The Definitive History of the Surname STABLES in Yorkshire

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The Autobiography of Brian Stables (Part 18)



This is the eighteenth part of Brian Stables's fascinating and very funny autobiography, which is written in his own words.

Brian was born in Tickhill in 1929 and emigrated to Canada in 1976. He is currently serialising his life story for us.

He has also provided a superb collection of photographs to accompany his story. Click the photo for a larger image.































paddle boat two.jpg (23269 bytes)

paddle boat one.jpg (21845 bytes)We moved into a nice condominium apartment overlooking a small park. The building was called ‘Parkview’ and it really does overlook one of our many municipal parks, I am sure this distinguished appellation was designed to sell people on the idea of buying into it, in the event however my actual view was of the parking lot and swimming pool at the back of the building.

All went smoothly until a downturn in the economy coincided with ‘Management experts’ coming into fashion. These people were, (still are?) people who take courses on how companies can be run more efficiently, fine in theory but lacking in common sense and experience. They don’t know what they are talking about, but they can speak the latest ‘buzz’ words, and in those days this used to impress people no end.

For some time I had been recommending that our company close the Quebec operation and move the head office to Ontario. The cost of doing business in that province had increased quite considerably since the new language laws had been implemented, not many people in what was now known as ‘ROC’, (Rest of Canada) wished to increase their costs by translating documents and dealing with the Québec government. The narrow vision of the bureaucrats was particularly galling, especially when it was so unnecessary; most Quebec business people spoke and, quite often, preferred, like most of the rest of the world, to conduct business in English.
Ontario is more central for the rest of the country, and in this province, there is no imposed language obstacles, whatever language was used. An illustration of this is, to visit downtown Toronto. Here the street signs match the ethnic group majority, Greek, Chinese, etc... Kitchener, (Ontario) for example, has a huge German speaking population and holds an annual “Oktober Fest” every fall with lots of “oompapa” music and traditional German beer and sausages etc. there are no problems with this and absolutely no necessity to introduce laws to accommodate this situation, indeed, this rich diversity is most warmly welcomed.

...the owner took me out to lunch and as we parted in the parking lot he told me to have my desk cleared by four thirty!

Unfortunately, to add to the equation, the owner of the company got re-married and the Montreal section started filling up with members of his wife’s family; it rapidly became an example of nepotism at its worst. From my point of view it took on a nightmare quality, these incompetent buffoons were continually sending out the wrong products and, worse, denying responsibility. We started losing customers, the ‘experts’ were consulted and in November 1989 the owner took me out to lunch and as we parted in the parking lot he told me to have my desk cleared by four thirty!

He had decided to close the wrong part of the business!

I was within a few weeks of age sixty and it was quite an adjustment period for me to be applying for jobs and being told; “You are far too experienced for this position” (“I’ll take it, I’ll take it!”) or worse; “We could not afford the salary you are entitled to expect”, “I’m cheap, I’m cheap!”. Of course, there were quite a number of us older men caught in this situation at that time and it was then that my son Paul spoke those memorable words; “You are driving us all nuts Dad, why don’t you just stop trying for a management job and take on something like security guard, something without stress, something to get you out of Moms hair during the day”. Unbelievably, during that period of time, even those types of jobs were hard to come by and I had to use some contacts to find a position. The pay scale was about two points below abysmal. However it stopped me from chasing around fooling myself that I was going to achieve anything useful.

Through a good friend’s recommendation I found a job with a Security Company acting as a Concierge in a large modern office building, I enjoyed this as it gave me something to do which I enjoyed doing, it was also a very pleasant atmosphere to work in. If the pay had been sufficient to pay the bills incurred travelling to it I would have stayed longer, unfortunately it barely covered my expenses getting there.

In the next building to where I worked there was another Security company that, I discovered, had a vacancy for a Supervisor; I decided to do them a favour and accept it.

A man wielding a hunting knife had been reported... and the guard, rather smugly I thought, informed me that the man had a record of violent behaviour.

