Photos From The Archives – 193 Birchen Grove

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birchengrove001, originally uploaded by Larelle_M_R.

I have only lived in three houses in all my life. This was the second. After living for 28 years in my mum’s house, I moved to the UK to be with Em on July 21st, 1999.

We lived here until August 2003 when we moved on to Cheslyn Close.

Birchen Grove was a lovely place to live. It was a long street (hence we were number 193 – and that wasn’t the end of the street!) and was very busy. Most of the houses were maisonettes, so there were cars parked ALL THE WAY down the street.

Em’s parents Mozzy and Gilly only lived two streets away, so were within walking distance of our house.

We lived close to Stopsley village which was also within walking distance, as was Luton town centre. We certainly felt more involved in the community there. Wigmore (the area of Luton we live in now) is quite a way from town, so you tend to feel more remote and segregated.

We knew our neighbours at Birchen Grove. In the houses opposite lived Mark (we didn’t know him so well) and Harry. Harry lived in the downstairs maisonette. He was quite old, but was still very sprightly. His son would visit regularly, and they’d take day trips, go out to eat, see theatre shows. They even went to the Edinburgh military tattoo one year together!

Below us we had a real crackpot when we first moved in. Didn’t even know his name. Didn’t WANT to know! He was an alcoholic and would verbally abuse himself – and sometimes would seemingly be physically violent to himself. We had some sleepless nights while he lived below us. After about 6 months though, he moved out and the maisonette was bought by Eddie. He was a young, single guy. Quite a hippy type, but despite his age was quite a quiet neighbour and was good to have living below us.

Across the road from us was Ted, or Super Ted as we sometimes referred to him (not to his face). He was ALWAYS on the go, gardening, mowing lawns, putting the bins out each week, feeding the stray cats. I think he was quite frugal too, for at night, even in the dead of winter, he would appear to sit in total darkness. He never had a light on at night. And most nights it appeared he didn’t even watch telly.

The house itself had its pluses and minuses. It was near the end of the road, so it wasn’t quite so busy at our end. We could peer at the posh houses opposite on Sunset Drive and wonder how on earth the people there afforded their mortgages. Some of their garages were bigger than our maisonette!

The rooms were of good size – minus the kitchen which was a box! Well, a rectangle to be precise. But a very small rectangle. It was also quite cold in winter and warm in summer. The coldness was due to having old Economy 7 heating (brick block heaters that heat up overnight and are off during the day). We used to have to have additional heating during the winter months. We also had only secondary double glazed windows (removable second panes of windows), so there was a constant problem of condensation.

But overall, we loved living there and still miss it sometimes.

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It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum. Heatwave Alert!

The UK is on Level 2 heatwave alert. I kid you not! This is really real!
Here is the guidelines for the alert levels from the Department of Health.

Heatwave Plan for England http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=16953929&access_key=key-1rzunppkhw94pbd69s8x&page=1&version=1&viewMode=

I was listening to the radio last night. A talkback programme with a guy Em likes to listen to called Clive Bull on the London station LBC. A lady called in talking about the heatwave warning levels. Clive wasn’t sure what the levels represented, so the lady was setting him straight…

She said “Well, level 2 is two consecutive days of temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius and level 3 is death…”. At this point Clive, somewhat shocked interrupted and said, “Level 3 is DEATH?!”

I’m not sure where this lady got her facts from, but level 3 is NOT death! lol She went on to elaborate that she meant “potential of death” – still incorrect. Clive’s reaction to the lady’s interpretation of the meaning of level 3 DID make me giggle though!

It *IS* making me laugh that there is a contingency plan in place for the weather to get hotter than any Brit is used to. Coming from a country where the average summertime temperature is rarely BELOW 30 degrees Celsius, makes the Brit contingency plan seem somewhat alarmist.

LEVEL 3 = DEATH!!!!!!

Be warned people!
LOL

Where Has Morality Gone?

There is a big story in Australia at the moment regarding sex scandals between groups of professional, high profile sportsmen and young women who participate in “consensual” group sex with these sportsmen.

Not all incidents are evidently consensual though. The ABC’s current affairs programme Four Corners looked into the way NRL (National Rugby League) players conduct themselves off-field and their attitudes to alcohol and women.

