My idiosyncratic father….

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My father Jack Pitt was born in nineteen hundred and eleven. One of nine siblings, two of his sisters died very young and are buried close to my grandfather Edward Pitt, in St. Mary`s churchyard in Acocks Green. My grandfather was a greengrocer and owned Pitts the greengrocers shop which was situated in Acocks Green village.

My mother Bess was born a mile up the road. A few months younger than dad, she was raised on Pinfold Farm in Yardley and when they were ten, both she and dad attended the same junior school. This is how they met.

In those days the boys and girls` playgrounds at Acocks Green Junior School were separated by a tall brick wall, so when my father was eleven he let my mother know of his love for her by writing “I love you” in Quink ink on a piece of orange peel and tossed it to her, over the wall. Thus began their enduring love affair which spanned almost eighty years.

It wasn`t all hearts and roses. Their love was often fraught with insecurity, petty jealousies and cold silences.  As one of their four children, I recall these could span several days. I didn`t really get to know my father until he was very old. I knew him on a superficial level because mum was a true matriarch and had she allowed my father to get close to us, it would have meant her losing her position and control in the family. In spite of this I loved them both very much and I think of them often.

I was talking with my granddaughter Mimi the other day, about her great grandfather and recalling some of the things he did which used to make us laugh when we were children. Dad used to make apple pie beds and for those of you who are uninitiated, this consisted of him tiptoeing into my room before bed time and placing all my childish belongings under the sheets at the foot of my bed. I`d snuggle down later in the evening to find my books, my china ornaments of which I had many, anything uncomfortable or lumpy he could find he would put down the bed. He found it hilarious, he loved slap stick humour.

When my own children were born, my daughter Rebecca was given a life sized doll which she named Sally. Sally never had a very good start in life as Rebecca found it necessary to cut off all her hair. To be honest, we all found Sally a bit creepy and none of us really bonded with her but I did dress her, in Rebecca`s old clothes if only to make her appear a bit more attractive and cared for, her glassy eyes so motionless, her bald scalp so prickly. One of the things father did to amuse my children when they were small, was to place Sally sitting on the toilet, her tights around her plastic ankles, a toilet roll clasped in her plastic hand, dad thought it very funny to hear their screams of dubious laughter when they went to the loo, only to find Sally had arrived before them.

My parents lived in a large flat above the shop until my father died in 1993 and mum went to live with my brother and his wife. My daughter recalls us emptying the flat almost a year after dad had died only to find Sally sitting in one of the rooms, all alone. No-one wanted to take her so she came to live with us again and I cannot recollect now, what happened to her.

Dad taught me many of his old army songs from World War Two which I still occasionally sing while preparing vegetables for Sunday dinner, just as I did with my father, all those years ago…….  After dinner, a few glasses of wine under his belt, my father would hold me close to his chest and dance a waltz with me in the large kitchen at the flat and then we would wash up and give my mother the afternoon off.  He always smelled of cigarettes and Old Spice and sometimes embarrassed me with his affection, I was too young to appreciate how much he loved me, loved us all. I thought he was a funny, loving, silly old man who I had a huge amount of affection for.

All my life my father woke me every morning with a cup of tea, until I left home at twenty three, pregnant with my first child.  I miss that………

my-father

Jack Colin Pitt.  22/11/1911  until  3/3/1994

Happy birthday dad. xxx

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More rumblings about job discrimination…..

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I am sorry to keep banging on about discrimination in the job market however, extensive global research which is easily available to read on the internet confirms I have been served a double whammy in the `least likely to be offered a job` stakes since a) I am a woman and b) I am nearly sixty three. Age discrimination in the workplace seems to set in big time once an individual has reached the age of forty so when you hit your sixties, the chances of obtaining an interview are really very slim.

