Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Joy Lennick

Please welcome my guest this week, author Joy Lennick who shares her love of the 20th century, her adventures she has encountered during her 30 years as an author, her favourite colour and music.

Before we find out more… a little bit about Joy.

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Given a choice of centuries to live in which would it be and why?

As I’m fascinated by Georgian architecture and dress, plus something indefinable about the period, I decided -. as I’ve tried Time Travel before (don’t ask…) – to visit the 1700s. I found it most interesting for a while and even witnessed the writer Jane Austen stepping from her carriage in front of her home in………………. Then as luck, or rather bad luck, would have it, I suffered gnawing toothache and headed for a dentist. The screams emanating from a terrified patient in the surgery had me quaking in the waiting room, so I decided to – post haste –return once more to the 1930s, where I knew I could have my tooth painlessly removed. The relief which followed this strategy was immense, so I decided to re-experience the 20th century-

In 1932, the year of my birth, the United Kingdom was between two wars, so peace reigned. My parents worked hard and were loving; our garden was an oasis of flower-adorned green, and Sunday roasts boasted peas, beans and carrots from our treasured patch of earth.

Into this idyllic scene, came my brother Terence, two years later. He was such a quiet baby and child, Mum said “He’s there when he isn’t, and isn’t when he is!” which totally confused me. Two years afterwards, I helped the midwife bathe second brother, Bryan.
Life was sweet. The Ink Spots sang on the wireless, Mum danced to the music of Edmundo Ross while dusting and we played Snakes & Ladders, flicked cigarette cards down the hallway, made ‘objects’ out of Meccano, and read books..

Dad joined the Royal Air Force Reserves, while a lunatic with a silly moustache raved in Germany in 1938/9, and Dad fumed as he had to dig up his rose-beds and erect an ugly outdoor air-raid shelter when war was declared.

Mum, being Welsh, it was decided that Wales would be a safer haven, and we found ourselves in Merthyr Tydfil living with ‘The Jones family:’ relatives who were wonderfully kind. Hitherto not allowed to play outside the confines of our garden in flat Dagenham, in Esssex, the ‘great outdoors’ yawned, inviting, and blackberry-loaded bushes had me salivating… .

With Dad in France and Mum working in a munitions factory, we children had different, and many, fun adventures.

I joined the library: burning the candles to stubs at night, reading the Brothers Grimms’ (so what I had nightmares!) and Hans Christian Anderson tales, plus anything else with words on…

The freedom of movement in Wales was liberating, and I enrolled at a dancing school, which was what dreams were made of, until circumstances changed after my third, dear brother, Royce was born.

When in Wales, Mum’s young cousin Islwyn was killed by a coal-fall at the age of seventeen and my Dad’s youngest brother, my Uncle Bernard, a navigator in the Royal Air Force, was declared ‘missing’ at the age of 22. He never did return from the war.
Despite such tragedies, eventually, peace brought relief from the threat of bombs, and the celebrations on London Bridge were euphoric.

The 40’s and 50’s were a fabulous time to grow up, despite no central heating or TV sets…We were entertained by Big Band sounds via Glen Miller and Harry James, the cool jazz of Ella Fitzgerald, with crooners Sinatra and Crosby, et al, singing understandable lyrics….

Gradually, such boons as fridges, washing machines and central heating, brightened our lives too.

The strides forward in medicine were astounding. In my infancy, thousands died of tuberculosis; now almost eradicated, and the surgical advancement is mind-boggling. The last decades have been a time of revelation and the refinement of technological advancement has left me speechless. And that’s saying something!

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

“Life’s path has many twists”   Anon

In 1983, my husband and I sold the small hotel-business we ran in Bournemouth, and I received a letter from Kogan Page Ltd., of London ASKING ME (?!) to write a book. (The editor had approached my former boss, asking did she know anyone who could write about hotel life. .Bingo!) Right place, right time, or what? The book was accepted, and I was paid an advance fee and another on publication and had to pinch myself. Defying belief, it sold extremely well and was reprinted due to demand. My eldest son, being an artist, designed the covers and I received regular royalties. The company then asked me to update two of their books, and write another on Jobs in Baking & Confectionery.. This entailed interviewing young people in colleges and doing research, all of which I enjoyed. The first book was titled Running Your Own Small Hotel (1984/5).

