Them and us

Monday was an ordinary week day, I have been catching up after being awayhor ten days. Uzbekistan has left me exhausted, the flight was bumpy too, so i was glad to be home and was slowly getting back to my usual routine.

One of my daily habits is watching programmes like the BBC’s Newsnight. During the election of 2015 , I was part of a group who were in the studio where the programme is broadcast from, we were listening to the politicians giving their pitch and asking them questions. It was good fun.

So am a Newsnight junkie! But on Monday night, I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so went to bed around 10.45, leaving Evan Davis to keep interrogating the politicians.

I woke with a start at around 7.10, my phone had several messages. All from concerned friends. My daughter lives in Manchester, and my friends were concerned if all was well .

That is when I learnt of of the atrocity. In my sleepy state I couldn’t make any sense of the news and turned on the radio. A chill went through me, how really awful, what kind of miserable loser will do something like this?

As a woman who has a Muslim name ,I somehow feel sullied when these atrocities occur. Though I shouldn’t. I have never considered myself an outsider, I came to England because I wanted to, because I loved. This is my home and I have never looked back, as a matter of fact I have had the best of life and the happiest of times in this country. I cant bear if anyone will question as to how I feel about these atrocities. Am appalled, disgusted and angry like any British man/woman. Why do I have to justify and reiterate this?

But there is a need to do it. For some reason in the last ten years or so , a division has occurred between us , the Brits who were born here and the likes of me who have lovingly adopted this country. Hateful creatures, pretending to be preachers, have preached hate. Though I have never listened to them, but they have managed to convince some that britain is a hostile place This has provoked a reaction. Some on both sides, have taken this to heart and have started eyeing each other with suspicion and hostility.

I have found great friendship, camaraderie and support in this country, I have never looked over my shoulder , this is my country and so proud to be a citizen.

Perhaps mine is a simplistic attitude. But I have passed on this love and sense of belonging to my children too, and they have thrived and have never felt any different . I gave them the freedom to choose if they want to belong to a a religion or none, emphasising that it is not necessary to follow a doctrine to be a decent human being. They have chosen their own path. My Son is an atheist and my daughter has married a Catholic and taken on his faith. I am that much richer to have people of other faiths as my family. I couldn’t have wished for a better son and daughter in law.

So it pains and saddens me when these atrocities happen and I find myself indirectly feel that I should somehow justify myself.

The ones who do such things are scum and losers, a loss of life is the same in any religion ,and as a human being I grieve for that loss.

It is not right to brush the fact aside that there are factions who have never made the effort to learn the language , integrate or get to know the indigenous  British people. They fear the unknown, and pass on this fear to their children, and it is the fault of the governments of all colours that they have never pressed the issue of integration and learning the language hard enough, we are left with isolated communities and ghettos. Perhaps that should be a priority, the government should stop providing interpreters  and leaflets in various language. Perhaps it should be compulsory  to learn the language and be part of the big picture.

But would the politicians have the courage to insist?

No, is the answer, they lack moral courage.

Ho hum



Ah, to Samarkand

We travelled from Bukhara to Samarkand by train. A new experience Our train was at 10Am. We have to be at the station an hour early , as all our luggage, bags and ourselves have to go through the scanners and the security. Passports have to be checked .

Bukhara station is an impressive build g. Built during the Russian occupation, most of them are very impressive, tall , majestic and well, Russian looking!

You walk for miles , up the stairs, down the stairs ,no lifts, escalators or ramps to pull your luggage along. hence the kind tour manager has sent our luggage by our coach ahead ,and we just have to take ourselves on the train which was arduous enough.

What really is striking is that there are no facilities for a wheel chair or someone who is unable to walk or take their own luggage. Throughout the ten days ,though we have travelled up and down the country we have not seen a single person in a wheel charier who needed assistance. Either they they are exceptionally lucky or the disabled and the infirm stay put and do not venture out. I only saw one man on crutches who was struggling to get over the kerb, and he was a youngish man.

They don’t have lifts in the hotels either, because it is an earthquake prone region, though the last big one was in Tashkent in 1966. They like to make the citizens self reliant I presume.

Most of the monuments and tourist sites are packed with the locals. Old and young and children ,all turned pout in their finery and sitting around or climbing the steep steps, to get to the beautiful blue domes.