I have been away from the workplace since February having treatment for cancer. Now I have been given the all clear (thank you God) I am raring to go back to work. It is very evident from the comments of some of my family and friends that they think I am bonkers but there you are, I have some valuable skills and a wealth of knowledge that I wish to use to support people who are less fortunate than I and I hope to continue working until the fat lady sings. Since my diagnosis, I have filled out eleven job applications, each one taking up lots of hours and two to three days of my time.

The law states that it is discriminatory to exclude someone from an interview on account of their age. Most applications have a monitoring form which prospective employers assure prospective employees, is detached from paperwork so that no-one is aware of your age. This is a daft way to go about the business of fairness however because most employers also ask for an extensive work resume going back through time to the individuals first job. In my case this spans nearly forty five years and many different roles so it doesn`t take a mathematical genius to work it out.

It is ironic that all of the jobs I have applied for are within the caring sector and all of them focus on people who are marginalised, disadvantaged or treated unfairly in some way. The Equality Act 2010 defines cancer as a disability and for this reason alone I should reasonably expect to be afforded a guaranteed interview. Current legislation does not address this point however, it is simply good practice.The Act further states that my prospective employers should not ask questions about my health. Instead what occurs is that application forms ask you to explain any breaks in your work profile. In my case it is nine months so what am I supposed to do? Lie? I have generally stated I was receiving treatment and I am now well because employment law states that I must not mislead my prospective employer. Talk about a Catch 22!

I did have an interview with one notable charity who rang me four days later to say the following;

“We were all so impressed with your interview, the service users really liked you too, you are eminently employable so……… we`ve given it to somebody else.”

Another charity offered me an interview the day that I received my diagnosis. I was in no fit state to attend so I cancelled. They were very kind and encouraged me to apply for any opportunities in the future. So I did, twice and received no further invites. It seemed such a waste of my time which is even more precious to me now than previously. Mostly though, I just don`t hear back from my applications.  The many millions of people all over the world who, like me are genuinely seeking fulfilling employment already understand how incredibly disheartening this can be. There are examples on the internet of people who have taken a case to court where they feel they have been discriminated against in the work application process, failing to achieve an interview. It is almost impossible to evidence this and it is not a path I want to tread.

My Employment Support Allowance finishes this week and now I am well, I must sign on for Job Seekers Allowance. I have to evidence that I am genuinely seeking employment because if I don`t, the allowance stops. I hope I can find work as a care worker or a support worker with the client group I love to work with, people with physical disabilities, mental health issues, learning disabilities or older adults. My point is that regardless of age, my gender and the fact that I have had cancer, I rather hoped that my accrued skills and experience would be recognised, valued and employed to their fullest extent. I also have a theory that because older people are far less likely to be offered interviews for work they can accomplish, we are forced to look for employment we know we are likely to have more success in obtaining i.e. work which pays far less money. You can call me cynical and I write this with massive respect for all of those people who are working incredibly hard for very little money.

On a lighter note to conclude; I am currently being spot purchased (which is a bit like a zero hours contract) to do some advocacy work, usually a few hours a week, via a wonderful advocacy charity who have been my employers in the past. Unlike the other charities I have recently applied to they remain incredibly supportive of me and my current circumstances, they are absolutely stunning in their policy to be positive about disadvantaged people. They evidence all the time, that they genuinely care and most importantly, they do not discriminate.

If you think I am bitter or deluding myself, I`m not. In the past I have generally walked into jobs, I have been head hunted on three occasions. I am saddened and disappointed.

So rock on. Rant over. I think I am going to open up a house of ill repute……..

A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

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Carol A. Hand My heart is heavy with the news coming from Standing Rock, ND today. It’s led me to do something I rarely do. I’m posting a request for the help of all of those who follow this blog. For the sake of the health of our earth and future generations, I ask you […]

via A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

Chewing it over.

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The other day I was recalling the time when I worked as an advocate for parents with learning disabilities. I often accompanied families to court as almost all of them were heavily embroiled in child protection proceedings.  Over time I got to know many of the judges and some of them had a fearsome and quite deserved reputation.  Some of them were lovely characters and warm, one in particular liked the barristers and me to bring in home made cup cakes and sausage rolls to court and she would enjoy them in her private rooms.

