Sunday, 30 November 2008

Page 173

Steve and Sarah were getting on really well, they decided to get engaged just before Sarah's birthday January 2001. During the two years they were apart they became really good friends and I think this is always a good start to a good solid relationship, being friends first. Something I didn't have ,we met and married within 12 months. Marry in haste repent at leisure.
Around March time Steve and Sarah realised it was crazy to keep two houses going and decided to sell his and move into Sarah's, her house was bigger than Steve's . It would also mean they could save up to get married.
The wedding day was set for 6th July 2002 it was going to be a big wedding , as Sarah was an only child her parents wanted to go all out for her big day. Roxanne was going to be one of the bridesmaids and Frankie a pageboy, they were so excited. Jim , Lesley's husband was going to be Best Man. They were going to be married in St.Marys Church in Hemel Hempstead and reception at Breakspear BP House.
For some time I had been trying to get a house exchange back to Hemel Hempstead as I was really not settling in Milton Keynes, I felt so cut off and lonely. Being retired now meant I was spending an awful lot of time on my own. I had been registered on the council, both Milton Keynes and Hemel exchange lists for some time with no positive results. I then decided to put an advert in Hemel local paper and see if that helped.
A week after it appeared in the newspaper I received a telephone call from a young lad who lived in Hemel and wanted to move to Milton Keynes. I told him about my house and he was really interested. He lived in a 1st floor flat in a block of just 6 flats 3 on the ground floor and three on the top floor, it had security entry and was in a place called Crabtree Court in an area I wouldn't have chosen myself but I was prepared to go and see it.
I arranged for him to come and look at my house first and depending on whether he liked it or not then I would arrange to see his flat. He decided to come the next day, he seemed really keen. Evidently he had just split up from his wife and wanted a fresh start.
He came and brought the ex wife with him which surprised me but wasn't my concern. They both fell in love with the house and even more so when I said I would leave all the carpets and upstairs curtains. His name was Ian and he said he hoped I liked his flat as he would be so disappointed if it fell through.
While they were there I rang Steve to ask him to come and look at the flat with me and when we could go. He said he was on late shift so we could go any morning. I relayed this to Ian and he said how about tomorrow then. So we agreed we would be there at 10.00am.
Steve and Sarah were really pleased about me coming back to Hemel . I met Steve the next morning, we found the place with no trouble, the flats looked really nice from outside but I wasn't to keen on the area. As Steve said once you have shut your door. It really was a nice big airy flat with double aspect windows from floor to ceiling in the lounge and bedroom. The kitchen was big too and a lovely hallway. Ian said if I didn't like the decoration which was very loud ,definitely not my cup of tea, it was dark blue below the dado rail and an orange colour up to the ceiling, He said he would emulsion the lounge in magnolia and also do the kitchen. The rest of the flat was fine. It had been really well done but very loud.
One thing I forgot to mention when we knocked on Ians door Steve actually knew him they had worked together. What a coincidence. I looked at Steve and he said he thought I should take it. I told Ian and he was so pleased so we both said we would set things in motion straight away.
We promised to keep each other informed on any progress made. He was also going to leave his carpets, the one in the lounge needed replacing but the bedroom was ok, also he was leaving the curtains which was a godsend as the windows were huge and they each had wooden poles.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Page 172

Had a delicious meal at Steve's and had a good chat. He was looking so much better.The old Steve was back. Sometimes you have to give yourself a good talking to and get things in perspective to enable you too move forward. If it was meant to be then it will happen. I had really enjoyed my time at Steve's but now I had to go home and see to the dog.
Lel had applied for a job at Debenhams a new store was being built, she hated it on the checkouts at Sainsbury's. She was successful and started as soon as it opened. Her hours mostly fitted in with the children but if on odd occasions they were on holiday or something then I would have them. We would go to Howe Park Woods and have a picnic, we had some really fun times.
The summer all to soon passed at least I didn't have to do that journey to Kings Langley every day in the dark. I did find the winter very depressing mostly unable to get in the garden and my house was quite dark as it only had a small window in the front room.
One day Lesley myself and the children were in Westcroft the local shopping area when as we passed the bookshop I noticed a card in the window asking for a part time person, I quite fancied that and Lesley said I should apply so I memorised the telephone number to ring them later maybe.
I did ring the next day and was asked to go to the shop for an interview, which I did and got the job. The hours were only as and when needed it could be twice a week for two three hour shifts. It was ideal as I was definitely getting bored with being at home all day a couple of hours here and there would be great and in a bookshop too, perfect.
Also if I needed to have Rox and Frankie they would be able to come to the shop with me as there was only one person at any one time. At first I found it a little scary being totally on your own in the shop albeit only small. It was more involved than I had thought as there was loads of books to be ordered for people especially for students. It was very interesting. I loved it once I got the hang of things.
Steve rang me one day around October time and said he was back with Sarah and I could tell from his voice he was over the moon. In spite of my misgivings I was thrilled for him and hoped she wouldn't hurt him again. I realised she must have had quite strong feelings for Steve the first time they went out together and perhaps could be forgiven for panicking. Fresh start, New page, Fingers crossed.
I had really liked Sarah, I had liked her down to earth attitude. I really thought they would be good together.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Page 171

The Doctor suggested Steve spoke to a lady from the Neurofibromotosis Society as she could tell him all about the disease. He said he would ask her to give Steve a ring. It was only a short time later that she rang Steve and she spelled out the things he could expect to come across. Steve told her he had just started a new relationship and she said she would speak to Sarah and let her know the ins and outs. She also said she would ring me which she did.
Steve more or less decided he wasn't prepared to take a chance of having children the odds were just to close, he decided he would have a vascectomy, a decision he didn't take lightly. He told Sarah and she didn't take it too well, I believe she spoke to her parents and the outcome was she ended the relationship with Steve. This devastated Steve I have never seen him so upset and it tore me apart. I was really terrified he might do something silly, he certainly drank far too much.
He lost an awful lot of weight and you could see he was distraught, a double whammy. I rang him every day and went to see him often and he slowly got back to his usual self. I did wish he would ease off with the drink , I knew he would in time.
Meg my little dog , was amazing but she didn't like Frankie much I think because he tended to just poke her and not speak to her and she did snap at him which really scared us all. She was fine with Roxanne, maybe because she was with me when we bought her. Lynne my next door neighbour was also someone she snapped at, I have no idea why but I knew I would have to watch her especially with Frankie.
May soon came and Roxanne and I were off to Jersey again ,this time with full board and a hire car it was costing me a fortune but I loved going with Rox, we had such a good time. Lesley looked after Meg for me she got on so well with Paddy the Jack Russell but Jim now had a police dog, an Alsation called Matt and this did worry me a bit in case he hurt her. We were going to the same hotel The Golden Sands.
We had a really good time we went everywhere the Zoo and just about everywhere on the Island. Roxanne was my navigator and she was really good. We had a lot of laughs getting lost. Roxanne absolutely loved getting dressed for dinner at night the food was top class as it should be.
We would have loved going for a walk along the beach after dinner but unfortunately the tide was in but we made up for it during the day. All too soon it came to an end and we were on the flight home. Jim was working so Steve was meeting us at Luton Airport and taking us home.
Meg was so pleased to see me and she was fine. Lesley said she had been no trouble at all. Roxanne was so excited telling them all about the holiday.We would have liked to stay longer.
Steve took me home and then went home him self, he was looking more like the old Steve now. I arranged to go and see him next saturday and he was going to cook a meal for me, He was and still is a really inventive cook. He had always loved cooking from a child. Friday night was our cooking night, that is for Lesley and Steve, Sheila was never very interested.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Page 170

