Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Page 115

We finally got home it had been a long harrowing day. Steve and Dennis took the dog for a walk and I started to cook dinner. We all had to get our lives back on track.

Sheila was saying she was a bit fed up of her job now. She loved being behind the bar but wanted a bit of a challenge. A friend of hers had said she used to work in London and had a great time, Sheila said she quite fancied this. I suggested we go to London to see what was available, it would have to be live in.

We were both on holiday so we decided we would go the next day. It would do us good to get away for a day. We decided to call in at Mike`s sisters shop to have a chat, as if Sheila did get a job in London it would be nice to be able to see her Auntie June now and again.

June thought it would be a good idea for her to work in London and said if ever she wanted anything she could just give her a ring. We started at the job centre in Hammersmith where June lived. There were loads of live in bar jobs. We ended up with about a six interviews spread all around West London.

There were two in Hammersmith itself but went we went to look at them they were a bit rough so we then went to Notting Hill there was one there. It looked quite nice although the area left a lot to be desired. There was junk littering the roadside, mattresses etc... Sheila went in for her interview I sat and had an orange juice.

Sheila finally came out and said she had got the job but was a bit hesitant because the landlord said it did get very rough at the weekends. We decided to go to the next interview which was The Tea Clipper in Knightsbridge in a road just opposite Harrods, a much nicer place than Notting Hill at that time (1983).

Again Sheila went for the interview and I had another juice and a sandwich, she was gone for ages, when she finally came out she said she really wanted this job it sounded a bit of a challenge. She had told the landlord that I was in the pub and he suggested we both go and look at the living accommodation, which we did. There was a huge high ceiling room with a single bed and a huge sofa and chair and dining table and chairs , it was really nice. Down a few stairs was a nice bathroom and kitchen.

The landlord said there was another girl who also worked there and had a room next to the one Sheila would be in. There was also a barman but he didnt live in. The wages were really good and there was a fair time off but they were expected to work hard in the busy times. Sheila accepted the job. I felt apprehensive it being so far away from us but knew it would be a real experience for her. She was such an outgoing person and she needed a challenge.

The landlord said the girl who was leaving to get married wasnt going for four weeks, so if Sheila wanted the job it was hers to start on 1st September. So it was all settled she had just to give them a ring when she was coming and provided her references were ok that was it.

When we got home there was a letter from the Driving Test Centre with a date for her test which fortunately was next week. If she passed, which I was sure she would because she was a really confident driver, she wouldnt need to take any time off from her new job.

She went in to work the next day to hand in her notice, she could give a months notice which they were pleased about, although they said they were realy sorry to lose her as she had been such an asset.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Page 114

On monday I received a letter from the court in Camden saying an inquest was arranged for Wednesday 19th July at 12 noon. I couldnt believe this as that was the day of the funeral. I contacted the court but there was no way they could change the inquest. I then contacted the funeral parlour and explained the situation. They were very understanding but every day that week was booked. I then had this idea as the funeral was scheduled for 10.00am if we drove ourselves to the crematorium then after the funeral we could drive to Camden and hopefully make it for 12 noon with a fair wind and no traffic jams. The funeral people said that they would cancel the car we had booked and we would meet at the crematorium . Certainly not what I wanted to do but it seemed the only solution and I knew my Dad would would find this amusing, that was the kind of humour he liked.

I rang Lesley to tell her what I had done and she agreed that I didnt really have a choice and that her and Ian would go in their car and meet us there. My car was a bit of a banger so I decided to hire a car. Everybody agreed with what I had arranged, thank goodness. Why had I expected this to go smoothly, that just didnt happen with our family, there was always a spanner thrown in the works.

Mourners would be thin on the ground just myself, Dennis, Stephen ,Sheila, Lesley and Ian. I had informed our relatives in Rotherham and my Dads brother Jess but it was too short notice for them to come but they were going to send flowers.

All too soon wednesday came the dreaded day. We all met up at the Crematorium, the hearse was filled with flowers and wreaths. My Dad would be so thrilled. The service was quite short and just tore our hearts out, the finality was just too much. Saying goodbye to the best Dad and Grandad anyone could have, just seemed too much to bear. It didnt seem right to now be dashing off to Camden , it would have been nice to just have been able to go home and for us all to just sit and chat about him.

Myself the twins and Dennis set off to Camden. It was a rush but we made it with minutes to spare. We had never been to an inquest before so had no idea what to expect. We were shocked to find that we had to relate exactly what had happened that sunday night. Statements were read from the hospitals and a verdict of accidental death was recorded. There was other paperwork to be dealt with . Dennis went and gave all the information for the death certificate and when I read it I was shocked to see that he had put my Dads profession as a carpenter when he was a painter and decorator , Dennis couldnt believe he had done that but the day had been so awful that it was understandable.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Page 113

Mrs Smith was distraught, I suggested she rang her family, I believe she had two daughters. She did this and chatted for a while and then passed the phone to me as her daughter wanted to speak to me. Firstly she passed on her condolences and then said she thought it would be better for her Mum if she went home before the funeral,which I could understand but was a little surprised. Everyone deals with grief differently. I said I didnt think she was in any state to go home on her own, she was 72 yrs old. I suggested that perhaps they could come and pick her up but she said it was a long drive. I then asked her what she thought she should do and she said she could manage to meet halfway , meaning me drive half way. I said this would be difficult as I had work committments and a funeral to arrange also I had to clear my Dads flat. I didnt want to argue the point as my Dad wouldnt want that , so I agreed and arranged to meet her at Watford Gap Services the next day which was wednesday. I suggested meeting at 10.00am but that was too early for her so we settled on midday. I did think it was a bit selfish.

Mrs Smith was full of apologies for her daughters inflexibility but I said it didnt matter as long as she got home without too much hassle. We packed her suitcase , this was so upsetting for her. I am sure she would have liked her daughter to be there. I know if it was my Mum I would have been straight there to help her. She had only known mysef and kids for about 3 months we were strangers really.

We got Mrs Smith to the services at 11.50am and had to wait an hour before the daughters arrived this really annoyed me but I didnt let it show. I said goodbye to Mrs Smith and she asked me to keep in touch.

Back home Dennis and I arranged the funeral , this time we were going to get loads of flowers as my Dad had said he wanted that. I found it so difficult I just couldnt stop the tears. Both our parents were now gone. The funeral was arranged for the following Wednesday 19th July 1983 and at sometime we had to go to Camden in London for the inquest as he actually died in The Royal Free Hospital in Camden.

I got in touch with the council housing and was told the flat would have to be empty in a weeks time and gave me a date to hand in the keys, if I failed to meet this time I would have to pay another weeks rent. I got in touch with work and asked for 2 weeks holiday from my annual leave.

Dennis decided he wanted all my Dads tools and there was a few sentimental bits I wanted, the rest we decided we would call in a house clearance company. This was a horrible job we were all in tears sorting things. We all felt like we shouldnt be intruding but it had to be done. All his clothes too. Everything we came across seemed to upset us more.

At last it was done and collection was arranged. When it had all gone we cleaned the flat and I returned the keys. The next horrible thing was the funeral on thursday something we were all dreading.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Page 112

Morning came and again I rang the hospital and still no change. I was going in to work to explain what had happened and then I would go straight to the hospital and sit with my Dad, if they would let me.

Sheila and Dennis were going to stay with Mrs Smith as she was in a terrible state but couldnt face going to see my Dad. Work were once more very understanding and said I should take all the time I needed. They knew I wouldnt abuse it.

I went to the hospital and found a nurse who said she would check to see if I could sit with my Dad for a while. When she came back she said it was ok and to try and talk to him just in case he could hear but not speak. She said later in the day he was going to be transferred to The Royal Free Hospital somewhere in London where they had better facilities.

I had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that if they thought there was any hope for my Dad coming out of the coma he would have been sent to this hospital before now. I loved my Dad so much, we were so close. We had been through so much and I couldnt imagine him not being around. He had been there for me throughout my life, my Mum used to say she felt like the outsider, which she wasnt but she had quite a short fuse , whereas my Dad was so laid back.

The tears streamed down my face, my Dad looked as if he was just sleeping, if only. I gave him a kiss and started talking to him about anything and everything but not a flicker of life was evident. It brought back memories of when I visited him in hospital when I was 9 yrs old after his operation, it evoked such sad memories that I was just sobbing, the nurse came in and said she thought I should perhaps go home for a while, as I was so upset. She said he would be transferred to the other hospital at about 2.00pm but she would ring me at home to confirm that time.

I didnt really want to leave him but I was in such a state I had to go. I was scared I wouldnt see him alive again. When I got home I told them my Dad was being moved and Dennis and Sheila said they would now go to the hospital and stay with my Dad and follow the ambulance to the Royal Free and stay with him. I would have preferred Mrs Smith to not be here, not in a nasty way, just that I had to be with her as I knew my Dad would have wanted that but I really needed some time to myself . I would also like to have gone with Sheila and Dennis to the Royal Free. We sat waiting by the telephone hoping and yet dreading it ringing.

At about 4.00pm Sheila rang and said they were now at the Royal Free and my Dad had been taken into surgery. She said the Doctor had said to prepare ourselves for the worst. They were going to stay there. Fighting back the tears was the hardest thing but I had to be strong for Mrs Smith.

The next telephone call was from Dennis saying my Dad had died he hadnt regained consciousness just gone from us. I couldnt stop the tears I was heartbroken this was the day I hoped would never come. Dennis said they were on there way home. Mrs Smith had guessed from my reaction that he had died and we were both in tears. It was the saddest time.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Page 111

Time was passing , everyone was looking forward to the summer. Lesley and Ian were going to the TT Races on the Isle of Man soon, something I would have liked to do in our motor bike days.