One day I turned up and all the courts were full, they were spilling over actually so this particular hearing was held in some rooms at the back of the building. As is my habit, I was chewing on some Wrigleys that morning, you can sometimes sit about for hours waiting to be heard and my mouth gets so dry. I don`t know what made me think it was ok to keep my Wrigleys in my mouth when we were called in but that is what I did. I took a seat at the back of the court and looked at the judge. I had not met her before.  To put it politely, she was a very large lady and she had the most enormous bosom I have ever seen in my life. Her breasts were at least twice the size of her head and were swathed in her very capacious black silks.  As she moved about shuffling papers around, her enormous boobs hung and swung like big, soft pendulums, over the polished wood of her desk. So mesmerised was I by this fascinating site, when she asked me for my name I quite forgot where I was and answered her quite naturally with a smile.

It all happened so quickly, for a moment I was confused as to exactly what was unfolding. Raising her billowy arm and pointing at me with a great, long finger nail, her deep voice boomed out over the court room, “ARE YOU CHEWING GUM?”

I immediately turned into a quivering five year old and meekly replied in a tiny voice which is most unlike me, “Yes m`am.”

“WELL GET OUT OF MY COURT AND DON`T COME BACK UNTIL YOU HAVE DISPOSED OF IT!” She yelled at me.

Red faced I got up to make my way to the door when suddenly, all hell was let loose.  The court alarm started to ring out in an even more deafening fashion than the judge`s voice.  It all became a bit shambolic, barristers ran hither and thither, security people with worried expressions appeared as if from nowhere and other people in the room did not know what to do.  When it had quietened down and everyone was settled again and I had disposed of the offending gum, I was told that in raising her arm to oust me, one of the judge`s enormous mammaries had hit the court alarm button, situated on the top of her desk.

I don`t think I have laughed so much in ages. Discreetly. With no chewing gum!

 

 

 

 

Beating the Banana.

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I decided to put all my breast cancer blogs together in one book-ette. It will be available on Kindle in the next week or so. Isn`t the cover fantastic!  Thanks to my editor/publisher, Andrew Sparke for his encouragement and support.

 

A Tale of Two Titties.

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Apparently my boobalinkas have become the subject of speculation at my local hostelry.
A couple of weeks ago a neighbour at the top of our road, passed away and as is the custom in these parts, his missis had put some money behind the bar so that his buddies could toast his heavenly departure.
I didn`t go because I don`t really like pubs and I didn`t know my neighbour, however lots of others did, including two ladies who also know me. (I use the term ladies, loosely, apparently they were absolutely lagging which is an English euphemism for pissed as farts.)  For the sake of modesty let them remain anonymous.
A third neighbour was also present at the merry goodbye and took great delight in repeating the following conversation to me…….
Neighbour 1:  I see Hel has some new boobs.
Neighbour 2:  Yes but they`re not her own, I reckon she`s got summat shoved down her bra.
Neighbour 1: They look too good to be real, I agree.
Neighbour 3:  I can assure you they are real!
Neighbours 1 & 2 jointly:   Nooooooo!
Neighbour 3:  They most definitely are all her own, the doc` gave her an uplift and I know because I`ve seen them!  She has the titties of a thirty year old and her skin is beautiful.
Like me, this lovely lady has recently recovered from breast cancer and so we have swapped many a treatment tale.  She had a lumpectomy and recently she asked if she could see my new boobs. I obliged as to be honest, so many people have seen them over the past year I no longer care who gets a gander…..
She said that neighbours` 1 and 2`s faces were an absolute picture.
Wish I`d been there with my camera.

Taking Joyce to a wedding…..