Roxanne and I went straight to the pet shop and bought Megan the same food she had been used to and a few toys for her,then we went home. When we got to my house the little dog went crazy sniffing everywhere and exploring the garden and house. From what the lady had said she had been shut in an indoor kennel all the time, no wonder she was enjoying the freedom.
Rox and I sat down and had a drink and a sandwich and Megan sat on the sofa between us. Then promptly went to sleep for about 2 minutes .
Where ever we went she followed us, she also loved her new bed but totally ignored the toys, we tried throwing the ball for her but she had no idea what to do. She had obviously never been played with, how sad is that.
It was time to take Roxanne home so Meg,as we had decided to call her, sat on Roxanne's lap as good as gold.
The next morning I took her to the vet for a thorough check over and to be vaccinated. She was given a clean bill of health. I also arranged to have her spayed but the vet said to leave it a while so that she could settle in a bit first, although he said she appeared to have settled already.
I took her for a nice walk and she soon got used to the collar and lead, she pulled a bit at first but by the time we got home she was walking perfectly. I was really pleased with her.
For some time Steve had some lumps come up under his skin and Dr Williams had said they were fatty tissue nothing to worry about. Over a period of time there were a lot more lumps and some looked as if they were about to burst. He saw the Doctor again and ahe said she would refer him to a specialist just to be sure.
After a couple of weeks he was told that they were not fatty tissue but a very nasty disease called Neurofibromatosis there were two types and lucky for Steve he had the less serious one. It was caused by a faulty gene and these lumps under the skin would get more prolific and if they got really big they could be removed. One nasty side of it was that any children he had would have only a one in two chance of not having it. They could also inherit the type 2 which led to lots of tumours and terrible disfigurements. This was a terrible shock for Steve and all of us. We had never even heard of it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Page 169

It was so nice not having to get up and drive to work, I found it difficult to settle at first I couldn't sit still. The weather was really nice and warm so I was in the garden a lot of the time.
I had been working fulltime since 1970 and was finding it very difficult to get used to being at home all day. I felt really isolated. Some days I wouldn't speak to anyone face to face. Still I had better get used to it ,this is what happens when you get older.
Steve rang me one day and said he had met a girl who he liked very much and they had just started going out. She lived just a few doors away. I was thrilled to bits for him I know he had been quite lonely and I could tell by the way he spoke that he had fallen hook line and sinker for her. I couldn't wait to meet her.
Roxanne and I arranged to go and see Steve the next weekend and also to meet Sarah. I have no idea why Lesley didn't come with us.
Sarah was already at Steve's when we arrived, she seemed a really nice girl her Mum was portugese and she had the most beautiful black curly hair. We got on like a house on fire, she was very easy to talk too. I could see that Steve was smitten by the way he looked at her. I had good vibes.
On the way home I told Roxanne that I was thinking of getting a dog she was so thrilled and said we could start looking for one. I said I only wanted a small dog like a Yorkshire Terrier and she was so excited. I promised her that if I found one I would take her with me to see it.
The next day I looked at the adverts in the pet shop and found quite a few adverts for Yorkie puppies but really I wanted a bitch about 12 months old. I decided I would get a puppy as I was home all day it should be quite easy to house train one.
I rang all the numbers I had found but the puppies had all been sold one lady I rang gave me the telephone number of a friend of hers who had just had a litter. I rang but there was no reply.
The next day I picked up Roxanne and we were going to drive around and try and find some more pet shops. I said I would just try the number I had been given yesterday before we started on our quest. This time the lady answered and said she was sorry but the puppies had all been sold. She said all she had was a bitch that was 3 yrs old. Amazing this was what I wanted originally. I asked why she was selling her and she said she was a champion and had been the mother of most of her puppies but the last litter was only one puppy and that had to be delivered by caesarian therefore she wasn't able to even cover her costs. So she was going to sell her. I asked if we could come and see her and she said yes so off we went.
We were only 2 minutes away from the house. She brought out the most beautiful Yorkie , Rox and I fell in love with her straight away. She was running around everywhere, by the look of things she wasn't used to running around. She said she wanted £100 for her which in retrospect was a bit expensive but we wanted her. I said we would go and get the cash and be back in a while.
We went and got a collar and lead and the money of course and went back. The lady said she wasn't used to a collar and lead as she had never been out. I was shocked she must have just been used for breeding, poor thing. This made Rox and I positive that we needed to get this dog. Her name was Megan. She was tiny with silver and grey/blonde fur.
We put the collar and lead on but she really didn't like it and to make matters worse it had started to snow so I carried her to the car and we went to show Jim and Frankie as Lesley was at work, she had got herself a part time job at Sainsbury's.
They had a Jack Russell dog called Paddy and Megan and Paddy got on great. Jim and Frankie fell in love with her too.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Page 168

I went straight round to Lesley and told her I was being made redundant and the package was really good, I couldn't wait for August it couldn't come quick enough. I told Roxanne we would go to Jersey around May time and she was thrilled to bits.
It was a really bad time at work for the drivers and warehouse lads, some warehouse lads were going to work in the packing room as packers and some were taking redundancy and some were able to stay.The drivers were not so lucky they didn't have a choice.
I was pleased that Clare and John were going to be split up, that partnership was lethal. I would be so glad to be out of it. They had done me such a huge favour, they say if you wish hard enough then it happens and it certainly did.
The next four weeks flew by and this was my last day. The end of an era. It got to 5.00pm and I was ready to leave and must admit I was shocked that no one had even said goodbye, I felt really hurt I thought I had quite a few friends but I was wrong obviously.
I was just going to open the door to the yard when all my mates said "surprise surprise you thought we had forgotten", My two managers were there and they had two beautiful bouquets of the most amazing flowers. They had also bought me some crystal things, a clock , vase, bottle opener in fact loads of things. I was overcome. I said I was going to miss them but I had no regrets. Mark said he would keep in touch and I knew he would we had been friends for 10 years. The drive home was amazing no more of this nightmare journey. I was thinking that maybe I would buy a little dog, I quite fancied a Yorkshire Terrier, I would give it some thought but it would be nice to go for walks as there were some really great walks where I lived.
I had got really friendly with the lady who lived next door to me, she was a mobile hairdresser which was handy. She had a rottweiller called Roxy a huge powerful dog but a big softy. We used to take it in turns to make coffee. She was a really good friend. Her husband worked at Woodhal Prison and was also a Diving Instructor.My house was full of flowers they were in every room, even the bathroom. I was a little worried as I thought I might now have too much time on my hands . I didn't see much of Lel and the children unless I went to their house. Lel didn't drive and there was no direct bus route. I only really saw them on Saturdays to do the shopping. I saw Steve about once a month but spoke to him on the telephone most days yes, I decided I would get a dog at least we could go on long walks.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Page 167