Steve had decided to sell his motor bike now he was working locally, he wasnt that keen on it especially as it had a top speed of 30m.p.h.. It was snapped up very quickly. Dennis was behaving himself but hadnt as yet got a job. Life was ticking along quite nicely.

My Dad and Mrs Smith were staying at my Dads flat and Dennis, Steve and myself decided to go and visit them this sunday evening as we hadnt seen them for a while as they had been in Rotherham for the past 6 weeks or so. We loved visiting my Dad as we always had such a laugh.

As usual the first thing that was said ,other than hello ,was do you want a cup of tea and of course we all did. It was a really good night my Dad was on top form. I dont think any of us had had such a good laugh for ages. Before we knew it it was 10.30pm so we said goodnight and went home.

We hadnt been indoors any longer than 30 mins when the telephone rang, it was Mrs Smith in a terrible state, saying my dad had been dancing around and had fallen and hit his head on the television stand and he wasnt moving. I was terrified, as if you remember, my Dad had a tumour removed from his brain in 1948 and had a part of his skull removed and we had always been scared of him hitting his head. I shouted to the others what had happened and we all dashed out and jumped in the car . We were there in 2 minutes and my Dad was laid on the floor unconscious. I immediately dialled 999 for an ambulance and explained what had happened, they said they would be there a.s.a.p.

It seemed to take ages and I rang them again and they said they were en route and should be there any nminute. Mrs Smith was in a terrible state as were we all. We all felt so useless. At last the ambulance arrived, I explained about my Dads operation and they did what they had to do and Dennis and Steve went in the ambulance with my Dad and I had to stay and take care of Mrs Smith. I decided it would be better to take her to our house. We had had such a good time with my Dad that night he had obviously still been on a high and was messing about after we had gone home.

I couldnt bear the thought of anything happening to my Dad and really wanted to be with him but I knew he would prefer me to stay with Mrs Smith. We went home and I made us a cup of tea ,the panacea of life. I asked her if she wanted to sleep here and she said yes, she didnt want to go back to the flat.

Dennis and Steve came home , my Dad was in intensive care and they werent allowed to stay with him. Things were different then. They said they would ring us if there was any change and that we could ring at anytime. I rang Lesley and told her and I would have to wait until morning to tell Sheila.

Mrs Smith said she didnt want to go to bed so I stayed up with her, we were just waiting for the phone to ring in some ways to tell us he had woken up but not in other ways in case it was bad news. I rang the hospital at around 3.00am but there was no change he was still unconscious.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Page 110

Lesley and Ian came to see us they too were upset about Angel as we all thought the world of her. Candy kept looking for her, poor thing.

My Dad and his lady friend were having a great time I have never seen my Dad so happy and relaxed for such a long time. Mrs Smith was good for him, they hadnt a care in the world. Every six weeks they would say , go to her bungalow then after six weeks go to my dads flat. The changing about was keeping them active. My Dad was now 71yrs old and I think Mrs Smith was about 72.

Dennis came home from prison and did seem a changed man but I am sure it wouldnt last but I really hoped it would. Once more our house was turned into a place of fun. Dennis loved walking and took Candy for really long walks, he said it was strange not having Angel as well. I said I wouldnt have any more dogs as it was just to painfull losing them. I was dreading the day Candy went , we had had her since she was 8 weeks old and she was now 10 yrs old.

Chritmas was coming and we all loved it. Lesley would be going to Ian`s mums for this Christmas ,I didnt like the idea much but thats what happens when your children leave home. Sheila was coming home, so we would have Dennis, Steve, Sheila and myself my Dad and Mrs Smith was going to her daughters. I hoped that Lesley and Ian would come to us for Boxing Day. Our traditional meal for that day was cold turkey and whatever other meats we had and chips and loads of homemade pickles. I preferred this to Christmas Day dinner.

Life ticked along everyone was doing great. Dennis still clean and job hunting without much success.Steve enjoying his job and Sheila , well she had changed so much living away from home. We got on so well the hard work had been worth it. Although during the rough times we went through I really didnt handle it at all well. The bottom line was in spite of the rows etc....we still loved each other and the fight was worth it, as now we had a really nice mother and daughter relationship with mutual respect.

Its really odd I had three children, who were all brought up the same with lots of love and respect but one turns out to be a wild child, but I wouldnt be without them.Its unconditional love.

I was still enjoying my job and was now an assistant buyer and if I say it myself a good one. Our parent company was in Belgium I had a lot of contact with them , asking for quotes for certain customer requirements . Myself and several other employees were invited to Belgium to see how the Aluminium was manufactured and processed. This would help me understand problems they sometimes had with my request for certain sizes and shapes.

We were put into a really nice 5 star hotel in Antwerp , the food was absolutely amazing. The bosses also took us out in the evenings to different places, they certainly knew how to eat. The `pubs` were really nice too especially for me as I didnt drink alcohol. All the `pubs` served coffee and biscuits and delicious cakes. I was in my element. we stayed for 3 days.

It was almost March 1983 an expensive time for me, as it was all my childrens birthdays. It was a turning point for Sheila as her employers had been true to their word and Sheila started her new job behind the bar. Steve would now be able to drink legally. He used to go drinking at the local pub The Marchmont with Lesley and Ian and loads of other mates.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Page 109

Steve really was in agony with his shoulder so we went to Casualty. It was a long wait but the news was good , they said it was just badly bruised and to rest it as much as possible. They gave him some painkillers and didnt want to see him again.

Sheila decided she was going to buy a moped a Honda Melody that you just sat on and drove, no gears. She soon got to grips with it and was flying about. She was really fed up with the laundry work and got a job at what was then the Aubrey Park Hotel in Redbourn as a waitress at their restaurant. The scooter was invaluable, as they were midnight finishes so no public transport at that time. I was getting really tired as I was waiting up for her, I had visions of her laying by the roadside after falling off the thing. It was good though we were able to have some good chats uninterrupted.

Sheila stayed at that job for a couple of months and then decided she wanted something different. A friend of hers was working at The Noke Hotel in St Albans as a chambermaid and said how much fun it was so Sheila applied and got a job. She really loved it and had hopes of working behind the bar when she was 18 yrs old.

The manager promised her a job and also asked her if she would like to live in as they needed a chambermaid on hand at all hours, also when she worked behind the bar, living in would be good as she wouldnt have to ride home on the scooter in all weathers. I thought this would be good for her as we were still having behaviour problems. I had to arrange for Lesley to visit when Sheila was out otherwise it would be like a war zone. I had this feeling that a little independence could only be beneficial. Perhaps we could all get on better with a little space.

Sheila had been taking driving lessons and couldnt wait to pass her test. She was a really good driver and providing nerves didnt interfere I was pretty sure she would pass first time. Fingers crossed.

I went to look at the room she had been given and it was really cosy but plain, so Sheila and I went shopping and I bought her a really nice bed set including a duvet, a couple of matching cushions and bits and bobs. She had access to a staff kitchen and I think a good time was had by all. She was a very popular girl as she was so outgoing.

Lesley and Ian had bought a lovely little cottage in Catlin Street, Boxmoor it was really lovely with a really old quince bush around the front door. I was really jealous but really pleased for them.

Steve was still working in Watford but was getting a bit fed up with the travelling and the job. I was still working at Sidal Aluminium and asked the warehouse manager if there were any vacancies for my son, he was almost 18yrs old. He said he was at the moment looking for a young lad to train up. We arranged for Steve to go for an interview.

Steve was really pleased, he said he quite fancied the work and it was in Hemel so hardly any travelling. The interview went well , he had a really good work record , no sick days at all in the 2 years he had been there. He got the job, he was well pleased.

I received a letter from Dennis who was in prison and he said he was being released the following week and could he stay with us. I really wasnt too keen on this but didnt feel I had any choice. He had no where else to go and now Sheila was not living at home we had a spare room. He promised me faithfully he was finished with the drugs as being in prison had been like rehab. I just wish I could have believed him but I knew that once he got out he would revert to type but I hoped I was wrong.

Steve started work at Sidal and seemed to be really enjoying it. Sheila too was loving living in and the job. In 5 months the twins would be 18 yrs old and Lesley 21 yrs old . (March 23rd and 24th respectively).

Angel our Great Dane was not very well she seemed listless and generally unwell. I took her to the vet and they did quite a few tests on her gave her an injection and said they would be in touch when they had the test results, which should be a couple of days. In the meantime they gave me some antibiotics. The vet said she thought Angel had a womb infection but the tests would tell her.

Angel meant so much to me I had had her for nearly six years and she never left my side. The tests came through and the vet was right, Angel needed a hysterectomy to save her life. Thank goodness she was insured as this operation would cost approx. £500. The operation was the next day and I was so scared for Angel.

I rang Sheila she was shocked it had been so sudden, she said she had two days off so would come over and stay overnight to help me get Angel to the surgery in the morning. Steve couldnt have time off as he had just started his new job.

Morning came far too soon , I`m sure Angel knew something was wrong as usually she loved getting in the car but this morning it took Sheila and I ages to coax her in. We were exhausted. She was very big, for instance she could look over our 6 ft fence in the garden. I took Sheila back home and unfortunately I had to go to work. The vet said they would ring me as soon as the op. was over.

About midday my phone rang and it was the vet saying the operation had been a success and Angel was just waking up, to give it an hour or so before picking her up. I rang Sheila and told her we were both so relieved. I put the phone down and it rang again almost immediately. It was the vet again saying she was very sorry but Angel had just died. I said but I had just been told she was ok , she said her heart had just given out. I put the phone down, I was in shock. I went and told my boss what had happened and she said to go to the vet and find out what was happening and take the rest of the day off.

