The Fourth Generation

There are no exceptions and therefore there are no choices. This book is about the choices people make. The limitations we set for ourselves and the solution we never search for because we feel there isn’t one. Are the rules and boundaries we set for ourselves much stronger than the rules that other people set for us? Why is our individual situation different to everybody else? We are all unique as we are the only person in the world who has that particular upbringing, education and life experience.

This is the personal story of four generations of English women between 1885 and 1985. Their lives, their loves, their heartbreak and their joy. This is the story of why they made the choices they did. It is also the story of us all, throughout the generations to the background clamour of the outside world.

My grandmother and great grandmother both died just before my wedding. Consequently they were real flesh and blood figures in my life. Hannah born in 1885, Ethereal with beautiful green eyes she stood 4’10” tall. She ran away and left her child Hester with her Victorian parents-in-law when her husband went to make America to make his fortune. Hester was born in 1905 and was Hannah’s oldest daughter. The mother of eleven children and powerful, outspoken and determined, the only characteristics she shared with her mother were her height and her green eyes. The day of her sixteen year old son’s funeral she walked home in the snow to find that a neighbour had dropped her 1 year son. He had beentaken to hospital with a fractured skull. She turned around and ran all to way back to the hospital.

Mona born in 1925 was Hester’s oldest daughter. Tall, blonde and slender she had nothing in common with her mother except her green eyes. Private, ferociously clever and bored with childcare she preferred cleaning and reading. The more complex and historical the book the better.

Carole, born in 1950, was Mona’s oldest daughter. Dark haired, green eyed, relentlessly cheerful she was determined to be helpful from childhood. She was a feminist, loyal wife, ambitious mother and conscientious employee. Living with a lifelong illness but determined that only her husband would know. She never wanted anyone to feel sorry for her she was too busy trying to answer the question. Can women have it all?


Living is a magical thing. Each day is a gift to be treasured, because it will never come around again. We have everything we need within us to live the life we want to live. Consider the most amazing of journeys, a life full of possibilities." This story is about Carole's journey and about the choices she made and the heart-searching and hilarity she experienced along the way. It is about the search for fulfilment in her heart, her soul and her mind in the mid-phase of her life. She needed to have the wisdom to make choices and then to take complete responsibility for the path that she chose, even after those decisions turned out to be less than perfect! It is about the importance of having the courage to maintain a real sense of self and ultimately have peace of mind about who we really are. We should bear in mind that we know much more than we think we do and that there is no failure only the opportunity for feedback. How do any of us make a choice? Well that's easy, we use our value system. This represents a person's sense of right or wrong, i.e. what they think they ought to be. A value system is a consistent set of beliefs and principles. Our personal values provide a reference for what is good, important and beneficial in life and it is the personal belief system by which we live our lives.

However at some point in life values need to include one's own personal wellbeing and growth. This is the story of that phase of life after children have flown the nest and it involves change and challenge. In mid-life Carole decided to go and live and work in Spain for a while and then travelled extensively around the world. Although it was lots of fun it was also filled with some difficult soul-searching.

Carole remarks, "I think I definitely lost my perfect person status along the way, but I gained some real self-esteem and definite fulfilment as a woman."

The Baby Boomer Generation had everything including freedom, music, power and enough excitement to power a fleet of rocket ships. Easy access to the professions, inexpensive housing and a voice to be heard came with the territory.

That sense of eternal sunshine that made everything glow and gleam, seemed like an everlasting reality. We did not think twice as we chased the mirage of unattainable possibility.

There was a certain kind of post war woman that was raised in the suffocating fifties fairyland and in a society that told her there was absolutely only one man in the world for her. A handsome, reliable and responsible man was going to love her forever in a beautiful cottage with roses around the door.

This woman was a teenager in the sixties who could not believe her luck at being invited to this vibrant life party: where everybody danced in miniskirts all night long to the beat of music nobody had ever heard before.

She was a young mother in the seventies who lived the vegetable growing, bread making good life and then rushed back to work because she had read about feminism and that philosophy turned the dial on her fuzzy self-image and made it clear and sharp.......

She was a loving but determined parent and conscientious employee in the eighties. She was an excellent hostess for her husband when he needed her and a part of every parent teacher association and school governing body that would have her.

Did I also mention that she was slender and glamorous with a beautiful garden and always wore perfume?

Her name was Gullible; her name was Me……

In the second decade of the new millennium it is hard to imagine a time when I did not know the rules that seems so simple now.

How was I ever so naive inside whilst presenting such an articulate and capable front to the outside world?
Foreword As human beings we spend our days communicating with our partners, friends, parents, children and colleagues. In fact we communicate and connect with everyone we come into contact with even if it is just by a smile or a raise of the eyebrows.