The three of us in the Despatch Office received letters saying only one person would be required in the Office as the transport was being transferred to an outside haulier, which included the shipping overseas.
There would only be enough work for one person, therefore one could be transferred to the Packing Department and one voluntary redundancy. I immediately saw that if I took redundancy I wouldn't have that horrible journey every day. This was all scheduled to take place in August 1998, therefore I would only be 6 months away from retiring.
At the bottom of the letter we had to put our preferences and I put Voluntary Redundancy. John the young lad said he had also put redundancy which surprised me as he was only 21 yrs old. Clare the other one put that she would like to stay where she was.
I could see that I was going to have a fight on my hands but I was ready. I tried to argue my case with John and was surprised that Clare agreed that it should be me, as I was so close to retirement but John was adament, he wouldn't budge.
We would just have to wait and see the outcome. Mark spoke to John and said he thought it was a bad move for him to take redundancy as he had only been there 2 years so would not get very much redundancy money and he would have excellent prospects in the packing Department.
A few days past and John changed his mind he decided to go to the Packing Department and Clare wanted to stay in Despatch so hopefully the redundancy would be mine. We had a meeting with the group of Managers who were dealing with the re- structure and we each stated our reasons for our choices. They were delighted with the outcome and it was signed, sealed and delivered and we were told to expect confirmation in the next few days.
John and Clare both got what they wanted and I waited for my confirmation. It arrived the next day and I was so surprised at the amount I was to receive, pleasantly surprised I might add in fact I was in shock. This would set me up for the rest of my days if I was carefull. It also meant Roxanne and I could go to Jersey again as I had promised her. I had been at Ovaltine for just over 10 years.In spite of everything I had really loved my job, if not some of the people.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Page 166

I collected my car on the Friday and it cost me £550 John said to take it back in a weeks time for him to tighten something up. The car felt different but I am sure it was just my imagination. It was definitely noisier but I suppose that was to be expected. I didn't trust it anymore.
It was summer and I couldn't wait to get started on my garden Roxanne and Frankie were going to come and help me!!!
I had been to the Doctors for some reason and she said because of my age she would like me to have a bone scan to check for Osteoporosis as I was so skinny. The only hospital that had a machine at that time was a hospital in Amersham. Lesley and the children went with me and we had decided that after the scan we would take them to the Model Village in Beaconsfield I had taken Lesley,Sheila and Steve years ago. I was surprised it was still there.
I had the scan it took all of 10 minutes and was told the results would be sent to my Doctor in about 10 days.
The model village was only about a 5 minute drive away, I couldn't believe it it looked exactly as I remembered it with lots of additions. Roxanne and Frankie loved it, we spent quite a while there. There was a small cafe so we had a drink and a sandwich. It had ended up a really nice day out.
I rang the Doctor after two weeks and was asked to make an appointment to discuss the results of the bone scan. She told me that I had Osteoporosis, my bones were really thin and that I would have to take HRT to try and stop the rot. I was really shocked as I had only ever had one broken bone and that was when Dennis's dog, Ben knocked me over in his exhuberence and I broke a bone in my wrist but that was about 5 or 6 years ago. Still she knew best, I would do as she said as I didn,t want to end up in a wheel chair or whatever.
I thought if you had that, then you were in constant pain but I had none at all. I was really scared I couldn,t bear it if I couldn,t look after myself and had to rely on other people. I decided I would push it to the back of my mind and just get on with life what will be will be, it was beyond my control.
My garden looked really nice I was well pleased. When the children came over we would sit in the garden and have drinks and sandwiches and out would come the old sheets for them to make tents. We had such fun.
The summer seemed to pass so quickly and before we knew it it was back to going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. Christmas came Steve came and we had Christmas at Lel's house we had a really great time. The children were thrilled with their presents.
Around Easter time there was a lot of rumours circulating at work. The main one being the deliveries were going to go to an outside haulage firm it would no longer be done by our lorries and drivers. Everyone in despatch was concerned about their jobs.
A couple of weeks later we all received letters explaining the situation it had been put out to an outside haulage company and there would be some drastic changes in our department of which we would be notified in the next few days.
Speculation was rife,everybody was worried especially our drivers some had been there over 20 years and their jobs would definitely go. Its not easy finding jobs when you are in your late fifties early sixties. We would just have to wait and see.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Page 165

It was nice to hear such good things about Dennis, Len and Jean thought the world of him and became good friends they were very uset about his relapse and the subsequent outcome. He had been a great help to them in the day to day running of the house. They had certainly made us very welcome.All too soon it was time to get the train home, Len was going to take us to the Railway Station. The train would take us to Waterloo Station then we had to get to Euston and get a train to Hemel Hempstead then I had to pick up my car and drive home,such a long tiring day.
I felt so sad I had lost Dennis, my daughter Sheila and my Mum and Dad, what a sad day it was. Although , I know for Dennis it was a good way to go in his sleep he had been fighting a losing battle against the drugs from the age of 16 yrs and he was 49 yrs old now. Many times he had said if it wasn't against all he believed in he would have ended his life years ago. Most of his adult life had been spent begging,stealing or borrowing for his next fix or in prison, what a tortuous life he lived but I loved him so much.
Life carried on, back to work the next morning to have to put up with the two morons in my office. If it hadn't been for Mark and the lads who worked in the warehouse I think I would have gone insane with their inane humour. It was like being in a school playground. Roll on January 1999 when I was due to retire, only 18months to go, only!
I was driving home from work one day when suddenly on a country road out in the sticks my car just came to a stop , the engine made a clunking noise and cut out. I tried to restart it but no luck. I left it for about ten minutes and tried again in case I had flooded it but still nothing.
Thank goodness I had got a mobile phone, I rang the AA and they were there in about 30 minutes because I was a woman on my own in the middle of nowhere, well Leighton Buzzard.
The guy had a look and said my timing belt had snapped and he couldn't do anything it needed major surgery . He proceeded to load it on his breakdown truck and I got in the cab with him and he took us to my local garage in Bletchley. This gave me a real problem as I would have no way to get to work. I spoke to the mechanic and he said he would have a look the next day and ring me but he was sure it was going to be expensive.
I was miles away from home but not far from Lel, so I walked to their house I was hoping Jim would be in to give me a lift home. Luckily he was and said I could borrow his car until mine was fixed. It was a monster of a car a Maestro Diesel , that was like a tank to drive but beggars can't be choosers and it was really good of him and got me out of a really big hole.
John the mechanic rang me the next day and said it was really a big job as the timing chain had smashed the valves and other things, he estimated it would cost about £500 than goodness I was sitting down but had no choice so I gave him the go ahead and he said he should have it done by Friday which was two days away.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Page 164

I still hadn't heard from Dennis and neither had Len. I was sure he had gone back to drugs. I was suddenly woken up by the phone ringing it was around midnight. It was Lesley, they had just had two policemen at their door saying Dennis had died I couldn't believe it I was so shocked. Evidently the only address they could find was Lesley's. They said he had died of a suspected heart attack and someone would need to go and give a formal identification , as it was a sudden death there would also have to be a post mortem.
Jim said he had the day off the next day and offered to go and identify Dennis for me. as a Transport Cop he would be able to travel free. I was so grateful as I didn't think I could do it myself. I rang Steve and told him he couldn't believe it either, we were all in shock.
He said he would come over the next day as we had a lot to sort out ie.... funeral arrangements. One thing I knew he had to be buried not cremated, it was one thing he had talked about. He had very strong beliefs. I would also have to tell Linda , Dennis's ex wife as Craig his son would want to know, although they didn't have any contact he was still his Dad.
Jim went to Exeter the nxt day(Saturday) and Steve came over. we speculated on what had actually happened to Dennis, hopefully Jim would be able to find out. I rang Linda and she said she would tell Craig and ring me back.
She rang a few hours later and said Craig was really upset and wanted to know if he could come with Steve and I to the funeral , of course I said yes. Linda then said she and Craig wanted to arrange the funeral as because they were on benefits they would get it paid for by the D.H.S.S and Craig really wanted to do this for his Dad.
Linda sorted it all and I booked a bed and breakfast for Steve,Craig and myself for the night before the funeral and I also informed Len and Jean as I knew they wanted to be there. We were travelling down by train, it was a long boring journey. We then got a taxi to the hotel and went out looking for somewhere to eat.
The morning came we had a really nice breakfast and got ready for the funeral. We had no idea where it was so we booked a taxi and it turned out to be about five minutes drive away. I was really surprised there were quite a few people there.
This was the first time I had been to a buriel and I didn't like it, to see the coffin lowered into that hole made me shudder. A man came up to me and said he was Len and introduced us to his wife Jean and promptly invited us to go home with them for a cup of tea and to see where Dennis had lived up until two weeks ago. We were met by three dogs one a little black dog had been Dennis's and was missing him.
I introduced Craig to them and they were shocked as Dennis had never mentioned having a son. I could see by the look on Craig's face he was upset and rightly so but it was the way things were. When he was a baby Dennis wasn't allowed any contact with Craig. Linda and her family made sure of that. To a degree I could understand it as he was really bad with the drugs, he was then a registered heroin addict. Dennis and Linda agreed that it was better for Craig if Dennis stayed out of his life and when he was old enough he could decide if he wanted to see him.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Page 163

