Friday, 12 September 2008


From the moment Babs was born, Nurse Jones the District Nurse was a regular visitor to our house. She was Irish, very friendly, and I liked her a lot. She used to sit and chat to Mummy while I made us all a cup of tea. On one occasion, I made a pot of tea and offered the nurse a slice of home-made cake that I had baked that very morning. She ate it with relish and had a second slice believing, naturally, that Mum had baked it. Mummy told her that it was all my own doing and Nurse Jones was amazed. She couldn't believe that at fourteen years of age I could make such delicious cakes. It was nothing out of the ordinary as far as I was concerned: I'd been cooking for some time.

Nurse Jones asked if I would like to come and work for her as a cook. She was a busy career-person and didn't ever have the time to cook proper meals for herself, let alone bake cakes. She enthused over how lovely it would be to return from work to home-cooking each day. I was really chuffed to think that, at fourteen, my cooking was good enough for the District Nurse, but I graciously declined her offer. I hoped to aspire to greater things!

It was time to think about getting Babs christened. Since the rest of us children had been bought up in the Catholic faith, Babs was to be no different.
Mum had to find two Godmothers and one Godfather for her, in accordance with Roman Catholic practice. I can’t remember who the Godmothers were, but Mike the American Sailor (who happened to be a Catholic) was chosen as her Godfather. I cannot conceive why Mum and Dad chose him, as he was due to go back to the States very soon. Perhaps they thought and hoped that he would keep in touch, which would have been beneficial to Babs in later life (another mad idea?), but Mike it was.
In the summer of 1946, before he went home, Mike asked Ruby to follow him to the States so that they could be married. Ruby of course got very excited about this. Unfortunately she was never able to obtain a visa and, though she tried very hard, Mike duly departed from Ruby and Babs’s life forever.


Probably the first time you have seen your Godfather Babs!

Mum never had a job outside the home from the day she married Dad, with the exception of one brief period during the late 1950s, when she did a short spell of temporary office-work. Since she was either pregnant and/or nursing small children most of her life, she really never had the chance. In any case, Dad was one of the old school who thought that it was the man’s responsibility to provide for his family, even if, as in his case, it was difficult to do so. However, there was just one occasion that Mum caused quite a stir by going to work. Dad got a contract to paint and decorate the frontage of a butcher’s shop situated in our local high street at Harringay. He needed a labourer to assist him, the money wasn’t really enough to split with someone else. Mum suggested that she go with him; that way they could keep all the money. Dad laughed and said’ Why not?’. He thought it would be a fun-thing to do, so he fixed Mummy up with white bib and brace, and a paint kettle, and off they went.
There wasn’t even the faintest whisper of equal opportunities in those days; so one can imagine how much it stimulated the interest of passing shoppers. Mummy shinned up and down the ladder and negotiated the scaffolding like an old hand at the game, much to the amusements of the butchers in the shop, and the passing trade below. All her life Mum thrived on attention, and she certainly received enough on that occasion. It was an experience never to be forgotten and she was, rightly so, rather proud of herself.

Have been asked what our lovely Mum looked like. Here are a few photos for those interested:


Croom said...

I don’t think it could have been real love between Auntie Ruby and Mike do you, if so he would have kept in touch and done everything within his power to have her join him.

How wonderful for Mum that you were such a help to her Leeta, she certainty needed it with six children to care for, home made cake, wow.

How strange Babs about your Godfather I wonder if he is still alive.

I can just see Mum enjoying the attention more than the work! And as long as it was from afar I bet Dad was proud of it too. How beautiful Mum was, I am not surprised of the admirers are you?
Enjoyed this blog immensely again Leeta.

Thank you

GoldAnne said...

I enjoy your blog so much Leeta,
have you a pic of your mother, she sounded such a sweet person.
Wow your cake mmmmm bet you still are a wnderful cook!!!!
love Anne xxx

Babs (Beetle) said...

That's very exciting! I didn't know I had an American Godfather, let alone see a photo of him! It's a shame he didn't keep in touch. I would like to have had contact with him :O)

Mum certainly wasn't your 'typical' woman was she? Not many would have done that. Mind you, she didn't have 'typical' daughters either!

granny grimble said...


There wasn't much Mike could do about it I'm afraid.
You do realize that Babs's Godfather is the same Mike of the Chocolate fudge! So Glad you are enjoying my blogs. Please read the book though!


I don't do a lot of the cooking I love, as there's only the two of us and I am diabetic and always slimmiung! All the best things are immoral, illegal or make you fat!
You asked to see pictures of my lovely Mum, so have added a few photos to my blog for you. Hope you like her.


All these years I had Mike's picture and knew that he was your Godfather, and you weren't aware of it. I am so sorry I thought you knew!

Babs (Beetle) said...

Ha ha! Don't worry, I'm probably more interested now than I would have been before :O)

weechuff said...

What an interesting blog again Leeta. I never knew about Mike either. Do I gather from your comment that Tina hasn't read your book yet, after all this time? I read it from cover to cover as soon as I got it, but because it was a long time ago now, everything I am reading is like I am hearing it for the first time:0)

granny grimble said...


No Tina hasn't read it yet. She hasn't even got it, she lent it to Leeta and never got it back. I don't think Babs has read it either! It's a shame because once I shuffle off, I won't be able to answer any questions. It's ten years since I wrote it, so plenty of time for it to have been read by now.

GoldAnne said...

Gosh Leeta , your mother was truly stunning, you obviously take after her!!!
Just love their fancydress!!!
Thankyou so much for posting, its great to picture the peeps you are reading about
love anne xxx

GoldAnne said...

im sorry didnt realise you were diabetic!!!

granny grimble said...


Thank you for your lovely comments about Mummy, We all thought she was truly beautiful and Daddy loved her to bits. She was so feminine and loved frills and lace and make-up and perfume. When she was young she wore very high heeled size 3 shoes! I wrote several essays about her after she died, and we all still miss her tremendously.
It's a bind being diabetic because all the things I so like to eat are forbidden!

Croom said...

I did start your book Leeta, but you have to remember I ran seven Beauty Salons single handed and also had about 28 staff to look after, can you imagine working out all their wages (they were on commission) as well as bringing up three children. It was no mean fete and left me little time to myself. I thought once I retired to Spain I would have time but I think I am just as busy in a different way here!