Blue blood?

You are unlikely to believe me when I tell you that I am directly descended from English kings through both my father and my mother.

Through my Irish grandfather I am possibly descended from the Emperor Charlemagne and the Baron of Loughmoe in County Tipperary (the Poms destroyed our castle and removed the title in the 17 th Century..)

We are sure that you (or some of you) instinctively knew that we were special, not quite hoi polloi. There is proof – all will be revealed soon!

As you will see, We (that is me) are double blue blooded, through Her Majesty my mother and His Majesty my father…. so you won’t mind if we sit above you at dinner?

Lineage to Kings of England: *

my father 23 generations (mostly Scots)

John Lackland, King of England 1166

Henry III of England his son

Edward I “Longshanks”, King of England his son

Edward II of England his son → 19 generations, mostly Dutch

my Grandmother

With royal blessings and good wishes

Malachy of Mbabane
Duke of Queensland.

P.S. Please do not stand on ceremony, no more than a bow/curtsy once a day will suffice …

Perhaps an Induna’s headring would be more appropriate, to signify our family’s extensive sojourn in Africa….?

Genealogy can be of great interest. My daughter (she denies she wishes to be recognised as a Princess) gave me an Ancestry spit test kit for Christmas. So the evidence will soon be in.

Timing is everything of course – is it serendipity that Prince Harry had decided to go and hide in Canada with his dusky Duchess? – There is now a glaring hole in the line-up… I hope they hurry up with my spit test, so I can send it on to Cousin Lilibet.

…or?

(* as reported by Ancestry.com)

Nostalgia and sentiment

Heaven knows that I, and at least one of my brothers and two of my daughters, are blubbers. Partings and reunions, happy endings and the triumph of love are all guaranteed to start the drip, sniff, drip of tears.

In our part of the world, fortunately some miles away, forests are burning with a natural vigour and lethal beauty, filling our screens with orange and our skies with smoke. People are reluctantly forced to flee, leaving their all behind. Their faces filled with conflicting elation at escaping, wonder at the awful consumption of the fire and despair at having lost everything; grubby survivors express their gratitude and resilience. Such a wonder in dire times. They thicken one’s throat every time.

A local animal carer posted an appeal for soft toys for orphaned koalas to cling to. We responded that we had a bear or two which had been ignored for some time who were willing to serve.

Herself offered up Oswald, who was a bear she had asked to accompany her on a long road trip when moving from the North Island to join me on the unknown, distant South island. I didn’t know him very well. He is quite a big fella, able to see over the dashboard so he could keep an eye on the road as they drove.

I gave a sigh of relief as that meant that I didn’t have to give up Hadley Alexander, who had been my bear for about the last 30 years. He has a tartan ribbon, but I am unable to discern which clan it represents.

A few days before collection, a dinosaur, moose and a chimp were added to the volunteer crew. They were anonymous soft toys, selected to entertain and be ripped up by a young chewy puppy, but who had escaped that ordeal.

I noticed that Oswald had been withdrawn from the group; parting had been too hard.

After a delay in collection over Christmas, a new date was set. Bravely, I asked Hadley if he was willing, and he unhesitatingly raised his paw and growled his assent. So I wrote his name on a label and took him to the collection point.

As I walked out the door, I found that my feet were sticking and a tear trickled … I couldn’t let him go!

Oswald and Hadley

How do we sophisticated beings explain this sentimental attachment to things? Doug Larsen said Nostalgia is what takes the rough edges off the good old days – maybe that’s what it is.

Could you give away your teddy bear?

Random New Year’s Day thoughts

I am being serenaded by a friendly magpie lark. His/her shrill calls piercing my hearing aided ears.

Lulu came limping in just after dark last night. She wouldn’t tell us what happened and we feared it may have been a snake…

We loaded her up and took her to a vet hospital in Manly, where she hopped out the car and started snuffling about hardly limping at all. We went home unvetted – she’s good.

Si and Mags arrived and made their big announcement: they were doing a Dry January. I was miffed – I would have joined them, but I had just opened my first beer of the day, year and decade. I feel better now; more like a pioneer.

Reviewing the decade, our move to Australia dominates; it was a good decision. Our little cameo stay in Oamaru holds bright if not many warm memories.