I went straight home to tell Sheila, I couldnt ring her she would be devastated. She couldnt believe it either and we both went to the vet. They were equally devastated and couldnt believe what had just happened. Sheila and I were both able to see Angel then we went home. Our other little dog Candy would miss her so much she was almost 10 yrs old.

Sheila and I shed a few tears and then she had to go home as she had bits and pieces she needed to do. I was so pleased Sheila had been with me today.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Page 108

Sheila and Andy were getting on well she seemed to have calmed down quite a bit. They spent a lot of time at Andy`s house. At last we received confirmation of the house exchange, we were to move in two weeks. I rang the other people to make sure they had also received notfication and they had. The timing of the move was up to us so we agreed a time. Packing to begin in earnest now.

My Dad was thrilled to bits we were moving just around the corner from him. He came to look at the maisonette and really liked it. He said he would like to buy us a carpet for the lounge, it would be his housewarming present. I was thrilled as I would have had to wait until I had saved up enough money.

The move came and went , this time quite uneventful no deaths or breakages. We all loved the house we had room to breathe. The dogs liked the huge garden as the last one had been quite small. This one even had a pear tree.

Sheila and I were getting dinner ready when the phone rang , it was Steve he had been involved in an accident on his moped with a car . panic struck in but I realised he was ok as he was talking to me. He said he had hurt his shoulder . He had got all the details from the other lady driver and given his. He told us where it was and Sheila and I jumped in the car to get him. This was what I had dreaded. No-one new better than me the dangers of motor bikes from past experience but you cant mollie coddle your children too much.

Steve was really shaken up from what he said about the accident it was a 50/50 situation. His shoulder looked very painfull but only bruised as we thought.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Page 107

Lesley and Ian moved into their flat at Boxmoor and I felt choked, I would miss Lesley a lot but they were happy and it wasnt far away.

Sheila had been talking to a lad on the CB called Andy from Kings Langley and although she hadnt met him she really liked him. I said to Sheila that if she wanted to meet him he could come to our house just in case he wasnt who he said he was. So she invited him round for a cup of tea. He was a really nice lad, so at ease with us. Told us all about his family, his Mum and Dad were divorced and there were three boys and a girl. Andy was the youngest boy and his sister was the baby of the family. He stayed for a couple of hours.

Sheila and Steve both had got jobs . I had taken them to Watford as there was nothing in Hemel. Sheila had a job in a laundry and Steve at a clothing warehouse. They were not the type of jobs they wanted but they could still look for something else while having a bit of money.

Sheila said she had been thinking of selling Outlaw as working and also having a boyfriend and still waitressing now and then was too much. She wasnt giving Outlaw the attention he needed not having a horsebox after Mikes exit she couldnt compete.

One of the girls at the stables had hinted to Sheila that if she ever thought of selling Outlaw she would be interested, so I said decide on a price and ask the girl. It would be a sad day but it would be better for him. The girl jumped at the chance so our life with horses , which we had all enjoyed came to an end.

Steve had got fed up of all the travelling by bus and train to Watford so decided to buy a small motor bike 50cc . This was all he could ride at 16 yrs old. He had real trouble mastering it but did after a few trial and errors and loss of temper in frustration. Before long he loved it.

My Dad was doing really well He had been in touch with the lady who had lived next door to him in Rotherham and arranged to go and visit her for a couple of weeks and she was going to come back with him for a while. I was so pleased for them as they were both lonely.

I was getting fed up with where we lived it was horrid, there was only six houses in the close but their houses were filthy. All arguments were settled by fighting, the police were regular visitors. I put in some cards in the local shops asking for an exchange to anywhere in Hemel with a few exceptions. Mike had now got a council one bedroom flat, we never saw him.

Dennis had been sent to prison for 6 months , less than he had anticipated but would give us a break. We had found loads of other things missing. If it wasnt nailed down then he had taken it.

I had forgotten about the adverts I had put in the shops, as they had now expired but I received a telephone call from someone in Gadebridge in a maisonette, they were very interested and asked if they could come and have a look at our house, I said yes and just prayed there wouldnt be any trouble in the street.

They came and really liked it ,they were expecting a baby in a few months and really wanted a house, as the stairs up to the maisonette would be difficult with a pram, although I had managed .What a coincidence, their maisonette used to be my friend Maureens , just two doors away from where we used to live. We arranged to look at it the next night.

I had forgotten how nice and spacious and light these maisonettes were, they had done so much work to it the master bedroom had fitted wardrobes and was really well decorated. All the woodwork in the lounge was highly polished mahogany. I fell in love with it. I said I definitely wanted to exchange and they said they did too.

They had built in a mahogany bar which they said they hoped we wanted it as it was a fixture. I said we did and that I would leave all the carpets which were only about 12 months old. They were really pleased with that. The following morning I contacted the council and set things in motion .The other couple had already been in touch. It was now the waiting game. Sheila and Steve were really pleased too.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Page 106

There never appeared to be a break in our household from problems, this morning I received a telephone call from the people who had Outlaw on loan, the father said that Outlaw had kicked Sharon in the stomach and they had decided that they wanted to return him. I found this very hard to believe as we had had Outlaw a long time and we had never seen any sign of nastiness he had always been a true gentleman. I asked how it had happened and he said it was when Sharon was grooming him. I was puzzled and was thinking maybe they just didnt want him anymore. I knew that they had given up the shop but didnt know why. I said when Sheila came home I would talk to her and if it was definitely what they wanted we could arrange things and left it like that.

Sheila was shocked and rang Sharon to find out more details. Sharon told Sheila that she really didnt want to part with Outlaw but her parents were in financial difficulties and they couldnt afford to keep him. Sheila said what was it about the kicking and she said a couple of her friends were mucking about and had thrown an apple core at his rear and he kicked out, unfortunately Sharon was at that time grooming his tail and got kicked. She said she hadnt told her Dad about the apple core incident only that Outlaw had kicked her without cause.

When I got home from work I rang him and said that if he was sure, I could arrange the horsebox to collect him and he could send me a cheque to cover it, as per the agreement, he agreed. I rang Trina and she agreed to collect Outlaw the following sunday and gave me a price. I passed this on to Sharons Dad and he said he would send a cheque payable to me straight away.

Sheila and I had to find stabling for Outlaw so we asked at Little Heath where he was before and luckily there was room. There was food and hay to buy my wages were going to be stretched. How we were going to manage I didnt know.

Sheila said she would look for a part-time job and I think it was lesley who suggested `The Pavilion `where Lesley used to work as a waitress, it was good money and tips, Sheila seemed quite keen and it would certainly go towards paying for Outlaws costs.

The cheque arrived for the horsebox on friday but I didnt have time to put it in the bank but had no reason to think it wouldnt be ok.

Sheila got a job at the Pavilion and her first stint was the following friday night, she had told them that she was a silver service waitress but she hadnt any experience at all, she was going to bluff it. I said she should ask Lesley for some help but they were such enemies.

Sunday came and Trina picked Sheila up and off they went to get Outlaw I had already paid Trina. it was quite a trek to Colchester so I didnt expect them back for about 4 or 5 hours. They were going to ring me when they got close to Hemel and I would meet them at the stables.

Sheila had been quite a lot better and I was hoping that having Outlaw back might improve things even more.

What had helped was I had bought a CB Radio which was all the rage with kids and adults,it was a bit like the internet of today but no way near as sophisicated but I must admit it was good fun. Treasure hunts were arranged and we would get in our cars and be given clues the CB`s were invaluable . There was a downside as you didnt know who you were talking to and the fear of most parents was who there children were sometimes arranging to meet. Just like the internet.

They arrived back with Outlaw and he looked fine . Sheila said Sharon was really upset at parting with him. Trina said that her Dad said he should really be sueing us for the kick in Sharons stomach but Trina stepped in and said throwing apple cores at a horse was not the thing to do anyway and he shut up.

I deposited the cheque for Outlaws trip home on the monday and a few days later was informed by the bank that the cheque had been stopped tby the account holder, the day after it was written. I was fuming .

I rang them and he said did I really think he was that stupid as to pay for Outlaw being returned and slammed the phone down. I tried on loads of occasions to ring him back but they wouldnt answer it. I was so angry that I rang my solicitor and asked his advice. He said it was illegal to stop a cheque as after it had been sent it formed a contract between him and me. He suggested I go to the small claims court and they would tell me how to go about it.

I went to the court and set things in motion. Time passed I received a letter saying they couldnt find him , he no longer lived at that address. I knew he worked as a nurse at the local hospital and had done for years, so I contacted the hospital and asked to speak to him , they said it was his day off but if I rang the next day I would be able to get him. I thanked them and immediately got back to the court and told them what I had found out.

Weeks went by and I was beginning to despair when I received a letter from the court saying they had found him and his wages were going to be garnished and I would receive £3 per week until the debt was repaid. Evidently he had pleaded poverty and this was the best they could do. I wasnt happy but at least he would have to pay. I think he thought he could put one over on me but I showed him.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

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Sheila came home and for a while things were good but it soon changed Lesley and Sheila just couldnt get on it was one slanging match after another. Sheila was messy, her side of the bedroom was really bad and this drove Lesley crazy.

Dennis was once more taking drugs ,how he was getting them I could only guess. I asked him if he had forgotton about the suspended sentence, he said he hadnt and would take his chances. He was going out around 9.00am and returning high on drugs in the evening. He was obviously shop lifting probably in London.