I’ve been reading the transcript of the Four Corners programme and my word, some of the reading is disgusting.

Some of the behaviour highlighted is beyond belief. One of the teams season launches (the Manly Sea Eagles) was so fuelled with bad drunken behaviour, I found myself slack-jawed reading about it. There was an incident involving Sea Eagles player Anthony Watmough in which he was at the ceremony badly intoxicated and was abusive to one young lady – apparently for the appalling reason that she couldn’t remember his name and didn’t recognise him as the “famous footy player” he so believed he is! He then went on to verbally abuse her to her own father, saying “How could you let her leave the house dressed like that?” (for obviously Mr Watmough believed her to be scantily clad) and then proceeded to punch him!!

Another incident highlighted saw team members from a different club behave in a disorderly fashion at a University campus. What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well, not anything especially, other than the players had absolutely no reason to be AT the campus, and one helped himself to trying to sexually abuse a young woman who was sleeping in her dorm. Yes, she was intoxicated herself, but she was in her OWN private dorm, asleep! She didn’t invite him back to her dorm, she didn’t consent to anything. She was asleep in her dorm, and this player just walked into her room and assaulted her!

Another incident saw a group of players take back a “footy groupie” to a hotel room and forced her to perform oral sex on several players whilst being filmed on mobile phones. She was actually told to say that she’d given her consent to the sex acts, TO camera!!

A woman who was involved in arranging “groupy” meetings with footballers on Facebook said that one of the men present told her about the incident. She wanted to know if she knew the woman and so asked the player who she was. He replied “oh, just some slurry from around Cronulla.” (Cronulla is a suburb in Sydney’s south.)

One of the biggest stories to surface in recent years was an incident that happened with members of the Canterbury Bulldogs team in 2004. It was during an away game which saw players staying at a Coffs Harbour resort involved in a group sex act with a young woman. There was an investigation. Team members were interviewed, but no charges were laid. There didn’t appear to be any indication the group sex was consensual, and the woman in question was insulted by the players and discarded.

Roy Masters, sports writer and former NRL coach, seemed to believe that players participated in group sex activities as part of a “bonding exercise”. That is the most unbelievably disgusting excuse I’ve ever heard. By way of airing that opinion it is tantamount to condoning it!

Four Corners revealed that two years before the Bulldogs sex scandal, there was another sex scandal that took place while (surprise, surprise, given their high regard for women) the Cronulla Sharks team were on tour in New Zealand.

Four Corners spoke to a woman they referred to as “Clare”. She told the programme she was invited back to one of the players rooms. She was initially accompanied by two players. What was to follow was (in her testimony) NON-consensual group sex. She described aspects of the incident in detail, including mauling and mass fondling of her body and having players sexual organs probed and rammed into her face. Players were either having intercourse with her, sexually abusing her in some other way, or in the room masturbating over what was taking place. Clare was 19 years old at the time.

Over the last seven years she has had a severe alcohol problem, has been suicidal and now has to bare the brunt of Australian public opinion, in which a vast swathe just believe her to be a whore, a trouble-maker and someone who, quite frankly, deserved what she got!

I think that is absolutely disgusting. Clare named one player in particular that she remembered from the ordeal, Matthew Johns. Given what I’ve seen in the past, not the brightest colour in the crayon set. He is now an ex-player and has a role in presenting a tawdry television programme, called The Footy Show, based loosely on discussing the weeks football (NRL), but more about juvenile antics and supposed “funny” segments. Johns has an alter ego on the show called Reg Reagan. From what I’ve seen he’s as about as funny as a tooth canal. What classes for humour in my country of birth sometimes leaves me in despair. But to each their own, I suppose.

Mr Johns doesn’t deny being involved in the incident. In fact, he admits to having sex with her! And he’s a married man, but that’s okay, all is forgiven. But if he had a modicum of decency, he’d at least reveal who the other team members were in the room with him. Oh, but no, he’s keeping schtum, so is his team-mate Brett Firman, who also admits to having sex with Clare. But in a rather un-team-like manner, all other members are keeping quiet and not revealing their involvement.

There was a police investigation at the time in New Zealand, and no charges were laid.

