11 Years Ago Today

On this day in 2012, my mum died in hospital in London. She was 87 years old.

Violet Johnson. 1924-2012

After a long period of suffering, she died in the early hours of the morning. I had been to see her that night, and sat with her until it got late. She didn’t know I was there, as she had not been fully conscious for a long time. The nurse in charge rang me at home around 1:30 AM to tell me the news. I told him I was relieved for her that it was all over, and she was no longer in pain and distress.

It was two days before my 60th birthday, and a few days before I retired from work and moved from London to Norfolk.

She is never forgotten, not for one second.

Spitalfields Then And Now: 1912-2012

The Photographer C.A. Matthew took many photos of daily life in East London during 1912. His photos of Spitalfields were discovered by modern-day photographer Adam Tuck, in 2012. He set out to recapture the same locations one hundred years later, and rather than try to ‘merge’ the photos into a split-screen effect, he overlaid them.

The results give a strange ‘ghostly’ feel to the scenes, and I found that to be very affecting.

Sandys Row.

Sandys Row South.

Steward Street.

Middlesex Street.


Crispin Street.

Bell Lane.

Artillery Lane.

Spital Square.

Frying Pan Alley.

The joy of darkness.

One of my first ever (very short) posts. Enjoying the dark nights of Beetley, back in 2012.


It takes a while to get used to driving everywhere after dark with headlights on, and no street lighting. After a lifetime in London, lit everywhere inside the M25, you feel like the proverbial rabbit at first. But you learn to love the darkness. The night sky is little short of a miracle, a myriad of stars never seen in London, with all the light pollution. Sleep is a joy in total pitch black too. Turn off your lights World, and embrace the darkness!

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On Blogging

I have written a lot about blogging here. This was my first ever post about the subject, in 2012. Hardly anyone has ever seen it.


As you all know, I am a new ‘Blogger’. I would like to thank all my friends, and a few outsiders too, (Ecuador? Not Assange, surely?) for reading my blog. I am also privileged to have a few ‘followers’, something I found unusually exciting! However, those of you who have not yet embarked on your own Blog will be unaware of something very annoying.
When someone ‘likes’ your Blog, or an individual post, you receive an e mail telling you that they do. This also includes a link to their Blog, and their username, with an invitation to visit their site. When you have only posted a few entries, it can be very encouraging to start to receive these notifications. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, these ‘fellow bloggers’ are simply trying to sell you something. Whether it is by clicking a link in their Blog, or an actual direct request…

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Ollie’s First Week

Julie found some more photos of Ollie, from 2012. It was his first week of living with us full-time, and he was just eight weeks old.
They are from an old phone, so not great quality.

He loved that ribbon. It is still in his toy box.

Hoping to play some more.

Getting tired.

Fast asleep under his blanket, on his first dog-bed.

Blogging Memories

Starting out on a blog is a bit like putting a message in a bottle, casting it out into the ocean, and hoping someone finds it, then replies.

In fact, given the untold millions of blogs on the Internet, you may well have more chance with that bottle.

So I didn’t expect much from my first tentative blog post, in the summer of 2012. I told my friends and family about it of course. I even sent some of them links by text message. But seriously, who was going to read my nervous waffling? I wouldn’t have blamed anyone if they had never bothered.

The first ‘likes’ and comments were from those same friends and family. They used an email address, or set up a WP account just to encourage me, but they did that willingly. I still remember the first time I got 10 views in one day. I was ecstatic. It all seemed worthwhile. When I hit 30 views, I was sure that blogging was going to be ‘my thing’.

Then I got a comment and a follow from someone I didn’t actually know. That was worth its weight in gold, and encouraged me to expand my content, and try new categories. I started to write about my time as an EMT in London, tried my hand at film reviews, and published some very long posts about my childhood memories as a boy in London.

Then one day, I could hardly believe my eyes when I logged on. I had 30 followers, and had hit the magic number of 100 views. Even now, I can remember how good that felt.