I suppose the next ten years will be about downsizing. We will get a few trips and jols in before we move into wheelchairs, so the kids still have a few years of freedom.

We have been very lucky.

My crystal ball gazing suggests:

  • Africans will get poorer as their rulers fail to provide for other than themselves
  • The primacy of individual rights will subside as surveillance becomes ubiquitous.
  • Liberal governments will remain hampered by populist demands for attention to every little individual need. Autocratic governments will grow stronger.
  • Government processes will become digitised and more efficient.
  • There will be no cash money. Cryptocurrency may lead to a universal currency and a basic income may become available for all.
  • Individual car ownership will diminish under shared ownership; petrol will disappear.
  • Water will become highly valued. Unproductive land will be uneconomical (i.e. lawns and gardens)
  • Waste management and plastic eradication will be of paramount importance
  • Air transport will come to your door.

That’s enough thumbsucking. Make a note to check my predictions in 2030 – you won’t remember but Google will!

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
Vincent Van Gogh

Childhood fantasies

’tis the season to be merry… and mindful.

I have been listening to Christmas Carols and the like (parts of The Messiah and a fairytale of New York) and sentimental memories had my eyes watering.

Some days I sing quite well and can hold a tune; other days I creak and squeak, so I only sing in brief bursts, when my heart lifts and my lungs fill spontaneously.

My memory played a strange trick on me recently. The First Noel has an ascending chorus line which can be drawn out …. My children do not like it, but I find the long drawn out Noel Nooooweeeeell irresistible. Inevitably I am the only one doing this and it attracts attention from others. They get embarrassed and cringe and these days walk out if it happens to start playing…

My memory is of having them around me at the carol singing evening at Havelock Mine, where I lived in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. We were up on the balcony and they were all looking at me with great apprehension as the song progressed… it is a clear picture in my mind.

The trick is that it wasn’t my children, it was my brother and I and it was my father who was stretching out for the chorus… my children were not born yet.

Carols at Christmas are tied up with many of my own childhood family memories. Away in a manger is mawkish and sentimental but it always prompts a memory of the amphitheatre in Mbabane, candles in cardboard holders and even a real donkey in the Nativity scene and Daddy singing No-owell, No-owell, No-owelll, No-oweeell and all eyes turning. What a strange mixture of embarrassment and pride! No-one could sing as loudly or as bravely as my Dad; he had a fine voice. Mark my footsteps good my page, treadst thou in them boldly!

Now that I am older than I once was, I am ticking off items on my bucket list. I did that today – I cooked a Gingerbread Man!

As you may recall, I have made a number of culinary endeavours and some have been almost successful.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a rolling pin, so used a bottle which didn’t work; nor did the cookie cutter for which I had scoured the town.

Not a work of art, but I can tick it off!

Phone addiction – bike rides in the ‘burbs iii

As an aging adult in my late sixties, I believe my life experiences and observations allow me the freedom to offer my humble opinion of modern behavioural trends.

One such trend which is topical and irksomely pervasive is the compulsion to pay more attention to a mobile phone than the surrounding people and environment.

I find it quite offensive that people keep their phones within eyesight and reach and scrutinise it for new surprises almost every minute, notwithstanding participation in the conversation of company.

The terrifying sight of primary school cyclists pedalling along main roads while eyes-down and thumbing text messages is not uncommon.

App allure is clearly mesmerising !

I have muttered criticism and spouted off my horror and concerns frequently.

It is embarrassing to fall victim of that behaviour which I have so soundly castigated!

On my return from a fishing trip to Fraser Island with some gabbas* and a young son of one, I was determined to work on reducing my girth which had been subject of some very pointed comments.

So I arose before sunrise and dressed, pumped up my tyre (which was nearly enough to exhaust me) and prepared to launch on my first daily exercise.

As a techno savvy modern man, I had downloaded a cycling computer app onto my phone which tracked speed, distance, time, route, pulse rate and many other such things. I had even acquired a special mount on my bike for it.

I switched it on and coasted down the drive, but had to return for my spiky helmet (protection against swooping magpies). Now fully equipped I started on my familiar route through the suburb to the creek…

With mild concern I noticed that it seemed that the computer display was not showing distance travelled.

Fortunately it was a familiar road and no travellers were about at 5 a.m., so I could closely scrutinise the screen.