I some how got through the winter getting to work and back. Dennis was doing real good at this place and had somehow stayed off the drugs. I rang him one day and Len answered Dennis had gone to the shop for him. He said Dennis had really changed the last two weeks or so he no longer took the dogs for long walks he now watched TV nearly all day. I found this really odd as he had never done that before.
Dennis rang me later and asked if he could come and visit me for a few days, May Bank holiday was coming up. I said yes of course he could. I had the week off work so we could go out with Lel and the kids ,as he hadn't seen them for ages. We arranged he would come on Friday and ring me from Bletchley Railway station and I would pick him up.
I couldnt believe it he looked so fit and well he had certainly put on a bit of weight. He said he really loved it at this place he was at.He had also got a good mate from their who had a drink problem but they got on really well.
I arranged with Steve to come over and see him on Saturday. I was also going to pick up Lel and the kids . The children couldn't wait to see Gunk(Great Uncle) they loved him. We had a really nice day, it was nice us all being together.
We didn't do much the rest of the week as Dennis seemed quite content to stay home. I think being 49 yrs old had slowed him down. At one time he would have wanted to be out and about. All too soon it was time for him to go home. He said he wanted to stop off in Watford to catch up with his old mates. I begged him not to but he wouldn't listen. This only meant one thing to me he was after drugs as they were all druggies.
I dropped Dennis off at Kings Langley station on my way to work on the Monday as I had managed to persuade him to go straight to Devon and not stop off at Watford, whether he would or not was beyond my control. I hoped commonsense would prevail but I was sceptical, Leopards don't change their spots, I could only hope.
That night I rang Len and asked if Dennis was home and of course he wasn't, god knows where he was. Len said he would get Dennis to ring me when he got home. I had no phone call that night so I rang the next night and Len told me he was home but in bed and once more said he would ask him to ring me.
I left it a couple of days still nothing so I rang again and Len told me he had come home full of drugs and he had got so bad Len had to ask him to leave for the sake of the other men there. As far as Len knew Dennis was staying in a flat with some friends. I had no way of contacting him and had to wait until he was sensible enough to ring me. Such a shame he had been doing so well or so everyone thought but now I was thinking it was all planned and I was the excuse.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Page 162

I received a letter from Dennis saying he was being paroled in two weeks and that he had arranged to go to a retreat run by monks in Yeovil, Somerset. I was a bit worried about this but it was run in conjunction with a charity called St. Mungo's which was for men with drink and drug abuse. I said I hoped it would work and would help him as much as I could.
I was going on holiday to Whitby with Lel, Jim and the children we all loved Whitby and had been several times. It was August and the weather was lovely. We were having a lovely time and all too soon our holiday came to an end.
I rang Steve to see if he was ok and he told me Dennis had been admitted to hospital for tests on his heart, evidently he had collapsed and on this occasion not through drugs. Steve had hired a car and driven to Yeovil to see him during the week. He said he was all wired up to different machines it looked serious but you never new with Dennis he was such a manipulator. Steve gave me the hospital number and I rang immediately only to be told he had discharged himself the previous day with out any conclusive diagnosis. This was really worrying as I had no idea where he was. The hospital said I should try and make him go back but that wasn't possible , not knowing where he was.
I had been home for about two weeks when I got a phone call from Dennis saying he was fine and that it had been a scam at the hospital he was now in Tiverton, Devon at a big house run by a couple who cared for men who had given up alcohol and drugs. It was run as a family. From what he said it sounded really good. He helped with the gardening and other odd jobs.
He said he was completely off drugs and had put on about 2 stone in weight and felt really good. He gave me the telephone number and said I could ring anytime. I asked about the heart problem and he brushed it aside and said he should have been an actor.
I rang the house a couple of weeks later and Len the owner answered and said Dennis had spoken about me so much that he felt he knew me. He said Dennis was one of the nicest guys he had ever met and such a waste of a good man. Being involved with drugs. This was why we had put up with so much over the years because we knew underneath he was one of the nicest people you could meet but with the drugs a complete Jekyll and Hyde.
Winter was on its way again and I had that horrible journey to work in the dark both going to and from work. I hated it and couldn't wait to retire but that was 3 years away I wasnt sure I could keep going that long but I really didn't have a choice. No one else would employ me at almost 58 yrs old.
Things were not much better at work the other two in the office were still getting on my nerves. The Manager Tom was retiring soon so I was hoping the new manager would possibly improve things but I doubted it. Goodness knows what his clerk would do when he went she would never survive without him, they were as thick as thieves. She was such a trouble maker and he covered for her.
We were all shocked when the manager retired because the clerk also went without a word and we never saw her again. Deep down no one was surprised. The two offices , Transport and Despatch were being knocked into one this would be much better. We also had a new Manager who seemed a really nice guy.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Page 161

Sandi the new girl at work was really nice and we soon became good friends. All her family were in Zimbabwe, her Mum had died in a horse riding accident there was only her father who was originally from Scotland and he had remarried, so she was here on her own.
She would come over for dinner quite often and went out with Steve a couple of times but it soon fizzled out, she was looking for someone with lots of money and status , nothing else mattered as long as they had top jobs and rich, in spite of that she was a really nice person.
At the moment she was living in London Colney but after seeing where I lived she was now looking to buy somewhere in Milton Keynes, this would be great as we could take it in turns driving to work.
She eventually found a two bedroom house just a few minutes away from where I lived . Then I couldn't believe it she got herself another job in Watford, so bang went the car share idea.
Mark the warehouse manager who was a really nice guy used to go to all kinds of odd places for his holidays like climbing mountains, K2 , Mount Everest too many to name. Everywhere he went he brought back a rock sample or something relevant to the place he was at, for my Grand Daughter Roxanne. He also ran the London Marathon every year and did the Tough Guy competition. Then suddenly he had a heart attack from which he survived but it put an end to his very adventurous life and he was only 27 yrs old.
Sandi left Ovaltine and a new girl started who was a friend of the young lad that started with Sandi and I didn't like her at all. The two of them were like little children.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Page 160