I then ran a postal poetry group called Odes for Joy which was fun. (The five pound yearly fee was given back in prizes.) After winning a couple of poetry prizes myself, I had Celtic Cameos & Other Poems published.

‘Life’ then intruded, and eventually…my husband and I retired to the Costa Blanca region of Spain.

I joined The Torrevieja Writing group and won first prize for Worth Its Salt in the First International Short Story Writing Competition held in Torrevieja in 2005, and was a judge for the following two years.

And now a sour note…Well, life is not all buttercups and roses, is it?. I was introduced to an epileptic sailor, and immediately succumbed to his plea for a writer to pen his on-going sea adventures. The BBC had already given him coverage when he rowed, single-handed (strapped in) across the Atlantic in a small boat. He tried to row the Pacific but nearly died, and I had his salt-stained log books, scribbled in in pencil, smothered with expletives and bad English to decipher…While I frowned and typed, he was attempting to cross the Pacific again! He had to be rescued in a very bad state, but recovered and had quite a tale to tell…

Meanwhile, I eventually covered all three rows and took a draft copy of the book to show his mother who lived in Clacton, UK (a much nicer human being than her son!). I spent the next two years…trying to find a publisher (the BBC declined) which cost me a penny or two. Repeated assurances he would pay me, never materialized. I eventually found an excellent publisher in Spain: Libros International: and the book Hurricane Halsey become a reality. I was delighted, despite an empty pocket…as the photographs and covers were superb. Then Libros went out of business before a book-signing could be arranged! I sold several copies to friends and family (which I had purchased) after which I received threatening letters from said sailor that he would SUE ME?! (For buying and selling the books!!) Of course he had no grounds as I had signed on his behalf when the book was published, so I retained the copyright (not that I wanted it!). And there the matter rested. I put it down to just another of life’s experiences, bitter pill to swallow that it was.

(PS Because my early education was so abysmal (I attended seven schools!) I didn’t receive my A level English Lit. certificate until I was 66…)

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

“If music be the food of love play on Shakespeare.

Where to start? My husband and I both love an eclectic mix of music. We met at a ‘Jazz session’ held in the upstairs room of a public house in the East End of London, called ‘The Hayfield’ (he jokes he’s had the needle ever since…) I recall they played ‘Intermission Riff,’ ‘The Sabre Dance’ . to which we jived at half tempo…and one of Glen Miller’s latest hits. (As it was 69 years ago this autumn, I’m surprised I remembered.) We spent some of our courting time in the ‘Eleven Club’ in London and Ronnie Scott’s, plus The Lyceum ballroom, and Hammersmith Palace, cutting many a rug over the years. We admired Johnnie Dankworth’s playing and adored Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and a whole talented group of singers and other musicians like Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. My favourite instruments are the saxophone, piano and violin, and Ben Webster played a mean sax…while Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington were no slouches either. We also grew to love modern jazz.

I hope that Joy will enjoy this… Feeling Good… with Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine

I recall my parents playing records way back when and hamming it up – dancing a mock tango to Jealousy, and Dad played the powerful Bolero a lot, while one of my aunts played the piano beautifully. Her Rustle of Spring was memorable .During the war years, when on leave from the munitions factory, Mum pounded the ivories ‘by ear’- an expression I always found amusing. She played Roll out the Barrel and another war-time favourite: Kiss me Goodnight Sergeant Major.

I recall, as a child dancer, my teacher having excellent musical taste, and tap-dancing to the haunting strains of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, dressed to kill in silver and pale blue satin.

After marriage, we bought a smart radiogram, and apart from the delightful Nutcracker Suite , purchased several near soul-searing, beautiful recordings. We spent many lazy evenings listening to favourites like Scheherazade,and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; and I was soon familiar with the music of masters like Shostakovich, whose 2nd piano concerto, in particular, is heavenly, with Tchaikovsky twanging the heart-strings in the wings…

In later years, I listened to several riveting concerts at The South Bank and adored musicals. I actually appeared in Carousel as a dancer (in an amateur production I hasten to add), and saw many West End productions such as Candide, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, et al. And who, with blood in their veins, could not swoon with joy at the dancing and music from West Side Story?! Another treat was seeing The Gypsy Kings in London. Few people were seated once they got going! The atmosphere was electric.

It’s pleasing to note that, while each of our three sons has his own particular taste in music, they all appreciate a lot of the classical and jazz music we played to them over the years. At times though, my ears were ‘tortured’ by Punk, gently massaged by middle of the road stuff and excited by Reggae, which I enjoyed, and to which I ‘skanked’ (Oh MOTHER!) on occasion … ..

