so seventies................

somewhere in the mid to late seventies…………. went to Vidal Sassoon Salon in Toronto, my sis always went there, when she wasn’t going to the House of Lords (which believe it or not, still exists somewhere on Yonge Street). The stylist told me that golden wasn’t really moi, so I let him dye my locks dark ash blonde………………… I think it lasted perhaps 3 days, then I bought a box of light golden blonde dye and went back to being what I feel is me….workI suppose I kept it long enough to go to work…

oscarOscar is the plant behind me (a chefalure…?? that my sis and bro bought for my mum on mother’s day not long after we emigrated to Canada.  I still have Oscars great-great-great offspring). Back to golden blonde with roots, and bleached eyebrows and little denim piny…chrisitoine& cat

Yes it is an awful wig.  I bought a couple of wigs in the 70’s – experimenting with new looks, including a brown very curly (not quite afro) wig. 


browny curls..

My sis and I were playing around with clothes and taking photos of each other.  She is wearing my awful light ash blond wig.  Ahem, we both loved Cat Stevens…

funky robert&xtinebthis is a cute shot of my brother and sister also fooling around with photos.  She is wearing a sou’wester that my bro bought during his year in England…

xtin&meOMG … this is a pic of me and sis on a new year’s eve in the mid 70’s.  I don’t know if she went out to party, but I remember I did, hoping to hook up with a certain guy!  Acht, he was with someone else, as was my other hope, (his bro).  Horrible new years eve for me!!  Please excuse the ‘orrible flashy belt I am wearing.  I borrowed the striped cross-over top from sis.  She is wearing a Miss Selfridge top.  The biggest store in Canada in the last century was EATONS.  They had the wisdom in the 70’s to add a Miss Selfridge (from pre TOPSHOP Selfridges) to their YouthWear department!!  We bought quite a bit of Miss Selfridge gear back then…


Taggs Island & Glasgow

I hated moving to Canada at 15… I did not want to leave my home in Glasgow where we had lived for 10 years.  Unfortunately my dad lost his job at Scottish Television.  Uncle Peter, his brother had already emigrated to Canada and found work in television at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He suggested that Dad try his luck there.  In 1967, Canada was welcoming a huge influx of immigrants.  So off we sailed in August 1967.

High school ………. yuch ….. .keep to myself ………. difficult because of extreme self-consciousness due to my dark passenger (my gammy leg)… and also undiagnosed chronic depression (as it was more often than not in those days – ‘snap out of it’!!) come by so honestly from my Irish side.  I just wanted to disappear into the ground…

Fast forward to January, 1971, I had graduated from high school and decided to take a year to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I got a part-time job, and saved up my money to make a trip back home (my parents kindly let me keep my money to do with what I wanted).  They say never go back in the first couple of years after emigrating.… As circumstances would have it, I went back, on my own, 4 years afterward.

Yes, I planned to visit my former home, Glasgow, but I first wanted to check out London.  Luckily for me my Nanny had a flat in Muswell Hill, and my aunty Bee lived on a houseboat on the River Thames with her boyfriend Ken and her daughter, Sh.  So my plan was to find a charter flight to London and stay with my Nanny, and somehow at some point, take a train or something to Glasgow.

I loved my first taste of London as a teenager.  I had spent my first 5 years of life living in Hackney, but that’s different.

My aunty Bee and Sh and Ken soon came to drive me to the houseboat, named the Vernette which was moored on Taggs Island.

What an adventure! It was January, so everywhere was so cold and damp!  I can’t remember the logistics of my staying on a houseboat for a few days.  I do remember there was a paraffin oil heater in the kitchen to warm up the interior, and Aunty Bee had sprinkled some dried rosemary on it, perhaps to hide the smell of the paraffin.

Aunty Bee and Sh, my cousin and I went exploring.  On the shore, close to the Vernette, were the amazing ruins of an old hotel.  Bee told me that they filmed some scenes of a movie there.  Actually the movie was A Clockwork Orange with Malcolm McDowell………. wow, exciting!  Apparently Bee and Sh were watching filming from a distance and poor Sh was asking her mum ‘what are they doing with that lady’?  I am not sure, but Bee said it was a nasty rape scene that they were watching.  I had tried to read the book, but could not get into it.  I did see the movie and hated all the wanton violence, rape, and psycho-pathological acts of these yobo’s or whatever they called themselves?…’droogs’??

Recently I Googled Tagg’s Island and Clockwork Orange movie information and finally found information about a very grand old hotel.  I found this wonderful photograph of the Karsino Hotel, Hampton Court.  I was so excited when I saw that the stairway and pillars matched my photo of the hotel ruins…

I took the pic at the bottom of the Vernette by the old hotel ruins

I took the pic at the bottom of the Vernette by the old hotel ruins

I felt pretty growed up, especially when Bee and Ken took me around to visit their London friends.  Ken  had access to, or owned a motor bike with a side car.  It was so much glorious fun when Sh and I squeezed into that sidecar and Ken took us for a ride along the island roads……….Halfway through my 3 week visit Ken very kindly drove me all the way up to Glasgow.  We travelled all night and arrived in Glasgow at about 8am on a Sunday morning.  I was lucky enough to have a place to stay in Glasgow.  The family who bought our house in 1967, still lived there and welcomed me with open arms.

I must say that seeing Glasgow again was a disappointment.  Maybe because it was winter, but as Ken drove me into that big city, all I could really see then was big, grey, grimy and gloomy…  I visited my 2 school friends, June and Frances and we even went to the Kelvin Hall annual fun fair, where I had enjoyed all the midway rides, rollercoasters and handsome lads who operated the rides, as well as the loud pulsating beats of Brit Sixties pop.  Keep On Running by the Spencer Davis Group always comes to my mind when I think back on my blossoming teens spent on an annual outing every winter after Christmas at Kelvin Hall.  However, speaking with my school friends, in my mind, I felt that I still had the world at my feet and the possibilities were many… I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be?  My pals had both finished school, but June was quitting her job as she was getting married soon and Frances worked as a secretary in an office.  So I think that moving to Canada really changed my way of thinking……….. not settling for any old job, or getting married when you leave school … which seemed like the common thing to do in the old City of Glasgow back in the late 60s….  To be perfectly honest, I could not wait to catch my train a few days later and go back to London.  No disrespect intended to my old home of Glasgow, which a few years later, demolished a lot of the slum areas and had a renaissance of reconstruction and won some European awards for design and architecture… My heart now belonged to London!

my cousin Sh & I waiting for the bus to Gatwick Airport, just down the road from Taggs Island. Look at all the stuff I brought back with me........ mainly lovely London clothes!

my cousin Sh & I waiting for the bus to Gatwick Airport, just down the road from Taggs Island.  Aunty Bee took the photo.   Look at all the stuff I brought back with me…….. mainly lovely London clothes!

That trip, on my own, to London, was a pivotal point in planning my future…

my sweet sister

this is my beautiful sister in her late teens. The photobooth pic at the bottom left is of her and I back in August, 1972, when we spent the day at the EX (Canadian National Exhibition).  An annual end-of-summer funfest with midway rides and much, much more… a real Toronto tradition..


I am wearing my hair in braids tied with polka dot ribbons. one of which sits under our pic, and the silver heart broach was a present she gave to me, with ‘blondie’ engraved on the back.


We had such a wonderful time together, and back then my sister could still walk normally.. until MS all too quickly robbed her of that…

1970 crimpy...

It was 1970, I had graduated from high school, even though I had to go to summer school to get my math… now was it math A, math B, geometry, trig, algebra, new math????……….. I hated mathematics and only got a final mark of 35% in Grade XIII… which thankfully became 58% when I had completed summer school, so I did get my diploma.

As I had no clear direction of where I wanted to go with my life, I decided not to go to Teachers College or Brock University… even though I acutally got acceptance letters from both of them.

I got an afternoon job downtown at Teela Digest at Dundas Square, on the basis of my neat handwriting! I was to put the small Teela Digest insert into envelopes that I had addressed. From that day until this, I had no idea what this company did!!

I had finished work at 4:30pm on a Friday and decided to go to downtown Yonge Street to check out the goings-on. The big news was that Toronto’s busiest street, would be turned into a pedestrian mall for a long weekend.

It was hot and humid, and the busiest blocks of ‘downtown’, from Gerrard Street to Queen Street, had been converted into what I could describe as a big, busy very crowded street market. Most of the pubs and restaurants had spread out to the sidewalks. Smaller shops and boutiques had put out rails of clothes, all on sale! There was ‘live’ music in the street, although I could not tell you who! It was shall I say a very hearty scene!

Oh yeah, my hair! …  back to that!   I had managed to grow my hair just past shoulder length, keeping up my blonding every six weeks or so…. and hadn’t had a perm for a couple of years. But I still loved wavy hair. Somewhat by accident few weeks ealier, I had fallen asleep with my damp hair in 2 braids. When I took out the braids the next day ~ Yeah!  KINKY WAVY HAIR!! I more or less wore my hair this way for the next couple of years. Sometimes the waves were very good!, sometimes hit and miss.. and I could never figure out how to get the ends of my hair to curl nicely and not to stick out ( I tried hot rollers, bobby pin curls,  little perm rollers… none to my satisfaction).

In this photobooth photo, I am wearing a jumpsuit that my MuM made for me out of orange sailcloth. She added the shirring when the neckline bulged out a little… Oh what I really loved about this pattern was that the straps criss-crossed in the back meeting the rest of the suit just above my bra-line!  However, I could not go bra-less as my boobs were just not perky enough, (my sister had such nice firm breasts)…  But unless I wore my favourite jumpsuit with a tee, my bra and straps showed… and I really fancied wearing it as a summer jumpsuit like I had seen in my mags, especially as Toronto summers get so darned hot….what to do?? Guess what I found at the the drug store?… stick-on cups that you place under each breast. I know, they are still around. So I bought a pair and eagerly tried them on! They worked in that there was no bra peeking out the back… I did not particularly like the shape that they gave my tits, but under my jumpsuit, my shape was quite blurred from the front!

now if I continue and tell the tale of what I got up to that evening at the Yonge Street Mall 1970... i might have to kill ya….. later!


in the red

Not quite the 70s yet… more likely 1968, about 8 months after we emigrated to Canada. My sis and I loved fashion and had so much fun doing our ‘fashion shoots’.  This photo would have been taken with my old Brownie simple box camera that I got for a Christmas pressie way back when I was about 10!   In those days, unlike the immense ease and capabilities of digital cameras (not to mention the single outlay of cash), you really couldn’t afford to take test shots or fool around too much when snapping a shot!  Back then we had to buy a roll of film, wait a while to finish the roll of film, take it in to the drugstore to be developed, which could take a week or more.. and then make sure we had enough money to pay for the photos… sheeez, those were the days non?

I don’t know when I got these ‘granny’ sunnies, (either in Glasgow or Toronto) or the red Kangol beret? The frilly shirt might have been my mums, I can’t remember, although she was not a frilly lady, so maybe it was mine. It was red, as were the cotton pants and matching waistcoat that my darling mum made for me… I did like my ‘Mia Farrow’ hair and my red lips… and oh … my life would have been so much easier if I could have worn this to school (minus the frilly shirt) and therefore hide my obvious disability… but in those days, girls couldn’t wear pants in high school or even public school!! how ridiculous was that??



Back in 69, I really wanted something from BiBa. We were living in Toronto, our new home. I had seen the articles and the photos of the wonderful BiBa line and had fallen in love with Barbara Hulanicki’s delightful and dreamy fashions. I even asked my Aunt Bee to send ma a BiBa catalogue, which she did.  I picked the dress I wanted, actually I wanted everything.  I saved up all my money and bought an international money order and sent it my my Aunty Bee. I was really never sure if Bee bought it mail order or if she bought it in BiBa. I do not know if she was still living in London then ….bibadr

Imagine my delight when the mailman delivered a package wrapped in a large BiBa envelope, with my Aunty Bee’s writing all over it! Bee had a very distinctive style when it came to addressing packages to us in Canada…  Inimitable, colourful, fun, and irresistible. I have kept some of her wrapping and still love looking at them. I will post pics of them soon.

The dress was gorgeous! Dark navy blue cotton, with a little red flower print… fitted bodice with puffy sleeves and a full gathered skirt flowing from the waistline. There were little buttons on the bodice and a zip at the side. Unfortunately I discovered that I was a little too busty to be able to completely close the bodice fastenings, so for this photo I draped a black lace shawl over the top. (I bought this shawl for a couple of bucks at the most famous store in Canada ~ Eatons. They were having a spring fashion promotion and if you bought a garment, you could buy this lovely Spanish shawl for about $3… I still have it).biii

Below is an attempted photoedit that I did to show the bodice as I remembered it, if it had fit me perfectly!


I am sorry to say that in those days I hadn’t really developed my clothes renovating skills yet. I wonder why I didn’t ask my mum, who was an excellent seamstress, to alter it for me? Perhaps it was that as much as I adored my BiBa dress, I don’t think I could have worn it anywhere as my life was then! Sadly, I do not remember what became of my precious BiBa dress, but at least I have this Polaroid of me wearing it (as I do also of a pair of leather FRYE boots that were all the rage that I bought, but alas could not walk in!!!!) ….

wiggin out...

circa 1973 or 74

Remember I was explaining why I had lotsa perms in the 70s… well, in 1974, I actually bought a curly wig! it seems so strange to me now to have done that… frankly I blame it on all those fashion mags! My sis took this pic. I am in my bedroom in my family house in the Toronto Beach area. Sis and I were doing our own fashion shoots. The wall behind me is plastered with fashion mag covers (my faves: Honey, 19, UK Vogue). I took pics of her too (which I have to locate) in all our fashion finery of the time, and in those damn wigs (I had 2!) we had so much fun and we loved our togs!… . BTW this is a photo of that pic that I scanned in the late 90’s and found recently.

Toronto 60's Teens....

My sister and brother, circa 1968/9.
Xtine had a ‘lioness’ cut (cut short on head with long underneath!~ believe me! it definitely was not a mullet, hey! that style had not even been invented yet…LOL!) popular in the late 60s.! She got it cut at the trendiest ‘now’ hairdressers in Toronto: The House Of Lords.  ( I found out recently from one of my sons’ buds, that it still exists as a trendy salon… wow!) She is wearing a black maxi coat (she saved up for this for 6 months) that came down to her ankles, a miniskirt (as usual) and black platform heels

My brother is wearing a very smelly ‘Afghan’ coat, (which is what we called it back then… I think it was actually from Afghanistan!), that he bought for $10 in an Army & Navy store. Xtine attempted to give Ross a ‘Rod Stewart‘ haircut and this, ladies & gents, was the result!!

Adventures in W. Germany via the Harwich-Hook Ferry


In summer 1976 when I was living in London with Ty, I got a letter from my MuM.  She was going to visit her stepmother, Clara, in Bickeburg, West (its was still divided then) Germany.  As I was relatively close to Europe, as opposed to North America where I usually lived, MuM asked if I would be able to join her there for a few days.

It was tough to arrange, especially with my low JJ wages, but luckily for me, MuM and DaD wired me some money.   I managed to arrange my holiday time at work and then it was on to a travel agency to find out how to get there.  It turned out that the cheapest way was to take a ferry and then a train.

hey, I found this recently showing the travel agency .information for this trip! and the name of the ferry...

hey, I found this recently showing the travel agency .information for this trip! and the name of the ferry…

Ty was okay with it all, even though there was no way he could afford a trip, he was pleased for me.  I packed lightly (quite a task for me, believe me), and took a train to Harwich in the morning where I got onto the overnight ferry.  I cannot  for the life of me remember the name of it and I am usually really into sailing vessels, but look what I found………my itinerary…it was called the Queen Julianna and from looking at the above post card, I had a berth #628 for my return trip…live and learn

the other side of the postcard...

the other side of the postcard…

As I had purchased the cheapest ferry ticket, I would not have a berth, but there were lots of seating areas, so that would be fine for me.  Later in the evening, after I had eaten, I decided to get a liqueur at the bar to make me sleepy.  Of course (not vanity… just life when you are a twentysomething blonde), a youngish guy tried to strike up a conversation with me.  He was Dutch, decent looking and told me he was delivering goods in his lorry which was in the ferry hold.  He spoke reasonable English and was quite nice and we chatted for a while as he bought me another drink.  He was knocking them back, but remained pleasant.  I cannot remember his name… but he asked me if I would like to see his lorry?  I was pleasantly buzzed, and said ‘sure’.  Looking back on it, I know I was dumb, dumb, dumb, taking a risk, but I had had (miserable, soul-destroying) one-night stands before if that was his game (if that was his game???!) and despite Ty at home (deep in my heart, I knew that my relationship with Ty would never survive longerm, and when I strayed, it was almost like a ‘there asshole’ – for all the times you poured your alcoholic shit on me)  I still had this overwhelming need to be seen as normal, desirable, and thus sometimes, fueled by booze, I stupidly took  risks.  I guess you could say, I decided to go with the flow with  the alcohol in my system providing Dutch courage (oh please excuse the pun).

As we finished our drinks and started to head out, a ferry steward grabbed my arm, pulled me away from the lorry driver, and said:  “Are you mad, if you go with him, you may never be seen again…the ferry hold is big and full of cars and lorries… young girls have disappeared forever down there”!   Oh my, oh my my my, I had not really thought of the (Looking for) Mr Goodbar (a book and movie made in the seventies with Diane Keaton highlighting the swingles scene and a psychopathic rapist/murderer) connection.  He led me away from Mr. Dutch, to a kitchen galley and said “I’m going to make you a cup of tea”!  He was a short, much older than me, about 40 or 50ish, and not a handsome man.  As he made the tea he told me “I’m going to find an empty berth for you so you can stay out of trouble”.  Wow I thought …. I told him that I couldn’t afford the cost of a berth, to which he replied “it’s okay, it’s empty anyway, there’ll be no cost)”.  Hey, how great was that.  I thanked him profusely. When I finished my tea, we headed down the corridor toward the berths.  When we got to the intended door, he put his arm around me and tried to pull me close … was then I could smell booze on his breath!  I pushed his arm off, and said ‘I am very grateful to you for doing this for me…..but no!………. luckily for me, that’s all it took for him to back off.

He knocked at the door, quietly ‘shouting’:  “it’s the steward, I am bringing in a passenger for the empty bed.”   We heard a muffled okay, and he unlocked the door.  As the cabin was in total darkness, he turned on his flashlight and pointed it to the upper bunk of a bunk bed affixed to the wall (of course).  There appeared to be a young woman sleeping on the lower bunk.  She mumbled ‘hi’.  The steward pointed to a night light, which I turned on so that I could see.  I thanked him again as he closed the door.   I quickly locked it……. phew!!

I told the young woman that I was sorry to have disturbed her.  She introduced herself, and I mentioned  the wolf situation to which she replied “yep, I know, that’s why I always get a berth”.

Talk about a double-edged sword!  I lay in the  safety of that berth, thinking how ridiculous it was that the steward  who ‘saved’ me from danger,  had the nerve to try it on himself!!!  Maybe the ferry staff were told to watch out for any sign of trouble with women?? I don’t know how come he stepped in and stopped me in the bar, but one thing I am quite sure of is that staff were not allowed to drink on duty.  Perhaps Mr. steward tried his luck all the time,  but backed off quickly when rebuffed, not wanting to lose his job.

Happily when I got up, ready to disembark at the Hook, I didn’t see either Mr Dutch or Mr steward at all.

Finally in Holland, I managed to find the train to take me to Dusseldorf.  I honestly don’t know how I did it, not speaking any Dutch… I remember trying to use a Dutch payphone, probably to call my mother in Bickeburg to let her know of my progress, Dutch coins, more buttons to press than the A and B buttons on the old British pay phones… I can’t remember if I succeeded or gave up on that telephone call.

me at a train station in Germany ... maybe on my journey, I shouldn't have worn this tee, which said "Easy Jeans"!!

me at a train station in Germany … maybe I shouldn’t have worn this tee on my journey!  it said: EASY JEANS!  The jeans are from JJ, and the golden plastic belt whose buckle says MISS LONDON I bought by mail order from the free weekly mag of the same name!

I got on the train and snoozed for a while.  The first stop before my destination was the Dutch – West German border.  The next thing I know, there are 2 burly armed German border guards in uniform walking through my carriage randomly (I think) checking passports.  They said ‘passeport bitte’ to me, and then spent a while perusing it, looking at each other, and whispering!  I was beginning to get alarmed, when one of the guards asked me something in German… I said ‘ich nicht spreche zie Deutsche’, one of the only phrases I know… they smiled and then the other guard spoke in English saying, “we were wondering why if you were born in Germany, did you leave??”  (I was born in Rinteln, an RAF base in Germany).  Then they started laughing and thankfully handed my passport back to me!  Whew, they had me going for a while…

see the man in scrubs at the window a minute after this photo was taken, he came out and told us that no photographs were allowed on RAF property... Lucky for us, he didn't ask for film when we told him I was born there!

see the man in scrubs at the window ~a~ minute after this photo was taken, he came out and told us that no photographs were allowed on RAF property… Lucky for us, he didn’t ask for film when we told him I was born there!

At last we pulled into Dusseldorf station …  yeahhhhh, there was my dear mum waiting for me.  It was so wonderful to see her after my experiences traveling there.  We went into a little cafe and she bought me some breakfast.  It didn’t taste so bad, but there was a feather in my scrambled eggs!! yuch

town hall in Oberhausen?

town hall in Oberhausen?

My stay in Germany was fine.  I got to meet Clara, mum’s cousin Gerda, and my uncle Gerd who was also visiting from Australia.  He was my mother’s brother, and had emigrated from Germany with his wife and young son in the late 1940s.  We also drove a lot on the autobahn… really fast!!

On my way back to London, I guess you could say I had become a little more of a seasoned traveler.  I paid extra for a berth, and stayed away from the bar…