One day Lesley was getting ready to go out and couldnt find a silver ingot that Ian had given her she always kept it in the same place with all her jewellery and now her jewellery box was empty. She couldnt understand this as her door had a padlock and it was locked when she went in. She called me and we had a good look at the door and could see that the hasp where the lock attaches was all scratched as if the screws had been removed and put back but had not been lined up properly.

Then we both said at the same time `Dennis` this was his M.O. when he lived with us before he had done similar things ie the gas and electric meters and many other things. I couldnt wait for him to come home but he didnt.

The next morning I received a telepnone call from a probation officer saying Dennis had been arrested for stealing a Doctors bag and shoplifting and had been found with illegal drugs in his possesion. He was to appear before the magistrate that morning and he should be remanded in custody due to the suspended sentence he had from Newark but there was no guarantees.

They said I could ring at about 3.00pm to find out. I didnt have to they let Dennis ring me, he had been remanded in custody and he said he would automatically get 6 months and probably another year on top for the other charges. I didnt mention the jewellery as you dont kick a dog when its down. He would get his punishment being incarcerated.

The kids were shocked when I told them but they realised it was better for us or he would have made our lives hell.

Sheila and Lesley were getting worse arguing all the time it was like a war zone, they really didnt get on at all.

It got so bad that Lesley and Ian decided to look for somewhere for them both to live, I was a bit concerned as Lesley was only 19 and they had only been going out for about a year and a half but I understood.

A couple of weeks later they found a really nice ground floor flat in Boxmoor and lucky for them they got it. It was a hive of activity as they needed furniture etc.... and it was in need of a little TLC. but it was lovely.

I would miss Lel but it was only about ten minutes away. It made me realise that my children were growing up.

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Sheila rang me and said she was doing a lot of thinking and realised she had been behaving like an idiot. Things were going to change when she came home. She also asked if she could stay another week I said she could.

Lesley was feeling a lot better it had been just over a week. Ian was with her when he could. They were really getting on well.

I received a letter from my brother Dennis who had been living in a place called Newark, Notts. but at the moment was in a rehab centre . He had again been caught stealing Doctors bags he was now a real heroin addict. He had been told by his Consultant that if I would let him live with me and agree to keep him out of trouble then the judge who was about to review his case might release him in my custody....I was dubious about this, I hadnt actually seen him for about 6 years and didnt know if I really wanted the hassle that I knew he would bring. I decided to ask the kids what they thought as whatever I did would affect them.I spelt everything out to Lesley and Stephen and they thought we should give him a chance to change. I phoned Sheila and she agreed with them.

The review of his case was in a weeks time so I phoned the Consultant and said we were prepared to give him a chance I thought that would be it but no he said I would have to appear before the judge and he would put a series of questions to me and dependant on my answers would say yes or no. I didnt like this idea but had no choice.

The Consultant said he would see me before the court review and go over a few things with me about Dennis. He said he felt Dennis had enough of the drug scene and at last wanted to stay clean. I thought to myself another one has been taken in ,although he was my Brother I knew he could make these people believe in him but I knew better. Still we would give him a chance. He would have to stay off drugs for a given time ,which the judge would specify, or go to prison.

I saw the consultant and yes he was quite young and gullible he had gone for Dennis`s promises hook line and sinker. I was sceptical and I hadnt seen Dennis yet. We went to court and first of all Dennis was grilled and then it was my turn . He asked about my family their ages their thoughts on Dennis coming to live with us and loads of other things. It must have gone down well as he released Dennis into my custody for 3 months if he re-offended in that time he would go straight to prison for 6 months. I thought this would be a good deterrent.

His face was a picture. The first thing we did was to get a cup of coffee and I wanted to lay some ground rules. We then drove home . The kids were all eagerly awaiting him, they thought the world of him. Before long our house was ringing with laughter. He had a real knack of getting everybodies spirits up.

We all jumped in the car and went to see my Dad as he hadnt seen Dennis since my Mum died so it was very emotional. Dennis really liked my Dads flat and it only being 5minutes away from us was great.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

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Sheila`s behaviour didnt improve in fact it got worse. We were all really fed up with her attitude. I rang the Social Services just to see if I could get some counselling or some help. I told Sheila and she immediately started getting upset, saying I was going to put her in care. I was shocked this had never crossed my mind, that is something I would never do , it would be over my dead body. I managed to convince her that all I was trying to do was to get her and myself some help, as I was at a loss as to how to get through to her. She accepted this and said she didnt know why she was being like this but hoped we could get help.

About a week later I received an appointment for Sheila and myself to see a social worker. The first thing I made clear in front of Sheila was that there was no way I would let her be in care, I would put up with whatever she threw at me , verbally of course.

The three of us had a good chat and then Sheila went in on her own, she came out crying gave me a big hug and said she would try her best to sort herself out. The social worker said would it be possible for Sheila to go away to a relative for a few days, as while she was trying to sort things out she didnt want interference from Lesley and Stephen.

Linda had by now moved to Southampton , she had a flat there and I suggested to Sheila that she might like to go there for a few days, if it was ok with Linda, who now had another child by a different father, who was not on the scene. Sheila said she would like to go so I contacted Linda and she said she would love the company.

We were all pleased to put some space between Lesley, Stephen and myself and Sheila. Things had been very fraught. I put Sheila on the coach to Southampton ,Linda was going to meet her at the other end. I told Sheila I loved her and asked her to ring me at least a couple of times a week

I hated any of my children being away from home but in this case it was necessary. Lesley came home from work feeling really ill , she looked terrible and went straight to bed. Steve`s foot was so much better, it may be coincidence but for his birthday we had bought him a set of weights and a bench and since he had been using them he had improved his posture so much and had virtually no pain in his foot. It was juvenile arthritis and the consultant said it could disappear as quickly as it came around 14 or 15yrs old.

The next morning I went to look in on Lesley and she was much worse , so much so I called the Doctor out, I would have to have at least the morning off, thank goodness my boss was also my friend. The Doctor took some blood and said he thought she had Glandular Fever and that we would know in a couple of days. Sheila had had it a couple of years ago and its not nice.

Lesley received a letter from QE2 Hospital giving her a start date for the nursing. I had to ring them and tell them she had Glandular Fever and that she would not be able to make the date. I was asked to hold and when the lady came back she said that anyone who had that would not be able to start nursing for approx 6 months, maybe longer depending on a blood test. This was a real blow to Lesley even though she now had a serious relationship with Ian and therefore not to keen to live in Welwyn Garden City.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

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Outlaw went and they rang us and said he had settled in really well and Sharon was really pleased with him. Sheila was slowly getting over not having him, there was now a big void not having to go before and after school to care for the horses.

She seemed to be getting on alright in her new school, although she had made friends with a very rough element and I was very concerned with her choice. I hoped she would see through them. I had no idea the area we had moved to was so awful.

Sharon rang Sheila and asked her if she would like to go and stay with them for a few days on the next holidays. She could then check on Outlaw. Sharon said she would show her around Colchester. They were both almost 15 yrs old. I said she could so they just had to arrange a date, Sheila would travel by train and they would meet her at the station.

Sheila came home and said Outlaw was really happy and that she had had a really good time . She had changed , she seemed to have a new found confidence about her to the point of rudeness and a definite lack of respect for any of us. It didnt matter what I said to her it always ended up as an argument, she knew it all and that I should stop treating her like a child. It got so that everytime we met it turned into a slanging match. I must admit in retrospect I didnt handle it well I gave her more ammunition.

I received a letter from her school asking me why she hadnt been to school for two weeks, I was puzzled by this, as far as I was aware she had gone every day since the holidays. I rang the school and they confirmed she had not been at school. I apologised and said that I would get to the bottom of it. I now realised she had been going out in the morning as if to school but god knows what she had been up to.

She came in at the time she should have if she had been at school and I asked her if she had a good day, which she said she had. I then showed her the letter from school and she turned to me with such nasty look on her face and said so what, she would do as she pleased. I said no she would do as I say and that brought forth a string of abuse. She asked what I was going to do about it, I said if necessary I would escort her to school but she replied that she would walk out again. I was just about tearing my hair out I didnt know how to react. I wasnt used to this type of behaviour. I decided to leave it for the moment and let her calm down a bit then try again.

It didnt get any better, she then proceeded to argue with Steve and Lesley saying they were goodie goodies and hadnt got minds of their own. Luckily Ian came for Lesley and they went out. I was at a loss. I think she thought now that her Dad was out of the picture she could do as she pleased, well I would do my best to restore harmony but I was sceptical.

I was going to get the bus the next morning when I saw Sheila with a couple of friends walking to school and I couldnt be believe my eyes, they were all smoking. I went to ask her about it and they all ran off.

Things were getting worse she was going to school occasionally staying out to all hours. I spent so much time searching the streets for her at all hours. On one occasion it was 01.00am and I had been looking for her for hours when I decided to speak to the police. They said they would come to our house for some details. I told them that her Dad and I had just split up and about her having to give up her horses and that she had been skipping school, in the middle of this in she walked. The police woman asked me if I would like her to have a private word with Sheila. I said yes and we left them to it. After about half an hour the policewoman said they had spoken but Sheila was just rude to her. I was shocked at her behaviour.

The police said perhaps I should have a word with a childrens social worker to try and get some guidance as staying out at this hour was dangerous. I said I would think about it. I thanked them and off they went. Sheila by this time had gone to bed.

Monday, 15 September 2008

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The house was a hive of activity we had decided to do some decorating, everyone mucked in. We all felt so relaxed. Sheila and I decided we would put an advert in the Horse and Hounds to try and find smeone to take Outlaw on loan for at least six months. Hopefully by then Sheila and Steve would be working so the pressure should ease on me. There was no way I could pay for Outlaws needs ie. stabling, hay and vet bills and shows.