We know that communication means the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, moving our bodies or using some other means. However in fact there is no doubt that: “The meaning of communication is the response that you get!”

Before the advent of the written word, communication was by word of mouth. There were the stories or metaphors that kept society functioning and encouraged the population to obey the rules. The people knew where the rules came from and who had made them. The leaders, mostly in place by right of birth, decided what should happen and the church with its power and wealth continued to have an overwhelming influence on society.

Throughout the centuries people were kept in place by the family, the church, neighbours, school, folklore and fear. There is a particular white, foamy plant that grew in the fields and valleys when I was a child. It was called “mother die” and throughout centuries children never touched it because their very worst fear would come true!

The metaphor “Don’t shoot the messenger” came from times before telecommunications when a runner was sent to deliver bad news and very often got the blame. The adage that “No news was good news” served mankind for centuries.

Reading has always been and will continue to be the gateway to education. The sooner children learn to read, the quicker they have the key to that golden door than transports them into a world of knowledge and imagination.....

In years gone by if you wanted information you had to make a trip to the library. The feel and elegance of the printed page with all its useful information was read and then absorbed to be reclaimed at the appropriate moment.

Half a century ago the only way to communicate with a friend or relative who lived too far away to visit regularly, was by letter or telegram. I wrote on tissue paper thin, pale blue airmail letters to my aunts in Canada every month for many years.

Thirty years ago most adult’s information came from the newspaper, radio and television. Programmes like Panorama, World in Action and Horizon filled out the regular news bulletins. All that information had usually been sourced by a journalist, checked by an editor and perhaps been referred to a lawyer to check for accuracy.

Twenty years ago children’s information came from their teachers, parents or educational children’s television; usually all that information had been filtered for accuracy.

Society has always revered the printed page and that reverence has continued to apply even though we now have an information overload.

With the advent of the internet, social media and frighteningly fast fame, our precious children need to be taught how to install their own reasoning filter to make sense of this new world.

We all need to know how to think “on the one hand I have this information” and “on the other hand I have that information.” Then using our own faculties we can then put the two things together and make a reasoned judgment.

We all need to know that just because the printed word offers an opinion does not make it necessarily so. It has never been more important than now to teach our children to think for themselves.
Foreword The Nextus Hillside.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.Max Erhman.

There is a particular pleasant hillside that you might find yourself standing upon one distant, sunny day. You will not know how you arrived, but now that you are here you decide that you might as well have a look around.

As you shield your eyes from the glare of the sun, you will find that the view is as sharp and clear as on the most crystalline of days. Then as you breathe the soft, seductive air into your chest you definitely feel that power and influence are yours.

As you gaze at the view that is your life so far you will realise that not only do you still have all the attributes of youth but also the polish and gleam of experience and wisdom.

Your years on that hill of power are many and varied and they are called your middle age.

You may have been led to believe that middle age is somewhere in your forties, if a life span is now eighty plus years. However it is not then you will feel it, especially if you have had your family later on in your life.

Today’s drift into middle age that seems to start as you glance nervously towards your fifties and does not seem to be such a bad place; in fact you may think “I will just stay here forever.”

Interestingly though the next even more sloping, verdant hillside that beckons you unknowingly from middle age to an older phase of your life is also both seductive and strewn with bursts of energy and enthusiasm. However it is true that you will have to watch your step occasionally......

At the bottom of this hill is a small, tinkling stream that you can hop back and forth across as you wish, whenever you should feel the need.

You will have the luxury of thinking “Today I am witty and youthful and I will skip and charm all about me but tomorrow I will have the luxury of being creaky, cranky and bored and I may even try being older on for size”

This green and pleasant hillside that is now called the later middle age flatters to deceive. It will allow you back and forth across the stream onto the hillside of being older………until the day that it does not.

You will find that the stream has suddenly become a raging torrent that you could not get back across even if you possessed the most powerful vessel.

You will begin to know this feeling one day when someone invites you to do something interesting like the theatre or shopping and you will happily dress in elegant garments and brush your hair into an ageless style.

Then you will look into the mirror and there is something about the look in your eyes that tells you there is no way back over the middle aged stream.

You are definitely on the other side. You are not old but there is something about your expression that has arrived silently in the middle of the night whilst you were sleeping and changed the look on your face.

We really need a definition for the next part of life and I am just going to put it out there……. we are part of an unnamed older generation that has only just arrived. Those of us in are sixties and seventies and over still want to be vibrant, interesting and interested in the most precious of all gifts….life.