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There was a family wedding recently and as my ex-husband was away that day I was tasked with taking my ex- mother-in-law Joyce, to the event.  Some of you will be familiar with Joyce from previous blogs.
I arrived at her house two hours early so that she would have plenty of time to get ready, she is after all nearly ninety.  It was lunch time so I asked if she would like something to eat since I knew that our sit down meal would not be until 5pm. Joyce refused a snack even though I said several times that she would be hungry and instead she sat and munched a few crisps with a rather miserable expression on her face.  She also complained that her back ached and wouldn`t take any pain killers. Hey ho.
I suggested that we take her wheelchair to the wedding since she is quite unsteady now and when she is walking and if you allow her to, she clasps your wrist with a vice like grip to balance herself.  This really hurts and threatens to topple you over.  She refused the wheelchair and agreed to take her walking stick.  Just as I was ready to leave, she said that she needed the loo and disappeared upstairs for ages and I thought, “we`re going to be late…..”
I was wearing a white jacket and a rather pleasing grey, blue and white jump suit so I looked very nice. Joyce handed me her stick, which incidentally she did not use at all the entire afternoon and grasped my wrist as I tried to lock her front door, which is a bit like locking up Fort Knox.  I happened to glance down at my jacket which is just as well because there was something brown and unpleasant looking smeared on the lapel.  It could only be one of two things, the second being bird pooh so I put Joyce in my car and sighing, I went back inside the house to rinse the lapel through. I knew we were almost certainly going to be late but I didn`t have an alternative.
My jacket dripping wet, I got into my car, Joyce said, “I`ve changed my mind, I want my wheelchair.”  I told her it was hard luck then since we didn`t have the time to lug it into the back of the car and off I drove, so she pulled a face.
Fortunately, when we arrived at the venue everyone was gathered at the bar prior to the main event.  Joyce said that she was hungry, no surprise there but we had to go and take our seats.
The wedding was very sweet and tender and the groom was quite emotional and the bride looked absolutely lovely, so did her maid of honour.  All the men were dressed in tail coats and co-ordinated colours and looked very handsome.  Afterwards we went outside for the photographs.
We had only been outside about two minutes when Joyce told me that she was cold and wanted to go back inside.  We trundled back to sit in the bar and she again said that she was hungry. Someone went to ask the barman if it would be possible to make her a sandwich, which he duly did.  Joyce took one bite and instantly said, “I don`t like this whatever it is (it was beef) it`s horrible, ask him for something else.”  I went back to the barman, who was definitely not a local and apologising for her rude manners I asked him if he would very much mind doing her something else.  I said that if he had any Paraquat in the kitchen, he was most welcome to use it as a sauce.
As I walked back to Joyce I heard the barman calling out to me in a thick, south American accent and a voice that was audible all over the venue,  “Paraquat?  Paraquat?  What is this Paraquat?”  By this time I had rushed back to him and stroking his arm I shushed him saying, “It`s just a joke, just my little joke, take no notice…..”

Yes – we have no banana!

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I had some wonderful news yesterday. I went to see my surgeon Mr. Basu for a check up.  I am totally in love with him anyway and even more so now because he told me that following my breast cancer surgery, all my biopsies are clear. There`s nothing in my breast tissue, no live cancer cells in the bits of banana still remaining after chemo, and nothing in my lymph nodes.
To say I am grateful is putting it very mildly. I am grateful beyond words.
So this is my last blog on my breast banana, as I have referred to it.  I have to have a small amount of radiotherapy Mr. B says, to err on the side of caution but that is NOTHING compared to chemotherapy.  I will be fine.
Thanks to the many, many people who have supported me on my journey, who have made me laugh, held me when I cried (Tony) bought me flowers and treats far too many to mention here. People who have prayed with me and for me in their prayer circles, the friends of mine who are atheist or pagan, or agnostic or of completely different faiths, thank you for your good wishes, positive vibes and many, many messages of support.
It carried me through and I will never forget it or any of you.
With all my love.
Perky Pitt.  🙂