Last week Mr Johns made some pathetic statement about the accusations raised in the Four Corners programme and subsequently through the rest of the TV and print media.

You can’t say sorry enough. Maybe to your family, but absolutely nothing to Clare. Nothing like “If I have caused upset, anguish and pain to the lady involved, I unreservedly apologise”. No, nothing like that. What a man, eh?! What a hero!! Co-host Paul “Fatty” Vautin goes on to say, after the statement, “Alright mate, well said. Alright, let’s get on with the show”. FFS! That’s disgusting.

Channel Nine (makers of the Footy Show) then stood Johns down from his presenting role. Some sanity prevailed.

Sadly, you only have to see the comments on the YouTube clip, and the numerous Facebook groups to know that the tide of support is behind Johns.

One of the most eye-opening things in this whole Four Corners report was the attitude the younger players were shown to have in reference to sexual abuse on woman and men. Shown two video clips in which in the first incident a woman goes to a hotel room with two players, has consensual sex with one, but gets raped by the other, the general consensus by the players was “She put out first”. So the fact that she had consensual sex with the first man didn’t justify her saying “NO” to the second. Other comments went “She flirted with them both.” That, basically, she asked for it! Nice! Asked whether they thought the players might face consequences, the opinion of the players was that male number two (the rapist) might, but male number one (the seemingly consensual participant) might “get away with it” depending “how good his lawyer is” says one player!! My word!

Given a second video to watch in which a drunken man is raped by a member of the same sex, the opinions and views of the young players changes somewhat. I don’t think I need to explain that in this incidence all the players realise that what happened was unjustified, immorally wrong, and actually WAS rape. One player, having a particular epiphany says “You don’t really ask for trouble if you have too much to drink and get raped by a bloke. You don’t ask for that.”

REALLY?

One of the older players there, showing the videos says to the young men “Can we see that there’s some sort of double standard that may apply here? The girl’s gone out to have a drink. No one said that she didn’t ask for it but yet the male goes out and has a drink and it’s crystal clear that he didn’t ask for it.”

Lord help me I can hear the groans of realisation and epiphanies as I type.

I rest my case.

One For Facebook, One For Here!

Got this from Facebook. I did one on there already, so thought I’d do this one on my site.

Tis harder than you think!! Here is what you are supposed to do…and please don’t spoil the fun…copy and paste into your own note/blog, type in your answers using only ONE word and tag a bunch of people – I won’t be tagging though.

1. Where is your mobile phone?
Footstool

2. Your hair colour?
Chocolate

3. Your father?
AWOL (I hope acronyms count)

4. Your favorite thing?
Birds

5. Your dream last night?
Lots

6. Your favorite drink?
Mocha

7. Your dream/goal?
Happiness

8. The room you are in?
Living

9. Your fear?
Spheksophobia (fear of bees and wasps)

10. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
Here

11. Muffins?
English

12. One of your wish list items?
Bed

13. Where you grew up?
Busby

14. The last thing you did?
Typed

15. What are you wearing?
(if it HAS to be a one word answer) Clothes

16. Your TV?
Dexter

17. Your pets?
Several

18. Your computer?
Armrest

19. Your life?
Mediocre

20. Your mood?
Reserved

21. Missing someone?
Sorta

22. Your car?
None

23. Favorite store?
Morrisons

24. Your summer?
Forgettable

25. Your favorite colour?
Pastels

26. When is the last time you laughed?
Yesterday

27. Last time you cried?
Past

28. Favorite food at the moment?
Cake

29. A place I would rather be right now?
Stamford

30. A person I know will respond
Wendy(?)

99 Things – It Was Meant To Be 100, but the last was for tagging.

You know I’m a sucker for a list. Saw this on Facebook, wasn’t tagged to do it, so thought I’d do it here instead.

