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LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS.

Today I looked back at this post which I blogged at the start of lockdown. It is interesting to be reminded of what lockdown was like then.

It’s also great to see that more people are viewing my blog. Over 14,000 since I began. There were 55 views of “51 Years” which is heartening. Most viewers hail from the UK or the USA but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that my blog has also had visitors from India, Romania, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Philippines, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Turkey, Kenya, Spain – even France! If you are one of those – thank you!

HERE IS THE BLOG I WROTE BACK IN JUNE 2020.

When your own OH (other half) is curious enough to ask what are you going to be blogging about today, you know that you must be doing something right.

A few blog statistics for you.

23 people viewed my last blog.  The breakdown was 13 people from the UK, 4 from Uganda, 2 from the Netherlands, 2 from the USA, 1 from Austria and 1 from Romania.

Yesterday I also gained two new followers which makes the number of you who have actually signed up to this blog around 200. So thank you! And an especial thank you to those of you who take the trouble to email or comment on the blog page. It’s very motivating to know that people are actually enjoying reading what I write!

I have actually been blogging my poetry since 2011. Those were generally irregular blogs – a handful a year. Since I have been blogging every day my viewing figures have shot up. From 2013 to the start of lockdown, 8306 people had visited my blog. Since lockdown that number has increased by well over a thousand! I’ve also been astonished by the number of people on LinkedIn who are reading my blogs. If you are one of them – thank you!

Then there are the Facebookers who “like” my blog post but don’t actually read it.  What’s the point of that?  I’d much rather they’d go to the blog and like it there where a “like” actually means something. But that’s Facebook for you. Full of people liking fluffy kittens, cute babies, twee sayings and photos of other people’s holidays – in the days when there were such things as holidays.

We are now told that we are coming out of hibernation.  Like my blogger friend Mel, I think BJ is doing far too much far too soon much in the same way as he did far too little far too late. Time will tell. I’m not in any hurry to get out there just yet.

I have to admit that there have been aspects of the lockdown I have enjoyed. Relished even.  Not having to think about what to wear is one  – or at least only having to think about the top half for my Zoom appearances. Not wearing make-up – not that I ever wore much before. Not caring about the streaks of grey showing in my now long hair.  Like Boris’s ideas for coming out of lockdown, it has all been quite liberating.

Another thing I loved about the lockdown was the empty roads and lack of traffic. For a few weeks families reclaimed the streets and it was a joy to see children being able to cycle again in the road just as they had done in my childhood. Seeing photos of London empty of traffic was eerie and at the same time thrilling.

At the start, like everyone else, I was savouring the birdsong when I could hear it above the sound of building work. Where we live, the lockdown seems to have liberated all those people who had been wanting to have work done on their homes. For the past few months we have had to put up with the noise of drilling, banging and hammering. In this beautiful weather it would be lovely to be able to have the windows open but all this building work has sometimes made for an unpleasant experience. A neighbour down the road has building work noise so loud that it has set her dogs off barking so we have that to contend with as well.

And now we’ve all been given permission to sit in our gardens with friends it seems such a shame that this pleasure will be blighted by the sound of work going on. Whenever we go for our walks we count the number of skips. Interestingly, there are two houses now for sale in our road and two more just round the corner.  More noisy building work to come no doubt!

On a good day, lockdown has sometimes felt like the Sundays of my childhood. The only activity would have been the sight of men mowing their lawns or hosing down their cars. The highlight of the week then would have been the Sunday drive out into the country.  Very little traffic except for what my dad would contemptuously call the ‘Sunday drivers.’  One could whizz through towns and villages because all the shops would be closed – just like it has been for the past few months.

But now the traffic is back to normal. Not a new normal. But, sadly, the old normal.  Traffic jams. Fumes. Pollution. And with drivers who are – if anything – a little bit more inconsiderate than they were before. Another thing we have to thank the lockdown for.

The hammering has stopped and I’m off to sit in the garden while I can. See you again soon.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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HAS OUR WORLD CHANGED?

“It’s a Wonderful World”, sang Louis Armstrong. I’m not so sure that’s true any more.

Yesterday I came across this poem. I wrote it just over two years ago, at the start of the pandemic.

Reading it again, I felt that this poem could equally well have been written about Ukraine.

What do you think?

Empty

The birds are still singing

No one has told them

No one has told them

Our world has changed.

The sky is still blue

The sun is still shining

But where are the people

Our world’s rearranged.

The flowers are budding

The willows are weeping

Weeping for us

And a world that has gone.

 Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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POST 234# HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY, 2022

Recently I was astonished to read in The Guardian, a British newspaper, that nearly two thirds of young adults in the United States were unaware that 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered in the Holocaust. Indeed, the Washington Post reported similar statistics in 2018 – that two thirds of millennials didn’t know what the Holocaust was!

