Monday, 17 November 2008

A Tin of Molasses

Jo has recently been looking for Molasses but it seems our local supermarkets do not stock it. Black Strap Molasses is made from Sugar Cane. The roots of the sugar cane grow as deep as 15 feet and therefore are able to receive a broad spectrum of minerals and trace elements normally lacking in the top soils. The sugar is removed, leaving behind the exceptionally rich mineral/trace element cocktail, with a good selection of vitamins. It a great source of iron and calcium, but it's also a source of potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. People are said to have overcome all sorts of serious, seemingly intractable health problems with molasses alone! This includes cases of various types of Cancer, Osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, strokes, poor nervous system, skin disorders; the list goes on and on. Many people claim to have reversed their grey hair with it. This may be at least partly due to the copper content, as copper deficiency can lead to prematurely grey hair.

Dad used to take a heaped teaspoon of molasses every day. It was a daily routine – one of those little rituals that go to make a household memorable. (Along with, in Dad’s case, rubbing olive oil into his scalp). Whether his tin of molasses or his bottle of olive oil contributed to him keeping his hair or living into his nineties will never be known but they certainly didn’t do him any harm.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I’m still scanning the photos from my photo albums – I don’t know why I bother mentioning that since I’ll be doing it for the next twenty years at this rate... However, this is a fascinating process because I keep coming across things I’d forgotten. For example, in 1996 I had a trip over to Leeds. I cannot recall it at all. But while I was there I took a couple of photos to remind myself of my student days. This is “The Vic”, a second home to Anne, Gill and I for most of the three years (with friends like Judy, Ann and Anne H. regularly joining us).

And this is the house in Victoria Road where I lived (in a great attic flat) for eighteen months. Initially I had moved into the flat on a shared basis with a chap called Dennis who worked for Associated Dairies but who had advertised for someone to share and said “Must be student to fit in”. This despite the fact that he wasn't a student. Typical Dennis.

Dennis was a great character and about as reliable as a chocolate washing machine. We rarely met up during the week as he was usually out and left me in possession of the lounge which meant that I could entertain anyone whenever I wanted. His girlfriend lived in London so I didn’t have to reciprocate. But on Sunday we had a regular Sunday lunch. He was quite a good cook and we alternated the cooking of this traditional meal. One Sunday morning, on a day when it was my turn to cook, he said he was nipping out to the launderette before the meal. Knowing how unreliable he was and how totally unable to keep to time, I gave him the sternest of warnings about the time the meal would be served.

About an hour after the mealtime I ate, on my own. It was eight days later that he returned... He arrived back in the middle of Monday evening while I had a friend, Sue, around. “Hi,” he said, as he dumped his bag of washing in the living room, “I’ll leave you to it, I won’t disturb you, ” and he headed out to the kitchen.

I called him back and asked him what on earth had happened to Sunday lunch the week before. “Oh yes, sorry about that,” he said, “I was watching my washing go round in the machine and I thought I might pop down to see Tess. So I went off to the bus station... Sorry about that. The only problem is my washing’s all dirty again.”

It was about an hour later that Sue and stopped laughing!

About a fortnight later he disappeared again – never to return. I don’t know what happened to him but I inherited his dart-board and various other things, along with his half of the rent. The flat was so good that I couldn’t bear to leave it or share it and went on living there on my own for the next year. It was well worth the double rent.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Muriel Lane

One of my mother's many cousins (a first cousin once removed) was Muriel Irene Lane who was born in 1908, a year before Mum. She and Mum got on well and corresponded right until Mum's death a couple of years ago. Then Muriel continued swapping Christmas cards and brief notes with Jo and I each year. Muriel had the most beautiful and distinctive handwriting and even on last year's Christmas card it was far more legible than mine has ever been.

Muriel married John Pearce and lived in Poole, Dorset, before moving to Stourport-on-Severn. They had one son and two daughters and after John died in 1996 Muriel lived with her elder daughter, Moira.

This morning I e-mailed Geoffrey Lane, another cousin, to check whether Muriel was still at Stourport-on-Severn (and effectively to check she was still with us) because her hundredth birthday was coming up nest week. Sadly it was to find out that she died a few days ago. She did not quite make it to 100, but from what Moira tells us, she was beginning to weary of life, and was rather less impressed than some of her relatives by the prospect of reaching such a great age. By sheer chance I caught Geoffrey as he was about to set off to the funeral - just six days before she would have been 100.

Our sincere commiserations go to Moira, Stuart and Hilary and their families.

Despite her marriage she was always known in our household as Muriel Lane. I met John a few times when he passed through Liverpool on his way to Ireland but so far as I can recall I never met Muriel, yet she will be missed. She was the last of a generation of real ladies and gentlemen.