in the centre of the page.  From that draw lines linking to it”.

”Is this like ‘Clustering’ that we did back in November last year, a spidergraph?”

”Yes, similar”.  It’s strange how the mind gets blanker, the harder you try (and is that even good English?).  I am thinking that she is flogging a dead horse, using yet another cliche.

”My advice to you is that you need to keep writing, every day, it doesn’t matter what it is, just put pen to paper, don’t worry about what it is.  Perhaps even keep a notebook nearby.  Don’t try and tweak it, just write.”

It suddenly dawns on me that this is what I already do; I have a notebook; I do write every day; I don’t keep tweaking it until I am ready.  What I don’t do is write about anything else other than tea towels.  Maybe I need to try and write about other things and then in time come back to the tea towels and match it up.

So today, I am sitting in Waitrose Cafe, trying to catch glimpses of conversations and jotting them down.  No, I am not transcribing a conversation but just odd sentences that might prove useful.  Just think, my next Tea Towel Blog might start with “Can John McCormack come to Customer Services please?”


Derby: 2012 and much more


I joined a Creative Writing Course back in September because I wanted to improve my writing, become more creative, more imaginative, more interesting.  What I hadn’t thought about was that I would have access to the writings, both poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, of so many different writers, often writers who did not always have confidence in their own style.  It is a real learning curve.  I have come to understand the style of writing that I enjoy and appreciate and what I find more difficult to understand.  What holds the group together, apart from a very talented tutor, is the encouragement writers offer each other.

My tea towel of Derby is very traditional, sketches of landmarks but my memories of Derby are actually unmemorable, apart from a great concert by Gilbert O’Sullivan performing his wonderful song (with visuals) about tea.  Writing an interesting blog about Derby was going to prove difficult for me.

I have been writing an ‘article’ about a Special Collection of tea towels for the Virtual Tea Towel Museum concerning the centenary of women getting the vote.  Robbie read the article and told me about an article he had written back in 2014:

”The Royal Storytellers, of which I am a member, based at the Theatre Royal, were invited in 2014 to take part in remembering some aspect or other of the Great War.  The brief was as wide as possible.  I was tempted by the Chilwell Canaries but came across Alice and her family through reading Pat Barker’s WWI trilogy.  The politics of it appealed to me.  Even today, Alice and her family are perhaps not as well known as they should be”

This sounded interesting; true to his word, Robbie sent me the article he had written.  I read it several times; it demonstrated how there are so many perspectives to every story. It occurred to me that this would be a more interesting Tea Towel Blog than I could ever create about Derby.  So with some trepidation I asked him if I could use his story, fully crediting him with it; I am aware that ‘blogging’ is often not considered ‘proper’ writing.  His response was “Of course you can.  Please use it as you will. Feeling flattered. Robbie”.  So here is his article

Alice Wheeldon                                

“It’s August 1914.  Welcome to Derby, Pear Tree Road in particular.  Here you find a second hand clothes shop run by Alice Wheeldon and her family. 

Alice, her daughters Nellie, Harriett and Winnie and her only son, William, immersed themselves in the radical politics of the day.  Socialism, feminism, atheism, pacifism and support for the suffragettes were their guiding principles.  They adopted vegetarianism which, at that time, was more a political act than a life style choice.    It would be difficult to imagine a more politically aware family.

When Britain declared war on 4th August 1914 its armed forces were made up of volunteers.  Government appeals for more men to join up were successful but heavy losses on the western front meant that even more men were needed and the shortfall could not be met by volunteers alone.  So, in 1916 the Military Service Act was passed, meaning that all adult men from the ages of 18-41 were liable to be conscripted into the armed forces.

It was possible to appeal against being conscripted, for example, on grounds of ill health, hardship, infirmity, essential war time employment.  The most contentious category of appellant was that of conscientious objector, known colloquially as a ‘conchie’.

Some ‘conchies’ were pacifists or had moral or ethical objections against the war such as Quakers and Jehovah Witnesses.  The largest group were political opponents of the war who did not see the Germans as their enemy.  Mostly of a left wing persuasion, they looked on the war as a ‘boss’s war’, a way of making the capitalists even richer at the expense of the working class.  Even if a ‘conditional exemption’ was granted it meant the ‘conchie’ had to do some form of war work, short of taking up arms.  However, some ‘conchies’ went further, refusing to be involved in any part of the war machine.  They were known as ‘absolutists’.  Their choice was stark:  either change your mind or go to prison for an indefinite period.