001. Real name → Larelle Read (ne McInnes)
002. Nickname(s) → Loz, Lozzy, Teds, Teddy
003. Zodiac sign → Scorpio
004. Male or female → Female
005. Elementary School → Busby Infants School
006. Middle School → Busby Primary School
007. High School → Miller Technology H.S./Hoxton Park H.S.
008. Hair color → natural brown, atm
009. Long or short → v. short
010. Loud or Quiet → (in ref to what? My hair? My state of mind?) Quiet
011. Sweats or Jeans → Sweats at home, jeans when out.
012. Phone or Camera → Camera phone
013. Health freak → No, but trying to improve my health.
014. Drink or Smoke? → Drink on the rare occasion. Smoked in the past, but not now.
015. Do you have a crush on someone? → Yes, but he’s completely unobtainable.
016. Eat or Drink → (Pardon? What? As a vice? What do I prefer in general? Who asks these stupid questions?) Both, in moderation…
017. Piercings → 2 in left ear, one in right – all closed over now though.
018. Tattoos → 1 of a rose bud on my left shoulder.

HAVE YOU EVER?
019. Been in an aeroplane → Hell yes, too many times!
020. Been in a relationship → Yes
021. Been in a car accident → A very minor accident – no one was hurt.
022. Been in a fist fight → A very, VERY long time ago.

FIRSTS:
023. First piercing → Ears when I was around 7/8 years old.
024. First best friend → John and Louise
025. First award → Can’t remember
026. First crush → Only remember his first name – David
027. First big vacation→ A trip to Perth, WA to stay with my Uncle in the summer of 1979/1980.

LASTS:
029. Last person you talked to → Em
030. Last person you texted → Em (again)
031. Last person you watched a movie with → Em (yet again)
032. Last food you ate → Cinnamon grahams for breakfast.
033. Last movie you watched → Lars and The Real Girl
034. Last song you listened to → Love Shack – B52’s
035. Last thing you bought → Clothes for Em
036. Last person you hugged → (erm) Em

FAVES:
037. Food → Thai
038. Drinks → Pepsi Max (which I hardly ever have now), milkshakes – proper ones
039. Clothing → Jeans, long tunic tops, cardigans, cotton clothes.
040. Flower → Gerberas, Hyacinths and Frangipani
041. Animal → Birds, big cats and British wildlife (hedgehogs, badgers, foxes)
042. Colours → Pink (I do choose it a lot for things), pastels, and black
043. Movies → Anything really, but mostly comedies, rom coms, zom coms/horror and dramas.
044. Subjects → Science (biology, chemistry) and history

IN 2008….. I

045. [x] kissed someone
046. [] celebrated Halloween
047. [] had your heart broken
048. [x] went over the minutes on your cell phone
049. [] questioned someone’s sexual orientation
050. [] came out of the closet
051. [] gotten pregnant/got someone pregnant- lost it
052. [] had an abortion
053. [x] done something you’ve regretted
054. [] broke a promise
055. [] hid a secret
056. [x] pretended to be happy
057. [] met someone who changed your life
058. [] pretended to be sick
059. [] left the country
060. [] tried something you normally wouldn’t try and liked it
061. [] cried over the silliest thing
062. [] ran a mile
063. [] went to the beach with your best friend(s)
064. [x] got into an argument with your friends
065. [] hated someone
066. [] stayed single the whole year

CURRENTLY:
067. Eating → Nothing
068. Drinking → Tea
069. I’m about to → browse about and check online orders
070. Listening to → Nothing
071. Plans for today → web browsing, tweeting, hopefully knit a little, watch TV, etc (it’s an exciting life!)
072. Waiting for → more online shopping to arrive and the snow to melt

YOUR FUTURE:
073. Want kids? → no
074. Want to get married? → already married
075. Careers in mind → pipedream – vet or vetinery nurse

WHICH IS BETTER WITH GIRL/BOY?
076. Lips or eyes → eyes
077. Shorter or taller? → taller
078. Romantic or spontaneous → romantic
079. Nice stomach or nice arms → not fussed about the arms, don’t want abs either, as long as there’s no beer-belly.
080. Sensitive or loud → sensitive, mostly…loud can be annoying
081. Hook-up or relationship → booty call!!
082. Trouble-maker or hesitant → hesitant (not when it comes to the booty call tho)

HAVE YOU EVER:
083. Lost glasses/contacts → yes, sunglasses
084. Ran away from home → yes, in a very crap way, when I was 10yrs old.
085. Hold a gun/knife for self defence → no
086. Killed somebody → no
087. Broken someone’s heart → I think I have
088. Been arrested → no
089. Cried when someone died → yes (you’d have to be one cold, heartless bastard if you didn’t – I’m sure I know a few ppl who wouldn’t)

DO YOU BELIEVE IN:
090. Yourself → no a lot
091. Miracles → maybe, I think
092. Love at first sight → No, lust is what it is, not love.
093. Heaven → A kind of heaven
094. Santa Claus → Yes!
095. Sex on the first date → Hell yes, if they are fit and all, and willing…
096. Kiss on the first date → Yes.