My house looked really lovely, such a change from when we viewed it. The furniture looked great it fit perfectly. I just new I would be happy there.
I really didn't want to go to work on the Monday I would much rather have stayed home but needs must. I hadn't as yet met any of my neighbours but I am sure I would before long.
At work Helen who I got on really well with was transfering to another department which was a really big promotion, she deserved it she was excellent at her job. I would really miss her as a workmate and friend. There was only Helen and I in our office.
You never new what the new person would be like. We already had a new person in the despatch office and she was a nightmare. It was her way or no way, she was from Durham. The transport manager was smitten and she could do no wrong she even pulled his strings and he wasn't even aware.
Roxanne and I was going to Jersey in May, it would be Roxanne's first time on an airplane and she was so looking forward to it and so was I. I had been several years before and loved it. I thought for Roxanne it would be good for her first flight, as it only took about 40 minutes.
I had booked a short break 3 nights in a five star hotel. She may have been only 8 years old but she loved dressing for dinner etc...
We had an amazing time, I had made a mistake by not hiring a car so everywhere we went we had to go by bus, which wasn't too bad as they were laid on by the hotel. I took Roxanne to the Jersey Zoo and we had a really lovely time in spite of it raining all day. we managed to go to loads of places. The hotel was very sumptuous and the food lovely. It was right on the beach at St.Brelades Bay it was called Golden Sands. All too soon it was time to go home and I promised Roxanne that we would come again and do it properly full board and a hire car.
Back to work and there were not one but two new people in my office. They seemed ok but time would tell. One Sandi was South African from Zimbabwe. The other a young lad was from London Colney.
Frankie was now at fulltime school and had settled in really well. I had been concerned about him leaving his Mum as he was a real Mummy's boy, also with his speech but there were no problems at all ,thank goodness. Lesley had been right, I was wrong. My Grandchildren never ceased to amaze me. They mean so much to me.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Page 159

Steve and the children really liked the house even the spiral staircase. I couldnt wait to move in now. Steve said he would start the decorating next weekend. This would give me time to get the paint and things.
Lesley and I started cleaning everything. I had also decided to come each evening after work and do bits so that it would all be done for Steve to start the decorating. Steve suggested we went that afternoon to get the paint as we needed quite a lot and it would be heavy. We bought everything paint , brushes , rollers it cost me a small fortune but would be well worth it.
One thing I was concerned about was the heating, it was night storage heaters and I had heard bad reports about them not being warm enough. Time would tell. Steve went home and Lesley and I measured the windows and we went to the curtain shop in Bletchley picked out the material and arranged for them to be made. I was surprised they said they should be ready midweek.
By the following weekend everything was clean and ready for decorating. It looked better already. I had brought a kettle and everything to make us a cup of tea. Steve came early Saturday morning and we made our way to the house. We all got stuck in Lesley and myself. At this rate it wouldnt take that long, although there was no rush really.
Steve came a couple of times after work even though he had a really rotten cold and would have rather stayed home but he managed to finish it all. I am so lucky I have really special children. I rang the carpet shop midweek and arranged for them to come and measure up on Saturday morning and he said that if I liked he would fit it later the same day. I said yes please. Lesley rang me at work on thursday and said Courts were going to deliver the furniture Saturday afternoon. I couldnt believe it everything was working out well. I would be able to move in over the weekend. I had bought a secondhand cooker and washing machine and just needed a fridge/freezer.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Page 158

I had packed most of my stuff in readiness for the 15th. I had bought loads of cleaning things,broom, dustpan and brush, disinfectant, loads of stuff.
The journey to work and back was getting much easier now as the nights were getting lighter and the ice and snow was gone. It was very tiring though 300 miles minimum a week was telling on me and my car. Three years to go then I could retire, it seemed a long way off.
The moving day arrived and Lesley and I filled the car up with stuff and went to the house. I couldnt believe it nothing was happening, I was met by the estate manager who said she had refused to move out as the house she was moving into was not ready yet, they were still decorating it. I said this wasnt right and he agreed but could do nothing. Also the kitchen in my house had been installed without permission therefore she had to reinstall the original which she said she had in the loft. One thing he said he could and would do was charge her rent for both properties. He said he would ring me and let me know when my tenancy would begin.
Evidently this woman was a real trouble maker and they were all scared of her. Even workmen came in pairs when repairs needed to be done. What a reputation to have.
I received a phone call from the estate manager giving me the new date 1st April, very ominous I thought April Fools Day. The reason for the extra time was she had finally told them that she didnt have the original kitchen, so the Housing association had to fit a new one for me when she moved out and they anticipated it would be done before th 1st April.
This time she had moved out and again I met the manager to sign the tenancy agreement and paid the first months rent and set up a Direct Debit. He told me she was going to have to pay a huge sum of money for the state she had left the house plus the cost of a new kitchen and the delay in vacating the house.
At last I had the keys and could scrub the place and Steve was going to decorate it before the carpets and furniture came. Lesley was going to help also. My children were amazing nothing was too much trouble. I was and am so proud of them. I put all the cleaning products and brooms etc in the kitchen ready for getting stuck in the next day, saturday. Steve was coming to see my new house and tell me what decorating stuff I needed to get.
Lesley,Steve and the kids and myself went to the house and the first thing I noticed was all the cleaning stuff and brooms were gone. I couldnt understand it as all the doors were locked. I rang the estate manager and asked if his workmen had been in, he said no they hadnt got keys anymore. Then he said there can only be one person and that was the girl that had moved out, she must still have a key. He said to leave it with him and he would get it sorted out. He arrived about an hour later with a workman and proceeded to replace all the locks. He hadnt as yet seen the girl and to be honest I didnt think he would challenge her.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Page 157

I dashed home from work that monday evening and went home to have a cup of tea and pick Lesley up, Jim was looking after the children. I couldnt wait to see the house and area. Unfortunately it was dark so couldnt see much of the outside but what I did see I really liked. Lesley said it was only a short walk through parkland to the Milton Keynes Bowl where they held quite a few concerts ie Robbie Williams etc....In fact it was surrounded by woods and parkland.
We knocked at the door but there was no answer but the lights were on. I had arranged to be there at 6.30pm and it was now 6.45pm. We decided we would wait until 7.00pm and then go. Just as we were leaving a car pulled into the parking area. it was her, no apologies at all. She asked us in and my goodness what a tip it was. There were two biggish dogs and about 4 cats that we saw all in the lounge which was quite small. She put the animals in the garden and showed us around. It didnt get any better. In the corner of the room was a spiral staircase which Lesley thought was really nice I hated it, it looked like scaffolding to me. Up the stairs was a nice landing which housed a massive fitted wardrobe with sliding doors. One bedroom that left a lot to be desired. It had an ashtray full of cigarette butts . The best and cleanest room was the bathroom, it was a really good size. Guess what was hanging from a hook in the ceiling a birdcage complete with a cockatiel
It was a really lovely house if you looked past the filth. The garden was amazing, there was a patio and then a grassed area seperated by a low wall and decorative fence with a gate. Also a pegola, she had really spent a lot of money on it. Shame the house hadnt had the same care. I thanked her and off we went.
Lesley said I had to try and imagine the house newly decorated and with new furniture and carpets it would be a different house. I decided to ring the Housing Association and accept it. Which I did and was told the 15th March would be the date of the start of my tenancy. Therefore I could move in on that day. That weekend Lesley, myself and the children went looking for a three piece suite. It would have to be a two seater sofa and only one armchair as the room was really small. I also went to a carpet shop in Bletchley and explained that I wasnt moving in until the 15th March could they come just after that date to measure the floors for me . I was going to have the same carpet right through the house . I also told them about the spiral staircase and he said he would have to look at it to decide how best to fit carpet.
I ordered a really nice suite it was what they callled denim blue dralon, it was so comfy, it wouldnt be delivered for 4 weeks which was a bit of a nuisance but it would give me time to get the carpets fitted in an empty house.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Page 156