I came home from work one day and something looked differant in the front room , I suddenly realised my chair was missing, Mike had his own armchair that he had had made and I had a really nice chair without arms. I couldnt understand why he had taken my chair and not his own. I immediately rang him at his lodgings and insisted he bring the chair back, a bit of an argument took place but he did agree to return it. What a cheek taking it with out asking and more worrying was him still having a key.

He brought the chair back that evening and said he didnt want the other chair. I asked him for the door key which he gave to me without argument and left. The kids kept out of the way.

A few days later we received a telephone call from someone in Colchester who was very interested in the loan of Outlaw. They asked if they could come and see him the following weekend. They had two daughters one the same age as Sheila and a 5 year old. I said that we would also want to see where they were going to keep Outlaw to make sure he would be safe. We would also need a couple of references. They said they were shopkeepers and had a general store in a village just outside Colchester and that there eldest daughter had been riding for 3 years and worked at the stable where they would be keeping Outlaw.

Sheila was very concerned but agreed to them coming to see him. We would make a judgement then depending on our assessment of them.

Lesley had applied to be a nurse some time ago and received a letter asking her to go for an interview at QE2 Hospital in Welwyn Garden City if she was successful she would start when she was 18 yrs old just a couple of months away. We asked my Dad if he would like to come with us and he said he would love to, while Lesley was having her interview me and my Dad could go and look around the shops and have a coffee. She was very nervous but excited.

The interview went really well and they told her there and then that they would love for her to start training as soon as she was eighteen. Nearer the time they would send her all the details.
My Dad and myself were so pleased for her as this was something she had always wanted to do.

The weekend came and the people from Colchester arrived , they seemed really nice people, Sheila and the girl Sharon hit it off straight away. We took them to see Outlaw and they liked what they saw. They got Outlaw tacked up and Sharon rode him and he was the perfect gentleman. She looked a very capable rider and even did a couple of jumps, this pleased Sheila because she wanted him to keep jumping for when she was able to have him back.

We went back to our house to discuss things, they had brought two references with them which were glowing, one a character reference and one from the owner of the stable where Sharon worked. We arranged for us to visit them next weekend to check on their stables and to make a dacision. One thing I needed to arrange was an agreement detailing what we expected from them ie.. collection and at the end of the loan delivery back to us at their expense . Also to set out that it was their responsibility to look after his welfare, vets, wormers, blacksmith etc...I would need to get this signed by the parents.

Sheila myself and Steve went the following weekend to Colchester and were pleasantly surprised by the stables and all the amenities they had. The owner said that Sharon was a very good rider and wasnt afraid of hard work. We went back to their house and I showed them the agreement I had prepared, they both read it and agreed to adhere to the conditions. A date for their collection of Outlaw was arranged, we would meet them at our stables. the paperwork was signed they had a copy and I had a copy and a copy was going to our solicitor.

The day came too soon Sheila was distraught, I felt so guilty but I had no choice. Mike just wasnt prepared to help us out. I couldnt blame him really I suppose. We had also a little yearling called Shemic which we had rescued several months ago. Sheila had worked really hard with him as he was so skinny when we got him. He had been gelded and in a couple of years time would make some young child an amazing first pony. The owner of the stables bought him off us for his granddaughter so we knew he had gone to an excellent home.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

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At last Mike arrived and I said I had something to tell him , so would he sit down so that we could talk, the children were upstairs. He asked what the problem was and I just blurted out that I had started divorce proceedings, the look of shock on his face was priceless. He then said didn’t I think I had over reacted, I replied that I knew I hadn’t and reminded him of what I had said about one more act or threat of violence and this was what I would do. He said so what next , I said he would have to move out and find somewhere to live, this didn’t go down very well. I said he could go to the council and try and get a flat or if not a room somewhere, he wasn’t impressed but I was amazed at how calmly he was taking this. I think secretly he was perhaps pleased.

I continued to sleep in Sheila`s bed and her on the sofa I felt really guilty but she wouldn’t have it any other way. I was so proud of her. Things were very uncomfortable in our house as the kids made it very plain that they didn’t mind one bit. This was really sad but he hadn’t listened to me. I had on many occasions said that they wouldn’t want to know him if he didn’t give them attention and make it so plain that they were a hindrance to him.

One evening we were all sat in the front room watching the TV, when Mike asked Sheila to make him a cup of tea just at the most crucial part of the film, she said no she was watching the film he jumped to his feet and before any body could do or say anything had hit her in the mouth and split her lip. I flew at him and told him to get out now and that I now knew I had made the right decision. Poor Sheila she was in bits she was so shocked as were we all. Mike got up and walked out.

I went to see the solicitor again as Mike had not even tried to get somewhere to live and I hoped the solicitor could help. He said he would write a letter to Mike stating that he had to be out of the marital home by a specific date which I cant remember in July he said it couldn’t actually be enforced but perhaps Mike wouldn’t know that.

Mike had made a real fuss about the letter informing him of the reasons I had given for the breakdown of our marriage, he didn’t like it but it was all true so he couldn’t say much..

When the letter arrived he said I hadn’t given him any choice, which was right. I know he had thought initially that I wouldn’t go through with it but now realised I was much stronger and there was no way I would change my mind.

He had been to the council but had been told that when the divorce came through then he could take the decree absolute to them and he would eventually be re-housed. In the meantime he had found lodgings with a elderly lady in Bennetts End, just a room with food provided. He couldn’t move in until the day after the solictors letter stated so I said he could stay until then but no he said the letter said this certain day, just to try and make me feel bad he said he would sleep on a park bench, which he in fact did.

The next day the kids and myself set about spring cleaning the house, almost as if we were trying to get rid of him. We all felt a sense of relief, we felt free not having to tread on eggshells. What a sad indictment.

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It was going to be fish and chips for tea as it was not possible to cook anything.
I was on my own the kids were out playing and Mike was at work when I got a phone call from a lady who was interested in an exchange. She lived in Warners End she had a three bedroom house in a cul de sac and wanted a four bedroom house . I said I was interested and would like to go and see it and she said come over now.

I drove over and when I saw where it was I realised it would be perfect for Sheila to get to the stables it would only take about ten minutes on her bike. The house looked nice too. There were only three houses either side of the close and the one I was looking at was at the end with a small wood running alongside. It looked really nice. I was even more impressed when I looked inside. The girls would have to share a room ,which was a really good size and Steve could have the single room.

I told the lady I was very interested and arranges for her to look at our house later that evening as she wanted to wait for her husband to come home from work. She said it would be about 6.00pm this suited me as I could tidy up a bit.

When I got home the kids were in and I told them about the house, Lesley and Sheila were a bit worried about sharing a room , as they really didn’t get on. Steve was ok about it but concerned about school as it was a fair distance away from Warners End.
Still the lady hadn’t seen our house yet and she might not like it. I was hoping they would get here before Mike got home from work, I could tell him later. Sheila was really pleased about being so close to the stables so that swung it for her

The lady and her husband came and really liked the house and said if we both agreed she would inform the council on Monday morning, I said I would do the same. I did feel a bit guilty as Mike new nothing about it, no doubt sparks would fly later.

The other house although smaller rooms still had a separate dining room and decent size lounge but a really big kitchen that we could get a table in. after the tiny kitchen in this house it would be heaven.

Mike came home and I made him a cup of tea and told him what I had done, the kids were there, we thought safety in numbers but we couldn’t believe it, he said that he thought that it would be a good move and certainly better for Sheila. I was flabbergasted this was certainly out of character, still don’t knock it.

So Monday morning I rang the council and she said they had already heard from the lady so now they would start the ball rolling. She said it should only take about six weeks as we were all up-to-date with our rents so she couldn’t foresee a problem.

The kids said they would go to the local shops and ask for some cardboard boxes so we could start packing. This would be a nightmare as we were downsizing and I knew no-one would want to get rid of anything. I said that I would take them to see the house that night the lady had said that would be ok. Once they had looked at it they also really liked it. It was much easier having their approval. The packing was all done; the house looked like a tip….no change there then….. That was about all we could do until we had a moving date from the council. I had rung Sheila and Steve’s school and arranged for Sheila to transfer to Halsey School in Warners End . Steve had decided to stay at Mountbatten he didn’t want to change; he said he didn’t mind the travelling. We decided to give it a go and he could change schools if the travelling got too much. His juvenile arthritis was slowly improving the shoe insert was working really well along with the medication. At last he was able to attend school even though he couldn’t do any PE or games.

At last we had a moving date so it was all systems go now, we had just two weeks to arrange everything. What with working full time it was going to be hard work but the kids said they would help. I had to hire a Luton Van as we were going to move ourselves; we also had the land rover and horsebox so we could move quite a lot in that.

A mutual exchange which we were doing meant that both families moved at the same time, timing was crucial or else someone’s furniture etc. would be in the garden. It also posed a problem with laying carpets and cleaning before your furniture went in. Whose idea was this moving lark….oh dear it was mine, I never learn but I had a master plan and if it took this move then so be it. When Mike went we would be in a smaller house therefore much more able to manage on my wages.

The moving day came, we worked so hard dismantling beds, taking up carpets and taking down curtains. A couple of Mikes workmates came and helped thank goodness The move went quite well, Mike having a couple of workmates helping him meant he wouldn’t lose his temper in their presence so we all benefited.

The house was really nice I hoped we could be happy here. It was going to be great for Sheila , it would only take her about 10 mins to cycle to the stables. She was also looking forward to riding outlaw to our house from the stables something she had been unable to do because of the distance.

