Starring roles from these letters:
Bee Dave – a friend of Pat’s (I had forgotten about him!)
Judy – Nan’s dog
Joan – my best friend, Karen’s Mum
Vivian – my Step Nan’s daughter
Hayley – my niece, who was also my little bridesmaid
Blue – Smokey cat’s brother
Sheila and Patrick (the Irish couple we are renting from)
Sunday 25th February 1990
Darling Joanne / Dearest Vince,
Hello again. Never done so much writing my my life before – Dad said it’s good for my brain (cheek). By the way, all the big words come from your old dictionary. Well the weather is back to normal again, gale force winds and lots of heavy rain. The few warm days we had, all the blossom came out and looked very pretty, now nearly all gone because of rain and winds. Saw Nan today, she was very pleased to show us your letter, so hopefully you will get one from her now if she remembers?! She does not want to go to Jersey now. One day she says it is too dear, the next day it is too far away, the next day she says she can’t leave Judy, the next thing is that her friend is not going, and so on and so on. So we have given up with asking. If I turn out like Nan, please shoot me (don’t answer that Vince).
Monday 26th February 1990
I hate Mondays. What are Mondays like in Vancouver? Are they as bad as ours? At work today, had a good talk with Pat about Dave. You know, Bee Dave! She came to the Bee meeting Friday with him and not Mick. Although she won’t say outright, I think there might be something going on between them (serves Mick right!) – will let you know what happens. I could ask her, but I think she would tell me if she wanted to. We have still got gale force winds, lots of damage. Do they tell you about the gales in England on your TV news?
Tuesday 27th February 1990
Pancake Day! Do you have Pancake Day? Oh sorry, I forgot you have them everyday for breakfast, don’t you!? Hope you are not putting on too much weight now. Saw Nan again today, she was a bit depressed, but she did not know why. Joan rang me today. Wanted to know how you both are getting on, so I told her all the news that was in your letter. I think she was impressed. She’s going to tell Karen now.
Wednesday 28th February 1990
Vivian and the two girls came to the dentist today, so I took your wedding album in to show her, she thought you looked beautiful and she said the dress was exquisite. She thought Vince was very good looking and you go well together, so now she wants to see the video. She also sends her love and good wishes to you both in your new life in Canada. James is looking forward to going to her wedding in April, just to see the girls, who are both very pretty. Will take photos and send to you. Went to the pub with Pat after work, but could not talk much girl talk because Mick decided to join us. James came home tonight from work and we sat and talked for about an hour about the old days – Nan/Grandad, you/Vince, Dean – and about school. He can be very sensible at times, but he’s very good at mimicking people and he makes me laugh! I think he gets it from Vince!
Thursday 1st March 1990
Your moving day! We will be thinking of you. Posted your birthday present today, something for all of you. Do hope it gets there for the 19th because you’re birthday cards are in there as well. I wish I could have folded myself up and got in as well. Went to see Cynthia this afternoon straight from work. I took some flowers for her and she seemed pleased to see me. Of course I got lost, I ended up near Thamesmead, God knows how I got there (don’t laugh Vince). She was very pleased with the photos I took for her of our dinner at the Bull & Victoria. Hayley came in and said, “Oh it’s Joanne’s Mummy” – she gave me such a nice kiss and cuddle. Cynthia and I talked so much about you and Vince and we both had a little tear. Told her how I tried to be brave when you both left on the Thursday night and how gutted I felt when you went up the road, round the bend out of sight, and she said she felt exactly the same way. I think it’s a nice little house, she showed me all around. Tried to talk her into having my bees when we move but she did not think much of the idea! When I first went in I said, “Oh hello Smokey Cat” because of B.J. and Blue, they all look so alike. B.J. sat on my lap and it was lovely because I felt like I was holding Smokey. When I left, Cyn said, “come again soon”. It was a very nice afternoon – Cyn did tell me a better way to go home, but I got lost again and ended up in Erith!! Oh I forgot, Cyn was over the moon when Vince rang her and said she got a bit upset. I got home about 6.15, so dinner was late.