The owner was a tad surprised when I turned up and announced his problem was solved, but I guess my novel approach emphasised my versatility and he immediately accepted my application. Eventually I occupied the position of Senior Accounts Executive, shortly after which, and now able to draw on my savings, I left to take an early retirement.

One story that illustrates the pitfalls of being security supervisor happened when I received an alert on my radio from the Security guard at a College residence.

A man wielding a hunting knife had been reported as being seen in the corridor close to the room of his ex- girlfriend, there had been some shouting and the guard, rather smugly I thought, informed me that the man had a record of violent behaviour. I instructed both Guards to take no action until I got there but to observe and take notes of all that happened.

Just my luck, I thought, why can’t he come back tomorrow when someone else is on duty?
I happened to be close by so I quickly drove to the building. Gathering the two guards together I hastily instructed one to stay close to the main desk telephone, ready to phone the police if required, and to remain in radio contact with his partner. Taking the second guard with me I went into detail as to what I required of him, (stay out of the way, inform the other guard by radio as to what was going on, and write down everything that happened, staunch my blood if things went wrong, etc..). I stationed him in the corridor and entered the room where the man was threatening the girl. Fortunately, the villain was so surprised at my sudden appearance I was able to take an advantage over him, but he managed to escape and ran off, he sped past my back up guard, who clearly did not wish to get involved, and disappeared into the grounds. I told my hero to radio his pal to call the police. It was then that I found out that he had not known what I had wanted in the first place!

He was deaf, and his hearing aid battery had run down!

As my finances were inadequate, to say the least, we cut costs by moving into a cramped, very small one bedroom apartment and settled down to make the best of it. We had barely established ourselves when a couple of very dear friends from my old regiment, Dot and Harry Hooson, decided to pay us a visit. We talked it over between the four of us and agreed that it would be a good idea to stretch things a bit and all of us take a visit to the USA. A paddlewheel boat trip on the Mississippi was deemed to fit the bill, it certainly resolved the problem of us all squashing into a one bedroom apartment for a few days and, in the event, we all enjoyed the adventure.

Shortly after this, Val’s Aunt, (Constance) phoned from her home in Bournemouth, to say that she was planning to visit Florida. We talked it over and decided that it would be a nice break for us to drive down and meet her. I had the route planned and all was set to go when she let us know that she had changed her mind. We mulled it over and made the decision to travel down anyway and routed a trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Smokey Mountains, and have ourselves a mini holiday.

Overnight I had become allergic to any manner of things: cats, dogs, perfume, cold air. You name it, I had it.

Upon our return I became afflicted with Asthma. I could not believe it, indeed I refused to believe it, my lovely lady physician, Doctor Louise Rosa, with her stethoscope on my chest was saying; “You have asthma Brian,” and there was I, denying it, saying; “Don’t be silly, I have never had asthma in my life”.
“Well, you have it now,” came her reply. Overnight I had become allergic to any manner of things: cats, dogs, perfume, cold air. You name it, I had it. A specialist in allergies was consulted and he prescribed the appropriate medication. His reply to my whining on about the injustice of this malady was to say, “Well Brian, just look on the bright side; you have had sixty two years free of it!”

Asthma restricted my life, I was unable to do simple things like going out in public where there was a chance of someone smoking a cigarette, or wearing perfume, coming close to me, the hardest part was being unable to go hiking on the trails; the more remote areas were strenuous walking and, in my condition, could be dangerous, also the wild animals and pollens triggered asthma attacks. The trails closer to home were infested by people unable to control their dogs, which, needless to say always came bounding up to me, giving me instant purgatory. The medication, (‘puffers’) did help but they were not a total success.

I started looking for an exercise which I could perform that would not trigger an attack. It so happened that there was a Tai Chi Chuan class commencing at the senior citizens club. Recalling my time in Hong Kong, I remembered watching the people in that city, and noticed how the participants of this ancient art form always appeared supple and healthy. I decided to join the class and learn how to accomplish the one hundred and eight moves of the ‘Yang style’ set. There are different styles but I was obliged to learn the only one that was available to me at that time.

