It’s been a funny old day today. Mostly I have just been going about the business of being me. I have created a schedule for my brand new team at the Bowls Club, been food shopping, washed clothes and walked around the lakes. All quite normal for a September Sunday. This September Sunday, however, has had me mentally wandering back over the years more than once.

On this day, forty two years ago, I gave birth to my youngest son. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was downright hard. He weighed in at 11lbs 4oz and dumbfounded the entire operating room, especially as I am actually quite tiny. Ouch! But, despite a tricky start, my boy has given me great pleasure and watching him grow over the years has been a delight. He is now a successful business man with a wonderful wife and two lovely children. No wonder then, that today I have been sifting through the memories.

In reflective mood, I finally sat down to watch The X Factor. The first act I saw was a lovely young girl who attended my school for several years as a child. Right back as far as I can remember, she was probably about 6, she always insisted that she was going to be a famous singer. She had no inhibitions whatsoever and would gladly sing in front of the whole school. She had a huge voice and she knew how to use it. And here she was. Grown up. Singing on the television. I recognised her straight away. Incredible. Needless to say, she got through to the next round.

Part way through the show, the ads came on. The first was a John Lewis commercial which has spectacular special effects and is an almighty production. The advertisement depicts a class full of children singing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, which just happens to be one of my all-time favourite songs. The whole thing is amazing and very long. One of the children turns out to be the young son of one of my favourite ex pupils at my school. Surreal…..

I have had a crazy life, with way more downs than ups, but boy, I have been busy, and I have never stopped creating, be it stories, pictures, a family, a school, hundreds of talented children or even a Bowls team. Life may not be as I hoped it would be, but I will always be proud to have had the urge to create and create I have.

To mentally return to my life in Harrow is difficult and honestly, I am not sure how much I can share with you. I would love to be able to tell you that everything turned out wonderfully, just as it does in story books but I would be lying. It did not. I was so lucky, I had my own flat, a job and slowly, slowly my health problems were being dealt with, but somehow I lost my way all together and on several occasions, almost lost the will to live. I found the transition from a reclusive Island life to that of multi-cultural Harrow very difficult to deal with and stupid as it may sound, apart from going to work, I shut myself away in my flat. Other than at work, I did not talk to a soul. My flat was lovely, but dark and there was only myself and one or two others who spoke English in my block. I became terrified of walking the corridors, could not bear using the communal laundry and food shopping was a nightmare. I no longer saw France and her friends, my fault not theirs, it all seemed too painful somehow. They were all comfortably off and retired and I was poorly paid, had no prospects and no hope. Looking back, I think I was mourning the fairly affluent, middle class life that I had been born in to and the lovely home and garden that I had owned before selling everything and moving to Greece. I could not adjust to life in a first floor flat and longed for the outdoors, the sea and glorious open spaces that I remembered in my dreams. To add to my unrest, my eyesight was degenerating quickly and it became more and more difficult for me to manage by myself. I could not voice my difficulties and told no-one how bad my sight was becoming, fear and denial took hold. I could no longer paint at all and throughout my entire time in Harrow only managed to complete two paintings, one of which was so bad that it had to be overpainted when once I had had my first eye operation.

I choose to tell you the above not for sympathy, I do not expect or want that. I tell you in order that others who may suffer from an almost all consuming depression, may know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and life can and will become fulfilling once more. The human body is amazingly resilient, the mind too and both can cope with far more than we believe. For, as you see, I am here. I am living a full and active life, not the one I had hoped for, but pleasant nonetheless. I have the sea on my doorstep and beautiful countryside surrounds me. I have friends, I play bowls (I love to win if I can) and I can paint whenever I want. The icing on the cake, of course, is that I can see…..

Now let us leave Harrow behind, for now at least, and move forward to happier times and a positive outlook!

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