Alice’s son, William, was a ‘conchie’ who didn’t change his mind or go to prison.  He went on the run.  Alice helped set up a network of safe houses for the likes of her son.  This drew her to the attention of the authorities, notably MI5, who were fixated on political opposition to the war.

Alice was introduced to Alex Gordon who claimed to be a ‘conchie’, fleeing from the authorities.  She found him a safe house in Derby.  A couple of days later, Gordon reappeared bringing with him a friend, known as Comrade Bert who was said to be involved in the anti war movement.  They told Alice about a prison camp in London, housing ‘conchies’.  They were reasonably confident they could break into the camp and free the prisoners.  There was one problem:  the guard dogs.  Somehow, they had to be immobilised.  Alice agreed to help on one condition:  she wanted a safe passage to the USA for her son, William. Gordon and Comrade Bert assured her this would be done.  Alice then contacted her daughter Winnie and son-in-law, Alfred Mason, who worked as a chemist.  They agreed to supply four phials of poison, sufficient to kill the dogs.  They were intercepted by MI5 and Alice, her daughters Harriett and Winnie along with Alfred were charged with conspiracy to murder by poisoning the Prime Minister Lloyd George and the leader of the Labour Party, Arthur Henderson.

Once the charges were laid against Alice and her family the senior law lord, the Attorney General, F E Smith, came to Derby and persuaded the authorities to transfer the trial to the Old Bailey.  In doing so, he ensured that the trial would have a far higher profile in the press and the jury would be more likely to return a guilty verdict.  Zeppelin raids on London had started and people at home were experiencing the war first hand.

Comrade Bert was called as the star witness for the prosecution.  He turned out to be Herbert Booth, an MI5 officer.  Alex Gordon, another MI5 employee, was not called despite repeated efforts by the counsel acting for the Wheeldons.  Perhaps no small wonder as Gordon, not his real name, had only recently been released from Broadmoor Mental Hospital, where he was diagnosed as a fantasist and declared criminally insane.  He was also a convicted blackmailer.  The trial boiled down to the testimony of Booth against the word of Alice and her family.  It took the jury less than half an hour to reach their verdicts.

Alice, guilty, Winnie, guilty, Alfred, guilty.  Harriett was acquitted.  Alice was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Winnie got 5 years and Alfred 7 years.  Alice immediately went on a series of hunger strikes.  She spent about a year in prison before being released on licence at the instigation of Lloyd George who was determined that she was not going to die in prison and become a martyr to the anti war movement.  Her health was badly affected by her imprisonment and she died in 1919 from influenza.  Her son, William, emigrated and became a citizen of Russia where he worked as a translator.  On the orders of Stalin he was executed in 1937.

Since her death in 1919, there has been a campaign to clear the names of Alice, Winnie and Alfred, to grant them a pardon.  The government has dug its heels in as it would involve opening the files of MI5.  To counter this intransigence, in 2013 Derby Civic Society and Derby City Council put up a blue plaque in honour of Alice in Pear Tree Road where she lived and worked.  It commends her as anti war activist, a socialist and a supporter of women’s suffrage.

Those who think the war ended in 1918 might like to think again.”

Robbie Robb

11 November 2014

Thank you, Robbie, for a really interesting story and for agreeing to be part of the Tea Towel Blog!!


Snowdon Mountain Railway: Acquired 2018, probably vintage


Yesterday, I needed to send a parcel via the Post Office, in Leicester, so I took the opportunity to pop into my favourite charity shop, the one where I can almost guarantee to find a tea towel. The charity shop is ‘anonymous’ in case someone reads this Blog and buys up all the tea towels!  (As if there would be anyone like that!).  I like the way they display their tea towels – the trouser hanger trick; it makes it much easier to see what is available.  This time, shock horror, there were 12 tea towels for sale, some unused, some well-loved, all vintage.  Twelve would be an excessive buy and I did already have two of them.  I hand-picked five; it took me a while.  Was there a story I could write about each?  Had I even been there?  Did I like them?  Would they be a good addition to my collection?

