Browsing around WordPress, as you do, when you want to find a distraction from things that really need doing, I came upon a gem.
It’s not that easy to find, but they have some commenting guidelines. Mmmm, just what Cloudy Roughseas likes to read about.
If I was trendy, I would say ‘let’s parse this,’ but as I’d never heard the term before I joined an American feminist forum, I’ll say, let’s have a look at their guidelines.
We want the Daily Post blog to be a place not just for news, but for a conversation. We love to hear what you think about new features, stats, and events. We love to engage with you. After all, it’s the interaction between writer and reader that makes blogging so awesome.
But to increase meaningful conversation, sometimes it’s necessary to reduce the not-so-meaningful bits. Here are the kinds of things we’ve been deleting in recent posts. Please avoid these types of comments:
So, what do we need to avoid when daring to comment on The Daily Post?
Cool or thanks are not sufficient. I can agree with that. I just wonder why there are still comments up there on the lines, of, cool and thanks.
We can’t give links to our blogs. This apparently, is shameless self-promotion. I hold my hand up as guilty of doing that. It seems far more sensible if I have written about a topic to provide a link rather than a 1000 word response. Not everyone works in soundbites all the time.
Multiple comments by one author.
We’re glad you want to be engaged, but please give others a chance to speak, too.
This sounds like you only get one bite at the cherry. Given that WP doesn’t answer half the comments, what is wrong with bloggers answering some of them? Yup, I’ve been guilty of more than one comment on occasion.
Really long comments.
Let’s just say that if you need to take more than three breaths to read your comment, it’s probably too long. Why not blog about it on your own site?
Well yes, as above. Which is why it is silly not to allow links.
We also delete comments that are written entirely in another language, as well as those that are difficult to understand due to serious grammatical and spelling errors.
I do think people who can spell, who have had a good education, and those who get paid shedloads of money to produce documents at work should make an effort to get their spelling correct. I also understand that some people can not spell, have not had good schooling, can not proof-read, or have dyslexia. I don’t delete comments due to bad spelling and if people ask me to correct errors I do. I think that is a very high-handed and elitist attitude from WP and this is from someone who always got 20/20 on spelling tests at school. Not that I would these days
There was a good comment:
some of these guidelines are way over the top…what if the person is linking to their own post which is related to the topic at hand. What’s wrong with that? you guys get to advertise 19 out of hundreds of thousands of blogs on freshly pressed but we can’t link to our own in a comment?
After that there weren’t any more. Comments are closed. I’ll bet. And if they want people to read these guidelines it would be a good idea to have them as a separate page at the top.
But being an even-handed sort of person, I should say that I asked a question on a recent post about asking questions in the support forum and got a clear, thoughtful and considerate answer. So not all bad.
Onto the main post however.
I don’t come from a close family. When I see the Spanish family next door spending every day and all day together I am quite bemused.
There are three generations, grandparents – José and Adelina – two daughters and their husbands, and four grandsons (two to each daughter and spouse).
Yet, when I was young, we had a similar set up as my maternal grandmother lived with us.
After I was born, my father wanted my mother to go back to work in the family business on the market so grandma came to look after me on Fridays and Saturdays, and never really left.
She would sleep at our house at night, and then during the day, she would pack her large handbag, and hop on the bus for the short ride to her council house which she still kept.
This was an extremely nice 20s/30s built semi-detached with a polished wooden (oak) curved staircase, polished wooden entrance hall, terraced back garden and views over the park. They don’t build council houses like that any more.
There was the front room – never used – which had a naked lady lampstand, how I wish I had got my sticky mitts on that. The dining room had a fire and a range, there was a small kitchen and a large pantry/larder. The dining room had a piece of furniture that fascinated me. You could rotate the doors and suddenly delights would appear. It was like Aladdin’s Cave or a Tardis. Who knew what was hiding in there? There was also a huge old radio, about the size of a fridge.
I didn’t venture upstairs very often so I don’t know if it was two or three-bed. Probably three. I didn’t look in the bedrooms as grandad had died there so I thought it was spooky. The bathroom was enormous, long and narrow, and I think it was cream, or yellow, and black. Very 20s/30s. It had never been changed.
In contrast my paternal grandmother – Nana – lived in a privately rented terraced house. A one-down, maybe two up. The toilet was in a shed out the back. I guess there was no bathroom. No garden unless you counted the narrow strip opposite the front door.
There was no kitchen. There was a sink in the only downstairs room, a coal fire, and at the entrance to the cellar, she had an electric stove. How she brought up four children on her own, plus her daughter’s child, is beyond me. They were made tougher back then.
When I was very young, she still worked on the market selling sweets. The biggest day of the year was Toffee Sunday (Palm Sunday) when everyone bought whole trays off toffee rather than a quarter or a half pound. Great income generation for dentists some years later. She had the stall next to my dad’s bacon and cheese stall.
