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Ida & Louise Cook: An Extraordinary & Inspirational Story

By Inspiration, ThinkingNo Comments

The following is the the final chapter in my latest book My Royal Navy Friend. It’s such an inspirational story, that I thought it deserved to be shared far and wide. So I decided to post it here:

Hi Roy,

My last email. A whole year in the Royal Navy. Well done, I’m so proud of you.

There’s nothing more inspiring to me than ordinary people that do the extraordinary for others. The story of Ida and Louise Cook is one such story.

Ida and Louise were British sisters who worked as Clerks for the Civil Service. Ida also wrote romance books under the pen name Mary Burchell, authoring a staggering 112 books in her writing career.

These sisters loved the Opera and would often travel abroad together to see their favourite singers and performances.

Sometime in the 1930s they began hearing about how bad Jewish people were being treated in Germany and Austria. 

The sisters travelled to both of these countries under the guise of seeing Operas and witnessing this poor treatment of the Jews for themselves. Then something remarkable and extraordinary happened: These two incredible and amazing ladies decided that they must help as many Jewish people as they could to escape this persecution.

Ida and Louise could see that it was only going to get worse for Jewish people in Germany and Austria. Remember this was before the outbreak of World War 2, before the concentration camps and genocide that would follow.

Jews were free to leave Germany and Austria at the time, but they weren’t allowed to take any assets with them. This meant no money and no valuables. The policy of the UK and many other countries that were safe for Jewish people was that they had to prove they had the financial assets to support themselves and their families. 

This meant the Jewish people were essentially stuck in Germany and Austria. Now at this point in the story, I want to scream: What were the UK Government and Governments of safe countries thinking with this ridiculous policy? Why weren’t the general population outraged by this policy?

But what we have to remember is that at the time, there was no internet or social media. Many people didn’t travel abroad.  People weren’t as connected as they are now. So the vast majority of the general public didn’t know what Jewish people were experiencing in Germany and Austria.

Back to the story. Ida and Louise came up with a plan. They would travel to Germany and Austria as often as they could, using the guise of going to see the Opera as the reason for their frequent travels. On the return journey they would smuggle anything of value given to them by Jewish families. This was so that Jewish families could prove to the UK Government that financially they could support themselves.

Ida and Louise’s plan not only took a great deal of planning, their own money and time, but came at a huge personal risk. Imagine if they had been discovered in Germany and Austria.

In November 1938, just less than a year before World War 2 officially started, in the dark of night the Jewish people were targeted in Germany and Austria. 

Over two nights, Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed, Synagogues (Jewish places of worship) were attacked and there are even reports of individual Jewish people being arrested without cause. This was all backed by the Germany and Austria Governments and citizens were actively encouraged to participate in the assaults on the Jewish communities.

Ida and Louise’s response was fantastic. It was to up their game. They continued the asset smuggling, but went further. Ida and Louise worked hard in the UK to make sure officials signed off as many visas as possible, as quickly as possible, to save as many Jews as possible.

Ida travelled throughout England, making as many people aware of the situation for Jewish people in Germany and Austria as she could. In some of these talks she also raised small amounts of money for Jewish people that needed help. Every penny went to the Jewish people in need.

Ida and Louise rented a flat in London for homeless Jewish people to live whilst they established a life in the UK. The cost of this flat being paid by Ida and Louise.

Ida and Louise took no payment for their work from the Jewish people. They paid for everything themselves, mostly funding their endeavours through Ida’s fiction writing.

In total, Ida and Louise saved 29 Jewish people. They helped them escape persecution and come to the safety of the UK. Throughout their lives Ida and Louise kept in touch with these people, keeping an active interest in their lives and continuing to support them in any way that they could.

What an incredible true story of two wonderfully kind, compassionate and inspirational people. 

Best Wishes,

Antony

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The Gorgeous Mawaan Rizwan – My New Celebrity Crush

By Love & Relationships, Thinking, TV, Online Streaming & FilmsNo Comments

I discovered the gorgeous Mawaan Rizwan through Taskmaster. Then I discovered his BBC Series Juice.

