Posted by: Valerie | April 23, 2010

Heading for the Big City!

Time passes – spring has sprung a little more fully in the week or so since I last wrote. The daffodils are in full bloom around the foot of the ancient apple tree which is promising to burst into blossom any day now in spite of being completely rotten inside. I have hung out the wash for the third time this year, something that gives me great pleasure – a bit like kneading bread. It feels so wholesome. All in all, a pleasantly undramatic week.

Next week will be different though. On Monday we go to Toronto for Joe to undergo a procedure to insert a stent into his heart. We wanted to get it done in Ottawa so that I wouldn’t be at a loose end while Joe was in the hospital but no, it had to be Toronto General. We will go to Oshawa where we will get a ride to the city from Joe’s son-in-law. I decided that I’d do better without the car in a city I don’t know very well. But this means I will have to learn to navigate the public transportation system.

I couldn't get lost here, could I? Could I?

Stupidly, this is worrying me – me, who used to fly around London at the age of 21, leaping on and off the Tube without a thought. However, as my senior son pointed out, many people, a great deal less intelligent than I, do it all the time so it can’t be that hard! I will report whatever adventures may ensue in a later posting. Hopefully I will be able to find my way to Joe’s son, Stephen’s home, where I shall lay my head.

I think Joe is a bit nervous about the stent process and I was somewhat surprised to learn that they will keep him for two nights. We come home on Wednesday. Could be they want to keep a closer eye on him because of his diabetes? Did you know that you have to sign a waiver before these things? You have to sign to say that if you die, it’s your own silly fault!

So while my poor sweetie is being interfered with, what shall I do? Shopping is not that attractive and just means lugging any purchases around with me wherever I go. No, I think I shall hit the Art Gallery or the Royal Ontario Museum. Comfortable shoes will be top of my list of things to take. Can’t even spend too much money doing that! Will it be awful of me to have fun while Joe is having things poked up into his heart? Well, it wouldn’t help to be miserable.

Thinking back 45 – 50 years or so, I was either foolishly rash or terribly innocent in those days. Right out of school, I literally crossed the street from Dundee High School to the offices of the Scottish mega-publisher D. C. Thomson and Co.

Possibly D.C. Thomson's most famous publication - not the one I worked on.

It was then, possibly still is, a rabidly anti-union shop with a very Presbyterian and paternalistic attitude. However they did have the reputation nationally of providing excellent journalism training. In fact they preferred to get their raw meat fresh from school before we could be tainted by fancy university thinking (meaning politics, I suspect). This was 1960 and I was only the second female sub-editor they had ever employed. I stuck it for four years and indeed I did get trained but I had a run-in with the bosses (another story) and decided to move on. After a few months living in Germany, I came home and took another job waiting tables in a restaurant  (gave me a new appreciation  of hard work, I can tell you!) and when I had amassed the amazing sum of £63, I said goodbye to the family and jumped on the train to London. The beginning of the great Adventure!

I knew someone who knew of a room I could get in Ealing Broadway and I found myself the tenant of a dingy little room with a curtain across one corner which hid the gas ring that was my only means of cooking. I was allowed to have a bath twice a week in the one and only bathroom and you had to put shillings in the meter to get hot water. I was down to $3 when I finally got a job on a magazine.

The rest is for another time.

In the meantime I hope you enjoyed St. George’s Day and raised a glass to William Shakespeare – bless him!


  1. Good luck to Joe, Val. Your tube comment reminded me of when I was 16 and visiting my uncle in Paris. I would ride the Metro and bus system all over the place. They were mildly annoyed that I knew Paris better than my family who grew up there. Have fun hoofing her in Hogtown!

    • Thanks, Jean. I know it’s not a serious procedure but we’ll both be glad when it’s over. Besides, there’s a lot of heavy yard work waiting and I need a fit man to do the heavy lifting!

  2. Good luck to Joe from me too, Val. I love reading your adventures.

    Joe’s son will likely make sure you get around…..surely?

    If not, call Glenn. He is in Mississauga
    at Technical Transportation

  3. I hope that all goes well–best wishes to Joe. Toronto is full of ex-Middlesbrough girls from my high school–so don’t be surprised if you hear a northern accent. !!

    • If I do, I will jump on them and demand to know if they know you!

  4. How did Joe’s procedure go? Mum has had that done – successfully. Hope all is well and you coped in Toronto. I use to go into Toronto from Mississauga so if a country bumpkin from down under can do it… :o)

    Was enjoying the story about your early life, then you stopped… More please.

    Love to you both. Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      Yes, all went well and we’re back home. Joe has a few restrictions for a couple of weeks, such as no heavy lifting , no driving etc. and then all will be back to normal. I will make a fuss of him for a few days because he likes being made a fuss of! Travelling around Toronto was really easy. Liz came with me on Tuesday and Stephen and Nancy showed up in the evening so it was quite a social event.
      I’ll be blogging again very soon. I will also have to work hard to catch up with missed days – not sure if you know that I work from home – and then we are off to Alberta in the middle of May for a month. I have my sister, brother and daughter there so we will base ourselves at my sister’s place, borrow a car and go whizzing up into the Rockies and lots of our places. It’s been a long winter and we are ready to have some fun.

      • that’s good news. Glad Toronto was kind to you. Alberta sounds nice, I always thought it would be cool to meet you there.
        Take care

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