While Mike took the van back the kids and I got stuck in sorting out the bedrooms. Sheila and Lesley would have to share a room I was aware this was going to be troublesome to say the least. We tried to partition the room by putting their wardrobes down the middle of the room with a bed either side. At least they wouldn’t have to look at each other. Steve had the single bedroom.

The dogs appeared to like it, the garden backed onto a small wooded area making the garden look bigger. It was all fenced Angel being so big could look over a five foot fence so it had to be secure. She was a big softie but people could be a little scared of her because of her size.

When Mike got back he fitted in the cooker and washing machine and assembled the beds. First we were going to have a cup of tea then get stuck in properly. Sheila had to go to the stables to feed and groom outlaw.
The house needed quite a bit of work doing ie decorating, goodness knows when that would get done. The area seemed ok, only three houses each side of the road. It didn’t take us long to get settled in. Sheila started her new school and Steve travelled to his which was ok in the good weather but horrid in the rain.

Time passed we found that the road we lived in was a nightmare, fighting and shouting, not nice at all. Sheila had got in with a bad crowd at school and unfortunately they lived quite near us. Sheila turned into a monster she was 15 yrs old and thought she could do as she pleased. If she hadn’t had Outlaw I think she would have been uncontrollable but she had responsibilities.

Mike had been ok most of the time, he had done some decorating. One night the children were in bed and Mike and I somehow got into an argument over what, I cant remember but he got me by the throat and threw me on the bed but he had forgotton the kids had only just gone to bed and came out of their rooms to see what was going on, Mike immediately let go of me, he had been caught in the act for the first time and said to me “just wait I`ll get you when you are least expecting it, watch your back”. Lesley and Sheila both heard this. Sheila and I both went downstairs as I certainly didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as him. Sheila asked me why I stayed with him, I said because of the horses and all the competitions etc…. she said she would rather put Outlaw out to loan and we would all have a better life. I was shocked. I said I would sleep on it. I said I would sleep on the sofa but she said no, to sleep in her bed in case he came downstairs, she insisted she would sleep downstairs

When I got up the next morning Mike had already gone to work, Sheila said he hadn’t said a word. Sheila and Steve went to school and Lesley and I went to work. I was talking to my friend and boss about what had happened last night and she said I should divorce him and that I shouldn’t have to put up with his nonsense. I had a good job I was pretty sure we could manage. I agreed with her. I had previously said to Mike that if he was ever violent again I would divorce him and it wasn’t an empty threat. Now with Sheila willing to put Outlaw out on loan for a while we would be able to manage.

I rang the solicitor and made an appointment , I was surprised I got one for that afternoon. It was a good job my boss was also my friend so it was easy to arrange the time off. I was quite nervous about going, I had no idea of the procedure.

I saw a really nice man who immediately put me at ease and proceeded to ask loads of questions. From my answers he decided the grounds of the divorce should be irretrievable breakdown of marriage We then had to make a list of all the things that he did that was unreasonable and there was a lot to choose from. After this was all done he said he would get it typed up and then send a copy to Mike, I think when this came I had better make myself scarce. This was May 1980.

When I got home I told the children what I had done and thank goodness they agreed it was the right thing to do. My next obstacle was to tell Mike…I was actually trembling at the thought. I had better have the kids with me.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

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Everyone was shocked when I got home and told them about Lesley. I rang the hospital at 5.00pm and they said the operation went well and she was sleeping the effects of the anaesthetic off and would probably not be awake until morning. I asked if we could visit this evening but was told no, the earliest I could see her was 2.00pm tomorrow afternoon.

Sheila and Steve wanted to go so they would have to have the afternoon off school. It was a really bad time for Lesley to be off school as she was doing her CSE`s. I rang the school and explained the situation and they said they would do all they could to enable her to just go in for the exams if she was out of hospital in time.

We went to visit her the next day and she looked really sorry for herself as they had made her walk and it really hurt her she said, it was probably more fear than pain. She was in a really nice ward with younger children. She said she had been reading to them. The nurse said she had been a big help to them by keeping the children occupied.

We saw the doctor and he said she would have to stay in hospital until she had her stitches out which would probably be the following Monday or Tuesday. The exams started on the Wednesday so it was going to be doubtful if she could sit them, we would have to play it by ear.

We had a show on Sunday so couldn’t visit Lesley but she understood I said if we got home in time I would ring her. We had a brilliant day Sheila again did really well and we came home with loads of rosettes again. Trina was at the show and invited us to her cottage for a cup of tea Mike said yes but I really wanted to ring the hospital to make sure Lesley was ok. We stayed about an hour and by this time it was about 4.00pm. I rang the hospital and spoke to Lesley she said she had been ringing all afternoon as they had told her she could come home that morning. I apologised but we had no way of knowing this was before mobile phones. I spoke to the sister and asked if I could fetch her now, she moaned a bit but said yes.

Mike took Sheila and Outlaw to the stables and Steve and I went to collect Lesley. I was in such a panic I forgot to take her outdoor clothes and didn’t realise until I got there so she had to go home in her nightdress and dressing gown. What a shambles but she didn’t care she just wanted to be home. It was good really to come home early as she stood a good chance of being able to go to school on Wednesday to do an exam.
With a bit of luck Mike would be able to drop her at school and collect her when she had finished. The school was very good.

Once more chaos reigned, dinner to be cooked, children to bath, clothes to be ironed, beds to be changed. Sheila had to clean her tack …no rest for the wicked and while all this was going on Mike would be sat watching TV demanding a cup of tea or whatever. and ordering the kids to be quiet.

Lesley made it to her exams but was exhausted when she got home. Steve’s foot was much better but he was still in pain but no where near as much as before he had the new medication and insert. The doctor was really pleased with his progress.

I was getting really fed up of Mike’s behaviour although he was good with Sheila and Outlaw he still made no contribution to the running of the house i.e. bills etc….He had now bought a six feet tank for specialist fish, seahorses etc… he sometimes bought them paying around £60 and by the time he got it home it was dead, this happened on several occasions. We had whatever was left after he had got everything he wanted. Sometimes he would buy fish when the children needed shoes. It led to so many arguments but no violence since he came back to live with us, maybe because I had said and he new I meant it, that one more incidence of violence and he would be out. The house was still in my name and I had no intention of changing that. It was my security.

I began to think about mine and Mike’s future together and realised our marriage went wrong the very first time he was violent, which was when I was pregnant with Lesley , by rights I should have left then but it wasn’t possible. I decided I would stick it out until Steve and Sheila reached 16yrs as Sheila needed him for the horse shows and the small amount of money he did contribute. Without him Sheila would have to stop the shows and I didn’t know if I could still afford to keep Outlaw so I had to stick it out.

I decided to get prepared for that day, at the moment we had a large four bedroom house which was expensive to run, we could manage with three bedrooms by the girls sharing. I went to the council and filled in an exchange form and thought I would try to get somewhere closer to the stables at Potten End. This would mean possibly Warners End or Gadebridge it would also be a bonus as we would be much nearer to my Dad at Gadebridge.

Lesley had got herself a new boyfriend, Ian he was a really nice kid. He lived in Gadebridge not far from my Dad. The odd thing was they had both gone to the same primary school but did not know each other. Ian had a really nice motor bike a Motor Morini 350 I think . I was a bit worried about Lesley on the bike because of the things Mike and I got up to on our AJS 650cc but she loved it.

They seemed to be getting on really well. They were out and about most of the time.

I didn’t tell anyone about what I had done as I thought I would see what happened, I had told Mike that we would go our separate ways when Steve and Sheila left school he didn’t like it much but tough. It had taken me long enough to get some backbone. A lot of this was due to my boss where I worked who was also my friend she asked why we were together when we couldn’t stand each other. I realised she was right, so hence my plans. From now on it was me and the kids he could do as he pleased if he didn’t like it he had a choice stay or go, no-one would miss him only his temper.

Sheila went from strength to strength with Outlaw they were real buddies, he would try anything Sheila asked of him. All three children were now in Secondary school {Mountbatten) they were 12yrs and 15yrs respectively. Lesley had a part-time job as a waitress and made quite a lot of money. She really surprised me as she was really quite shy.

I had been at my present job at B.S.I. for 8 yrs and was getting a bit tired of it and really fancied a change, I had worked my way up from a clerical assistant to Office Supervisor and there was no where else to go, I could do the job without really thinking about it and I needed to be challenged. I left without getting another job as in my mind I thought if I wasn’t working then Mike would have to pay all the bills he definitely earned enough. Before I left I was able to recommend Lesley for a job as filing clerk there. She got the job and soon got promotion to progress clerk.

How stupid was I to think Mike would pay the bills, two months later I was job hunting, I must have been out of my mind to even think he would , very soon we owed money again he just would not part with his money . Why should he when he had a fool like me to pick up the pieces. He was well aware that I would soon stop the rot. I realised that my plan to get away from him was the right thing to do for me and the kids.

I decided I would go job hunting the next day and the first agency I went to had a job at a place called Sidal Aluminium that was for what they called a progress chaser in the Sales Dept.. The job entailed chasing orders on outside suppliers also from the mother factory in Belgium.I also would have to keep updated a manual database of all our supplier and customer addresses. This was in the day before computers. There was also trays of different sizes and thicknesses of all stock we held in the warehouse these had to be kept in good condition as constant use by the sales people meant they soon got dog eared. This sounded right up my street I loved working with figures.

The girl in the agency rang them, told them a bit about me and arranged an appointment for that afternoon. I had to dash home, get changed and dash to Maylands Avenue, funnily it was in the same building(Sunley House) as I worked in for B.S.I..

