Brian Musgrove tells us about life since Amex.
A big hello to everybody that might know me from Technologies and Travel (Edward Street, 1986 - 1997). I retired from Amex so that Rosemary and I could have the opportunity to live and work abroad (Rosemary did the working, I just did the living!). It was a step into the unknown, but it was to be a fascinating and rewarding experience. We are very grateful to have had the chance to spend so much time travelling, and in particular, getting to know other cultures.
Our time was divided between Europe (The Canaries) Singapore and Vietnam, and although our primary objective was to get a posting to the East, Rosemary’s first assignment was in Lanzarote. Playa Quemada Uga and the Fire Mountains
Not knowing any Spanish at all was initially a concern, but being a holiday island, English was widely spoken. We enrolled in Spanish courses and, of course, having the language all around us and using it every day made it an ideal way to learn. This was not the case when we moved to Singapore.
In many ways language was less of a problem in Singapore, because English was still used for official purposes, even for legal documents. Everyone was expected to speak English as well their own language and that was how the different racial groups (mainly Chinese, Malaysian and Indian) communicated. The highly abbreviated and simplified version they used (Singlish) is almost a language in its own right. The joy of living in Singapore was its easy access to all those countries we had longed to visit. China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were just a few hours away. We would go by ferry to Indonesia and we took a coach to visit Malacca in Malaysia. However, there was a downside to Singapore and that was their work ethic.
Rosemary was vice principal of a large flourishing school, but she had less holidays than we did at Amex. The school terms were much longer than the UK and the day care section only closed for one day a year and that was on Christmas Day. As a result, we had all these wonderful places to visit and had to make use of long weekends and Bank Holidays to see them all. It seems quite funny now, popping over to Australia for the weekend after school on Friday.
After Singapore, we did a few weeks voluntary work in Vietnam teaching English at a secondary school. This was much more of a culture shock, living in a hostel in downtown Hanoi where virtually no English was spoken. However, we did manage to see the other side of this beautiful country at weekends.
“But what are you going to do with all your time?” was the question I was commonly asked when I retired twenty years ago I replied that I wanted to rekindle my interest in music which had sadly been neglected with the rigours of Amex, and also that I was keen to get into writing novels. Both of these I was able to start during our time in Singapore and I have since gone on to write and record a dozen new songs and two novels.
It was not until we returned to East Preston, where we live now, that I took the plunge to write my novels. It was a formidable undertaking, not only the writing, but getting the books in a state suitable for publishing and they have taken over four years to complete. The first book (A Question of Truth) is about a young boy growing up and having to come to terms with the realities of life. The second (The Course of Life), is the sequel and takes the story on through the Swinging Sixties. The first book particularly may be of interest to local people because it is set in Worthing in the 1950s, and although it is a novel, for the sake of realism, specific events of the era and actual people who would have been known to the fictional characters at the time, have been included. The books have been personalised to make them appear to be a true story, but do not be fooled, they are not about me and none of this ever happened.
As for the future, I am hoping to be able to continue my travel, music and writing pursuits and I am very interested in the possibility of catching up with old friends. I have found the Retirees Club to be an excellent way of remembering ex-colleagues and would welcome the opportunity of meeting informally from time to time. Meanwhile, I hope life is treating you well and wish you all the very best for the future.
John Marks tells us about the Clayton Tunnel
Clayton Tunnel is a railway tunnel located between the villages of Pyecombe and Clayton, West Sussex, between Hassocks and Preston Park railway stations on the Brighton to London Main Line. At 1 mile 499 yards’ long (2065 meters) the Sussex Clayton Tunnel is the longest on the route. The tunnel was designed by David Mocatta, architect to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. It was completed in 1841 after 3 years of work...
...the full story can be viewed here
Richard Watkins adds more from Italy
To see the photographs that accompany this article visit the Gallery Page
So maybe Christmas and new year celebration reflections are the easiest way to start my update! 2017 was not the most active year for me. A consequence of this was my endless searching through our various storage places for pairs of trousers that would , sort of, fit me – without the pockets seemingly opening out to become an extension of my ‘long forgotten’ waist ! I had joined ‘gag’ and ‘pilates’ classes starting in October – but previous abuse meant there was no way I could look streamlined! and Christmas festivities put pay to any dream of wearing trousers with even a 2cm reduction in size.
...the full story can be viewed here
Hazel Crawford continues her stories from France
A very busy few months, and still no significant rain, until mid December. Luckily nothing too drastic to cause us any problems, but all the hedges and grass are still looking very sad. However, in early December, we woke up to a covering of snow, which, very much like the UK, brings to a halt all activity, as the French down here in the south, see snow so rarely they really can’t deal with it. It was also the day of our annual British Association Christmas lunch in St Aygulf. It’s always good fun and our friends who also live the other side of Lorgues near St Antonin, were going to drive us, as Kelvin (my husband) had had a leg operation that made it impossible for him to drive. Another friend from Villecroze was also going to drive to us and leave her car here, and we would all go in the one car. Not quite what then happened. The friends who were driving us, could not get out of their uphill drive (they are 100m higher than us), and the friend in Villecroze, also couldn’t get out. So, I decided that I would drive us 2. All ready to go, phone rings, ‘we are going to try and see if we can get out’! Wait, call them, they’re on their way, and at that moment, I get a rush of stomach pain, sweat (not female perspiration!), breaks out all over my body, and I dash to the loo. They arrive, and now we can’t go!. Half and hour later, I’m feeling fine, so decide I’ll drive us 2 to the lunch. We make it, but when we arrive, find that nothing has started as so many people were caught out by the snow, that the start of lunch had been postponed, and even the other friend had been picked up by the chairman and had made it. A great afternoon, looking out at a very angry sea, ending in lots of singing of Christmas songs. On the way home, my husband counted the lorries that were parked 2 deep on the side of the motorway, prevented by the police from continuing, due to bad snow further on – result, almost 700!!!