I don’t know what my paternal grandfather did, although I think one of the official births, weddings and deaths certs says he was an engineer. Everyone seemed to be an engineer back then. He was well gone by the time I arrived, he’d cleared off to Bridlington. About the only things I know about him were:
1) He had a car before most people.
2) He would go out on a Saturday night, smartly dressed in a suit, with a few gold sovereigns in his pocket.
3) When my parents were engaged they once met him by chance in Brid. ‘Don’t ever be fooled into coming to live here,’ he said to my mother. ‘It’s cold in winter.’
Strange thing to say. Having lived in two north-east coastal places, Newcastle and Scarborough (a mere 20 miles from Brid), I didn’t find them any colder than anywhere else. And far less rainy than the west coast.
And that’s the extent of my knowledge about him. Meanwhile Nana was bringing up four children in her one down, two up. Elder daughter, twins (one of each), and younger son (my dad). They (all) hit my father. His tiny mother, his older brother, and his older sister, don’t know about the older twin sister. I know her name, that she left home young, ended up in Holloway (women’s prison in London for non-Brits reading this), returned home at some point with her young daughter who she promptly dumped on her mother to then disappear again. I’ve never met her. Very much the black sheep of the family.
This tale was left hidden from me for many years. I never knew about Auntie D, and always called her daughter Little Auntie M, never realising she was my cousin. After all, as a child, you don’t really notice the fact that the youngest auntie is 17 years younger than your dad.
I never met her twin brother either. The most recounted tale about Uncle H (apart from the fact that he also wanted my mother to go out with him) was the torpedo story in WW2, He was in the Merch (ant Navy) in the North Sea. My dad got the cushy number in the RN cruising the Med between Gib and Malta. Both my dad and his brother were good swimmers. My dad’s job, as well as being an engineer, also involved shallow diving to check the destroyer for bombs on the hull. He didn’t like that and always hoped he’d never find one.
Uncle H though, in the freezing North Sea, was torpedoed. The crew had to abandon ship and swim for it. Another ship picked them up. That was torpedoed too. Germans on a roll that day/night. After swimming for it again and being picked up again, he declared there was no way he was swimming a third time. Apocryphal or not? Who knows.
The other story about Uncle H was when my mother went round with my dad one evening to their one down two up. My mum was shivering and there was a feeble glow in the fireplace as my Nana was parsimonious with the coal, putting on one piece at a time. ‘We’ll soon warm you up, lass,’ said Uncle H, and threw the whole bucket of coal on the fire. My father nearly passed out in shock, terrified at what their mother would say /do when she returned and found a blazing fire and an empty coal scuttle.
He went to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom in the 50s. His son had asthma and Adelaide was recommended as a good dry climate for him – so off they all went. Some 25/30 years later when I went to Aus I took his address with me. Actually I think it was a PO address. But I never visited him. My father asked me not to, so being dutiful and obedient, I didn’t. Wish I had. So that’s an uncle and two cousins I have never met. I did meet his wife, Auntie V, when she came back to Yorkshire and told us she had left him. She asked to drink hock and lime, which left my Chablis-drinking father somewhat confused.
On my mother’s side I had an uncle I never met either. She was the only girl in a family of four. Her oldest brother, Uncle G, was in the RAF and shot down shortly before WW2 ended. My mother claimed he was her favourite bro. The one who stood up for her when the middle brother hit her, making her nose bleed, because she hadn’t ironed his shirt. The one who said to her parents that she should go to grammar school because she had passed the exams. But as soon as she hit leaving age, her mother won the battle to pull her out of school to stay at home and help with the housework. So, unlike my father, she never matriculated or whatever they called it. Sad.
My father got to stay the extra year. His gripe though, was not being able to play cricket on a Saturday. Why not? Because he had to help at the market stall. You know what they say about parents revisiting their past on their kids? When I wanted to play tennis, act as ballgirl for matches – what happened? I had to work on the market on Saturdays.
I started with grandparents, so I’ll go back to end with that generation. Everyone loves their grandparents (I think) and I was no exception in loving both my grandma and my Nana. They were totally different and didn’t like each other. My dad and my grandma weren’t exactly fond of each other and I suspect my mum and my Nana had the same non-relationship. Both grandmothers were pregnant when they got married. My grandma had to get married, my nana was obliged to be wed. Same difference.
As my grandma got older, she was finally persuaded to give up the lovely council house. It didn’t help that she went there sometimes, didn’t come back to ours, and decided to go walkabout in the middle of the night, trying to go to whereever she had lived as a kid. Eventually my father – who obviously wanted to have a bit of time with his wife and his daughter – talked my mum into moving my grandma into a residential home.
This of course, was fraught with problems. Back in the late 60s and 70s, the UK still provided public services, and these included old peoples’ homes run by the council at nice cheap rates, ie you handed over your pension and got pocket money back and Jo Ratepayer funded the difference. Not surprisingly there was a waiting list, so the deal was done to home grandma in a private place until a council bed came up. Mum’s two older brothers were not impressed, thinking that it was my mother’s role in life to look after their mother.