We have been extraordinarily lucky to have been fed such varied, fabulous music over the years. I was a great fan of the Three Tenors, and what an ear for music John Williams has, and Leonard Bernstein had! Nigel Kennedy also deserves a mention, and now we have settled in Spain, I love to listen to the passionate, soulful sound of the Spanish guitar. We have a delightful, small theatre in Torrevieja, and I heard the local youth orchestra play there, who were brilliant. During the last few years, another, larger theatre with excellent acoustics was built on the perimeter of our town. A cliché now – last but not least – a piece that ‘wrings me out emotionally:’ Joaquin Rodrigo’s The Concerto de Aranquezz, arguably one of the best guitar compositions of the 20th century.

What a gap there’s been since I played the triangle and tambourine at Infant’s school. Time is such a self-serving cannibal.

What is your favourite colour and why?

My favourite colour is blue, and on the world stage, BLUE stands tall and proud. One of the three primary colours of pigments in painting, it has been important over the years in art and decoration. In The 8th century in China, artists used cobalt blue and woad was used in clothing, until replaced by indigo from the United States in the 19th century. In the Renaissance period, the most expensive pigment was ultramarine. Dark blue was favoured for military uniforms, and because of its association with harmony, the colour blue was used for business suits in the 20th century, and for the flags of the United Nations and the European Union.

As a writer, I delight in all five senses, and despite maturity (lucky me), mine are still going strong. My hearing is so sharp, MO half calls me a bloodhound, and even my eyes are not too bad. As mentioned above, my favorite colour is blue, and on our modest, family stage -for are we not all minor players in the great play?? – the colour blue features markedly in our make-up. One side of the family is of Celtic origin: Ireland and Wales, and a larger proportion have bluey-grey through to deep blue eyes. Both parents had blue eyes, as do my surviving two brothers and myself. Two of my three sons also have blue eyes; the eldest having brown like his Dad.

And so, when it comes to what I wear: blue, MO half’s choice too, it’s often in the picture. From ‘powder’ to ‘baby, ‘‘petrol,’ through to ‘navy,’ ‘cobalt,’ or ‘Prussian,’ you’d find them all in my wardrobe at one time or another. I also love turquoise and lapis lazuli, the deep blue shade found in metamorphic rock used in semi-precious jewellery..

And then there are stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals. How many times have I stood, transfixed, as the light shone through one and the depth of the blue – often ‘Madonna’ – almost took my breath away in its rich and vivid splendour.

At school, I recall the particular smell of crayons as I coloured in a sky – always blue – of course, and the difficulty encountered trying to get the sea to look natural…And, on our various travels, I remember comparing the different skies and plumping for the Mediterranean ones…We lived in Canada for eighteen months before our children arrived, and – however cold it became – and it did… the sun shining against a brilliant blue back-drop always lifted the spirits. No wonder we love our Spanish skies so much!

Prussian, azure and cobalt blues again featured when I took up art in my fifties and struggled to make the sea look natural with my water colours, although my skies were passable. And looking in master Pablo Picasso’s direction, he had a very ‘Blue’ period between 1901 and 1904, at which time he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only now and then warmed by other colours.

What a rich, colourful, planet we live on. It’s a tragedy we don’t give it as much love as it deserves!

Tell us something about your work in progress.

On the back.burner… The Highs and Lows of Leticia Dombrowski

Being of the Jewish faith, the Dombrowski family are fated for the same, horrific treatment meted out to many others of their ilk. The head of the family: Daniel, an art restorer, is arrested and murdered by the Nazis when they march into Poland in 1939. His daughter, Rebecca, is sent to the safety of the UK, but the repercussions of her experiences affect her life and that of her illegitimate daughter, Leticia. The story follows Leticia through childhood to adulthood and highlights her strengths and weaknesses. She proves to be feisty, intelligent and something of a rebel, while having an innovative talent for jewellery design and art. Being wildly attractive often lures the wrong type of attention, but she battles on and – after a surprise ‘inflation of funds’ – and the fulfilling of a charitable desire, wins the day.

Joy’s latest book was released in November 2017

About the book

A little book, full of jokes, Limericks, poems, short stories and one-liners, from husband and wife team, Joy and Eric Lennick.