Roxanne was doing really well at school , she was 7yrs old going 17 yrs. I loved her so much we were real buddies. I was a little worried about Frankie as he really didnt speak very well and I wondered how he wold get on in school. He didnt really have to use words as Lesley anticipated his every need so a grunt and a point got him what he wanted. I loved him so much but I was concerned.
We had just had our dinner when Roxanne looked out of the window and said it was snowing , we all dashed to have a look and sure enough there was a thin covering and it was snowing really heavy. Lesley and I said to the kids to give it a little while longer and we could go first footing( be the first to make footprints in the snow) a family tradition of ours. My goodness in half an hour it was quite deep and I was beginning to get worried about getting to work the next morning . We all got wrapped up warm, hats ,gloves and scarves and out we went. We had such a good time. Immediately in front of the house was this huge parkland that stretched for a good way. I think we first footed most of it. when we were so cold we couldnt stand it any more we went home for nice hot drinks.
The following morning it was complete whiteout as far as the eye could see. I knew I wouldnt be able to drive as I wouldnt be able to get the car out of the garage so I decided I would walk to the Train staion and see if the trains were running. I had to make the effort or my workmates would say at the first sign of bad weather she couldnt make it in to work. Lel said I was crazy, maybe I was but I was going to give it a go. I got my snow boots on and set off across the field. Lesley and the kids were watching me out of the window. The wind was blowing the snow in my face it was about 6inches deep and it was like climbing Everest. It seemed to take me ages I almost gave in and turned back but no I carried on.
I eventually got to the station and yes trains were able to run but they said there were long delays. A train to London Euston came and we all piled in and proceeded to wait for about half an hour. There was standing room only.At last the train got going it was stop start and was taking ages but they were doing there we got to my station, Kings Langley and I couldnt believe it , there was just a smattering of snow, nothing like Milton Keynes. They would never believe it at work. It had taken 3 hours getting there, the usual time was 45 minutes. I was right no one believed how much snow had fallen in Milton Keynes . I was dreading going home this evening, not the train journey but the walk from the station to home.
Home time came and I went to the station just as a train came along. We got to Leighton Buzzard and the snow was really deep and it got progressively worse the nearer we got to Bletchley. I was dreading the walk home. We arrived and I walked out of the station and couldnt believe my eyes Jim was waiting for me in the car, he said he had been sat waiting for about an hour. I thanked him so much. we had our differances but this was an amazing thing to do. Evidently Lesley had told him of my struggle to get through the snow drifts he said he had admired my tenacity and thought this was the least he could do. He definitely went up in my estimation.
Roxanne had made me a paper medal for getting through the snow. I had decided that if it was the same in the morning then I would stay home. I got up at the usual time looked out of the window and it looked much better so I went to see if I could get the car out of the garage. I managed it and set off. The side roads were still really bad but much better on the main roads. I got to Stoke Hammond went up the hill ok then down the hill the other side but my god this was a sheet of ice. I had little or no control down we went sideways, luckily no one could get up the hill. The cars behind me were doing the same it was pure luck we didnt hit each other. At the bottom of the hill the police were diverting the traffic, as the road ahead was like the one we had just come down and that was in the process of being closed.
The road we were diverted on was not much better but there was a little grip. It was an absolute nightmare. Why did I move to Milton Keynes, I must have been mad, this was no picnic. I finally arrived at work again 3 hours late but in one piece which had been a miracle or my skillful driving. Later that day Lesley phoned me and said it had started thawing and most of the snow had gone.
I was getting ready for work one morning when I heard the postman I looked and there was a letter for me from Guiness Housing association, I wondered what they wanted now. I couldnt believe it, they were offering me a one bedroom house in Emerson Valley , they had enclosed the telephone number of the person at the moment living there for me to ring and make an appointment to view. If it was suitable I would take over the tenancy from 15th march, in 3 weeks time. I was so thrilled my own place again, as much as I had loved being at Lel`s I couldnt wait. I wanted to tell them but they were all in bed
Off I went to work and the first thing I did was ring Lel and tell her about the offer, she was thrilled to bits, I said I would ring her after I had rung the present occupant and find out when we could view the house.
Lesley rang me about an hour later and said her and Jim had been and had a look at the house obviously from outside and said it was really lovely, an end of terrace with my own car parking space. She said I would fall in love with it. I kept trying to ring the house and finally got through at 2.00pm and arranged to view it at 6.30pm this evening. I couldnt wait.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Page 155

The 15th December came, moving day, we managed to get everything in the van we had hired. Managed to leave my plant I loved so much but was to tired to go back for . We took the van to Steve`s new house, emptied it ,then Jim took it back to the hire place and Steve took me to pick up my new car. We then had to go to Steve`s and pick up my clothes and bits and bobs.
By this time it was about 7.00pm we had been on the go since about 8.00am that morning. I dont know why we moved so many times as I absolutely hated it. Steve had a bed to sleep on but nothing to sit on until his new furniture arrived in a couple of days, hopefully. I said to Steve Lesley and I would be over to see his house properly over the weekend.
This was the first time I had actually driven my car , I set off for Milton Keynes tired, hungry and worried. When I got to Lesley`s house they had arranged a garage for me from the council which was just round the corner from Lel`s. This had been worrying me as just recently there had been several incidents with vandals. Jim offered to put my car in the garage for me as I was absolutey shattered. He had also been busy assembling the bunk beds I had bought for Roxanne and I , she was having the top bunk and me the bottom. She was so excited. A very welcome cup of tea was put in front of me, I hadnt had one since about 12 noon. A beautiful dinner followed and I said I could get used to this.
It was so nice the next morning, being woken by the kids , having breakfast and getting ready to go shopping. I began to relax, I dont know what it was but I felt really apprehensive of what, I had no idea. We did loads of food shopping and went to have something to eat. I didnt have to think about driving home to Hemel.
Jim had been really good he had checked over my car put petrol in and checked the oil and water ready for me to go to work on Monday. I had no idea what the traffic would be like at that time in the morning so I anticipated leaving at about 7.00am.
Sunday morning Lel the kids and myself went to Steve`s house as Lesley hadnt seen it nor had I properly. It was a really nice end of terrace house. Well decorated and nice carpets. The kitchen was a really good size for a one bedroom house and the lounge. He had made a really good choice. It was also a stones throw from the Snooker Club and shops. It was also just around the corner from where his Dad lived.
Monday morning soon came round and off I went on my maiden voyage. I couldnt believe it I arrived at work at about 7.45am it had taken me much less time than I thought it would, so the next morning I would leave at 7.30am and try that. I didnt start work until 08.30am.
It was a nightmare driving home at night in the dark, along country lanes but I soon got used to it. The worse times were when it was foggy and icy. The nice thing was getting home and the children dashing to see me and Lel putting my dinner in front of me. This was something I had not had since I lived at home with my Mum and Dad about 30 years ago.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Page 154

Things started to go through but this young couple were a bit slow in answering queries from the estate agents and solicitors. Although in theory they had been offered a mortgage they didnt seem to realise they had to now confirm it. There seemed to be snags cropping up all the time through their lack of dealing with things immediately.
Our solicitor was getting frustrated with them. Contacting them was another thorn in the side. Steve`s house was going through without any problems, now we were worried about the timing, as the people buying our house were so laid back they were virtually comatose.
We had started packing things that we didnt need to use so the house looked a bit of a mess. One thing that was really good was that most of the furniture was staying so we wouldnt have that to contend with. Jim , Lel`s husband was coming to help us, we would only need a transit van.
At last several months later we exchanged contracts and we had a moving date of December 15th a bit close to Christmas, now we could arrange the van rental etc.... and start packing in earnest. Steve and I also went to look for a car for me we found a really nice Vauxhall Astra only 3 years old unfortunately it was white so it would show the dirt. It was an ex lease car with full service history and in excellent condition. I explained to the guy that I wouldnt be able to pay for it until 15th december when we would get the proceeds from the house sale and he agreed to hold it till then.
I spoke to Mr Green my solicitor and explained about the car, he asked me where I was buying it from, I told him and he said he was his solicitor so he would arrange to transfer the money direct to the dealer. He rang him and then rang me back to say it was all agreed and I just had to collect the car on 15th.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Page 153

At last we had a young couple who came to look at our house with their parents, they seemed very keen. I told them that most of the furniture could be left if they were interested as they were just starting out. They said they would definitely be interested in that.

