Monday, 28 January 2013

Me - from A to Z

I'm not usually prone to posting memes but young sonny Jim's rather caught my imagination.  He freely admits to having stolen the idea so I have no shame in pinching it from him.  But there is a difference.  Whereas he followed the subjects strictly, I intend to let my creative mind introduce some different ones.

A = age.  Old.  In fact, I am biologically old enough - just about - to be Jim Suldog's father, hence the reference to "young sonny Jim".  My old granny, bless her, whenever asked her age, replied, "As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth", which I always - even as a child - thought a bit of a stretch as she had false teeth!

B = born.  Yes, I was born.  I was not discovered under a gooseberry bush, nor was I dropped off by a kindly stork that just happened to be passing the house.  In fact, I was born in a Royal Naval maternity home as my father was serving in the Royal Navy.  That maternity home was in Gillingham, a town on the estuary of the River Medway in Kent, which makes me a Man of Kent, not a Kentish Man.  The Medway rises in Sussex and divides the county of Kent into two parts almost equal in size.  People born north and west of the river - the London side - are Kentish men or women, while those born south and east of the river are Men (or Maids) of Kent.  I don't know how or when I learned that and I don't think there are too many people who know it.  There are probably even fewer who care.

C = children.  Three, two sons and a daughter.  My daughter, the youngest of the three, was planned although we didn't manage to get the age gap to exactly the three years we planned and she is three years and three months younger than my younger son.  I remember that when we told my mother my wife was pregnant again, she immediately caused herself embarrassment by exclaiming, "Oh, I am sorry".  Daughter is now a deputy head teacher at an inner-city secondary school where fewer than 1% of the pupils are white and have English as their language at home.  Don't ask what the sons jobs are - they're far too specialist for me to understand.

D = dog.  My wife and I are dog people.   We have owned dogs since about a year after we were married, apart from short gaps in between after the death of one.  The first was a collie-cross, followed by a flat-coated retriever, then a golden retriever and now an English springer spaniel.  Dog people will understand.  Other will simply scratch their heads and wonder.

E = essential start to my day.  There isn't one, although if I had to choose on pain of death I suppose I would say that it's a cup of tea.  My day generally starts with the alarm clock, although when we are at my cousin's farm I manage to wake at about 7.15 with no artificial aid.  At home, though, I seem to need that jerk - even if I do press the snooze button a few times.  After a shower (which is not really essential although welcome) I drink a glass of orange juice while waiting for the kettle to boil in order to make that necessary cuppa.

F = favourite colour.  Green, I think.  But, like music (see below), it rather depends on what mood I'm in.

G = games.  I'm not really a games person, either indoor or outdoor.  At school, I was introduced to rugby and made to play in the second row of the scrum.  I hated it and usually managed to cry off on account of my asthma.  I did enjoy playing at badminton.  Notice, I say "playing at" rather than "playing".  I have never had good eye-to-hand co-ordination (or eye-to-foot, come to that) so ball games and the like are really not for me.  I'm not even one for watching them on television either.

H = house, flat or bungalow.  I have spent the last 40+ years of my live living in a bog standard, three-bedroom, semi-detached house.  Before that, I lived in a couple of flats after getting married.  I have never lived in a bungalow, although I have tried to persuade my wife that we should consider moving to one before she has too much difficulty climbing the stairs.  But we will probably end up installing a stair-lift rather than moving.

I = Irish.  No, I have no Irish blood in me although, as I mentioned somewhere else on this blog, I have kissed the Blarney Stone.  My wife, otherwise affectionately known as the Old Bat, does have Irish blood.  Her great grandfather was born in Devon but emigrated to Australia where he married a girl born in Ireland.  Their son - the Old Bat's grandfather - was born in Australia, which makes him Australian, but he was also half English and half Irish by blood.  After the death of his mother, he was sent to England to live with his grandparents.  It was here that he met and married a girl born in Liverpool to Irish immigrant parents, so she was English (or even Scouse) by birth by Irish by blood.  Her mother died and her father put her up for adoption and her adoptive parents were English.  So what that makes the Old Bat confuses thew hell out of me and I think we should move on to

J = job.  Retired these past ten years and a bit, thank you very much, and that was the best thing I ever did.  Apart from marrying the Old Bat, of course.  (I have to say that just in case...)

K = kitchen.  I'm told we have one and it's there that meals are prepared.  You will gather that I am no cook, although I suspect that I could be quite a reasonable cook if I really tried.  My mother was one of the old school who thought that the man's job was to go to work to pay for things while the woman's place was in the home.  So she never taught my brother or me to cook.

L = language.  You will not be surprised to learn that my language is English.  I would dearly love to be a polyglot but restrict myself to a little French.  I do get extremely irritated by people who should know better misusing their (and my) native tongue by, for example, using the word "less" when they should use "fewer" or mangling things horribly along the lines of "we wasn't".  Let's move on quickly as I can feek a rant coming on!