My first choice was Snowdon Mountain Railway.  I chose this for two reasons: firstly, I had been there in 2012.  I had travelled up the mountain by the railway (because there was no way I was ever going to be able to walk up it) and on that journey I had seen Chris Bonnington coming down, bearer of the Olympic Torch which had been to the top of Snowdon.  This was an unexpected event.  When we reached the top, shrouded in mist, the cafe looked like a shambles because so many people had been there, eating crisps and chocolate bars, waiting to see him; the staff hadn’t had time to clear up.  The picture on the tea towel, with the blue sky and views into the distance, is nothing like I remember it.  It makes me think that it would be good to go back and see it in better circumstances; but that won’t happen, there are too many other places to see and tea towels to gather.

I would have to say that the journey, apart from Chris Bonnington, was unmemorable because you couldn’t see anything, the cloud was low and the weather dull.

The second reason for buying this tea towel was it’s age.  It must be 30 or more years old; it has been used, on many occasions, but was well-loved and cared for, no tea stains or dirty marks.  I wonder how this charming tea towel ended up in a charity shop.  I doubt that someone who had used this, and cared for it, would suddenly think “Time to get rid of this one”.  Had they been to Snowdon themselves, wanting a souvenir?  Did their son or daughter, friend or neighbour buy it for them? Did it’s owner die?  Did they move into a care home?  Did some ‘helpful’ person, tidying the house, think this was only worthy of a charity shop?  There is a story to be told here; I wish I knew what it was.

Many blogs ago, I talked about the possibility of a project, working with older people, writing the stories of their tea towels.  A memory-jerker.  Perhaps that’s something I should do?

Iconic London and Buildings of Edinburgh: 2015

There is a scene in the film ‘Notting Hill’ where Hugh Grant tries to impress Julia Roberts by climbing over the locked gates of one of the communal gardens of the area, albeit rather ineptly.  They were eventually successful and were able to share, what anyone who lives in the vicinity of these Victorian Gardens wants: serenity, peace and an ability to escape to another world. Those gardens, with elaborate wrought iron railings, are usually locked at night; I’ve no idea who undertakes that job.  Is it a resident who has access to the garden or a local official?  A great job to be custodian of the key.

Those gardens hold an enchantment, a magical setting but it isn’t just Notting Hill where such gardens exist.  Others have the wrought iron railings and gates but have a communality that is not about ownership.  One of my favourites is Queens Square Gardens, surrounded by hospitals and medical institutions that have been around a long time.  The London Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery, with its red brick, looks over Queens Square Gardens, protected by mature trees around the circumference, interspersed with garden benches dedicated to the those with memories of this area.  This is a place for people-watching: doctors and nurses, patients and relatives just sitting with their sandwiches and ice creams, talking about EastEnders and Coronation Street, worrying about their forthcoming treatments or just gossiping.  Why did Arthur enjoy sitting in these gardens?  Was he a patient having a sneaky cigarette against doctors orders or was he the doctor taking a breather from giving bad news to a patient.  He has a bench with his name on it.   It gives you something to wonder about.

Yesterday I was walking along Queens Road in Aberdeen and came across the Rubislaw and Queens Terrace Gardens: three elongated gardens, each surrounded by wrought iron railings, with gates at each end.  The sign says they are maintained by Aberdeen City Council; I don’t know if the gates are locked at night but the gardens are lined with benches dedicated to locals. “My wifie” struck me as an endearing term of affection for a bench dedication.

In one rose bed there is a plaque entitled ‘Blesma Soul’.  “This bed of Blesma Soul roses was dedicated by the Aberdeen Branch on 11 November 1982 to mark the 50th anniversary of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association”.  It was rededicated for the 75th anniversary.  That’s a story I really should google.  Such gardens are full of stories long forgotten.

There is a gnarled tree, probably dead; if you look carefully you can almost see a face in the growths of the trunk.  Where the mouth might have been someone has placed two traffic cones, one on top of the other.  It completes the comic look.  While the houses alongside Rubislaw and Queens Tearrace Gardens may not have rights over the gardens they are certainly very fortunate to be able to look out over the mature rhododendron bushes, lilies, geraniums, ferns and all manner of bushes; a garden that you do not have to maintain.