The train arrived. A relic from the past. No air conditioning , seats have lost their stuffing ,and the backs could barely stand upland the attempt to cover them with a sort of yellow cloth has failed , as they just didn’t fit and hung about in sad clumps. The journey took two and half hours. Not much to look outside and the carriage getting hotter by the minute as the sun outside kept climbing. There was no one to ask to open the windows, when we were getting off the train , we saw a little compartment by the door for the guard/attendant, a burly man in uniform was fast asleep, even though the train has reached its destination and we were disembarking, made no difference to his slumber.

We arrived at Samarkand around mid day, as the train was delayed. In word, it was hot.

Samarkand was the capital of this country ,until its independence from Russia, now the capital is Tashkent ,as it was in the days of the Russian occupation. What really is so remarkable is the cleanliness. Not a wrapper to be seen, no plastic bottles or empty cans, and then there are not that many dustbins around, obviously the citizens take the rubbish home. The Station inside and most hotels are shiny marble and granite, sparkling and beautiful.

Roads though another matter, there are no road markings anywhere.Traffic lurches to which ever side the driver wants, Even in the city there are no markings, huge potholes and ditches. When asked ,we were told that they act as the sleeping policeman! As drivers tend to drive too fast”! Not that it has stopped them, now the dodge the holes, almost brush the incoming traffic and and pay scant regard to pedestrians. The guide said that crossing on the crossing was no guarantee of safety, as they keep driving through the red lights too.

We stayed in Samarkand for two days , visiting monument after monument, Tombs and shrines , squares and bazars. Beautifully built and very opulent. But you cant help wondering as to how bloody the history of this country has been. From Timur onwards it has been conquered and ruled and has become a melting pot of various cultures and genes.

Our passports have been taken away from the day we arrived. The guide hands them over at the reception of every hotel we stay in , and they stick a yellow post it note in it with some writing and a card , we are told to guide it with our life as we will not be able to leave the country without it. In other words our movements are logged and traced!

We left Samarkand on Wednesday. Travelling by a very nice new train, the one Hitachi are building for them. Fully air conditioned, silent and with free tea/coffee and snacks, which are brought you by uniformed attendants. WOW, I have never seen such service on the trains anywhere.

We arrived in Tashkent on Wednesday. The station very impressive , shiny marble and granite, but without any facilities. I fail to understand that if they don’t have lifts for the fear of earthquakes, then why all the new development in Tashkent is tall, sky scrapping luxury hotels and other buildings. We are staying in one such, but mercifully it has lifts. But not at public places like the station! May be that is one way of keeping people fit! I have not seen any fat people here. All the walking and the food is healthy ,they do eat a lot of vegetables, though life is hard and their money doesn’t buy much. Though we didn’t see any beggars, bread sellers by the roadside. May be we were not taken to those areas.

Yesterday we visited the museum in Tashkent. What was amusing that as you enter ,you scan your bags and yourself ,to make sure you are not carrying any weapon, you walk in and the first stall, inside the museum is that of a vendor selling Knives! Long and heavy ,sharp knives in leather bags! Anyone can pick one up , or buy. Am still working that out!

People here are friendly ,they smile a lot and nod to us, no one comes up and talks to us or stops ,apart from the vendors.

We also visited the oldest Mosque in the Asia, as well as saw the first Quran, written on Velum, when soot and raisin juice was used as ink.

They only have a few “functioning mosques” where people can pray, the rest are opulent and tourist attractions. They,as a country are trying to be secular , by banning loudspeakers for call to the prayer, etc; but their history is steeped in Islam, it may be challenging.

WE had a farewell dinner last night. And we fly home today. I have enjoyed the tour but am so looking forward to going home.

Oh to be in England.


it is our second day here, Interesting to know how much influence  Russia still has on this country. The KGB runs the security service ,and according to our guide everything is known to them! You have to apply for an exit visa if you wish to go abroad, two months in advance. And the permission only ;lasts for a year.

A very large amount of the GDP goes to the increase and strengthen the army, Every male under the age of 27 has to serve in the army for two years. And there is no freedom to practice any religion in public, you can do so in private. Hence Mosques don’t  hold prayer meetings, and there is a restriction as to how loud the call to prayer can be, and I think tourist areas are no go.

Bukhara again is packed with beautiful buildings Circa 15th to 17th Century. Tiles and Mosaics are breathtakingly beautiful. they all are in shades of blue, from dark to pale to fading into turquoise. Because the style of the buildings is the same, after a few days you can be forgiven if you get a glazed look in your eyes, and try to look for something different. Green ,blue and turquoise minarets, domes and inside seem to merge into each other.

