Relatively fine

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 of 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.
 
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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. 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 Eve, 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?

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in blogging, childhood, family, life, parents, thoughts, wordpress, WPlongform. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Relatively fine

  1. I’ve ambled through the Daily Post a time or two – didn’t really notice the “rules”. Isn’t that special. Amusing to say the least.
    I was the youngest of all my family, so all but one grandmother was already gone….and my mother seemed to dislike that one ( odd as it was her mother) and we saw her rarely as she was independent and had interests to keep her busy. She was huge, but had an elfin face under that silky snow short hair. She tried when around to shield me from my mother who may have loved me, but didn’t like me. In college I found out that grandmother had been a 2nd wife and my mother had a step sister who lived with her wealthy maternal grandparents by their demand. My mom didn’t like her when they were children and was jealous of her as an adult. Oddly, my step cousin lives quite near me – and also sails. We hang out a bit. Families are so weird. I’ve keep my distance from my remaining older brother – better to be an orphan – just don’t need that toxic association.
    Husband’s family is equally dysfunctional – he stays in contact by phone with the protective older brother guilt, but considers them “difficult” and best to be avoided in person.
    I don’t know it people really have congenial families – or if they just overlook a great deal – or just drink a lot. It’s Christmas. I figure, there’s lots of drinking.
    Enjoyed all the tales (and wagging tails to Pippa and Snowy who would be cold in this weather today)

    Like

    • I only found them because there was a link to them on the Community Pool thing – it’s where you go to sink or swim I suspect.

      Mothers have funny relationships with their daughters. My grandmother didn’t like women, and didn’t seem fond of my mother, saw here as a useful object I suspect. My mother replicated that by also not liking women but was mostly fond of me. Being an only child it was me or no-one really. Sadly, even knowing the issues, I am not too fond of female conversation, mainly because I don’t talk babies, make-up, clothes or soap operas, and never have done. However if I find a woman who talks dogs and fixing Land Rovers I am more than happy.

      Being an only child has its advantages. I thought it might be nice to have a sibling, until my parents pointed out that I would have to share everything. It lost its attraction.

      Christmas is notoriously a problem time for families in the UK. After a couple of tedious family Christmases, my parents, his mother and stepfather (who was a very nice man), we decided to resolve the competition between them of who to visit by announcing we would spend Christmases on our own. So that was easy and far nicer. Usually a walk in the quiet city or town (depending on where we were living) and a walk in the country on Boxing Day with the dogs of course. A nice fire, a new book to read – bliss.

      Warm here, temps around 16/17. Slightly breezy – maybe good day for a sail? Mad half hour after breakfast here, then it will be sleep the morning away. It’s a dogs’ life.

      Like

  2. davidprosser says:

    What a fascinating insight into your family. A nice tale well told and despite the obvious problems still told with some degree of warmth.
    Yes, dysfunctional families are very interesting but such a shame to have lost touch with all the cousins back home. I’m glad the memories of your grandparents are positive though. I really didn’t like my paternal grandmother whilst I adored my maternal grandparents.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • Thanks for the visit and the comment David. I had time on my hands as I was stuck in Spain for three months with a puppy waiting for his jabs before I could bring him to Gib, and as I have no internet in Spain, I spent my idle hours jotting down a few blog posts.

      Perhaps the cousins may make it to the next post though! I did like my grandmothers, I don’t remember the maternal grandpa as i was 18 months or so when he died. And the great auntie that I mentioned was always a sweetie to me.

      Like

  3. Vicky says:

    WOW, just wow!
    So much knowledge about your family. I’ve done my family tree back to the early 1800’s and don’t know a fraction about mine that you know about yours.
    The odd name on my tree rings a bell from childhood days, but nothing in depth.
    I have photos of numerous relatives, but haven’t the faintest idea who they are – lesson to be learnt there about naming the folk on the back of photos.

    I agree with you about adding links to a post, I think it adds a bit of variety and make for a tidier post. And how can they say don’t write multiple comments, surely that is stopping folk interacting with what others have said.

    Like

    • Hmm, not really a lot of knowledge. My biggest mistake was chucking the huge family bible from my grandma’s side of the family as it had the family tree in the front of it 😦 I kept it for ages, and then suddenly thought I don’t need this old rubbish – mainly cos it was a bible. It was quite nice too. What an idiot. Still kicking myself. It wasn’t early 1800s but it was mid 1800s, say 1840 or 50.

      I really must bring one of mum and dad’s wedding pix back to post on EveryPic – there are two little old Victorian grandmother on there who are classic. Totally in black, little high boots, very short women, great stuff. Nothing like the greenhouse pic you posted though.

      Too late to put names on backs of photos now they are all digital 😀 Just follow the old journo rule though and caption them from L to R. As I’ve no-one to leave my photos to, it’s not an issue.

      Well, they were talking specifically about commenting on The Daily Post, but even so, surely they should be setting an example of a good debate/exchange/whatever because to me that’s one of the really good aspects of WP, far better than blogger was.

