This month the WMWP ladies are writing about themselves. We thought it would be good for our readers and followers to see what makes us tick and where we come from. We hope you enjoy what we have to say and if you do why not add a comment at the bottom of the blog posts and tell us all about your life?
Elaine, talking about herself!
I’m a Christmas baby, born in 1953 only twenty minute before Christmas Day. It kind of made me feel as though I’ve always just missed out on things. I missed out on having birthday parties on the proper day as everyone was too busy preparing for the main event. I never had a birthday cake as a child as back then they were made just like Christmas cakes and no one wants two of those half eaten and still in the pantry come January. I did once have an ice cream cake but it wasn’t a great success as we only had a fridge and it was a pile of slop come the party – three days before the actual event. However, I do have wonderful memories of time spent alone with my dad on my birthday when we took the train from Slade Green to Woolwich to buy nuts and fruit in the market. I recall pointing out to Dad that a ‘funny man was falling between the stationary train and the platform’ – a drunk! To this day I make sure that I ‘mind the gap!’ I can also remember when we popped into the Railway Hotel on the way home and I announced to all and sundry that it was my birthday and I was five. Try explaining to Mum why I had a pocketful of shiny sixpences when we were supposed to have come straight home!
I had an average education at an average secondary modern school in the sixties. Again, just missing out for a place at Grammar school due to only being seven places available. I was number eleven of fourteen. It was explained, to my extremely annoyed mum, that I would get a chance to take the thirteen plus exam – they cancelled it when I was twelve. However, I was a quiet child (yes, really!) but I was a rebel. Not for me the job of nurse or secretary at the Woolwich Equitable which seemed to be the only advice the careers officer ever doled out, even to those in the top stream.
I decided not to stay at school for ‘A’ levels but sent myself off to Erith College of Technology to study accountancy and ‘business machines’ working as a Saturday girl at Woolworths in Dartford so as not to be a burden to my parents. It was also handy research for my novels even if I didn’t know it at the time! I had excellent grades from 5th year exams and secured a college place with ease. I now have many qualifications in business studies as well as accounting machines that can only be seen in museums these days. I am a proficient Comptometer operator with a diploma from Sumlock that states I can put the word ‘comp’ after my name and that I passed at 98%. Never heard of them? Google the word and see how knowledgeable the operators had to be in Maths. The training and work experience soon had me heading accounts departments and gradually moving on to office management. ‘Back then’ managers had to be able to do every task they set their staff and I pride myself in knowing, even today, how to undertake all accounts procedures manually.
I was born in Erith, brought up in Slade Green and moved to Erith when I married at the age of eighteen and we purchased our first home. We moved to Swanley 22 years ago when we built our own house. Looking into my ancestry I find I am typical of many generations of my family who never moved from Kent. My dream has always been to live in Cornwall. We almost bought a building plot in St Keverne on the Lizard Peninsular but changed our minds when my dad fell ill. Instead we built a house in Swanley – one of the biggest mistakes of our life. I’ve written about why we chose not to have children which was something we decided upon quite early on.
Throughout our married life we’ve owned Old English Sheepdogs. Not just owned them but bred, exhibited, judged and also sat on canine committees often campaigning for the pedigree world. Dogs have always come first in our lives. At the moment we just have the one dog, Henry, a rather lovely chocolate brown Polish Lowland Sheepdog that we imported from France. We still exhibit and Henry is doing very well (Seen here being handled by our friend, Rachel). My activities in the dog world led me to start writing articles for year books and gave me the impetus to submit articles alongside fiction. Dog books followed as well as columns and broadcasting work.
If I could go back and chat to that shy sixteen year old girl I’d tell her not to worry about the pressure of exams as we make our own path in life and education isn’t everything. I’d tell her to be proud of the certificate she was awarded at speech night for creative writing and not hide it away afraid of taunts from fellow students. I’d tell her to make her mum go to see a doctor – don’t we all wish we could go back and do that? Most of all I’d tell her that she will meet and make the most marvellous friends through the world of dogs as well as in her writing life.