Late October, most of November and early December were taken up with the operation on my husband’s right leg, to have some very bad veins stripped out. He’d already had the nerves tested in the base of both legs (some damaged, can’t be repaired), and had the Echo Doppler man do the tests to show all the veins that needed to come out, back in May. The date now set for the op., so blood tests, appointment with anaesthetist, pre-admission at the clinic (half a forest of paper, signing of endless sheets, and handing over 2 cheques for 400 € and 137 € as amounts not covered by the French health service for the surgeon, anaesthetist and room). Night before the op., back to the echo doppler man to draw all over the leg the veins to come out. Into hospital at 8am next day, to be told that the op. would be at 2pm. Wonderful. Can’t leave, neither of us have eaten of course, room share, very small room. Long story, but I go off to get shopping, come back, he’s still there, he goes down, I dash across the road to get lunch at the Saigon Buffet, come back and wait, and wait. Expecting him back around 4,and start to get worried when the nurse tells me that he won’t be returning to this room as the anaesthetist is holding him. She has no idea where he will go to or when! The health system here in France is really excellent, but the language barrier and the system often cause great stress. Eventually, having moved all his stuff and me, I find him, and he’s eventually released home at 9pm. Surgeon says it took longer than expected and one vein was very bad.
No pain, nurse comes to the house and redresses wounds every 2 days and all is well. He can’t do anything much for about a week, but then is fine so he drives us to San Remo in Italy for the day for the annual trip to the market there, and we all meet up for a lovely lunch. Drive home and all well. Over the following week, he starts to get twinges then pain in the lower leg, culminating in the leg swelling up, and waking me in the middle of the night, on the Friday/Saturday with blood everywhere, on the sheets, through the electric blanket, on the mattress, on the floor, along the landing etc.. After cleaning his wounds and dressing it, plus cleaning us the house as best as I could, I took him straight to our GP on Saturday morning, who promptly stitched him up. I asked if there was any poison, and told no. Next morning, I’m having to call the Pompiers, who come and take him off to hospital emergency, as the leg is ‘on fire’, hugely swollen and red hot. That was my birthday, and we waited in the emergency area, for around 4 1/2 hours, before he was taken off to see a doctor. Another hour and someone comes to get me as the doctor doesn’t speak any English. The doctor calls the original surgeon, and he is eventually sent home, after 8 vials of blood taken, with high dosage antibiotics, and instructions to keep the leg elevated as much as possible, only walking round the room every hour. We eventually find out that our GP had sewn the infection in!!!Another visit to the surgeon the following morning, and a follow up again 2 weeks later. After a great deal of no movement, 4 weeks of antibiotics, and a lot of anguish, he’s fine, and is so thrilled that the other leg is being done this month!!
We were able to fly to the UK for Christmas, and as usual packed in lots of different things. Our old neighbour picked us up from Heathrow, and took us back to his house for a late lunch with most of the family that we’d known for years. Very enjoyable, but as I later discovered, I obtained the rotten cold bug from his wife and daughter, starting late on Christmas Eve! We also went to visit other friends, and of course did lots of shopping, plus spent a lovely Christmas day with my best friend and her partner. Christmas Eve we went to see Dick Whittington at the Palladium. I’d been told how great it was, but my husband was a bit apprehensive about seeing a panto, and wasn’t told he was going until he got there! It was wonderful, rolling in the aisles funny, and so so clever. It starred Julian Clarey, Nigel Havers, Elaine Paige, Gary Wilmot and Diversity. I haven’t laughed so much in years. It’s still on until about January 13th if any of you get the chance, do go. We went afterwards to afternoon tea at the Terrace Grill at the Meridian in Piccadilly. The deal included a cocktail, which we ordered, plus our choice of teas and of course the food. We waited, and waited, and eventually they brought the cocktails AND the pots of tea at the same time. Choice, drink cocktails, tea cold, or leave cocktails and not want them with the food. Within a few minute we were asked if we wanted more hot water for the teapots, when we hadn’t even poured the tea out. The food itself was extremely rich, but the service generally was appalling and I would not recommend going there. We also saw Barnum, with dinner at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the night before we left. Hence we needed a rest when we got back here as usual. Kelvin now has my cold, so we spent a very quiet NYE at home, and hope it sets us up for a healthy 2018.
Hope everyone enjoyed their festivities,
and Happy 2018 to you all.