Mawaan is hilariously funny, eccentric and attractive. Then I checked out his Instagram and wow, he’s hot and very sexy. Mawaan is also gay – I think I’ve found my future husband.

I couldn’t resist sending him a complementary message:

Now, I just need him to checkout my profile and fall in love with me. Job done.

Write soon,

Antony

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Pneumonia Recovery

By Health, ThinkingNo Comments

I tried. I really did. After being admitted in hospital for three days with pneumonia (a chest infection), urine infection and in diabetic ketoacidosis, I had a week off work to recover. I managed the week, then went back off sick.

I’m constantly beyond exhausted, needing to sleep all day and night on a bad day. My blood sugars are all over the place, which isn’t helping matters. I just don’t feel right. I’m being really honest – I don’t know exactly what’s wrong. I can’t pinpoint specific symptoms any more than I have explained.

I went to see my GP today and he said:

Just what made you think you could return to work after 1 week? – My GP

He had a point. I’m not twenty any more. At thirty-seven years old, I now have to accept that infections have a bigger impact on my body. Having diabetes also means my body takes longer to heal. The bigger the impact, the longer the recovery time. This has been my main lesson from my GP today.

I’ve never really have to taken more than a week off work to recover from infections in the past. So this is new territory for me. But I have to listen to my body. It’s crying out for recovery and time to heal. And it is always wise to listen to your doctor – especially if you’re lucky to have an amazing one like I do.

My GP has requested some more urgent bloods. Given me a sick note for two weeks and strict instructions to rest, recuperate and not to return to work before being reviewed by him again.

Despite knowing that I can’t help getting sick and that it isn’t something I have any control over, I do feel guilty for taking time off work. I feel like I’m letting everyone at work down. My manager, my colleagues and my patients. But I hope they understand.

I really have no choice. I’ve been very poorly and I’m not fit enough to get through a day without a nap (or several) due to exhaustion. The littlest things, like for example taking a shower wear me out.

My GP was very tactful, but he basically explained that if I don’t take weeks off from work to recover now, in the long term it might take me months to recover. My GP explained that I will have good and bad days during this period of recovery. He warned me about good days and the assumption I could make that one good day means I’m fully recovered.

So here I am. Sat here writing this post. Accepting that I need a period of recovery to allow my body time to heal. Not knowing how long it will take. Not being able to do much to help it apart from self-care: eating well, resting when required, keeping a good sleep routine, you know, the basics but essentials.

I would like to thank all the people in my life that have and continue to support me. Thank you. Without you, this would be so much more difficult.

Write soon,

Antony

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That Time We Did 2 Shows in 1 Day in London – Wicked & Bat Out of Hell

By Adventures, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & Joy, Love & Relationships, ThinkingNo Comments

I remember that time we did 2 shows in 1 day in London. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

It was a bright February day. We enjoyed each other’s company in the car. You kindly did all the driving. We tubed it into the city centre. I nearly lost my life due to getting stuck in the tube door. But you were there to pull me inside. You kept me safe while we travelled around the gigantic and intimidating city of London. I have never felt safer, than I did with you that day.

We drove down to London and went watching Wicked and Bat Out of Hell:

Wicked was your passion. You were right seeing it with the full stage set and cast in London is an experiential must.

We had a brief scout about in London before getting something to eat.

Then we went on to Bat Out of Hell – The Musical. To you, this was you fulfilling a promise you had made. I didn’t take the promise seriously at the time you made it, due to circumstances. It was one that I never expected you to fulfil. The show was phenomenal and I’m sure that I thanked you more than once for the experience?

We then headed home. You still kept me at a distance avoiding the physical intimacy I offered. But that’s okay. It was and is still one of my best, happiest memories. So thank you for the amazing day and incredible memory.

My Unconditional Positive Regard always,

Antony

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