M = music.  I like many types of music depending on the mood I'm in.  I am not a lover of current pop but take me back to the music of the Seekers, the Carpenters, Abba - that's the kind of pop music I like.  I am also a saddo who likes military music, especially the bands of the Royal Marines, than whom there is none better.  And some pieces of classical music can move me to tears if in the right frame of mind:  Elgar's Nimrod - so essentially English, the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, the second movement of Mozart's clarinet concerto.  Others, too, but that gives you the flavour.

N = nicotine.  I stopped smoking about 18 months ago when I was introduced to my Macmillan nurse in a scare that turned out not to be cancer.  Before that I had smoked for fifty years, usually cigarettes but for some years I switched to a pipe.  I never did get on with cigars.

O = 'obbies.  Pushing it a bit, I know, 'obbies is what I have chosen for my O.  Does membership of the local Lions Club count as a hobby?  It certainly takes up as much time as I can find so I suppose that it might.  Otherwise, researching my family history.  It seems to me that there is something comforting in knowing where one's forebears lived and worked.  And just occasionally one turns up an amusing fact  For example, my 7 x great grandfather was reported to the magistrates in Portsmouth for selling beer without a license.

P = pet peeve.  Well now, if it's not the mangling of the English language - and the increasing introduction of American terms such as "train station" instead of the traditional "railway station" - then I suppose it must be cold telephone calls from companies saying they are conducting market research when they are really trying to sell me something.

Q = quote.  Winston Churchill's Second World War speech provides some of the most inspiring words I have ever heard:
"...we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."
Just reading those words makes the hair on the back of my neck rise.

R = royalist.   Definitely.  I think our royal family brings a degree of stability to the political scene in this country - as well as bringing in tourists and their money!

S = siblings.  One brother, who now lives in deepest Cornwall and to whom I speak every two or three weeks on the phone but whom I have not seen for almost three years.  We mostly got on well as children, subject to the usual siblings' spats.  I sometimes wished that I had a sister.  In those days, schools were single sex so I had little chance to get to know girls and this, I felt, led to shyness at an age when I should have liked to get to know more young ladies.

T = travel.  I have always had itchy feet and it is really only in the last few years that I have managed to completely ignore that itchiness.  Not that I ever indulged it to the full.  I have, for instance, never set foot on the continent of Africa.  My only time in Asia was a week in Japan for a Lions' international convention.  Granted, I have been to North America on five occasions, but never to South America.  I have, however, visited just about every western European country, several of them more than once.  There are still places I would love to visit but the Old Bat's lack of mobility makes it unlikely that I ever will.

U = university attended.  Oxford.  Specifically Worcester College.  But only for four days to sit the entrance exam - which I failed.  I also failed to gain admission to any other of the universities to which I applied.

V = vegetables.  Dislikes: asparagus.  Likes: peas picked fresh from the garden, onions, roast parsnips, sweet corn, roast potatoes, jacket potatoes, parmentier potatoes.  Enough?

W = what makes me late.  Nothing if I can avoid it.  Being on time for an appointment means being there five minutes early.  If we are making a journey that involves being at the other end by a specific time, I am likely to leave home half an hour early "to allow for heavy traffic", which rarely materialises.

X = X-rays.  There was a time in the summer of 2011 when I seemed to have an x-ray or a scan of some other sort every couple of weeks.  That was when I had a cough which I couldn't shift.  My GP sent my for an x-ray which showed a shadow on my lung.  Panic stations - until it proved to be a plug of mucous.  What a relief that was.  (See N = Nicotine above.)

Y = yummie food.  Cream cakes of all shapes and sizes.  Crumpets oozing butter.  Muffins (that's English muffins, not those American monstrosities).  Fish and chips.  I could almost say, just food!

Z = zoo animal favourite.  I would almost choose the penguin, but purists might point out that the penguin is a bird, not an animal.  And anyway, it's penguins in the wild that I think are so amusing.  So the choice comes down to either the meerkat of the Rhesus monkey.  I can watch both for absolutely ages and to choose one over the other is extremely difficult.  Oh what the heck.  Meerkat.


The snow has gone entirely but my pictures are not quite exhausted.  This was taken on the golf course approaching the Roman Camp on Saturday afternoon.  It makes me think of tundra on the Downs.


Suldog said...

Lovely job of it, and thank you for the link.

I may have learned something. I always assumed, when hearing it, that the phrase was "Sunny Jim", not "Sonny Jim". Or am I being obtuse, with your use of it in the fashion given only to point out the age difference?

Brighton Pensioner said...

Jim, According to the Urban Dictionary, Sonny Jim:

1. Said by old people to younger people meaning: "young fella".
"Hey there 'Sonny Jim'."

2. Said by a more experienced person to a less experienced young male in order to pull rank, upbraid, or remind him of his place in the pecking order.
"Next time you pull a stunt like that , Sonny Jim, you'd best complete your homework."

Sunny Jim: According to Wikipedia, "the name of two completely unconnected characters used in advertising and product branding: (1) a cartoon character created to promote Force cereal, the first commercially successful wheat flake; (2) the name of a brand of peanut butter produced in the Seattle area."

Take your pick.

Buck said...

Well done on the Eh to Zed. Lots of interesting tidbits there.