Both authors in their own “write”, they have collaborated to bring you this fun read.

One of the reviews for the book.

I had the privilege and pleasure of reading this book pre publication and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was full of fun – jokes, poems, silly one liners – just the thing for popping in a Christmas stocking, or buying for one’s own amusement. Excellent read for Boxing Day!
I hope Mr & Mrs Lennick collaborate again and bring out another little book of fun. 

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

Other books by Joy Lennick

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Read other reviews and follow Joy on Goodreads:

Connect to Joy


My thanks to Joy for sharing her childhood memories and her publishing adventures. We would be delighted to receive your feedback and thank you for dropping in today.. Thanks Sally

If you would like to be a guest on the Open House then here are the question choices and details:

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – My Welsh Christmases by Joy Lennick

A warm welcome to Joy Lennick who shares her Christmases when evacuated to an aunt in Wales with her two brothers whilst the world was at war.

My Welsh Christmases by Joy Lennick.

With no yard-stick to measure my early life and experiences, which were often common-place and repetitive, while happy, when thrust into a different, alien, while fascinating world, all the nuances and happenings sketched themselves more deeply on my mind.

At seven, I had never been in a war before and my innocence painted a different picture to the reality.

Sometimes, I had played ‘war games’ with my two brothers, whereby we shot at each other with brightly coloured lead soldiers, which could be ‘resuscitated’ at will, despite their wounded cries…on a grey, cardboard fort.

As Dad wrote in his diary: September. We are at war with Germany; 9th Leave. Arrived Dagenham at 12.50 am. Left for Merthyr Tydfil at 3.40 pm with Lila and the kiddies until Monday 12th.And then?

As far as we were concerned, we were going on holiday. War was just a three lettered word and Hitler a faceless, far-flung baddie, although we were – later – to ridicule and imitate his goose-step and salute in the school playground-after we saw him in newsreels. But, whatever was happening abroad, we were consumed by excitement. Steam train rides were, after all, a rarity, and the prospect of living on a mountain appealed after pancake-flat Dagenham. (The only frightening thing, talk of a Welsh dragon…)

Separation from our parents was a shock, softened by our aunt Sal’s kindness and cooking…And I found further solace by joining the library and avidly reading Brothers Grimm’s lurid tales, and stories by Hans Christian Anderson, plus countless other authors by candlelight. It was the start of an endless love affair with reading, and eventually writing.
I wrote a memoir about my early life which covers more of the above, but as this is about Christmas, I’ll concentrate on that part of the book, and what children don’t get excited about that special time of the year?!

Although we had seen snow before, we had never seen ‘Welsh’ snow…and, believe it or not, we found it an adventure to practically dig our way through to the outside loo – at first that is!! (Wiping our bots on the Merthyr Express appalled but we soon got used to it…)
Letters informed us that Dad had joined his unit in France (No guns fired…yet!) he wrote, and Mum joined us for the Christmas period.

“Young enough to become overheated at the thought of what the 25th would bring, Terry, Bryan and I spent hours making colourful paper chains and putting up bells, holly and mistletoe, with the grown-ups assistance. When asked to Pop to Powell’s for some sugar, by Aunt Sal, I exited at speed, for I truly delighted in entering his grocer’s shop (a few door down) – my arrival signaled by a bell. My nose was in absolute heaven amid the mingling aromas of fruit: glace and dried, a cornucopia of biscuits displayed in tilted tins with glass tops revealing a mouth-watering selection: temptresses all…iced gems, Garibaldi, custard creams and chocolate fingers, to name but four favourites. Then there were jars upon jars of varied sweets: lemon sherbert dabs which made you cough, strawberry cushions and aniseed balls (which gave the impression you were suffering from mumps), et al. The piece de resistance was gold and silver embossed boxes of ’luxury’ (Christmas) chocolates, embellished with huge scarlet satin ribbon bows, high up on the shelf away from prying fingers….Mr. Powell’s shop was a proboscis paradise and I enjoyed watching him pat huge mounds of butter with fancy, grooved wooden ‘bats.’ I stayed in his shop far too long and Aunt Sal would sometimes scold: Dew, where’ve you been? Timbuktu?

