Helen's darling girls ~ Lizzie and Charlie

Helen, our youngest sibling, aged about five

Helen's memories of a village school

 I thought Alison had been brought up in Pensford, a village near Bristol, but I was wrong ~ however our sister Helen's memories of her years there are so delightful that with her permission I copy them for you here. 

I was at Pensford for two years from Sept 1955 to October 1957 - I left to go to St John's on Blackboy Hill when they opened Chew Valley and Mum moved to her job there (and we moved to Whatley Road).  I am 65 now, so I probably was leaving Pensford just when Alison was arriving.  But if she went to Chew Valley School at 11 she would remember Mum, for sure.  Mum didn't' stop teaching until about 1970.  I was only ever in the infants class at Pensford, with an amazing elderly teacher called Mrs Batten who taught us all to read (mum always said that Mrs Batten had taught Acker Bilk to read too - he grew up in Pensford).  I remember going for nature walks under the viaduct (I've been there quite a few times for walks in the past few years too); and going up into one of the fields to help with the harvest one summer - real old-fashioned corn stooks, and the rabbits racing out from the middle of the field as the last bits were cut.  Cheap child labour - or very good practical science: both, probably.  The village looks just the same as it used to.  The Wells buses still stop outside the school.   The school yard looks exactly as it used to do.  The Hovis sign on the baker's shop as you come down the hill into the village has long gone, however.  Send my regards to Alison.  Happy memories of that little school.
 
 Saturday 23rd: I do wish I could remember who it was told me she was brought up in Pensford, but not to worry ~ Helen's memories are well worth recording here.
The weather has been so glorious these past few days my cords were getting uncomfortable and I've switched to jeans which feel like summer.  On Thursday, her 90th birthday,  I watched the program about HRH the Queen ~ I'm not really a roalist but have to admit it was quite heart-warming with old film from her life as a mother ~ it could almost have been photos of an ordinary family ~ yours or mine ~ obviously the clips had been carefully selected  with this in mind, but considering her role in life, I think she did her best to give the children normal childhoods.
 
I'd got a pot of sour cream in the fridge so made a batch of scones yesterday ~ I must do this more often ~ so easy and so good.   Gave a couple to Beverley who was on next-door's yard making her wacky witched ~ she is going to be an interesting resident when she moves in at the end of May ~ interesting and colourful.   She was telling me about her mother who has that dreadfully painful condition ~ fibromyalgia ~ I had it once.
 
As Beverley was telling me it suddenly occurred to me that this is what I am suffering from myself.   Years ago, 17, 18 ~ I can't remember ~ I was riddled with pain ~ following blood tests, the doctor told me it was FIBROMYALGIA for which there is no cure and the only thing he could prescribe was steroids, steroids for life !!   No thankyou !   I wrote to our wonderful homeopathic healer back in Winchester, John Chapman, who sent me by return a bottle of MSM ~ can't remember what the letters stand for apart for the S which is for sulphur # apparently there is sulphur in every cell of the body and MSM will search out the problem areas and take action.   It comes in powder form, powdered crystals ~ it is scraped from the ocean floor, way out of any danger of pollution.  Right ~ the first day I was to take a pinch of the stuff in a glass of water, the second day half a teaspoonful, and from then on a full teaspoonful in water every day.   Now you may find this hard to believe, but within hours of taking that first dose THE PAIN DISAPPEARED ~ pain that had been almost overwhelming for months.   Amazing !   Of course, I let John Chapman know, and the doctor : "Why can't you prescribe this stuff ?"   but it was not on the list of accredited medicine.   It actually cost about £20 per month, but no matter how hard up I was, I jolly well made certain I could aford it, the miracle-working MSM.
 
At the time I was swimming three times a week at the Old Folks sessions, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.   Several of us Old Fogies were crippled with this or that ~ arthritis, old age ~ whatever ~ I began to encourage everyone who was in trouble to try MSM and many of them did so, with equally amazing results ~ they would appear without a stick or zimmer frame, they were doing backstroke, old men who had not been able to lift an arm shoulder high ~ we were not such a band of old crocks after all   Apart from one fellow, I forget his name, with a frozen shoulder who could scarcely swim without rolling over to the left, the problem side.   I kept on at him to try the stuff but he poo-poo-ed me, saying he had seen god-knows how many specialists and there seemed to be nothing could be done about it.   Eventually I guess I drove him mad with my bullying ~ I think I finally won him over at the Monday morning session, right  ~ and lo-and-behold come Wednesday when I arrived at the pool side, there he is waving his left arm at me, the frozen one !!
 
For myself, although this was all so long ago, I have never failed to take a dose of MSM daily for fear of getting the problem back   That is, until a couple of months ago when I had run out of it and for some stupid reason failed to get more.   Yesterday with Beverley telling me about her poor Mother's sufferings, it suddenly struck me : this is what is the matter with me !!   Having failed to take it for a couple of months I have gradually become almost crippled by pain which I have been putting down to old age.   Following the episode in the yard when I found myself lurching about like a drunk they sent me to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough for a brain scan (I told you about that) in case I was developing Parrkinson's as so many of my symptoms were similar to my Georgie's ~ but NO !   Is it the bloody FIBROMYALGIA which has resurfaced because I couldn't be bothered to keep going with the MSM ?   I'm very much afraid so.   And according to Beverley there is still no cure for the condition other than steroids.   
 
You'll be thinking I've become a hypochondriac (sp ?) but I am suddenly aware of how familiar this pain is, remembering that attack so many years ago.   SHIT !     How stupid of me to simply stop taking the MSM ~ I tell you one thing, I'm now taking it faithfully, and not once but TWICE daily !   Let's hope the magic still works, though so far there seems to be only slight improvement ~ nothing compared to the first time round.   The first serious pain was oddly in the palm of my hand ~ not a spot where you might expect rheumatism or arthritis ~ and then it gradually spread to toes, neck, shoulders, shins, elbows, just about everywhere.   Right ~ time for my second dose of MSM today.   What with this, and being practically blind until I get the left cataract seen to on Tuesday I am a wreck !   Just hoping the Junior Doctors' strike will not mean my appointment is cancelled.   Richard from the Physio Dept brought me TWO sticks but so far I've ventured no further than the bottom of the yard with them.  I haven't even been able to go over to my garden without the wooden stick for ages ~ hope the end is not nigh when I still have so much I hope to do !.   
 
Sorry to moan on so but really the MSM story seems worth passing on ~ now I'll shut up about the inevitable problems of old age. Oh, here we are ~ and by the way
MSM stands for METHYL-SULFONYL-METHANE

And here she is again ~ such a poppet and loved by all !

Our little sister Helen with Charlie

Scraped from the ocean floor ~ miracle pain killer