My father was not to be defeated on this one, and he took over the negotiations, informing the brothers that everyone would pay a third of the costs of the private home. They met outside the home, and apparently it was not a pleasant meeting. Shame. In younger days, they had all gone out together lots, and enjoyed each others’ company. Like my father, my uncles didn’t want the responsibility, and as they’d never had it, they didn’t want the cost either. Or that’s the tale I was told. But it was a long time before that breach was healed.
My Nana, who remained perfectly capable of looking after herself, remained in the same one down, two up, until the night she had a stroke. And here we have another odd family tale. My father would visit her on Saturday evenings after the day at the market, usually taking her some bacon and cheese and spending half an hour or so with her. I liked to go too but I wasn’t always allowed.
One evening, he visited and found her on the bedroom floor. He obviously called an ambulance and she was admitted to hospital. She never came home, and stayed in the geriatric ward until she died.
But the odd part of the tale was, that the older sister Big Auntie M, (not the twin sister in Holloway) had visited her either that day or the day before. Forty years on, the detail is somewhat blurred, but the story went that she had gone upstairs, either found Nana in bed poorly, or half way out of the bed, or even on the floor – and left her.
Who on earth would do that?
My Nana didn’t leave a lot of money. £160 to be exact. That meant £40 for my dad, £40 for Big Auntie M, £40 for Uncle H in Aus, and £40 for the Holloway twin sis. As no-one knew where she was it was agreed to give her share to her daughter, who had been brought up by Nana. My Big Aunt M promptly informed my dad that she would take Uncle H’s share, as ‘he would only piss it up against the wall.’
I thought that was terrible. What he chose to do with it was up to him. but not for her to steal his inheritance, such as it was. Would have bought a few schooners in Adelaide, even then. I wasn’t impressed with my dad either for not standing up to her. Wimp.
I could do nothing about that, so I interfered a different way. My aunt had annexed some of my Nana’s furniture. One piece was a bookshelf that had belonged to Little Auntie M when she had been brought up by Nana. She had since moved to London but always said she wanted her bookshelf.
So, I purposefully walked up our drive and down the avenue that ran alongside our garden, where Big Aunt M lived in a small terraced house. I knocked on the door and politely said I had come for Little Aunt M’s bookcase. So I walked upstairs, calmly took it from its new home, struggled downstairs with it on my sturdy childish legs, up the avenue and down our drive. I suspect my father was horribly embarrassed.
With both grandmothers out of the way, you would have thought that would be it for my parents’ duty of care. Oh no.
My Nana’s younger brother died. (He’s not on the family tree as it took me enough time to sketch out the basics). He and his wife had no kids. She’d had cancer at a young age although whether that was related I don’t know as Little Girls were Seen And Not Heard. And certainly not told anything.
So that left Great Auntie M on her own. For some reason, she’d had a soft spot for my dad. Probably felt sorry for him. But anyway, while Thursday afternoons used to be for Nana visiting – came for lunch, stayed for tea and went home in the evening, Auntie May took her place. I was more than happy, I loved all the oldies. My parents probably wondered when they were ever going to get a life of their own.
I would visit her with my dad sometimes, but I was puzzled when she set the table for two, saying her dead husband would be coming home for lunch.
She too, took to wandering around in the middle of the night. My parents got calls from neighbours and my dad was frequently driving around after midnight trying to find her to take her home. He’d learned his lesson with my grandma and did NOT want another ageing rellie on his hands or in his home. Plus, the council rules were tightening up. If a relative homed an elderly person there was no way they would get a place in council care homes.
Eventually, a psychiatrist agreed she couldn’t manage on her own and she was admitted into care. Sadly her health deteriorated and the cancer caught up with her big time. My mum valiantly visited her in care and in hospital. I think my dad was totally fed up with the ageing relative thing by then and rarely went.
She died on New Year’s Even, when I had been away as a bridesmaid at the wedding of my university friends. Like my grandmas, I only have fond memories of her. Maybe children just see the good in people, and don’t understand the other issues.
But I think that period of time looking after ageing relatives took its toll on my parents. Bad temper, fewer smiles, less interest in the garden – I can’t put my finger on it, but something somewhere changed them from the happy parents I thought I had to the ones who seemed less than content.
Twenty something years later, I got an insight into that. First my father was ill, and then died in hospital and then we had to look after my mother. Not exactly easy when she was in Yorkshire and we were in Spain. Could have been worse, at least we weren’t working.
After their experiences with the oldies, they’d always said ‘We’ll never expect you to do the same for us.’ Trouble was, they didn’t know how they would feel when they got old. And what they really wanted was for us to look after them. So we did, as best as we could, given the distance, until they both died.
I’m on my own now. No contact with any of my cousins or aunts/uncles (if they are still alive). So’s my partner, he has no contact with his family either.
One of my parents’ friends once said ‘Happy families? You’re joking. Thank goodness I’m an only child.’
I think it is nice to see happy families. I just never had that experience. But dysfunctional ones are so much more interesting. Aren’t they?