All the places are immaculately clean, there is no litter to be seen anywhere, am not sure what the punishment is for being a litter lout, but whatever it is, the citizens know it and obey the rules. Everywhere there is a man or a woman with a broom in hand,lokking fed up ,but sweeping the path. As you approach them, they don’t stop for you but carry on. It is up to you to go around them, while they try not to make eye contact with you.

All cars are white or beige clapped out models of locally made Chevrolets. You see the odd newer model of it in a lime green or yellow. I didn’t see any pother colour. On inquiry i was told that these cars are made in this country. Are mass produced and cheaper. No one can afford an imported car as the duty to do so is 180%. There was no explanation for the beige or white colour, may be the company went to a closing down sale and bought a job lot of the paint!

Hotels and restaurants have hordes of waiters, some of them young boys, who don’t look more than 15. May be it is compulsory for them to join some kind of training if they not in full time employment. No one can or even makes an attempt to speak English. Usually there is a man around in the vicinity, who can speak a little bit, and is in great demand. So if you want something you have to wait for him to be fetched so you can try to make him understand.

These are my first experiences of travelling in organised tours. Though there is ease and security in this type of holidays , being herded like sheep can get quite irksome.After you have been out from 8am , looking at one minaret after another, and then being made to sit through carpet/silk /tiles/musical instrument factory shop, just because the travel company gets a commission on the sale; you begin to question your decision.

Though it is rich country, well the sell gas to China, gold to Russia,oil to Japan and uranium to anyone who wants to make weapons of mass destruction, they should be rich.

Iflation though is 13%. Their local currency doesn’t have much value. You get 6,000 Sommes for a dollar, they are not keen o sterling ,they just want dollars. The we cashed $50 each and got something like 300,000 , a massive wad of cash, we were wondering if we will be able to spend this vast sum! But a cup of coffee costs 10,000. A glass of local wine is 12,000 and post cards cost 15,000 each! So no wonder you don’t see a lot of decent or eating places so there is not a great choice. Food though id delicious and healthy. They tend to serve starters of vegetables which fills you up, then soup and then meat with a few potatoes. Portions are small and served in dainty but small dishes and offer varied nutrition. The cuisine has a mixture of influences, herbs and spices from Asia , the sweetness  from Persia and the high consumption of meat from may be Russia.

Though through out our travels we have not seen vegetable farms or fields of cereals, and not much cattle and no sheep at all. Perhaps that is all imported from other countries.

catch you later.





Part Two , Heat and History

We were staying in Hotel Asia in Khieva. Which is a small place but very reminiscent  of Uzbekistan as it might have been , once upon . The hotel looked  on the massive boundary of the old Fort, and at the sun set , bathing the whole structure in a pink glow ,which turned it into a true fairy tale castle.  Walking in there in the receding evening was quite magical and eerie, as if all the souls of those who were buried there were watching us.

The outside of the Fort had sloping walls on which there were what looked like human graves. We were told that those were made to fool the invaders. As the invaders were from other nearby civilised countries like the Tajikistan, they too were Muslims and in Islam it is forbidden and a sin to step on a grave, so they went around the other way , where the guards could aim at them!

The next morning though we set off early, by 8.30 the temperature was well into the 30c. None of us have realised that it will be this hot. We have looked up and were told by the travel company and believed it to be 20-25c. Not in the 40c. Well we were here ,so we tried to make the most of it. I find the midday heat and walking around in the mid forties heat is unbearable for me, I grew up in a tropical country but we were not allowed to be outdoors after midday. As I have got older I seem to get less tolerant too.

The architecture is breath  taking, ornate and amazing,  coloured tiles mainly blue and turquoise but no pattern looks the same. There were there different types of Hareems! Different in the sense that the though the buildings were the same, but the tile patterns were all different. A living tribute to the men who did them, centuries later they are just as breath taking.