Christmas puddings bubbled under their white cloth covers in the hot oven, and I loved helping Mum place tiny silver balls, miniature holly and Santa Claus decorations on the skating rink surface of the iced cake. Everything was home-made then. We excitedly received parcels from our kind aunts, the contents of which were secreted away until that magical morning, which didn’t disappoint….We children were kept quiet with our gifts: cars and puzzles for the boys, a doll’s cot with enviable bedding, a doll and book for me. Mum said it would be perfect if Dad could have been there and grew pensive, but Uncle Bryn soon had her laughing again.”

We children, of course, woke early on that special day and drew our initials in the frosted glass of the window before rushing back to the warmth of our cocoon, grabbing our net stockings en route. Usually bought in the market or Woolworths, they contained all sorts of treasures. Always present was a silver-wrapped Clementine and a piece of coal for luck, a comic, tin whistle or flute, ‘mock’ cigarettes – which we smoked with panache…and a miniature chocolate bar collection (which gradually dwindled as rationing took hold!) Sometimes, there was a tiny, celluloid doll with garish feathers stuck to her extremities for me and small cars/trucks/aeroplanes for the boys. Our main present(s (when relatives were generous) were downstairs.

We didn’t always have a Christmas tree that I recall. God, and Jesus, played vital roles in early Christmases and we attended various thanksgiving concerts over the years in Chapel and Seion. I prayed each night: For the poor children in Poland! as instructed by Mum and added one for: My Daddy, please send him home and also end the war. But, of course, he did no such thing and I wondered if he was Having tea with Lizzie the Bogie who was a fortune-teller and lived up the Bogie Road. She used to say odd things, like – to her only son: who liked swimming in the lake when the weather was fine: You come ‘ome drowned and I’ll bloody-well kill yew!

Sadly. our second Christmas in Wales was marked by two tragedies. My dear Uncle Bernard, aged twenty-two (Dad’s youngest brother), a navigator in the Royal Air Force, flying somewhere over the Atlantic as an escort, was reported missing and never did come home. And Mum’s second cousin, Islwyn – an only child – was killed in Nant-Y-Ffinn mine nearby, when a ton of coal fell, killing him instantly. He wasn’t even eighteen-years-old. Mum said: What with Uncle Bernard missing and cousin Islwyn dead, as well as your Dad being in France, it’s the worst Christmas I can ever remember. And, although us children were mainly in an ‘ignorant bubble,’ I can recall sobbing into my pillow for Uncle Bernard, and Islwyn had been so full of beans, had a great singing voice and was teaching me the Time Step. The whole mountain mourned his loss. I knew what Mum meant when she said: Coal costs far more than what we pay the coal-man at the door! .

Fortunately, war’s end, and our immediate family emerged Stirred but not too shaken! and most of our later Christmases are recalled for happier reasons. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la!

©Joy Lennick

My Gentle War a memoir, is about my paternal and maternal families and some of my experiences as an evacuee, especially to Wales, which still owns a chunk of my heart! Some of my Dad’s diary entries are included as they were such a contrast to mine!

It is the story of a young girl and her family. Ripped away from the home she loved, from her friends, and familiar surroundings, she spends her formative years in the comparative safety of the Welsh Valleys. With the World at War, and her father sent to the battlefields of Europe, her war is fought holding back tears whilst waiting for news of her father, never knowing whether she will see him again. This is the story of a young girl learning to live a new life, holding her family together in unfamiliar surroundings, all the while dreaming of the father that was forced to leave her. My Gentle War is Joy’s story.

A review for My Gentle War on Amazon

Margaret Rowland A piece of social history 18 April 2013

War may be a terrible thing, but a young girl’s experience is innocently displayed in this book. We feel and sense the family ties and the sense of belonging. Such a heartwarming recollection of love and caring and sharing. Thoroughly enjoyable as we delve into our social history.

and one from Goodreads.

May 23, 2014 by Pat MacDonald.

Aptly titled, this is a delightful little book, that tells the story of one child’s experience of war and evacuation. It brought back so many memories for me, not of that time period, but of my childhood. So many wonderful similarities around the characters – e.g my grandmother cut and buttered bread in the same fashion. I found myself enchanted by this period in history and descriptions of the blitz and how people survived it in a compelling an human way. Loved it!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

Also by Joy Lennick

A selection of books by Joy Lennick and in collaboration with Andrew Halsey

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Read other reviews and follow Joy on Goodreads:

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Connect to Joy


My thanks to Joy for sharing this lovely nostalgic and heartwarming story of her Welsh Christmases and we would love your feedback. thanks Sally