A couple of hours later the estate agent rang and said the young couple had put in an offer of the asking price ,if we accecpted it could they come back this afternoon for another look. I said this would be fine . I couldnt wait to tell Steve , he was out looking at a one bedroom house in Grovehill.

Steve came home and said he really liked the house he had just looked at. It was fairly new and just along the road from a friend of his. When I told him about the offer we had just got , he was thrilled to bits. This house was close to where he worked, if he had car problems it was within walking distance. I could tell he really wanted it. Before he made an offer he was going to wait and see the people who wanted ours if they put a deposit down then he would know they were serious.

They came and had another look round and said it was just what they were looking for and were going straight to the estate agent to start the ball rolling, this was really good news for Steve. He phoned the Estate Agent for the one bedroom house and made an offer which was also accepted. Now we had to hope that our house sale and Steve`s purchase would co-incide. It didnt matter to me as I could go to Lels at anytime.

The buyers of our house said they would like us to leave whatever we could as they had only got a bed. So I said we would leave all the lounge furniture and a couple of units in the dining room and bits and bobs. They also said they would like Sooty our cat, I thought they were joking but they were serious. This was handy for us as I couldnt take him with me, Lel had two dogs and a cat. Steve wasnt to keen on having him as he would have all new furniture and Sooty was a bit of a scratcher.

Steve was going to take the washing machine, hoover and several other bits. We had been to Ikea and he had bought a kitchen starter set that included pans, dinner set and just about everything you would want in the kitchen.

I was worried I really didnt want to move, I loved this house. I just couldnt imagine not having my own place and in fact being a lodger. Although I really wanted to be with Lel and the children. I was sort of in limbo. I also had to buy a new car as the one I had , had just given up the ghost. Again, timing was of the essence as the money to pay for it was coming out of my share of the profit from the sale of the house.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Page 152

I rang the Estate Agent to come and give us a valuation so we could put it on the market. We were shocked as he said it was worth , at this moment in time around £43.000 but to put it on the market at £45.000. We negotiated the estate agency fees, which were extortionate. Later that afternoon a For Sale sign appeared, so we had better keep the house tidy. we had agreed with the estate agent that if we were unable to be there for propective buyers we would give them a key.

Steve was really excited as he could now look for a house or flat for himself. I was scared I would be technically homeless. I know the guy from the Housing Association said I would have to wait about 3 months but could I rely on that. I didnt really get on with Jim my son-in-law, so I was taking a chance. I would just have to bite my tongue.

Over the next week several prospective buyers came to look and said they were really keen but no offers were made. It was a waiting game, the right person would turn up eventually.

Dennis was once more in trouble, he had been arrested yet again for theft of Doctors Bags and burglary and deception and goodness only knows what else. You could paper a room with the length of his charge sheet. He was allowed out on bail until two weeks time. He said this time he was looking at a prison sentence of about 3-4 years, his longest yet. This meant he would lose his flat as they would only pay his rent for a maximum 1 year. He would also have to get his dog re-homed as again he was warned that the kennels would not board him again free of charge whatever his sentence.

Dennis rang Blue Cross to see if they would re-home Ben as he was going to prison and they said just give them a ring when he wanted to take him. We arranged to do it the following Saturday it was no use leaving it to the last minute. He would hopefully get a good home as he was a lovely dog and deserved a good cosy home. It was very upsetting but as I would not have a home of my own I couldnt have him.

Dennis went to court and received a 2 yr custodial sentence, much less than he expected. He would only serve 12 months if he behaved himself. I got in touch with the council who paid his rent and asked if the length of sentence went on time served or sentence imposed. They said it was on the sentence imposed, therefore he wouldnt qualify. the other thing I found out was that Dennis hadnt even told them he was going to prison. They said this now meant they would have to wait for his rent to get into arrears then take him to court and eventually evict him. I could just see the outcome Dennis would get out of prison and find he had just been evicted. At least he could make arrangements for when he came out.

We still had a steady flow of prospective buyers but no offers as yet. Steve had been to look at quite a few houses and flats but not found the right one yet. We really needed to get an offer on our house because his deposit would come out of the profit.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Page 151

Time passed Roxanne started school and really loved it. Frankie was growing fast but he was a sullen little boy nothing seemed to please him. He was a real Mummy`s boy. I dont think his Dad had much time for him or Roxanne. They were all treading on eggshells when he was home. His phylosophy was seen but not heard.

Dennis was back on the drugs, it hadnt taken him long. His flat was a disgusting mess. It wouldnt be long before he would be back in prison. I reminded him that the kennels wouldnt look after Ben again and that if he went to prison he would lose him. He said it wouldnt happen, I hoped it wouldnt but I knew differently. Sadly there was only one person who mattered to him that was him. A drug addict is so consumed with getting the next fix that everything and everyone pales into insignificance, they have tunnel vision. The consequences dont matter at that time but later they become consumed with self pity.

Steve and I did loads to our house by way of improvements, we had walls knocked down, instead of a separate dining room and kitchen we had an archway so it became open plan. It was amazing. You wouldnt believe how good it looked. We had new carpets right through. The three years were nearly up and I didnt want to sell but I didnt really have a choice as that was the whole idea of buying it. Steve was so looking forward to having his own house, he was almost 30 yrs old.

I had decided to try and get a house or flat in Milton Keynes to be near Lesley and the children. I had contacted a Housing Association and explained my situation and they said they would come and see me and discuss the options, a date was agreed. The man from the Housing Association came and I explained the situation that the house belonged jointly to Steve and myself and he needed to get his own place therefore we had to sell. I said for a while I could stay at my daughters and asked if he could tell me roughly how long it would be before I would be offered a house or flat. He shocked me by saying he anticipated it being about 3 months. I thought it would be much longer than that. So I asked him to put me on their books.

It would mean me driving about 300 miles a week from Milton Keynes to Kings Langley I wasnt really looking forward to this but I would get used to it. With some of the proceeds from the sale of the house I intended to get a newer car, with that mileage I would need something reliable.

Lesley and the kids were excited about me going to live with them for a while as was I.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Page 150

Dennis came out of prison so I went to collect him and then we were going to get Ben from the kennels. Dennis was worried in case Ben didnt recognise him. Of course he did and went absolutely crazy. The Lady who ran the kennels made it clear to Dennis that they wouldnt be able to board him again. Evidently it was a one off . They had taken care of him very well, he looked in perfect health .