In the Hareems, there are different quarters for the wives, (at any given time there were one hundred of them), and a whole different row for the Concubines. The method of choosing Concubines is interesting too. If the king was out and about and someone took his fancy, he would just throw his handkerchief  towards her. She will be then picked up by the courtiers and whisked away to the palace. Where she will be scrubbed and washed and perfumed , ready for the king’s bed that night, and then she will be housed in the special quarters for as long as  the king fancied her. She will be retired at the age of 40. In return for the services rendered she will recieve some jewellery or some money, and if she has been “really good” she will get a house. But before she was retuned to the real world she will have to wait four months , to make sure she wasn’t pregnant. If she was then she will stay until confinement and the child will be taken away from her, and brought up by the royals, and someone with royal blood will breast feed the baby


We also went to a Mosque. This was open and without any restrictions. Hundreds of beautifully carved pillars, which have been done by local craftsmen. One was a carved out of a Birch tree, it seems a wrestler carried it on his shoulders from India. It has special carving, and is said to have the face of Buddha , though I couldn’t see it, but it is my idea of worship open to all man kind whatever their religion etc.It was an airy, bright and peaceful place, with no restrictions or dress code.

It is interesting to note that Uzbekistan has banned the Veil or the Burqua. They did it three years ago. Headscarf can not be worn by anyone in public service. The police has the authority to ask you to remove your head scarf.

When the Soviets captured and ruled this country since 1924, they ,the government owned the land, and leased it to you for 40 years and you paid rent throughout the life of the lease. That system still prevails. No one can outright own a property here you lease it, now you can lease it for 99 years. Foreigners can not have a lease.

According to our guide marriages are arranged, you can ‘buy” a wife for $1200. Otherwise it is the grooms mother who chooses the girl and then the girl and boy are allowed to see each other for ten minutes, chaperoned by one parent. And then only see each other “properly” on their wedding night. As our guide said you have to make up your mind in ten minutes if you want to spend your life with a certain person.  The women her are very beautiful. As this country has been invaded by so many different countries, it has a rich and wonderful gene pool. The features are a mixture of the Persians, the Mongolians and the Turks and the Chinese. They have very fair skin, some are blond and some have reddish hair and very nice figures. The young men too are well groomed, I didn’t see any “grundge”! Majority wear western dress and make up and have short hair. I was told that they choose beautiful women to be tourist guides and they are then whisked away by the western men to be married1

We were in Kiev for two nights and one day. Yesterday we drove 400 miles to Bukhara.I will never again moan about pot holes in our roads. Throughout the journey I think 80% of the road contained the Mothers of all pot holes. We were shaken and stirred , and I kept wondering why doesn’t this rich government who sells gas to China and Gold to Russia cant spend it on its  basic structures? There are no road markings at all and the traffic dodges the incoming cars.

Talking of Gold, we noticed that a lot of people had gold teeth. On inquiry were told that this country produces the highest amount of gold in Asia.And it is very cheap to buy. So as an investment young healthy teeth are ground down and crowned by gold as an investment! And as the guide said, we are a nation of meat eaters and chip and break our teeth, if our crown is broken it can be melted down and re used, Porcelain , he said ; is expensive and fragile. So if a a parent dies with a mouthful of gold teeth as an investment for their children. Well I leave it to your imagination!

More to come.


Heat and History

HSo, the idea came from a book, something I have read ages ago. It said things about this very ancient routs, centuries before Christ ,which was used for trade and spoke of a civilisation no longer around. I thought about it years ago and tucked it away in a corner of my brain, well the empty one!  Though at the moment all of it feels empty .

When it was suggested to me last autumn that we take this trip by a friend, I have lost touch with ,and a chance of this holiday came up I thought I will have a go

The good part of this holiday was that I was being picked up from home and brought back, inclusive of the price, by the holiday company.

Tuesday dawned, and as if it was my lucky day, the sun shone and the car arrived on time and wishing hours found myself along with two others dropped off at Heathrow.

For the time of the year the airport ,or Terminal 4 was reasonably quite, may be the rush was at other terminals. Check in was immediate and once free of luggage I was free to roam. My friend arrived and we had a lot to catch up over coffee. And before we knew we were boarding our flight.

We travelled with Uzbekistan Airways, modest and a bit run down. food was un remarkable , the hostesses barely spoke any English, but we managed with sign language and managed to get to our destination safely.

Tashkent airport will not be in competition for the best looking or the most efficient airport. One thing though did strike us as remarkable.

Business class passengers were allowed to disembark first while the hostesses stood against the passengers from economy, a bit embarrassing I thought as we have this splashed out on a business class, the fare was a lot cheaper and the economy class looked really cramp. Once on ground , there was a coach to whisk us away first to a different passport check in. So we were in a very short queue, and we out the otherwise to a self contained area with massive leather couches and a bar with water and various drinks and tea and coffee and wall units bursting with all kinds spirits and variants on Vodka!