I wrote the following post in July, 2021 and feel it is important to share it again – particularly as today – the 27th January 2022 – is Holocaust Memorial Day.

Earlier in the summer OH (other half) and I were on vacation in Windermere, in the Lake District.

We saw a sign which aroused our curiosity. It read, “From Auschwitz to Ambleside”. We discovered that an exhibition was being held at Windermere library which concerned the Windermere Boys, a group of Jewish children who were brought to Windermere in 1945. Unfortunately for us, the exhibition was not open for more tours until the following week.

Those of you who saw the TV documentary, The Windermere Boys and the follow up documentary where the survivors, now adults, were interviewed, will know that 300 Jewish children who had miraculously survived concentration camps, were brought to Windermere in 1945.

Having seen the documentary on TV, we were very keen to see this exhibition but we were leaving Windermere the next day. I sent an email to the museum asking if there was any possibility of our seeing it.  We did not require a tour, I wrote, but could wander around on our own. To my surprise I received a reply shortly afterwards saying that the museum could be opened up for us at 11am the following day.

The following morning, an unassuming man met us on the doorstep of the museum and let us in.  He spoke knowledgeably about the exhibition and then left us to wander round on our own.

There were photographs of “the boys” – although some of them were girls! News clippings from the time told how the children had been housed on what had been the site of aircraft workers’ homes – the Calgarth Estate. They were looked after by a Rabbi, a doctor, nurses, teachers and child welfare officers. The plan was to eventually find them permanent homes as none of their parents could be traced and were presumed dead.

It was only later on our way home, when reading a pamphlet we had bought at the exhibition, that we realised that the unassuming man who had kindly opened up the library for us was none other than Trevor Avery, the man who had been the impetus behind the exhibition and both TV documentaries.

It all began in 2005 when he was at an exhibition concerning the factory where the Short Sunderland “Flying Boat”, the largest aircraft of its time, had been built. There was a photo of the Calgarth Estate, where the workers had been housed, on display.  Trevor Avery happened to hear a chance remark, “Of course, you know, this is where the children from Auschwitz came ….”

Other than the locals, no one had known about this as it had been kept out of the press at the time. Avery made contact with the Jewish children who had been brought to the Lake District and talked to members of the local community who remembered them. He then set about documenting these stories and was instrumental in founding the Lake District Holocaust Project. The survivors still return to the Lake District for reunions and several of them have shared their experiences of the Holocaust with local schoolchildren.

In 2016 Avery was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for Services to Heritage in the Lake District. Without his painstaking research and inspirational work in reuniting the Windermere children, none of us would ever have known their remarkable story. We were privileged to meet him.

The next day, moved by what I had seen and learnt, I wrote this poem:

The Children of Windermere

Do you know the story of Windermere?

If you would listen, come and hear

How love and kindness can conquer fear.

300 children in 45

All of them lucky to be alive

They’d witnessed terror, murder and hate

And were given refuge on the Calgarth Estate

A beautiful place, tranquil and calm

Was the setting for those

Who had suffered such harm.

Windermere, Windermere

If you would listen, come and hear

How love and kindness can conquer fear.

Some of them were as young as three

How they survived just baffles me

What they only suffered, what they’d only seen

Can’t be imagined, it’s far too obscene.

The Windermere children were all united

Hoping one day to be reunited

With siblings, parents and all they loved dear

And meanwhile they lived in Windermere.

Windermere, Windermere

If you would listen, come and hear

How love and kindness can conquer fear.

Here they were safe to run free and play

Escaping the hell they’d left far away.

They were nurtured, comforted, schooled and fed

And began to heal from the lives they’d led.

The nightmares they had, began to recede

They were children again

From that life they’d been freed.

Windermere, Windermere

If you would listen, come and hear

How love and kindness can conquer fear.

By the side of the Lakes

They flourished and grew

Began to plan for a future too

They learned to live

And live without fear

The 300 children of Windermere.

Those children grew up

And moved away

Had children of their own one day

Yet they still tell their story today.

Yes, the children grew up

And made lives of their own

But they never forgot their Windermere home.

Windermere, Windermere

If you would listen, come and hear

How love and kindness can conquer fear.

Written after a visit to the “From Auschwitz to Ambleside”

Exhibition at the Windermere Museum

24/7/2021

READ THIS ARTICE ABOUT WHEN PRINCE CHARLES MET SOME HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AND ALSO WATCH THE VIDEO.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10447691/The-incredible-Holocaust-survivors-escaped-Nazi-regime-Prince-Charles-met.html#newcomment

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19, OMICRON – WILL THERE BE A HAPPY ENDING FOR US ALL?