As the saying goes, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

I discovered how to add photos, video clips, and images, all to make some posts more relevant, and interesting. I tried my hand at writing fiction too. Short stories at first, then multi-part serials later. I continued to feature my dog Ollie, and stuck to a formula that seemed to be popular with the community of followers and readers that was steadily growing.

As of today, I have a listed 5,470 followers on WordPress. Add to that 41 who follow by email, and 336 followers on social media sites like Twitter, and that totals 5,847. On a good day, I get around 600 views of the site, and think I must be doing something wrong when it drops below 300 on any given day.

But I never forget that 18 of those original 30 followers are still following this blog. And they still comment too.

Sometimes, 2012 doesn’t seem that long ago after all.

Ambulance stories (3)

Another from the 2012 archives. A sad story about a lovely lady, and a very unpleasant job.


Betty’s toes

When you work in a particular area for some time, you soon get used to the ‘regulars’. These are patients with chronic illness or disease, drug users, alcoholics, asthmatics, diabetics, and housebound people requiring different kinds of help and assistance. Betty was in this category. She was in her 70’s, and she had Diabetes, as well as circulation problems and arterial disease,  caused by decades of heavy smoking. She may have been a widower, or divorced, as she lived alone, in a small terraced house, not too far from our base.

It was common to receive calls to attend her address, either emergency calls made by Betty, or as an arranged admission by her G.P. She was a cheery character, and seemed to manage well, despite constant pain in her legs and feet. When this got too bad, or life got on top of her, she would either…

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London Life (2)

Following Part 1 of this old neglected post, here is Part 2. From the same year, (2012) and the early days of this blog.


To continue what may be an ongoing series about London, I am reflecting on how the people there have changed over the last 50 years. Since some time around 1980, or perhaps a bit before, there are certain things that you just don’t do, if you live in London. You never talk to strangers in the street. You may ask about buses, or trains, though only if at a bus stop, or on the platform of a station, and then, only if a suitable official is unavailable to answer your query.

You should not approach children, whether they are on their own, or in groups. This applies to an age range from about 8 years old, through to late teens. Children in London are streetwise and opportunistic, whatever their background, and will cause you more problems than you can ever imagine.

Avoid going upstairs on a bus, unless it is…

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London Life (1)

Another neglected old post, from 2012. I have since written a fair bit about London, but this was my first attempt on this blog.


Until this year, I lived almost all of my life in one or other district of London, starting in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, which were then working class districts of South-East London. Then there was a gap, when my Dad moved us to Bexley, which was then in Kent but is now a London Borough. I later moved back to Clapham, then to Wandsworth, when I married. Going up in the World, so we believed, we moved the short distance to Wimbledon, where I stayed until 1985, when I moved back to Rotherhithe, specifically the part known as Surrey Docks. This was no longer just a working class district, as the regeneration of Docklands had radically changed both the area, and the people that lived there. After many years there, I eventually found myself in Camden Town, the now fashionable area just North of London’s West End, where I stayed for…

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Things I don’t miss about London

A very old post, from 2012. People often ask me if I miss living in London. Well here are five things I do not miss. This post has never received a like or a comment, and has hardly been read since 2012.


Having previously posted about the things I do miss about living in London, I thought I would redress the balance with a few recollections of things that I really do not miss.


This is everywhere, especially paper. It blows about, in winds fanned by the high buildings, and narrow streets. There are a few free newspapers handed out, mainly to commuters at rush hour, as well as countless leaflets; for cheap meals, computer deals, and the sale of golfing goods. This discarded forest of unwanted paper lies everywhere in view, and when it is raining, forms clumps of undesirable paper-mache, that cling to your shoes. At the end of the evening, the many restaurants and fast-food establishments, pile the detritus of their day’s trading onto the pavement, awaiting a late collection by refuse trucks. Food scraps, bottles, cardboard, all urinated on by drunks, kicked around, disturbed by seagulls (yes…

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