Well I decided to pass  over the temptation, it was only eight in the morning, and we settled on one of those  deep leather couches. The temperature outside was already 26c.

It then dawned on me that confutable couches were there to ease our pain, the luggage was a very long time coming. When it did come, it wasn’t on a modern carousel, a lorry backed up and two men threw the suitcases on the long steel table ,with was no carousel. Luckily there were that many of us, the business class only had some 20 seats, and as business classes go it was very basic. Instead of there being three seats in a row in the economy, there were just two, and slightly bigger, I have travelled in more comfortable railway carriages!

We had another flight to catch, the holiday company rep; was waiting for us. One thing though , the coaches sent to pick you up never ever park at a convenient place, they are always a very long way away,I mean really long way, and you have to walk to them, dragging your luggage, while the sun beats down on you. And the Uzbeks are very found of making high steps wherever they can. You will be merrily pulling your case minding your own business, and suddenly you will hit this high kerb out of nowhere. There are a few in our group who have hip and knee problems and is very hard for them, steps everywhere are very deep and narrow and sometimes the slope downwards. They obviously like a challenge.

The internal airport is a newly built building, massive, huge hall ,spiral staircases, alcoves, tiles and paintings, but just ONE toilet! We all queued being British, and marvelled as to what might have been behind the thinking of just building one toilet, it is not that they are short of room, the one bathroom where the toilet is situated is massive, with a very large cabin built in it which houses one toilet! We thought perhaps it has shower as well it looked large enough to accommodate  two shower cubicles, but contains just one toilet.

Well we put it down to hey it a foreign country they do things differently there.

But we had some more surprises in store, there are no trolleys for the luggage anywhere, the coach drops you off at least half a mile away and then you drag your luggage, and then out of nowhere you hit this high kerb and slopes to pull your suitcase up, I silently thanked my stars that I go to the gym and do lift some weights , phew!

There are 2-3 checkouts before get to the building, your passport is checked , body scanned and luggage x-rayed, you can imagine how long the walk is to the terminal. Actually am from the  west, where things are done to make our life easy, disabled and infirm are catered for, and do things with the least of inconvenience .

And our security services keep us safe without being in our face, they do search your stuff at Heathrow,only once, not every few steps and they do it politely and in a very un threatening manner. So my gratitude and appreciation of our secret services has gone up many fold. Thank you.

We were told that the plane we will be travelling is a propeller driven one. Yes you read it right, I know it is the 21st century and all that and this country is very rich in natural gas, uranium ,gold, copper and silver, may be the money is not put into making life easier or safer for the masses, the old Soviet attitude still prevails.

The plane was shabby, small and very noisy. The seats have lost most of its oomph, they were lumpy and wouldn’t stay in the upright position.The plane was like a hammock, swaying from side to side and dipping without warning. I think all of studied the emergency  booklet many times during the flight.

We arrived at Khieva airport at 4PM , the sun was beating down and the it was 35c in the shade, and of course the coach was waiting for us miles away, they have built new airports but no one has made provision for buses/cars to get nearer the gates, they like us to walk miles with our luggage .

It was another hours journey to the hotel, we got there at around five and by now we were really and truly knackered!


It is amazing ,how some people pass through your life ,and leave a permanent  impression, something which makes you pause for a while and take stock of everything, including your own thoughts.

It is never easy to look at oneself critically.

I started a Scrabble group in my town’s library last year. It was at the time when libraries were asked to justify their existence, as the short sighted powers that be, were of the opinion that now that every one was glued to one electronic gadget or other, no one would want to borrow or read actual books.

I also joined up to teach older people the use to electronic gadgets, such as the tablet and iPads.

Apart from anything else it brought me in contact with some wonderful people, much older and wiser than me. Their memories , and their attitude to life, fascinated and educated me.

One such lady is Helen. She is 93 years old, an ex-nurse and a dab hand at Scrabble. She doesn’t watch television, but reads ferociously. Getting through three to four huge tomes a week. She lives independently, drives herself and totally self caring, even tending to her large garden herself, apart from having the grass cut.

I love listening to her, she has lived through wars, seen a massive change in the health service, brought up three children, while her husband , who was a Naval officer ,only came home once a year, or sometimes once in two years. There was no leave then ,she tells me.

She rang me the other day to tell me that she was un well and was not going to come to the Scrabble the next day.

Oh,I said. What is the matter Helen.

My dear, she replied. ” I have heart failure, kidney failure and skin cancer ; and now I have had Shingles for six months”.

