Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 8 October 2012

Bad experience? Just press delete.

How far back can you remember?

I can still feel the sun beating down on me in the garden behind our flats in Ealing, one of a crowd of children spending endless, happy days dreaming up games and shouting ourselves hoarse. My friend Rosalyn taught me how to do a handstand, and,skill mastered, I then spent that entire, sweltering afternoon perfecting the technique before staggering giddy and sunburnt back up the stone steps to our place on the top floor when Mum called us back in for tea.

That November in the same garden, doubtless inspired by those `light up the sky with Standard Fireworks` adverts,all of the families in the flats held their first Guy Fawkes night. The dads, full of beer and bravado, set rockets and bangers firing off at all angles, while mums with pinnies over their coats handed out hotdogs and sparklers to the children, beside the towering inferno that was our shared bonfire. Even though my face was burning from the heat of it, I stayed rooted to the spot. I was slightly fazed by the Guy`s ghoulish leer--right at me--but also too scared to wave the fizzing wand around in the night air like the other kids, in case it set my mittens on fire.It was all terrifyingly wonderful.

You want to remember times like that, don`t you, and have an automatic delete mechanism for the days which leave you feeling lost or lonely: bitter or bereaved.

I started thinking about the power of memory today after being reminded that it`s the 60th anniversary of Britain`s worst peacetime rail disaster today--at Harrow and Wealdstone. One hundred and twelve people died in that three train smash.

Today, survivors and local people have been back to the spot to stand in silence to remember those who got caught up in the horror.

I`ve just turned the house upside down to try and find a newspaper cutting from that day.It was either the London Evening News or the Standard, or maybe the Evening Star. We saved it because there`s a mugshot of dad as a very young PC, looking shattered. He was one of a vast army of people rushed to the scene to help. He`d been crawling through mineshafts at his local pit at 14, and so volunteered to crawl under a mangled train carriage in the tightest, darkest, most desperate of spaces to help those trapped He held their hands, offered words of comfort and in some cases, shots of morphine. He`d then been part of the gang who used their own broad shoulders and brute strength to raise the carriage a few precious inches to try and drag the casualties out.

Horrific memories.Sometimes the darkest of days, like the Harrow crash, have to be remembered and then investigated so that lessons can be learned. Often,thankfully,there`s now help for people whose traumas linger,and blight their later lives.

Dad`s in his eighties now, with a brain dulled by dementia.He`s sleeping so much, and often bewildered by simple tasks. I`ve written before about how we can still share a laugh and a memory sometimes if one flashes back into his mind. That young, heroic PC went on to be a royal bodyguard, travelling the world, Katmandu, Kuala Lumpur, San Francisco,Canada, Italy,Sydney, Canberra, Mustique, staying in glittering palaces and learning how the other half live. It`s those scenes I hope he can remember. And those Ealing bonfires.

But if his patchy,fading memory has been cruel enough to retain the images it logged at Harrow, sixty years ago today,I hope it can also still register the pride his family feel today, looking back. I`ll phone him later, just to be sure he knows.


Kerry ‏@kerry_pt3
@janemcintyre12 :) your blogs alway bring a warmth with them x

andy richardson ‏@andyrichardson1
@janemcintyre12 @BeBoldPR just don't get her started on chocolate

33m andy richardson ‏@andyrichardson1
@BeBoldPR @janemcintyre12 her blogs are good. almost as good as those by mr w

38m Be Bold PR ‏@BeBoldPR
@janemcintyre12 you're welcome. Always look forward to reading your blogs!


  1. mmm Dementia ,, very sad if you are on the outside looking in !! We had an elderly Aunt live with us before we moved to France for a couple of years . She had Dementia . She would sit in her chair and love to talk about the old days ,, she was brought up in Liverpool and would tell me the names of all her classmates in Chatham St school back in 1935 , tell me all about when she was evacuated at the outbreak of war to the new Forest . I used to love listening to her . Ask her what she had for breakfast two mins ago ,, and she would say she hasnt had breakfast yet !! the empty plate would be beside her with just a few crumbs on it !!! Yes indeed , a very sad situation to be in , but aunty was fit , she had everything done for her ,, she didnt know who by , but that didnt matter , all she had to do for herself was breathe !! I realised , i wasnt feeling sad for her ,, i was feeling sad for myself , it wasnt the aunty that i had known for so long ,, but she was as happy as could be simply because she didnt know anything ,,, she didnt know she was ill and i think that was something to be gratefull for . The people i feel so sorry for are the likes of Parkinsons sufferers . To have a perfectly functional brain ,, that knows what it wants to do ,,, but the body wont let it must so difficult for all concerned . I lost my dear mum to cancer about 5 years ago ,, she knew what she had , she knew what the outcome was going to be ,,, thats sad . I know how you must feel about Dad , a man who has led such an interesting life , but i am sure he is as happy as aunty was and thats what matters . If you are on the inside looking out ,, everything is rosy , but if you , as in your case , are on the outside looking in , its not so easy !! I hope you understand when i say ,, dont feel too sorry for dad , if he is as happy as aunty , he is doing well . Keep talking about the things he remembers ,, he will love that . Good luck ,, love the blog .OT