Friday 2nd March 1990
What a lovely big package the postman has delivered this morning – made me late for work. God, the letter is so long it’s like a book. Thank you so much for the photos, the one of you and Vince is so lovely, I am going to frame it. The new basement you moved into yesterday sounds very nice. Hope Vince is right and it has an open fire – we can just picture you at night with your feet up and a nice bottle of wine and Smokey purring. You will have to take some photos of the inside and outside and let me have them. I would really love to see and touch the snow – hope it snows at Christmas! The sights at night sound absolutely wonderful, you are making us all very envious. I hope you hear something soon from the jobs you have applied for, but in the meantime, I’m sure the rest is doing you good. How lovely to hear from Wendy – Dad said perhaps if we told her we missed you she would send us tickets – haha! Thank you for the visitor’s guide, I am going to read EVERYTHING in it, so when we come we will know all about it. Did not do much work at the dentist today – took your letter and kept reading bits out to the girls saying, “listen to this”!
James has met this girl and she has a horse which she comes round on and James rides it down on the field. He thinks he is real cool!! Well I am going to read your letter again now with a cup of coffee and go to bed.
Saturday 3rd March 1990
The high winds and rain have stopped, a really nice day today, warm enough for the bees to fly again. Dad working all day so went shopping on my own – that’s when I really do miss you. I don’t stay long in Dartford, I get what I have to and go straight home. Hope you have settled into your new home and enjoying it. I wonder what Smokey thinks. The wedding photos arrived today, so we are getting a lovely dark wood frame for the big photo of you and Vince sanding outside the church and putting it on the drink’s cabinet, then I can sit and look at you all night. At the moment, Dad is trying to mend my new vacuum cleaner and not having much luck – he doesn’t know what’s wrong with it and he’s swearing a bit! And because I broke his screwdriver this afternoon, and it’s the only one he can use on it, he keeps saying SHIT!! When I came home from Dartford today, I went mad with housework, it’s the sun that does it! When I shook Shake and Vac everywhere, turned the vacuum on and nothing happened, you can just imagine how I felt! Dad’s found out what’s wrong now, said it’s a long job! Hang on a mo, the phone is ringing! It was My Jo! It’s so lovely to hear your voice when you ring, you sound a bit more happy each time we speak to you. That makes us feel better too. Handing you over to Dad now:
Bloody old foreign vacuum cleaner – had to strip all of it down. Turned out to be a broken power cable inside of the cable rewind, what a pig to get at, it said in the book ‘if rewind spool is faulty, you have to send it to a special dealer’. But I sorted it out, took me two hours. Mum can vacuum all the Shake and Vac up now. For all that though, it’s a bloody good vacuum!
Sunday 4th March 1990
I feel happy on a Sunday morning after speaking to you on the Saturday. Dad working all day again. A nice sunny day today, I had to wait quite a long time before I could put any washing out, too many bees in the garden! James has gone down to the stables in Bexley, he is getting quite Horsey lately! Picked Nanny up for the day, she was in quite good form. Showed her your long letter, she took ages to read it. Can’t get her to understand about your basement, she thinks it’s a cellar. She said, “does everybody have to live in them when they first get there?” Haha. So perhaps you can explain to her a bit better next time you write to you and send her a photo of it. She has written a letter to you, so I will post it off for her. Did you cook a roast dinner today as it is the first Sunday in your new basement apartment on your own?
Monday 5th March 1990
Started to sort out those old photos today in your old room, there’re so many and I have thrown such a lot away as a lot of them are just views. I got quite excited on the way home from work as I thought I saw your car, but it wasn’t! Stupid woman behind was blowing her hooter, that made me very cross, mind you I was holding the traffic up a bit.
Tuesday 6th March 1990
Dad’s been to the doctors today to get his ears syringed, but has got to wait until Friday as he’s got to take a five-day course of antibiotics because of an infection (poor old Dad).
James: (15 years old)
17th February 1990
Dear Jo and Vince,
I hope you are getting on well with the Mounties over there in Canada. I hope Vince has started his new job. Let me tell you what’s happened to me since you left.