      Like

      • Vicky says:

        A family bible was always the place were folk would add their relatives, but I don’t remember seeing one in my family.
        What a shame you chucked yours, but I can understand why.
        When my nan died, the contents of her home were left to me, I chucked so much stuff out, that I now regret doing.
        Luckily the boxes and boxes of my grandad’s photos and slides my mum later retrieved from the bin, telling me ‘you might regret throwing these’….phew, thank goodness she did.

        I have so many un-named photographs that I really must add information to.
        My daughters know who is who, but skip a couple of generations, and they’ll be as unknown as all the ones I’ve got.
        All the photo folders on my Mac are named and dated though, and backed up on an external hard drive, a lot are on CD’s too.

        Like

        • That is brilliant. Wonderful that you take the time to catalogue and file. I have become the unofficial family archivist and although I enjoy doing it, it is a big responsibility. The next beig challenge is – who to pass it all over to?

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          • Vicky says:

            Thank you 🙂
            I’ve only done it on the computer because it made it is easier to find a photo, but I’m pleased I have.
            I have hundreds of un-named pre computer day photos and even though the negs are filed, there is no explanation as who is who 😦

            Like

        • Wish I was so organised with my computer files. I was at one point – and then …..

          Like

  4. EllaDee says:

    Commenting guidelines… sadly there seems to be tendency to kindergarten-ism in many things these day… oh… these days… I’m old.
    I wonder about happy and dysfunctional families. Happily dysfunctional and unhappily dysfunctional, I think. Maybe a mix, as your post seems to evidence. You have an Australian family connection. What a shame you didn’t get to meet up.
    It’s interesting comparing sides of the family. There was no common ground between my Mum & Dad’s parents, or I think their own in turn. I laughed when my sister whose May wedding is well under preparation, posted on Pinterest a picture of a wedding reception blackboard with the words “Choose a seat not a side. We’re all family once the knot is tied”… yeah right.
    Funny timing on this post. You echo my thoughts in a way. Yesterday was my Nanna’s (Dad’s mum) birthday. I am the youngest of my family to know her & Pa, and her mother, and my mother. My siblings and cousins never knew them. So there is a gap in family history between us. And, while my cousins and soon at least one sibling forge ahead with new families I miss the old one.
    I like my family though, I’m lucky I guess. Metaphorically, they are kind of like an old bathrobe, we have history and I don’t wear it all the time but I’m comfortable when I slip into it.
    I’ve sent cards to the greater family, we’ve already done 2 pre-Christmas gatherings delivering gifts and catching up, but the G.O. and I will spend Christmas blissfully quietly together, with a visit to the G.O.’s immediate family in town, a few days later catch up with my aunt and uncle, then his, and with old friends who are as good as family. I have my own orbit but they are the universe which I inhabit 🙂

    Like

    • The commenting guidelines are silly. They are impossibly difficult to find, so why bother? You can tell they are difficult to find as everyone is doing exactly the opposite.

      Happily dysfunctional is an interesting one. Or maybe just happily unconnected?

      Yeah, I’m gutted about the Aussie non-meet up. They used to send me Christmas presents from Aus. I’ve still got a couple of books, one is so cute about a koala, I’ll take a pic next time I’m back at the finca. Last I heard, my male cousin hadn’t married and didn’t intend to, so in terms of passing on the family name down the male side, it will have died out with my generation. My fault about the meet-up, I was old in life before I started to rebel and disobey my parents.

      My two grandmothers probably lived about five minutes walk away but they might as well have been five million miles away. Of course my maternal grandma lived in the posh council house, while Nana had this pretty poky terrace house with a private landlord. When the council houses were built, it wasn’t an estate just 20 or so houses in The Crescent – quite the prestigious place to be. Not that my grandma was snobby but I suspect the old jealousy might have been rearing its head. Plus grandma still had her husband and Nana’s had left her. Chalk and cheese. In appearance too, grandma was fat and plain whereas Nana was small, dainty and pretty, even in her sixties. I’ll post a pic on Everypic, I think I have one with me here in Gib that I can scan in.

      The last time there was anything like a family get together was at my dad’s funeral. So there was my mum and her younger bro and his wife, two older cousins (from the older brother who had died a few years before), and a cousin on my dad’s side, Little Auntie M. It was really pleasant – I felt quite sad that I didn’t really know my mum’s family, they seemed so nice. But ….. they were making the effort for my mum. More later.

      I think it sounds like you have the relationship sorted with family. We all have to live with what we’ve got. Or in my case, not got. 😀

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  5. Brilliant – I love these memory posts! It seems to me however that you have enough material there for about ten! If I may make a request – please break them down into individual stories, I ‘d like that!
    As for WordPress – after I found that ‘blog of the day’ page I am completely speechless! There is just such total nonsense in there and either the whole site is a collective joke at the expense of us all or the administrators are just plain ‘thick’!

    Like

    • Thank you.

      I don’t think so. Ten posts about my family would be insufferably boring. Certainly for me to write! I only write to order when I’m paid for it, so unless you are offering any rewards, it will be as I feel like. I think I’ll do the cousins next. The trouble with doing individual stories is that they aren’t – everything is interlinked.

      That blog of the day page was a hoot. Half of them looked like Asian spam pages. Probably yes and yes in response to your last post.

      Like

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