I had to see a Miss Williamson the Sales Office Manager she seemed a nice lady. After a long chat she said the job was mine if I wanted it. It was agreed that I would start the following Monday. Mike and the kids were surprised I had got a job but as I told Mike if I hadn’t, we would have been back where we were when he walked out on us , up for eviction and owing a lot of money and I was not prepared to let this happen again.

I started my new job and loved it. It was quite a small office with a good sized warehouse attached. All the office departments like the accounts, shipping and sales were in the same large office. It was a bit cramped but Kay the sales office manager told me they were in negotiations for much larger premises.

Time passed Lesley had left school and was working at B.S.I Sheila was doing brilliantly with the Show Jumping and Steve was also much better he was now able to go out and play with his mates and get up to allsorts of mischief, like putting on a frying pan to cook something and then going out to play. The lady who lived next door saw the smoke puthering out of the kitchen door and ran round to see what was happening and she was confronted with a smoke filled kitchen and both dogs barking their heads off. She turned off the cooker and got the dogs out and waited for Steve or Sheila to come back. When Steve saw what he had done he was shocked and he thanked the neighbour and waited for me to come home. He said he was hoping I was the first home or else his Dad would have hit him first then asked what had happened.

Lucky for him it was me. The kitchen was in a terrible state, still we were insured and Steve had had the scare of his life, I don’t think he would do that again. If my neighbour hadn’t seen it it could have been catastrophic. Mike eventually arrived home and couldn’t believe his eyes and we all got stuck in to try and get rid of the soot it had covered everywhere in the kitchen.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Page 97

It was very impressive. It was agreed we would have an individual stable for the winter months and hay and straw storage also the use of the paddocks in the summer months and all owners were responsible for keeping the yard and stables spotless
Mr Harding the owner was a really nice man. He went away to work out a price based on the things Sheila thought she would want.

He came back and said if Sheila would like to help out with the upkeep of the paddocks and see to the tack room he would only charge us £10 per week and unless things changed we could have use of a stable all year round, we were very impressed with this price and Sheila readily agreed to the extra work. We agreed to move in the following Saturday.

Saturday soon came round, we picked up my Dad and the kids and off we went to load Outlaw and move him to his new home. He went in the box really well just a slight hesitation, we thanked Trina for her help and said we were sorry to be going but that we would still come and do the riding for the disabled.

We got to the new stables and offloaded Outlaw he looked really good with his red bandages and blanket Sheila had done him proud. He had been allocated a really nice stable on the main yard. He soon settled in once given his hay. The other people at the yard were really friendly and came and introduced themselves to us. My Dad really liked it it seemed so relaxed.

The travelling to the yard was still a long way for Sheila if it wasn’t possible for either Mike or I to give her a lift but we were usually able to pick her up and stick her bike in the car.

Another couple of weeks and it would be the summer holidays and Sheila had already decided she would spend most of it at the yard. She was now having private lessons and her and Outlaw was doing amazingly well, a real partnership. Neither Lesley or Stephen were keen to ride him I think he was too big for Lesley she was nervous and Steve was just not interested.

We had two dogs Angel our Great Dane and Candy a mongrel we had had for about 5 yrs., Angel was a fairly new addition, and she was my best friend. Sheila used to take Candy to the yard she used to run alongside Sheila on Outlaw and she and Outlaw became good friends. We took Angel on rare occasions as she didn’t care for the horses much.

Candy had had 2 sets of puppies the first set was 6 pups and the second 5 pups and a lady who lived a couple of doors away and her daughter asked if they could see the pups of the first litter. Guess what she put in orders for 5 of them, she had two Aunties who wanted one each and she wanted one and the other two went to various relatives of theirs. We knew who the father was as Candy brought him home. Mrs Fairbrother the lady who wanted the pups, therefore, knew how big the pups would be. The other pup went to a friend of Sheila`s. The next litter about a year later, three of those again went to the relatives of Mrs Fairbrother. Steve was playing with the pups one day and Mike said he had kicked the puppy and hit him so hard it knocked him to the floor. Obviously Steve had not done that but Mike didn’t wait for explanations he just lashed out. I was at work but needless to say we had words when I found out what had happened.

Mike bought a long wheel base land rover and a double horse box ,it was really smart, we needed this as Sheila was now starting to compete in earnest. In the winter she wanted to do lots of hunter trials.

My Dad bought a beautiful saddle and numnah and I bought a bridle and martingale and a couple of new bits.

We all found the new yard was great we could do what we wanted as long as everything was kept neat and tidy, the owner more or less gave everybody a free reign. The private lessons were really good to watch as you could see the improvement with both Sheila and Outlaw.

Mike had been busy kitting out the land rover we had a cooker and all sorts of bits and bobs to enable us to cook a meal at the shows we were anticipating going to. During the winter it would be so cold we would need food to warm us up.

We went to our first show with Outlaw in Chesham, my Dad and Steve came with us. Outlaw boxed really well. A couple of other people from the yard went also; we soon became good friends with them. The weather was really warm

It was a show jumping show and we really had little idea how Outlaw and Sheila were going to do but in the first round they came second and Sheila got a blue rosette Outlaw jumped beautifully. We were using this show to just see how well both rider and horse performed together, as a relationship has to be built i.e. trust each other and know each others limitations. They went on to do another three rounds and received a first and two second places.

The done thing when you get rosettes is to hang them on the windscreen of the land rover. Showing off really but Sheila was so proud. My Dad had really enjoyed the day and said he would like to go again. He particularly enjoyed watching the presentations to the winners, he was so proud of Sheila she really had no fear at all.

We were soon on our way back to the yard now the hard work would begin. Outlaw had to be groomed and fed and his stable mucked out. Mike had to clean the horse-box ready for next weekend. We had shows arranged for the next four weeks, we were going to be busy but this is what it means when you have an ambitious child.

The work didn’t stop there, all the tack had to be cleaned and saddle soaped. Then it was dinner to be cooked, thank goodness the kids were on holiday otherwise it would mean ironing the school clothes for the three of them. Housework was very low on the agenda there just didn’t seem enough hours in the weekends.

Mike took Sheila to the yard before he went to work on the Monday and I had agreed to pick her up after work about 5.00pm. She took a packed lunch and was going to meet up with Sally and Jilly to go for a hack through Ashridge Estate I was a bit worried but they were very sensible girls at least I now knew she had a trustworthy horse. When I went to pick her up she said they had had a lovely time jumping fallen trees and having a really exciting time. She said Outlaw got on with twummy and Sally’s horse whose name escapes me and did everything that was asked of him.

She had already groomed and fed Outlaw so I walked with her to put him in the field, it was too hot for him to be stabled, he loved it in the field, as soon as Sheila took off his head collar he took off like a rocket….slight exaggeration. He galloped twice around the field kicking up his heels and then rolled from side to side on the ground; this was a sure sign of a very happy horse. Sheila and Outlaw were real buddies they had mutual respect, he would do whatever she asked as he new she new what he was capable of. Trust between horse and rider is what every rider hopes to achieve if they are worth their salt.

I noticed a young girl standing on the other side of the yard with a nice iron grey pony, she looked a bit lost, I asked Sheila if she was new she said she hadn’t seen her before. Sheila and I went over to her and asked if she was ok. She said this was her first day at the yard and didn’t quite know where she should be We introduced ourselves she said her name was Ann Custance and I said are you any relation to Pete Custance she looked so shocked and said he was her brother. I said I knew him really well as I worked with him at B.S.I. and he was always talking about his sister.

From then on Sheila and she became really good friends they were always together. Ann didn’t compete at all as her pony wasn’t up to it neither was Ann she was ok riding him around the paddocks but didn’t take him out.

Sheila and Outlaw went from strength to strength they won loads of events and through the winter, hunter trials and cross country, there was no stopping them It was hard work on Mike and my part as we worked all day Monday to Friday then Saturday was spent getting Outlaw and all his tack ready for the shows on Sundays. Mike was a bus driver so sometimes he had to work on Saturdays but always managed to get Sundays off as he had to drive the land rover and horsebox I didn’t feel confident to do that. This didn’t leave me much time for washing, ironing and housework I’m afraid everything got neglected including Lesley and Stephen, they chose not to come to the shows, which was fine but I did feel guilty.

Lesley had not been well for a couple of days she had tummy pains and felt sick I took her to the doctors and she said she thought she had appendicitis and that I had to take her straight to the hospital which she said was St Albans. Lesley and I was scared, the doctor had said her not being well for a couple of days she didn’t want to risk it perforating.

I had never been to St.Albans hospital before so was not at all sure where to go. I parked the car and asked a nurse how to get to a particular ward. She sent us up a load of stairs, which was horrendous for Lesley as she was in such pain. I explained to this nurse but she said this was the only way. We got there eventually and the sister on the ward saw that Lesley was in a pretty bad state and got her in a bed before taking any details.

Lesley was scheduled to have her operation at 3.00pm it was now 2.00pm they said it was an emergency now. In those days 1978 parents were not allowed to stay with their children and I was told to ring about 5.00pm to see how she was and if they thought she was ok we could visit at 7.00pm if not it would be 2.00pm the next afternoon. I was worried sick.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Page 96

The move went really well, my Dad was thrilled as we all mucked in and got his stuff unpacked and put away, his bed made up and everything spick and span. It was a really lovely flat and I just new he would be very happy there.

I was going to see my Dad one day when I bumped into Linda, who used to be my next door neighbour; she now lived in the maisonette next door to my Dad. I asked if she would like to meet my Dad and she said yes, so in we went to see him. When Linda saw him she said she had already met him a few years ago when we lived next door to her. They got on really well and she said she would keep an eye on him for me.