Friday – Set my alarm for 6 o’clock and got up at half past 7. Mum told me off. I had the normal day at school, all the aggro from the teachers etc. Came home, packed and went to Dean’s to stay for the weekend and dopey old me missed the train didn’t I? Anyway, I was only half an hour late. Met Dean at London Bridge, bought myself a large McDonald’s which Dean finished most of!
Saturday – As I was at Dean and Donna’s, I thought I’ll have a nice lay in. Unfortunately, I slept in till 12 o’clock – Damn! I missed “Going Live”. I didn’t eat the cereal Donna gave me because the night before D.J. had been playing with the box in the loo and you know what their loo is like. I had a boring day really – Dean came home from work and we watched telly. I had to walk down to the shop in the rain with Dean so he could get his fags!
Sunday – Got up at 9 o’clock because Charlie wanted to play Thundercats, what a bore! Dean got up about 11 o’clock, still half asleep. I played with D.J. most of the day until he poo’d himself.
Monday – I was home at last – back to the normal stuff, paper-rounds and school (boring!) Oh I was thinking about you all weekend. I had a boring day at school. When I got home I fell asleep and woke up after “Neighbours” – Damn, I missed it. Never mind, Mum probably recorded it. I hope you are looking after the St. Christopher I gave you.
Tuesday – Got up and went to school – how boring! Anyway, it was soon over, went round Darren’s to help him tidy the loft. Had dinner, went to bed.
Wednesday – I got up very late today and was late for school, never mind! I went up Simon Mitchell’s after dinner without Darren, it was quite boring really.
Thursday – I was up bang on time for once, what a surprise! A hard day at school, I was knackered, phew! I had home-made spag bog for tea, yum. I stayed in most of the night.
Friday – Well a whole week gone since you left. I had another boring day at school.
Well, I have to leave you now, I have to go to school. I hope to hear from you soon. Say Hi to Smokey.
Nan: (bless her)
Dear Joanne and Vince,
I hope you got out to Canada safe and sound. I have been thinking of you both. What is the weather like out there, it has been very cold today, but I got all my washing dry. Mum came up this afternoon but did not stop long. I am going down there for dinner tomorrow. I have not been very well today, I can’t get Grandad out of my mind, but time will Heal won’t it? I am going to Dartford tomorrow with my friend. I go to Bingo with my friend Irene, it gets me out for a while. Well, how are you getting on? Is Vince liking Canada, is it cold out there like it is in England? It has not been cold today, I don’t like it when the Winter comes, I like Summer best.
Well I am going to have a bath now and then go to bed. Well take care of yourself and Vince and I will write again soon.
Well God bless you and Vince and keep you safe. All my love to you both. Nan
Dear Mum and Dad,
Still missing you both so much. I keep having dreams that you’re close to me, which is a real disappointment when I wake up, but quite comforting as well as they feel very real. I got your second letter two days ago on the same day that I got James’ and also a letter from a friend, so I was in my glory that day! Deep Cove, which I mentioned in my first letter is just a quiet little village in a cove with a lovely view. It’s not far from the Woolstone’s home. We liked he idea of living there, but it’s far too expensive now. Apparently a lot of famous people live there. Nice to hear Tommy Tortoise is out and about, give him and Sam a kiss from me. Ah poor Dad, having to take over my role of Saturday shopping with Mum. I’d gladly fly over every Saturday to relieve you of it! Well, here’s what we’ve been up to.
Friday 23rd February 1990
Was a nice sunny day today. I think I mentioned on the phone that we walked the whole of the sea wall around Stanley Park, which is about five or six miles! You’re so interested in the scenery that you don’t really notice how far you’re going. Every turn has a different view, it’s wonderful. It really was a lazy, hazy day in Stanley Park. Stopped at the end for some lunch which we thoroughly deserved! We saw a man walking in the park and he had a rabbit sitting in his pocket! The rabbit looked as though he was enjoying himself. I want to take Smokey one day, but Vince thinks I’m daft. We’ll see … Had a walk round Canada Place, you remember the big building that looks like a ship with Concorde on top. Watched Dallas in the evening and got well confused, I think we are a couple of months ahead here!!