Dennis was really shocked when I told him that Allie had died, he thought so much of her. He would often take her on long walks which she loved. He said it would be really strange in our house without any dogs. He was pleased to know we had a black cat called Sooty.

We bought food on the way home for both Dennis and Ben. Dennis couldnt wait to get in his flat. After prison he said it would be like a little palace. He was full of good intentions no drugs, no stealing and he said he would look for a job......if he did these things it would be great but I didnt hold out much hope. Give him a week if that. I sincerely hoped I would be wrong.

Lesley and Frankie were doing really well. Dennis was going to see them on Saturday with Steve and I. Dennis hadnt seen Frankie yet. We went shopping, as there were so many of us I had to take Jim`s car it was much bigger than mine. We had 4 adults a 4yrs old and a 1 yr old and a pushchair and coming back we would have Lel`s weekly shop.

We had such a laugh, we always did when Dennis was around. It was such a shame that drugs ruined his life, he missed out on so much.

Dennis was pleased that Jim was at work as he felt very uncomfortable when he was there because he was a policeman. In fact he was now a dog handler he had a really lovely Alsation called Matt. He was kennelled outside. Jim and the dog had an amazing partnership.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Page 149

Frankie`s first day home was eventful, he wasnt very well at all and by the evening Lesley decided she would ring the hospital and they suggested taking him there, the weather was atrocious freezing cold, it was December, we wrapped Frankie up really well and off they went . I had to stay with Roxanne.

They were back after a couple of hours and everything was ok but we definitely needed the reassurance. I had to go home on the sunday for work on monday, I would have liked to stay and help Lel but I couldnt get the time off work. Jim would have to help.

Steve and I decided we would consider buying our house as I was due to quite a discount. I got in touch with the council for details of Right to Buy. I was so shocked with the discount of 65% it meant we could buy our three bedroomed maisonette which had a new kitchen and bathroom fitted only 6 months ago for £18.000 .We couldnt sell it for three years, if we did we would have to repay the discount. Steve and I thought about it and from my point of view it was a must. How else would I be able to give Steve the amount of money he would get when we sold it. assuming the value of property would rise. 65% discount was an amazing amount.

We decided to go ahead and set things in motion. We got the mortgage with no trouble and a little bit extra to enable us to have double glazing fitted. I think it took about 2 months and then the property was ours.

Allie our Great Dane was a bit off colour, she seemed to be lethargic which was so unlike her. The average life span for Great Danes is about 7 years and Allie was 10 years old and up till now as fit as a fiddle.

That night I woke up at about 3.00am and Allie was standing at the side of my bed really struggling for breath. I tried to get her to sit on her bed but she wouldnt move. I was really worried. I got back into bed but I couldnt sleep, every time she breathed she was making a rasping noise. I must have dropped off as the next time I looked at the clock it was 7.00am and Allie was still standing up and struggling for breath. She was in a terrible state and I was so worried.

Thank goodness it was Saturday so Steve was able to come to the vets with me. What a job we had trying to get her to walk down the stairs. If Steve hadnt been there I couldnt have managed.The vet agreed to see her straight away. She even stood up in the car , she wouldnt or couldnt lay down. The vet examined her and told us her heart and lungs were not working as they should be and he didnt think there was anything he could do. He said she was in great pain and the kindest thing would be to euthanase her. Allie was my last link to Sheila my daughter she had bought her for me just before she died. I just couldnt bear to lose her but neither could I see her suffer as she was. It didnt take a vet to tell me my beloved dog was in agony and that we must do the right thing for her. I looked at Steve and he said we should listen to the vet.

So I said ok. The vet said we could sit with her while he gave her the injection. I sat on the floor with her and hugged her and she just faded away in my arms. The tears came I couldnt believe she had gone.How much more could we take. We made our way home, I couldnt imagine our house without her. It would seem so quiet, even though she didnt make a noise, her presence would be missed.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Page 148

A couple of years passed and Roxanne had grown into a beautiful little girl. Lesley spent so much time with her, doing all sorts of things. She would often spend weekends with Steve and I. We decorated the single bedroom and had new carpet with Teddies on, she loved it.

Steve had passed his driving test and had bought a Vauxhall Cavalier, I must admit I was scared for him after what happened to Sheila. Lesley rang me one day and said that she was pregnant Roxanne would be three yrs old when the new baby arrived, exactly the same gap as Lel and the twins. I did tease her that she might have twins and she wasnt amused.

This wouldnt be such an expensive time as she still had the cot and pram and loads of bits and pieces, loads of clothes if it was another girl but they would like a boy. Either would be fine just as long as it was healthy. We were so thrilled.

I still went every saturday, I dont think I missed any since Rox was born. I really looked forward to our shopping trips. It would be more difficult with another baby but we would cope. Lesley coped with pregnancy really well and looked the picture of health.

Lesley had another difficult birth but both mother and son were eventually ok, they named him Franklin, where that came from I do not know, as previously they said if it was a boy it would be Connor and if a girl Scarlet but it was Franklin. I have to be honest I really didnt like the name, thank goodness they were going to call him Frankie. He was a lovely little boy he weighed less than Roxanne 6lb 5ozs if I remember correctly.

I stayed at Lels house while she was in hospital to look after Roxanne and I really enjoyed it. She was a joy to be with. Cant say the same about her Dad, him and I just didnt get on, it wasnt for the lack of trying, we just had different outlooks on life. In fact we were chalk and cheese.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Page 147

I finished my first week at the Ovaltine Factory, it had been hard but enjoyable. I was now looking forward to the weekend. Saturday I was going to Milton Keynes to see Lel and baby Roxanne, we were going shopping. I had a carrycot safety belt fitted in my car.

I couldnt believe it Roxanne had grown so much in a week, Lel looked tired she said Roxanne didnt sleep very well and of course now she was home she had to run after Jim as well. Fetch this get that.

It was hard work with a baby when you went shopping, first you had to take the pram body off the chassis and stow that somewhere in the car which was difficult as my car was small in fact a Fiesta. Then secure the pram and baby then drive to where you were going, then unload the chassis fix the pram body to it ,get the baby bits and pieces ie nappies etc... you were exhausted before you even went to the shops. But I wouldnt have had it any other way, I was so proud of Roxanne and Lel ,of course.

Coming home we had the same with the added problem of being able to find room for the shopping we had bought. We would then have a cup of tea and usually cheese and cucumber rolls. Real contentment. I was so lucky to have such amazing children, they had never given me a moments trouble and we were so close and I loved them so much.

Then I would go home to Hemel Hempstead about 25 miles. I would then have housework to do and washing ,cook dinner, no rest for the wicked. Tomorrow Steve and I were going to visit Dennis he had sent us a visiting order from Brixton Prison, so that would be a nice day out!!! I dont think but it had to be done. Steve and I hated it. It was degrading to have to queue up and then go through the x`ray machines , have your handbag searched . Thank goodness we didnt go very often. Dennis so looked forward to our visits we hadnt the heart to not go.

I soon got the hang of my new job and really loved it. I got on so well with Donna we became real good friends. We would go shopping together at lunchtime. She was a lot younger than me about 20 yrs old. Her and her boyfriend had just rented a flat and were moving in together she was so excited.

A couple of months after I started there Donna got a really good job at Yellow Pages I would miss her so much. It was a lot more money and she needed it now she had a flat, money was very tight for them. June who worked in the traffic office didnt get on with Tom the manager so she transferred to another department.

They were interviewing for replacements for both Donna`s job and Junes job.