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY:
097. Is there one person you want to be with right now?→ yes
098. Are you seriously happy with where you are in life? → not really, but who is? I know it could be worse. I’m not complaining…
099. Do you believe in God? → no

I’ve left 100 off, ‘cos it wasn’t a question, it said “tag 10 ppl”. I’m not tagging this time.

5 Projects (+1)

Thanks Wendishness, I’ll try and do this. Not sure if I can generate 5 projects, might have to cheat an include ones already started.

1. Knit a scarf (that I can actually wear outside, in front of people!).
2. Continue on my diet which started as a NYR.
3. Start an exercise regime (help!).
4. Plan a Spring of day trips utilising the free regional bus travel we won late last year.
5. Take a day trip to London in the spring and do something different to the normal scene while there.

(+1) Live happier and healthier.

My five tags (if I can come up with 5 – maybe one of my projects should be “make more friends”?)…

Kelly
Em Squared
Cheryl (aka Hussey)
Barbs (Bec)

Erm…struggling for a fifth. I might have to pike out on four. Should there not be a time-frame for these things? Well, anyway, number 2 on my list I have to do for some time to come anyway. If it is AT ALL possible in the next 18 months to 2 years, I want to get back to being in a healthy weight range. Or at least just be overweight rather than MORBIDLY OBESE!!

Hit The Wall

I’m having a bad day today. I’ve hit the pre-Christmas wall. I now want Christmas over with. I just don’t have the enthusiasm and the energy for it any longer. I just want my shopping done, the stuff on TV that I want to watch now! I’m just over it.

I’m having a real “2006” day. Two years ago I was going through a very deep depression. Not something I’d ever gone through before. Despite having long spells of living in poverty, I’ve always been scarily optimistic. So 2006 really came from nowhere. I just couldn’t see the point any more. But it was like that, every day, for at least 6 months.

I still have those feelings on the odd day. It’s just more of a “feel sorry for myself” day now when that happens. Today is one of those days. I just want to mope. Just lay on the bed in the foetal position and forget about the world for a while.

In 2006 I used to have quite big philosophical questions for myself and others. Why *are* we here? Are we meant to be here? Aren’t we just a virus invading a place that’s not rightfully ours? Why do we treat animals so inferior? Environmental conservation?! What a laugh! If we weren’t here f*cking up the earth in the first place, we wouldn’t have to be doing “conservation” work – I say, typing it into my netbook!!

The world is just full of contradictions, hypocrisy and chaos.

Then I think things like “What drives a person in say, DR Congo, or the Darfur region, or even Zimbabwe to continue on? What *IS* the point of it? Please, please, really tell me?

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In the absolute grand scheme of things, what do we, as humans, contribute to anything? That we leave a mark (more like scar, and a deep scar at that)? That we get remembered for achievements? So, we’ve gone to the moon…SO?! What of it? Big fat hairy deal. What does it matter that I know Einstein? What did he prove? Why is it important that I know that Henry VIII lived and had six wives?

What makes these things important when we still have wars, we are still animals – lesser animals than the ones we like to “lord it” over! We’re just a mutant virus. We shouldn’t even be here.

Then there’s things like religion. Just do *not* get me started there.

I know. It’s all very “It’s A Wonderful Life” the way I’m talking. But seriously, that movie is fantasy. What WAS so important about George Bailey’s life? Oh sure, he saves his brother’s life – who then in turn saves the lives of people in war – but his brother saved peoples lives IN WAR! I mean, FFS, we STILL have war! The human race is just ridiculous.

I just don’t get stuff…I really don’t.

Yes, it’s a bad day…