17 random things you didn’t know about me, Part Two

Written by: Penny Cooke | Posted on:

I’m pretty much an open book – not so much “unfiltered” as sometimes I can’t be bothered to filter. If something in my life has relevance to what I’m reading / being told / whatever, I’ll chime in. Once again, I’d like to give a shout out to Joanne Munro of VA Handbookers, whose blog “20 random things you didn’t know about me” sparked this one in me!

Picking up where we left off…

9. I love dogs

Okay, you probably already know this one.

I love dogs. All breeds, sizes (although not so much the small, yappy ones, and not overly fond of Patterdale terriers, because one scratched and bit Bella). As some of you who’ve seen my posts on LinkedIn or Facebook, I adopted a rescue dog last October. She’s been a blessing and a curse, but I wouldn’t – couldn't – part with her. She breaks my heart. She makes me cry. She makes me cry with laughter, too.

10. Favourite place

Hands down this is a cottage on the shores of Loch Sunart in Scotland. I’ve been back there about seven times now, and really looking forward to introducing Bella the Lurcher to it.

I have absolutely no Scottish blood in me, so no idea why I keep going back other than Scotland refreshes, recharges and renews me [[sigh]].

11. I’m “uneducated”

I didn’t try hard enough at school. It bored me, although I love learning. I was often AWOL but learned to forge my mother’s handwriting for the absence notes. That worked until she fell off a stool in the kitchen and broke her right wrist. I once phoned the school pretending to be my mum, “Penny won’t be in school today…”. We didn’t have a phone at home so they couldn’t ring back to verify it. We didn’t get a phone until 1976.

So. School. I got seven GCEs (as they were then “O(rdinary) Levels / General Certificate of Education”) and a couple of CSEs. I stayed on to do A-Levels, but left after six months to start work (back to that milk bottling plant). My nephew remains the only one on both sides of the family to go on to further education – Oxford University. Very proud of him. I worked in Oxford at the time – I used to pick up his dirty laundry each week, and returned it laundered and ironed (his mum did that – I loathe ironing!) the following week. Somehow, we always seem to factor in coffee and cake at the Queen's Lane Coffee House.

12. I collect(ed) pigs

Other than shoes, I used to collect little pigs (ornaments, not piglets). I’m not sure how it started, except that it might be linked to shouting “Piggies!” when I had my young niece and nephew (now 36 and 39 respectively) in the car. I was given them as gifts for Christmas and birthdays for a few years and they’re still dotted around the house. In fact, I can see a real piggy bank on my desk as I type this.

13. If music be the food of love …

I love classical music. My favourite composers are Shostakovich, Mahler (I always call that the best music to commit su----- nah, let’s not go there!), Wagner, Richard Strauss, Bruch… and on and on. I’m the only person in my extended family other than my nephew to enjoy it (and he has a phenomenal knowledge about it). But – what I call my “dirty little secret” – I also love country music... I grew up listening to my brother’s collection of Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs by Marty Robbins, and that’s where it started. Don’t judge me 😉

14. My favourite subjects at school

Talking about school… my favourite subjects were English (both Literature and Language), History and Art. Needless to say, these were the subjects I got the better results in at O-Level. That early love of words, of reading, has never left me – hence both enjoying writing my blogs, and also proofreading. Love it! Send me more, please!

On the history front, never happier than visiting old cities (York the year I took redundancy, loved the city, the cathedral, and the tiny medieval church just off the Shambles; and Chichester early last year); old churches and graveyards fascinate me (daylight, please); loved the ruined temples etc in Egypt (I did two river cruises from Luxor down to Abu Simbel; and a long weekend in Cairo on my own, with a private guide and driver) and a tour from top to bottom of Tunisia. And I do love me a stately home!

I love historical novels too. Any era.

15. I make rugs

I don’t have many hobbies – although I love to bake – but I do have one rather old-fashioned one, and that’s making rag rugs. It’s great therapy, just letting your mind drift in whatever direction it fancies. I remember that we had one in the kitchen/sitting room doorway as a child – my mother must’ve made it. It was very much a make-do-and-mend thing, way back when. It is, literally, a piece of hessian sacking, and 3”x2” strips of fabric – old clothes, sheets, curtains.

16. I am a non-person

Penny is not my real name. It doesn’t feature on my birth certificate, and neither does Penelope. My mother’s fault… I was the last of six children, she was of an age where she wouldn’t dream of using a shortened version of a Christian name on a birth certificate. So, I was registered as “Yvonne”, but always called Penny. Or, if you were my mum, Tuppence.

I celebrate my birthday on a different date to the one on my birth certificate, too. Only by two days – obviously, my birth must’ve been quite traumatic for Mum, because by the time a year had passed or, rather a year and two days, that became my birthday. I didn’t discover this until I was 12: “Oh, your father made a mistake when he registered you” but when I was 21, I called my GP to find out the date. Turns out my father got it right.

17. Last but not least…

I have a shockingly bad memory! As I was coming to the end of writing this, I had one of those “Aha!” moments because I thought of one last thing. And then I forgot what it was…

This is why I use Outlook Calendar for just about everything, so I don’t forget the important dates, tasks, whatever, both personally and professionally.

So, rest assured – if you’d like to see what I can do for you & help you focus on what you do best – I won’t forget a thing! Just leave it to me.

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