Saturday 24th February 1990
Went to aerobics with Carolynn. It’s at the same place as the pool. I really enjoyed it and managed to do everything – just about! The instructor is a fireman and he has nice legs!! Went for a walk around Capilano Mall, they have some nice clothes and shoe shops in there. Got home and you called! It was lovely, although there was a bit of an echo at my end. Got a bit tearful when I put the phone down. Went out for a meal at the Thai House Restaurant with Cheryl, Carolynn and Riyaz, who we have met before. The food was yummy and we had a nice evening – after that went to see a film about Niagara Falls at the CN Imax Cinema at Canada Place. It has a huge screen which makes you feel as though you’re inside it, it was very impressive.
Sunday 25th February 1990
Went to Granville Island with Cheryl – I could hardly walk, I was so stiff from doing aerobics the day before! It was quite warm today as well. Granville Island is a fascinating place, it has a huge fruit and vegetable market plus lots of craft shops. They had some lovely glass perfume bottles there. Had roast dinner again tonight – they now know how to cook roast potatoes. Cheryl’s boyfriend, Sean, came to dinner. He is going to play professional football and has been picked as number one choice to play for Edmonton!
Monday 26th February 1990
Today I had my hair permed! I forgot to tell you on the phone that I had booked the appointment. I went to Cheryl’s hairdresser who seems to be very good. As always, it looks a bit frizzy at first, but will soon drop. Went out to buy some proper trainers for my aerobics class, so now I’m all set. Heard today there have been very bad winds in England – Again!! I hope you haven’t had any damage.
Tuesday 27th February 1990
Went into Lonsdale to sort out our medical insurance. We can’t join the scheme here for two months, so we had to get cover until then, but it’s all sorted out now. It was quite expensive, but better to be safe than sorry. It’s a really beautiful day today, 18 degrees. Vince went down to his shirtsleeves! I undid my coat, but that’s enough for now!! There was a new moon tonight, so I made a wish on it for you both – I won’t tell you what it was ’cause that’s bad luck, but you can probably guess.
Wednesday 28th February 1990
Went to Lonsdale, met Heather and a workmate of hers, Lynn, for lunch. Went to the Quay afterwards and sat in the sun with a view of the city across the Burrard Inlet, which I love to gaze at, and we had an ice cream. The ice creams are made with fresh fruit and are very refreshing and yummy. In the evening George took Vince to see The Vancouver Canucks (Ice Hockey) – they were playing Edmonton. He really enjoyed it, I’m going to go next time. Smokey was allowed upstairs tonight and he immediately jumped into one of their armchairs, he’s getting cheekier by he minute since he got here. It must be something in the air! He found the stairs a novelty, he runs to the top and then half runs, half slides back down again – it’s so funny!
Thursday 1st March 1990
MOVING IN DAY!! Heather and George moved us and on the way we took Smokey to the Blueridge-Cove Animal Hospital for his Rabies vaccination. He was not happy and moaned all the way. The vet was brilliant, he checked him over better than the one in England did before we left! He has to go back in a couple of weeks to get his teeth cleaned as he has really inflamed gums, poor thing! Went to Save-On to get some shopping, that was fun. Went out to dinner at the Sizzler, this place you have to see. James could stuff himself silly – you get soup, steak, jacket spud or fries and the salad bar and you can go back to the salad bar as many times as you like. The salad bar is more than just salad, it has fruit salad, pasta salads, tacos and fillings, tortilla chips – and more! Anyway, it came to the equivalent of about £5.00 each.
Friday 2nd March 1990
Unpacked all our clothes – it was wonderful to hang everything up and not live out of a suitcase anymore. So nice to be on our own as well. Wendy called to see if I was okay and she took the new address and phone number. Had our first dinner in the new place, then sat in the lounge all evening reading in front of the open fire. Cor, it was lovely! I’m enclosing a few photos for you. On the other side of the kitchen, there’s a large area with a desk where I have put all our going away cards and where I write my letters. Smokey seems to like it very much here and he has a large patio garden to go out in. There’s no tree though, but hopefully our next place will have one for him. We also have a dishwasher which is a treat, but no microwave, but I guess we can do without that for now!
