Manx Independent letters, June 27, 2013

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When we’d never tasted a banana

We survived being born to mothers who smoked and drank while carrying us, who ate hot toast oozing with butter, sucked coal to satisfy a craving, who tenderly wrapped us in hand knitted shawls and put us down to sleep in lead painted cots.

We survived the yearly epidemics of diphtheria, TB, measles, mumps and chicken pox.

Survived playing marbles in the gutters, survived drinking from cold clear streams, falling out of trees, playing conkers, survived being hit with home made arrows (privet is very pliable).

Survived riding cross bars on our brothers bikes, survived living in asbestos-lined prefabs. Survived going out to work at 14 years of age. Felt proud to have an indentured five years apprenticeship. Survived being caned by head teachers. Survived coming bottom of the class, somebody had to.

Survived scratching the frost from the inside of bedroom windows. Survived smacked bottoms, survived the bogeyman who threatened in the middle of the night.

Accepted as the norm to be able to read and print and spell, and recite our tables aged eight years of age.

We survived hours of sitting on wooden benches to see a doctor or dentist at the island’s only hospital, it was free. Thank you Henry Noble.

Competed to win a solitary boiled sweet for the one who picked the most blackberries. Winner takes all. Picked and packed bunches of primroses in moss to send to the Liverpool Children’s Hospitals. Shared a bath, once a week, Lifebuoy soap and hot water cost money.

We survived sulphur and treacle every spring to clean our blood. Vinegar bandages for headaches, comfrey bandages for a sprained ankle, Butter rubs and a cuddle for bruised foreheads. Doctors cost money, and there was no A&E.

We survived working a five-and-a-half day week at aged 14 years. Survived without TV, credit cards, HP, bank accounts, telephones, iPods, computers, tweets, Facebook, chocolate, cars.

Survived as one of 36 class mates, survived one teacher taught all. (Funny I cannot remember anyone being unable to read and write, perhaps dyslexia had not been invented).

She taught us everything, from joined up writing, to history, geography, poetry, mathematics, the classics, English, singing and hockey and netball…above all she taught us respect and that breaking rules cost us a punishment, one that hurt physically or mentally.

We survived, just as we survived having rationing, and never tasting a banana in our young lives.

We survived with no fathers or elder brothers to maintain the household.

We survived and accepted what would now be deemed child cruelty. We had to survive to wait our turn to go and fight for everyone’s rights to enjoy freedom of thought, word and deed.

Begrudge the hardships? Feel bitter? Envy the young of today? No, no, no.

We had a childhood, we took risks, we played together for hours with friends we still have, or remember every day… We fulfilled our parents’ expectations which gave us family pride.

We lived in the same area which gave us all a sense of belonging that no one can take away, nor can they intrude upon. We were not rolling stones so we gathered our moss, which is our comfort at this time of the Liverpool Pathway.

S. Stembridge, Douglas

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Opposing £1 charge at the airport

I write to strongly oppose the proposed imposition of a £1 first hour charge at the airport. A recent experience has prompted me to register my objection.

Having driven from Ramsey on June 13 to pick up my sister in law off the 7.45pm Gloucester flight, I arrived at the pick up area just after 7.35pm.

I got out, leaving an adult passenger in my car, which was the only vehicle present.

I quickly checked the flight and walked back out and was asked by the police officer on security whether I was the owner of the car.

I replied in the affirmative and told him I was waiting for the Gloucester flight by then less than seven minutes away.

Rather unhelpfully and still with no other vehicle present he told me to go and park in the airport car park.

On doing this, by the time we had walked back across the road we saw my sister in law outside waiting for us.

All of us are pensioners and I was rather unhappy as I had tried to time my arrival from Ramsey to coincide with the flight arrival.

I then asked the police officer was there some restriction on parking in the pickup zone on this occasion and was told that I had come too early.

This was obviously the end of the matter and we walked back to the car park rather annoyed at our treatment especially as we only saw one other car arrive at that time of the evening.

On now finding out that a charge is to be made, this seven minutes would have cost me £1 and with the other proposed changes this will be the thin end of the wedge, I was not going to report our rather off hand treatment but on hearing of these new proposals my experience becomes somewhat relevant.

I fully appreciate that the’drop off/pickup’ zone notice is quite clear, but on many previous occasions discretion has obviously been used.

I had none afforded me and if this change is made I predict troubles ahead and in time airport throughput will further deteriorate.

Roger Thomas, Barrule Park, Ramsey.

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We should support Millie’s bid

I am writing to support Millie Bello who wants to raise money to improve the facilities the hospital can offer to breast care patients, as reported in the Isle of Man Examiner (June 24 - Funding sought for better breast care).

She is making a heartfelt appeal in her capacity as dedicated breast surgeon at the hospital.

As an island and a community we should do our best to help her achieve her dream of an independent breast cancer clinic.

Breast cancer seems to hit so many families. I myself have had it and I also lost my daughter in law at the age of 38 to the disease. She left a son and daughter.

Breast cancer is a woman’s worst nightmare and requires private one-to-one support in a supportive, dedicated and comfortable clinic, not having to go from one department to another .

Having staff you know makes all the difference. Being able to sit and talk about your concerns in quiet, relaxed conditions is so important. And the perfect place to discuss things such as treatment, and being able to reflect and relax before having to face family, friends and the treatment.

I agree with Millie in her campaign to get a dedicated breast unit.

She says that she hopes the public will join in raising funds. I have to agree with her and hope we can stick together and help Millie achieve her dream. According to the story in the Examiner she will be at a presentation tonight (Thursday) at Douglas Golf Club, at 8pm.

Hats off to her, she is an angel.

Patricia Foulkes, Douglas

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