Have you ring the doctor? was my query.

Well, she said. They don’t have a slot free until the 11th of the next month, so there you are.

I was obviously angry and offered to ring the doctor myself and complain on her behalf.

She was very philosophical about the whole thing. Telling me that there was not a lot the doctor can do , she was on a maximum dose of diuretics, and one has to realise, she said ; that am reaching the end of my life and these things have to be expected. No pint being angry with the doctor or the receptionist, they are just busy”.

Her attitude struck me as stoic and sensible and very moving. How many of can look in the face of ones impending death with such serenity? I know I cant.

In today’s world when we all are so aware of our rights, it gave me a pause for thought, that this lady is willing to look at reality in the eye and accept it. I feel often it is the fear what makes angry. Her attitude I thought is so wonderful and reminded me of

“God grant me the courage to change the things I can, and accept the things I cant,

And the wisdom to know the difference”.

Amen to that.



Today is the world book day. It makes me reflect on my own life.

I never had formal education.Growing up in India, my fathers job meant he never stayed in a place for more than a year or so. Getting in a school was hard. So my parents arranged private tuition for me.

That meant having tutors of varying abilities turning up everywhere we went. Some couldn’t teach, or didn’t consider me a good enough learner, some I didn’t like and didn’t want them to teach me. The result was I never had a continuity  of education.

Being an only child i was mostly left to my own devices. Most of our servants lived in quarters by our house and I will make a beeline for those, where the servants children were willing partners in climbing trees and swimming in the dodgy streams.

The only thing I did have was, my father taught me the basic “the National Reader’ the text book of basic grammar in the 1950s India. My father was educated at Cambridge ,so his knowledge of the subject was impeccable. He taught me up to the second book in that series. And my mother who was a poet and read avidly, taught me up to the second book in Urdu alphabet and very basic grammar. As soon as I could put the alphabet together I started to try and read. From ketchup bottles to billboards, my favourite pass time was trying to decipher words.

Both my parents loved books, wherever we went the first thing my mother did was to sign up to the local library. She read Urdu books and wrote Urdu poetry. The famous authors of that time, Minto and Chugtai were familiar to me. My father read anything in English.Apart from the books , we had magazines like the Colliers, The Life international, Argosy and the Lilliput! And often he will explain things from those publications to my mother and I. I remember the details of the romance between Princess Margaret and Capitan Townsend, the divorce of the King of Iran ,to his beautiful wife Suraya because she couldn’t have children, all those colourful photos in the Life magazine. I was fascinated with the words and pictures.

All my spare time was spent trying to decipher the written word. And soon as I could make sentences I will try and make sense of it. Very quickly I could read and I kept on reading , I just read all the books in Urdu, according to my mother my grammar and syntax was impeccable! And my parents were not into giving compliments.

It took me a longer to learn to read English. As no one spoke the language and I couldn’t make sense of it. I started to sit in when my father used to listen to the service. And to my fathers irritation asked so many questions!

My parents being the product of the post war India ,were snobbish and believed in keeping up appearances. They were ashamed that I have not been to school, they told stories about my being “not interested” in studying or going to school etc; , but by then I could read most things, even the racy stories in publications like the Argosy! And the racy Urdu material which my parents kept on the top of the bookshelves.

When in the 1960s I wanted to join nursing , my parents disowned me ,threw me out of the house and at 16 I was homeless, but have secured a place in the Health School for a three years degree course in Health visiting. My test paper for the admission having received the top marks!

Though my parents didn’t reconcile with me until the 1974 ,when my first child was born, I have by then finished my training, worked in the rural areas , met and married my late husband and was in England ,doing further training in a London teaching hospital!

I passed on my love of books to my children at a very early age. I remember when I bought a shiny book for my son aged three months, my neighbour cynically remarked was I trying to make him an Oxbridge Scholar !

Actually he is, wining scholarships from the age of nine, and finishing at Cambridge as a lecturer and now the Reader, at a young age.

My daughter has excelled herself too.

And I really get such a buzz, when am told my grand children are avid readers, my youngest grand daughter at the age of 4 1/2 ,has just received four stars for reading. The eldest grand daughter, has read the entire selection of her favourite author and the other one aged eight is a prolific story writer.

Of course the credit goes to their parents, am not taking the credit, but it is the love of books their parents were given, may be I can take a little credit.

So here is a toast to the written word. There is nothing like it.