Saturday 3rd March 1990
Went to aerobics again, then Vince, Carolynn and I went out to breakfast to the Dutch Pannekoek House, so I have probably put back on all those calories that I’d just worked off at aerobics! Called you when we got home – the weeks go so fast that I seem to speak to you quite often which is great. Went for a walk to Lynn Valley Canyon, which is ten minutes from where we are now living. It was very pretty and has another suspension bridge, which is smaller than Capilano and has a waterfall next to it – it is so amazing to be able to go around the corner from home and see a sight like that. Got home to find that a huge basket of plants had arrived from Wendy, it’s beautiful and I can hardly lift it – it’s got a hyacinth, some miniature roses and a few different plants too, it was certainly a nice surprise.
Sunday 4th March 1990
Sheila and Patrick took us to various locations in West Vancouver. They showed us lots of secluded little beaches with lovely views and some great picnic spots. It was a very warm day and we all got slightly rosy cheeks. We had lunch in Horseshoe Bay, which is a lovely spot, where ferries come and go to local islands, including Vancouver Island – then in the late afternoon, went for a drink in a pub at Lonsdale Quay – not really a pub as we know it though! Went to the Woolstones for dinner and took them a cake and some flowers to say thanks for having us. They really seem to miss us and Heather says she can always have a laugh with us when we’re there.
Monday 5th March 1990
Went to Lonsdale about our photos – you’ll notice that some of them have a green line through them, so they are trying to get us a refund from Kodak as it must have been a faulty film. Went to Mark Norman’s office to pick up a reference that Trinifold had faxed over for me. This evening stayed in again with the fire.
Tuesday 6th March 1990
Went over to the Woolstone’s house to use their word processor and printed up some more CV’s for myself and Vince. Vince called the Union today and they are going to put him out to work – he can’t wait. I can – I’m enjoying being a lady of leisure. Took a trip to Capilano Mall to sort out our phone, we have the phone and they are coming out to connect it on Friday 16th. They even gave us a choice of telephone numbers! After our dinner, this evening, Sheila and Patrick invited us upstairs to have apple pie and ice cream. Smokey was allowed up too and he had a good old snoop around, nosy little bugger! Got your letter, and James’, and one from a friend too. Yay!
Wednesday 7th March 1990
Typed a couple of letters on Sheila’s typewriter. I applied for a couple of jobs from the paper, one for Molson Breweries and one for a fashion company. Rang North Shore Studios but unfortunately, they have no vacancies at the moment. They will keep me on file. Jayne from Trinifold called and said that Bryan Adams had called Roger Daltrey to say his manager is looking for an assistant, so Roger told him about me and he seemed quite interested. I spoke to Roger’s wife, who said she’d get somebody to call me, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I’d love to get that job and also their offices are in Gastown! Vince went to see the Union today and paid a fee to join them. They are very keen on him and don’t want to lose him, so hopefully they’ll have him working in no time. Heather came over for a short while in the evening to see how we’re getting on. Found out that all our money has been transferred from England now, so at the moment, we’re very rich!
Thursday 8th March 1990
Got up late to find it was snowing! Couldn’t believe it, and it was starting to lay. Went into Vancouver for an appointment with Hunt Temp Agency. They gave me a typing test for which I got 60 words per minute with no mistakes. They also tested me on spelling and vocabulary. The vocabulary part was quite difficult, but anyway, they’ve taken me on, so I’m just waiting for them to give me some work. Afterwards, we walked around town for a bit then came back on the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay and had dinner in another Italian Restaurant called Corsi Trattoria. We had the mixed pasta dish for two people and it was deeeeelicious!! We felt so fat afterwards though.
Friday 9th March 1990
Vince went off to meet a man from a fridge firm called Cool King. He met him for breakfast in town. He seemed very interested in Vince, but he’s non-union and it’s best if Vince keeps on the side of the Union at the moment – they pay more money too. At least this man is a possible contact for the future. The snow has stopped today, but the rain is absolutely chucking it down. Cheryl came to look at our place, she really liked it. She drove us into Capilano Mall and we had a look around and had some lunch. We might go and see a film tonight, if we feel like braving the rain, called “Red October” with Sean Connery. If we do I’ll let you know in the next letter. Oh also, I received my package today, so am waiting eagerly for my birthday to find out what’s inside!!