If you walk down Dundas Street in Edinburgh, you come to the same thing, gardens enclosed by wrought iron railings, offering peace in a busy city; the sort of place you might take a break during your working day.

The problem is that it is so easy to overlook these beautifully maintained gardens, loved by people, where people have spent a lot of their time, possibly finding peace and solitude.  In Britain, they are all around us.  We should be grateful to the thoughtfulness of generations past.

When I use these two tea towels I will think about ‘Notting Hill’ and the gardens that are all around us in big cities.  Gardens created from our histories.  And now I leave you to google Blesma Soul!!

Aberdeen Granite City: 2018


”Have you got another Granite City tea towel, one in its cardboard cover?”  I asked the woman in the Tourist Information Shop

”Sorry, we have run out”

”So can I have this one?” I said, holding up the tea towel hanging on a hook

”I don’t know about that” the shop assistant said

”Why?” I asked “It’s on the shelf with the other tea towels”

”I don’t know.  It’s the only one we’ve got”

I looked at the assistant on the other till.  “Of course you can have it” he said.

”I can’t find the code for it” says the assistant who has been so unhelpful.  She played about on the till with no luck.  My helpful assistant had been looking up the code and read the number out.

”Hold it” she says “I’ve got to type in the number.  Read it slowly”

I only wanted to buy a tea towel; the whole thing seemed to take ages.  Good job I wasn’t in a rush.  They had other tea towels of Aberdeen; I had two already and I didn’t like the remaining ones.  I liked the colouring on the ships in the harbour; it really does remind me of Aberdeen Harbour, the place I visit every time I’m in the city to see Jean.

Jean is 92 and lives in a nursing home.  I often think she must feel like she has been abandoned when she knows she has no family living within 400 miles.  She looks at her fellow residents, whose family live around the corner, and get visitors every other day.   Aberdeen is an expensive place to get to, and stay in, thanks to the oil industry, so if you don’t live in Aberdeen it is very difficult to get to.  It limits the amount of visitors she has.

Two years ago, Jean was introduced to an iPad.  She had never used a computer, or even a typewriter.  She has never had a mobile phone of any sort, not even one of those ‘bricks’!   Yet, she understood it.  We were stunned; she understood how photos taken on a mobile phone could appear on the iPad.  When I say she understood, I mean that she accepted that it could happen; she didn’t want to understand the technicalities, just the principles.  She has the best understanding of ‘the cloud’ of anyone I know.  She accepts; she doesn’t ask “So where is the cloud?”  So family can take photos anywhere in the world, send them to her and she can follow what they are doing; she can see her great grand-nieces and nephews grow up from birth, starting to crawl, walk, talk, play; she can feel part of the family from a distance.

One of the things that Jean has leant to understand is what FaceTime is.  And she is proficient at it.  “It’s like they’re in the room; I feel I can touch them”.  She is tolerant about when contact is cut “Oh just wait a bit, it will come back”.  She laughs a lot when she can just see herself on the screen, while waiting for reconnection: “Is that me?” She says.  “I look a bit old” she laughs again.  She tidies her hair, taking the chance to use the screen as a mirror.  Jean loves ‘talking’ to her brother; the ‘elephant in the room’ is the fact that they both know they will never see each other again, in person, but just enjoy the experience of FaceTime, certainly better than nothing.

This week she has FaceTimed her great nieces Jai and Sarah together with their children.  Lyn and Rob supported Jean’s brother so she also had a chance to speak to them.  This was a whistle-stop tour of her family and she loved it.  She appreciates the value of technology; the staff love seeing the way she launches herself into it all.  Seeing her have so much fun is a joy in itself; she loves having photos taken of herself FaceTiming which then become part of her photographs ‘in the cloud’.

Yesterday, was like being in a parallel universe: Jean was FaceTiming her brother in a room where the Trooping of the Colour was on the TV so there was quite a lot of background noise; her brother was also watching Trooping of the Colour, more background noise.  Maddy, the staff nurse who knew David, popped in to say ‘hello’; a couple of Jean’s friends wanted to ‘meet’ David and the National Anthem played in the background at both ends.  Let them get on with it, I thought.

This has been a great visit where technology brings families together.  This tea towel will always remind me of that, we ought to use it more.