We all remember the story of Cinderella.  No fairy godmothers for us but aren’t we all wishing for something or someone to come along and take us away from all of this? 

An end to housework and cooking? An escape?  It used to be called a holiday but it looks as if that wish isn’t going to be coming true for quite a while.

In my writers’ group we were asked to dream up the sequel to a well known story.  I chose Cinderella.

You remember that at the end of the tale she had married her handsome prince and was living in a beautiful palace, supposedly happily ever after.

Here’s what I imagine happened next.

Cinderella sighed. Her new life had held such promise. But, after ten years of marriage, her prince had lost his charm. He spent all his time alone in the billiard room and didn’t want her even though she was the fairest in all the land. Letting her ugly sisters move in had been a big mistake. They were forever bickering.

It was probably the lockdown making her feel like this, she decided. Life wasn’t so bad.

Just then Prince Charming entered the room. He was wearing the dress her sisters had been fighting over earlier. And he looked pretty good in it too.

“What ho Cindy! How do you like the new me?”

“Is this some kind of joke Caspar?”

“Try to show a bit more understanding. The world has changed you know. It’s time I came out.”

“Came out of the billiard room do you mean? You spend far too much time in there.”

“I mean I’m fed up being the handsome prince. I want to try life as a princess. From now on you’re no longer to address me as Casper. I’m Cassy. And once I’m a princess you’ll no longer be the fairest in the land. I’m off to show your stepsisters how I look in their dress.”

And with that he flounced out of the room.

Cindy didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

“I wish,” she said out loud, “my life could be different.”

At that moment there was a magic whoosh.

“Fairy godmother! How lovely to see you after all these years. I have missed you.”

“Work’s been pretty quiet since this lockdown,” responded her fairy godmother, “so I thought I’d pay you a visit. How can I help my dear? I can manage a little magic. I’m too old for mice but what about a new home now that people can move house again? There’s a nice bungalow for sale.  Much smaller and easier to manage than a palace but it wouldn’t be big enough for your family.”

“It sounds magical fairy godmother. Thank you!”

“My magic doesn’t run to fancy gowns so just get a few things together. Once we’re there I might be able to do more.”

“Once we’re there?”

“Where better for me to retire than in a little home with my Cinderella? You know dear, you were the pinnacle of my achievements. We’ll settle down just the two of us. You can look after me just as you did your step mum and sisters in the old days.”

“No thank you, but I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“You’re an ungrateful child!  You don’t like your home or your prince. And you don’t like being in lockdown. So here’s what I’m going to do, miss fussy.”

Cindy felt the room spinning around her. Faster and faster.

When it stopped she found she was back in the kitchen of her old home, among the cinders by the fire grate.

“Oh no!” Cinderella sobbed. “What am I going to do now?”

The moral of my tale is be careful what you wish for! 

WISHING ALL MY FOLLOWERS – OLD AND NEW – A VERY HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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PASSPORT TO FREEDOM

I have a little passport

I keep it in my bag

It tells the world that I am safe

That I have had my jab.

My granny’s in a care home

But me she cannot see

The carers there don’t want the jab

That doesn’t seem fair to me.

I want to go to the theatre

I’d like to see a play

Until everyone has had their jabs

I’d rather stay away.

I want to go on holiday

Fly off to the sun

Live the life I used to live

Well, doesn’t everyone?

So why not have a passport

that says I’m safe to roam

If safety isn’t guaranteed

I’d rather stay at home!

I have a little passport

I keep it in my bag

It tells the world that I am safe

That I have had my jab.

I hope you get yours soon!

Until then, stay safe and keep well.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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NEW WORDS TO AN OLD SONG

A recent exercise in my writers’ group was to write new words to an old song.

I chose the well known Beatles’ song, Yellow Submarine.

It’s quite a tricky task to accomplish because any words you write need to scan and work with the original tune.

Try singing along with mine and see if you think it works!

MIGRANT’S SONG (TO THE TUNE OF YELLOW SUBMARINE)

In the place where I was born

There lived all my family

And we tried to get away

Because we wanted to be free

So we sailed into the West

Till we found a sea of grey

And we rowed upon the waves

And we starved from day to day

We all sail in a tiny little boat

tiny little boat,  tiny little boat

We all sail in a tiny little boat

And we try to keep afloat, try to keep afloat

And our friends are all on board

Though sadly some of them have died

And the boat begins to sway  ….

We all sail in a tiny little boat

 tiny little boat,  tiny little boat

We all sail in a tiny little boat

And we try to keep afloat, try to keep afloat

And we live a life that’s tough

Because none of us have got enough

But there’s a land that’s far away

And we will get there some day

We all sail in a tiny little boat

tiny little boat, tiny little boat

We all sail in a tiny little boat

And we try to keep afloat, try to keep afloat

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems