a blast from the past in 2013….

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Yes, I watch the British soaps here in my home in Toronto… have done for decades now.

EastEnders is a couple of years behind for us, so I have no idea if the character Eddie Moon is still part and parcel of the show in 2013!

eddie moonI just have to say that when his character appeared on Eastenders a while ago, I thought wow, it’s amazing when I see a man with a full head of fully grey hair, I don’t look too closely at first (yes in my early 60’s now, I am still a blonde). However, when I did get a real look at old Eddie, I thought wow, he must have been a real charming looker way back when, um .. hell, he is a looker now!!! I rattled my brain wondering if I could figure out if this actor was big when he was young. Having limited knowledge of the UK TV scene, I thought to myself, he was probably some famous dashing character on 70’s or 80’s British TV series… ! I thought that I had already looked at his name on the program closing credits … I guess I didn’t!! Imagine my surprise when last night I happened to glance at the name Eddie Moon, only to glimpse the name David Essex!! a blast from the past that I do remember…

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Now I actually don’t know anything about Mr. Essex except that he was a fairly big name, a touch on the glam-rock type singer and had some hits back in the 70’s including the above, and when I lived in London for a while the  ‘We’re Gonna Make You A Star’ … I loved that number, and I remember seeing his face on the telly and in some mags and  thinking how gorgeous he looked.  Now, of course, I can totally see him as an actor, especially as the cockney father of an assortment of young men in Albert Square..

This is an excerpt from a previous post that I wrote about first visit to Biba back in 1976 (London~ magical visit ~ BiBa) :

Armchairs and couches! With live people sitting in them (in the display windows)! Turns out that the BIBA shoppers were the display, and they were truly fabulous trendoids! What an incredible idea I thought, trust BIBA to think of such a cutting edge concept so far removed from traditional stores. I approached the glass doors with total rapture. I walked in and immediately was immersed in loud heavenly (to me) music. It was one of my absolute favourite tracks: David Essex and ‘I Want To Make You A Star”! Somehow, it fit my enchantment so perfectly.essexa There were many counters, fabulous Art Deco décor, heavenly scents, artfully arranged racks of beautiful clothes, totally hip salesgirls and of course the vibrant beautiful people who were the customers. There was even a tea place with light fare. I eventually became part of the window display as I sat in a plush comfy armchair drinking my pop and smoking a ciggy taking a break from the ‘hell’ of shopping. BIBA more than lived up to my expectations.

Fancy that!!  Mr. Essex grew up real good…

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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. 

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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…

of past hospitals and jails…

Fortunately for me, my geriatric rotation in my Canadian nurses training of 2  years at TGH School of Nursing was mercifully short compared with my post The Hell That Is Geriatrics The Memorial Hospital.  Well, at least it seemed shorter and much less traumatic than my sink or swim days training as a State Registered Nurse in Woolwich.  Our rotations were closely interspersed with classes, ward instructors, group work.  I actually do not remember anything of my patients in the Riverdale Hospital,

an old photo of Riverdale Hospital c:1963

an old photo of Riverdale Hospital c:1963

1244, Item 1152).

The Don Jail, c 1950 (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds

which was a relatively new geriatric hospital in Toronto.  This is perhaps sad, but what I do remember about Riverdale is that one side of the hospital building looked onto the exercise yard of Toronto’s ancient Don Jail,

The Don Jail in the 1970's

The Don Jail in the 1970’s.  I believe that the old gothic looking building was closed and the inmates were transfered to the newer built jail on the left

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You can see the old Riverdale Hospital, now the Bridgepoint Rehab being renovated in 2010, and there is the Don Jail on the right…. the juxtaposition of the geriatric hospital to the disintegrating jail that I recall from 1974

which I believe at the time was more of a holding centre for prisoners.  At a certain time each morning, the male prisoners (I think it was just men) would be taking their outside break in the exercise yard.  This of course created much interest for a gaggle of student nurses, some of whom would wait at the window on those mornings, and be rewarded by a bunch of men looking up and waving.  That’s what I remember about my geriatric rotation in Toronto.  Perhaps after The Memorial experience, I blocked out the Riverdale experience…………. who knows??!

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here you can see the distinctive curved hospital located very close the former jail

An interesting postscript to these 2 institutions is that Bridgepoint Rehab (physical not drug) took over the Riverdale Hospital in 2009.  The Don Jail was closed in 197xx?  Now the Bridgepoint has been in the process of building a brand new rehab centre around the curves of the Riverdale, the shell of which will be demolished when the new Bridgepoint building is completed.  Most interesting to me is that Bridgepoint people also own the empty Don Jail, will be restoring and  renovating it also into executive offices for the Bridgies.. and perhaps some more B Hospital ammenities..

I visited my kids’ former carer, a few winters ago.  She had broken her second hip and was at Bridgepoint for physical rehabilitation.  It still reminded me of the old Riverdale Hospital geography.Bridgepoint-Health-June-21-2011-IMG_0551

and below is  the new Bridgmount building in progress built at the side of the old hospital they took over…. I heard it and it’s jail abutment is supposed to be completed this fall.

urbantoronto-7188-24180..Interesting idea to convert a jail as part of a big downtown rehabilitation hospital…………………… I should go and see the finished product when it is done…

For the benefit of fellow Brook student nurse, Florence, I am showing this class photo of the student nurses that enrolled at the Brook General School of Nursing in September, 1972.  I am Carol the blond in back row.  A few first names I remember were Diane, Marion, Anne ( a lovely Welsh gal), Naomi, Jasmin, Sue, Jean, Wilma, David, Andrew, Pete and ‘Sprog’brook….  I met a wonderful lot of fellow-student nurses in my one year at the Brook..

1976

just a snapshot …on my own ….

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..

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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.

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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…

d4def46ef650e0efc18d3109af5f4ddfbibaI still have these 3 posters after, what is it??..THIRTY-SIX YEARS..……. oh lor………..a long time indeed. Actually considering how old these posters are they remain in great condition…having said that, you will notice them looking creased.  I had them stored away during my many years of motherhood and only retrieved them last year.  I guess I should have ironed them before I modpodged them onto bristol board paper.I don’t know the order of these posters, although I believe that the poster showing the lovely gal lying naked on lovely cushion-covered bed came after the 2 gorgeous iconic Ingrid Boulting by Sarah Moon posters…aadd4a8b67387a8026928570819af2e6bib3c

I paint all my pin-boards white...

I paint all my pin-boards white…

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!

friends in the workplace…

friends

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Can you believe how exquisite Sue’s handwriting is!!!

Funny thing, I didn’t think that I had any friends when I lived with Ty, as I was so absorbed in him.  I found these old letters from 2 people I do remember from JJ.  We continued to correspond after I left London and went back with my tail between my legs, to Toronto.  The letter above was from Sue B.  She had worked at JJ longer than most.  She was one of 2 head cashiers, younger than me and when I started at JJ, she showed me the ropes.  I thought she was really cool, but she also seemed somewhat cool (read dipped temperature interaction) toward sensitive old me.  She was so pretty, had long blonde hair parted in the middle and was always sweeping one side of her growing-out fringe out of her eyes.  I envied her swaggering walk. I loved her London (not sure which part of London) accent and thought she was so self-assured.  Turns out in reality, she was not so confident (like most of us I suppose), but she always managed to project a ‘what the hell, I don’t give a fuck what you think about, don’t mess me!!’ personna.

As I gradually got to know Sue at work and after work at the pub… sometimes the Argyle (close to the London Palladium) and other times the Phoenix, which seemed to be the JJ local… I realized that she was a really nice young woman with self-confidence issues (What!! her too??) and anxiety about her future.  She had completed school, but did not want to work in a shop for the rest of her life!  She had spent a year in Greece, learning the language as she worked in touristy pubs or clubs.  I told her she was amazingly brave to have been able to work in a foreign speaking country like she did!  Unfortunately we did not keep up our correspondences… (probably my fault, but who knows?)

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This letter was from Bill… a (younger than me … it seemed they all were as I reached my 25th birthday working at JJ) young man of about 23, who had hailed originally from Lebanon.  He had been brought up in London, but would occasionally pay a visit to relatives still living in Lebanon.  One day, after returning from a flying visit to Lebanon, which at that time was always in the news for death, bombs, destruction, shelling, smashed buildings…  (I dont remember the cause of the strife back then other than it degenerating into a civil war), Bill handed me a cassette tape and asked me to put it in the tape deck.  Thinking it was music, I did, only to be assaulted by the sound of loud machine guns, explosions and general mayhem!  Of course, Dennis (I think) the manager rushed over and exclaimed ‘what the hell is that??’  Billy, dark and swarthy, was full of male bravado, but once I got to know him, he was really a pussycat!!   Again, I don’t know whose fault is was that our correspondence ended.

You may  notice the self-fulfilling prophecy noted in both letters…………… that no-one from the old JJ days, writes back!

Of course if we had had smartphones back then…..   who knows.