Sheila had been to the Pony Club Camp for a week and today was the final day when they had a gymkhana for family and friends. I asked my Dad if he would like to go as he loved watching Sheila compete, already she had loads of rosettes. So my Dad, Steve and myself and Mike went and had a great time cheering Sheila and Kim on. She came home with a pony club badge of which she was very proud and a couple of rosettes.

Dad came home with us and had dinner, he said he had had a really brilliant day and looked forward to many more. Later that evening Sheila said she had just about outgrown Kim as she really wanted to do Hunter Trials and show jumping which Kim was too small for. Mike and I said we would think about it as money was a bit tight at the moment but we knew it was inevitable as she was so good she was being held back.

A few days later Sheila was looking through the Horse and Hounds and saw a horse she really liked and as she put it reasonably priced, we had a look and it was a 15 hh grey gelding 5 yrs old, excellent jumper and good to box and shoe. It was priced at £500 which if it stood up to the description was a really good buy. Sheila begged me to ring the ad. And get more details. I did ring and arranged to go and see the horse at the weekend; it was quite a trek as it was in Sussex.

I asked my Dad if he would like to go with us and of course he said he would. In the end we all went Mike, myself Steve, Lesley and Sheila and my Dad quite a car full. It was a really lovely warm sunny day. It took us a couple of hours but it was worth it when we saw the horse, he was beautiful. The owner saddled him up and Sheila got on and put him through his paces and he was amazing. The owner said he was a very kind and gentle horse and he certainly appeared to be. His name was Outlaw. Sheila was ecstatic and my Dad although he knew nothing about horses fell in love with Outlaw and said he would buy her a saddle as Kim’s would be much too small.

Sheila won, we bought him and arranged for them to get a vet report for him, subject to that being ok we would collect him the next Sunday

We now had to try and sell Kim which we dreaded, as he had been an amazing pony, rebuilding Sheila’s trust after Bella. Finding him a home would be easy as everybody at the stable new him.

My Dad really loved his new home and was out pottering in the garden. We did manage to sell Kim to Trina the owner of the stables she was going to use him for her riding school and also riding for the disabled as he was such a gentleman, as she put it. Sheila was really thrilled as she would still see him and most likely be still grooming him as she worked for Trina in return for stabling.

The owners of Outlaw rang us to say Outlaw had received a clean bill of health from their vet, a copy of which was for us. We arranged to pick him up the following Sunday, Sheila was so thrilled.

This time we had to take the land rover and trailer so we took my Dad as well, so once more the six of us went. The trailer was all kitted out for Outlaw lovely fresh hay and new bandages, the excitement was tangible.

My Dad said with all this horsy business he though he should get himself some riding gear i.e. boots and hacking jacket, this was a joke I might add. Outlaw looked even better all beautifully groomed with tail and mane plaited, he looked really smart.
Sheila put on his bandages and a lovely blanket we had bought him and Mike led him into the trailer with no trouble at all.

It took us a couple of hours and when we got to the yard Trina and a couple of helpers were waiting to see Outlaw, we unloaded him and Trina said she was impressed with him which meant a lot to us, as our previous purchase of Bella was us trying to be clever and it all backfiring on us.

Trina saddled him and rode him around the ménage and he did everything she asked, she said we had a lovely horse and Sheila could really reach her full potential with him. Sheila fed him and groomed him then put him in a stable for the night as he had had a busy day, normally he would be put in the field as that was what he was used to.

It was getting more and more difficult for Sheila getting to the stables at Bridens Camp a lot of the time she was going on her bike before school and after and it was a horrible and dangerous trip. Mike worked shifts so could only take her now and again same for me. Things came to a head when Sheila contracted Glandular Fever she was so ill she was unable to go to the stables so we arranged for Trina to look after him, which cost us a fortune.

During this time we talked about moving Outlaw to a place that was easier to get to, all the stables were a distance away but still easier to get to than Trina`s. We waited until Sheila was better which took about a month. Trina told us about a place at Potten End who did do- it -yourself livery which was ideal for us.

We rang them and they invited us to go and have a look, tell them what we required and a price at that point would be agreed. The yard was really nice there were about 10 individual stables and a block of about 4 in the main yard and just off the main yard were about 10 more stables and a ménage. There were three large paddocks and across the way another three fields. A massive tack room and if required a huge barn separated by partitions for each person to keep their hay and straw.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Page 95

I rang him and he was really interested and asked me to go and look as soon as possible, this I did and the lady said I could go right away. Lesley went with me. The flat was in Waveney, and was on the second floor which I wasn’t sure about as my Dad was 70 yrs old and with having partial paralysis in his left leg the stairs perhaps would not be practical.

The flat was really nice it had a huge lounge and a good-sized bedroom it was spotlessly clean. The kitchen and bathroom were small but adequate. It was decorated really nice it didn’t need anything doing to it at all. I went and rang my Dad and told him about the flat and he was really keen. Mike and I offered to go and bring him to see the flat before he said yes but he was adamant that my say so was enough for him. He knew I wouldn’t let him go to a place if I didn’t think it was right for him, my dad meant everything to me he was the most perfect Dad you could ever have. My Mum used to say we ganged up on her but we didn’t really it was just that she was a bit argumentative to put it mildly and my Dad and I thought there was safety in numbers.

I rang the lady, whose name I have forgotten , she said if it was ok with my Dad she would ask her sister to go and look at the bungalow and like my Dad she would make a decision on what her sister said about it.

Two days later she rang me and said she definitely wanted to exchange, she thought my Dads bungalow was just right for her. I rang my Dad, he was so pleased I couldn’t wait for him to be near us so I could keep an eye on him

I rang the council in Rotherham and asked them to send the relevant paperwork to me on my Dads behalf, as I was dealing with the exchange. To my surprise they agreed. It didn’t take long it was about 3 weeks before we received the ok and a date for the move. We then had to sort out with the lady in Grovehill a mutual date for the move. Mike and Dennis and a mate of Mikes were going to hire a van here then drive to Yorkshire for my Dads furniture etc. and himself of course. I had the day off work to go and clean the flat and wait for them to arrive and have a cup of tea ready. It was about 11.00pm by the time we had got everything arranged in the flat and had a bite to eat and everybody was shattered but it had been worth it my Dad seemed really pleased to be here. That night I said I would stay at the flat and sleep on the sofa just to keep my Dad company on his first night, then the next morning which was Saturday, I would take him to the local shops to familiarise him with his new location. Then I was going to take him to the main supermarket to fill his cupboards and freezer
So he wouldn’t have to bother shopping for a few days if he didn’t want to.

We sat up till about 1.00am talking about things like my Mums death and that he felt coming to Hemel would help him, although he said he had been quite friendly with the lady who lived next door to him, who I knew he and my Mum had gone to school with. He said that had got him through the loneliness he was experiencing since my Mum died. The next thing he said made me wonder if we had done the right thing bringing him here, although he hadn’t mentioned anything about Mrs Smith. He said they had been going out shopping and to shows a couple of times a week.

I had no idea about this and I asked him why he hadn’t told me and he said he thought I might be upset thinking she would take my Mums place, I said I was just pleased he had found someone to take away the loneliness and that I thought it was a wonderful thing, I was just worried about bringing him away from her to Hemel Hempstead when it could have possibly turned into a really nice relationship. I suggested he rang her the next day to let her know he had arrived safely and to possibly suggest either she could come to visit him or he could go to her, he thought he might do that.

Life was still as hectic with Sheila and the horse, ferrying her to the stables if the weather was bad before work and school and then again after work and of course weekends she would go to pony club gymkhanas and whatever else was happening. At weekends we took my Dad to watch he really loved it. He was so proud of Sheila she was absolutely fearless. This new horse Kim was a really kind horse and did everything that Sheila asked of him. Even Steve and Lesley would have a ride on him.

My Dad had settled in the flat but he had not been to well and I called the Doctor as he was really out of breath and felt really off-colour. The Doctor came and examined him and said he wanted to refer him to the hospital as he thought he may have Angina my Dad then shocked me by saying the doctor was right he had been diagnosed with Angina and had been given medication but because he had moved and his notes hadn’t arrived at the new doctor he hadn’t renewed his prescription I couldn’t believe what he had said fancy not telling me , if he had I would have sorted out his medication. The doctor said he had put himself at risk but he would now get it sorted. He also said he didn’t think he should be on the second floor as the steps were to much for him. He said he would write a letter to the council to try and at least get him a ground floor flat. I was really shocked I just couldn’t believe my Dad hadn’t told me, the diagnosis had been about 6months ago. After he got his tablets he soon felt better but I was scared leaving him in case of a problem.

Two weeks later my Dad rang me and said he had received a letter from Dacorum Council offering him a ground floor flat with garden in Gadebridge which was only about 2 miles away from where we lived. He could call in the council offices and collect the key to have a look at it . I said I would have the afternoon off work collect the keys and him and we could go and have a look. He was so excited for one thing to be near us and to have a garden, as he loved growing tomatoes and stuff.

I collected the keys and we drove to the flat which was in a really lovely spot looking on to fields and yet only 2mins. walk to the local shops. It was a ground floor one bed roomed flat with a three bed roomed maisonette above. It was very private and it had a fairly decent size garden just enough for my Dad to handle. It had a lovely big front room and good-sized bedroom, fairly small kitchen and bathroom. My Dad was over the moon he said it felt like home. We went straight to the council and accepted the flat and got a moving date. I arranged to get him some boxes and me and the kids would go and help him pack again. Mike and Dennis didn’t know it yet but they were going to be moving him again but I knew they would be pleased for him to be near us.

I asked my Dad if he had been in touch with Mrs Smith and he said he had and that when he got settled in his new flat he would go and visit her then bring her back with him for a few days. I was so pleased for him.