It took me two years before I was able to leave the group and practice on my own with any real proficiency and, to me, more importantly, to be confident enough to ignore a lot of what the instructors told me. I remembered how the Chinese man who lived opposite me in Kowloon used to practice in his roof garden, and, although the moves I had now learned were similar, the way this man used to practice was by using a much more controlled and soothing technique; it was this mans art that I now attempted to emulate. It took me a further year before I began to be content with my ‘form’ and another year after that before I really began to understand the extraordinary power of this powerful art.

Whilst all this was going on my daughter, (Angela) was experiencing some ill health, the moronic doctor treating her was not monitoring the medication he had prescribed and the side effects were considerable.
She started having moments where she would have a total blackout and collapse; this would be entirely without warning so she could not be left on her own for any length of time. In the early hours of one night she went to the bathroom and passed out, fell into the bathtub, she hit the tap, thus turning on the hot water and scalded herself very badly indeed, luckily she had a friend staying with her that night who turned off the tap and quickly phoned us and organised an ambulance to take her to the hospital. She had huge blisters from her shoulders and down her arms and the side of her body, and, of course, she was in considerable pain.

I decided to concentrate my mind as if I were practicing Tai Chi and then waved my hands over Angela’s arm. To the utter astonishment of us all... the grey colour of her arm instantly changed to a bright red! 

Some days later, whilst Val was attending a Tai Chi class and talking this situation over with a friend, one of the group mentioned a therapy called; “Therapeutic Touch” whereby a person would just place their hands about three or four inches away from someone and, using ‘stroking’ motions, could induce a healing energy to the person requiring help.

“Load of old Bologna” was my reaction to this, although in truth I had been feeling a peculiar sort of energy flow, (the ‘chi’) whilst practicing Tai Chi Chuan.
“It’s the same energy” explained my sweetie.
“Will you two shut up and give it a try!” Exclaimed my Angela, “I will try anything to get out of this pain”

Val started the motions but nothing happened.
 Old ‘know it all’, smirking away, and in true, (Yorkshire) male fashion said; “women just don’t know what they are doing, move over.”
At this time Angela’s arm and hand had started to turn a dark grey colour; there were still ‘pillow’ blisters on her shoulders and body which were covered with bandages, her arm was bare to let the air to it.
I decided to concentrate my mind as if I were practicing Tai Chi and then waved my hands over Angela’s arm. To the utter astonishment of us all, me most of all I am sure, the grey colour of her arm instantly changed to a bright red! With popping eyes I hastily apologised, I thought it must have hurt her.
“Oh dad, do it again, it took the pain right out,” begged my Angie.
I did, and, not understanding what I was doing I inadvertently left her with a pain in her toes and finger ends! We immediately phoned Val’s friend who gave us the phone number of the local instructor of “Therapeutic Touch”. I phoned her straight away, explained what had happened and she told me what I had done wrong, described how to get rid of the pain I had unconsciously induced and told me to get myself down to a workshop she was running that weekend. She didn’t ask; she told me!

It was the beginning of a whole new appreciation of spiritual understanding for me, and led to me, not only receiving answers to the questions I had been, (unsuccessfully) asking all my life, but getting answers to which I was not aware I had asked the questions!

The ‘Therapeutic Touch’ workshop was most enlightening and made a lot of sense to me.
 Evelyn McKay, the lady who taught the subject, is one of those rare people who actually practices what she preaches, a most compassionate and wonderful lady from whom it is a pleasure to learn, and to just be in the company of. I expect I gave her a bit of a jolt however when, as the workshop progressed, she sat me in front of the class and got another student to practice the moves over me. I had a very bad reaction whereby I lived again an experience of being beaten up rather badly out in the East. It was as though it was all happening right now, a nightmare! I yelled and cried and got all upset, the person actually waving her hands over me became agitated for some reason. It later occurred to me that she must have been put off the subject for evermore! Evelyn took me outside and comforted me, then went back to calm the class down whilst I went for a walk. Ever a sucker for punishment and whimpering away, I returned to finish the lessons and have been glad I did so ever since. All of my past life experience now came into focus, in the Christian tradition it was like being ‘born again’.

Read the next installment: Late Middle Age

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Last modified: May 10, 2010