Concentrating and pedalling I rounded the corner and rode Whap! into the back of a parked car. I hit the road after my handle bar thumped my ribs. The same ones I whacked before…!

Looking around, I saw no-one was about and the car was unmarked. I picked myself up, got back on and my gears worked after a few creaks, so I rode off quickly.

My wonderful computer worked for another minute then the screen died. My battery was flat.

A bruise on the ribs serves to remind me that I must learn not to throw stones at people in glass houses or better still: leave my phone at home!

Some of you may detect a cycle of suburban tumbles: others are related in the links below.

https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2017/03/13/i-knew-i-was-going-to-die-bike-rides-in-the-burbs-ii/

https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2016/09/18/bike-rides-in-the-burbs/

*gabbas: Afrikaans slang for mates

Island Fever

Fraser Island is a heritage-listed site and it deserves to be: 123 kilometres of beach on its East coast attract droves of campers and fishers and backpackers who zoom along the beach in 4×4 vehicles, delivered by barges or fly-ins who catch a bus. Freshwater lakes, creeks and natural woodlands add allure. The seas abound with shoal fish, sharks and whales often pass close by.

Our gang of old fogies, one in his 70’s, two in their 60’s and a mature son in law in his 40’s were joined by his 10 year old son on a boys fishing trip to the island.

We hired a tent at Cathedrals, about 70 k’s up the coast. The weather was good and most of us caught on the Friday evening fish.

Saturday proved to be a disaster: fair weather but hardly a bite let alone any fish.

The only amusing incident was a brash dingo that smiled and walked right up to me, wagging his tail. I had less confidence and stamped my foot and told it to Footsack!*

Then the Wallabies got walloped by the Poms and the AB’s humbled Ireland … and it rained.

Sunday was like a day in heaven! Beautiful calm sea and I caught a fish on my first cast. The youngster caught one too.

After that the fish went off the bite. Boredom set in so we decided to drive up the beach and see what we could see… which turned out to be miles of beautiful azure blue, flat sea with the occasional breaker.

Eagle-eyed Metroman said he saw a fin he thought was maybe a shark or a whale, maybe a dolphin.

Then we saw birds diving into a bait shoal very close to shore.

A bronzed fisherman was already in the surf spinning his lure.

Everybody grabbed a rod and cast in! This was a wonderful opportunity to catch one of the big tailor which prey on the bait fish.

There was much flailing but no result and the birds moved off. Alas!

It was hot and the sea was lovely, so we decided on a quick dip to catch a wave or two. Lo and Behold! As we got to the waves, we saw fish flashing through them and jumping out the water!

We ran back and got our rods with spinning lures and wading in up to chest height flailed at the water again and again.

Still no bites!

But the water was lovely, so we beached our rods and body surfed lovely waves. Crystal clear water and no rips, it was exhilirating!

We only remembered the fin and the horror stories of tiger sharks in three feet of water when we got out…!

That’s island fever for you and it gets worse with age as we clearly demonstrated!

*Footsack phonetic pronunciation of “voertsek”, Afrikaans for “go away

The dangers lurking in the garden…

Life in retirement has some ups and downs!

For the past 18 months I have been suffering from an itchy suppurating infection in the cleft of my left hand.

The doctor said try this cream – nothing doing. I am now at the point of suggesting surgery. (I have unusual hands and surgery could add some symmetry). Back to the doctor who showed little concern and said antibiotics (I hate them, they interfere with my innards and I think they are too easily prescribed, but I was suffering…). Antibiotics and sterocorticoid creams, extra algebra and Zambuk only suppressed symptoms.

Three agonising weeks later he said those awful words: I can do no more for you…!

The dermatologist said what have you been eating, doing that is different which may be a cause ? I said “My life was the inspiration for national groundhog day”. She prescribed another cream – no good. I am now considering amputation as a solution (itch is agony, let me tell you!) Back to the dermo – she brought out her big guns: six weeks antibiotics and six tubes of sterocorticoid cream. But I think what did it was that she said I must keep the hand dry.

I said that will be difficult as I am the washer-up! The wise doctor was insistent and even gave me a note to that effect for she who designates the division of labour in our menage!

Phew! after four months and no itch or ooze I thought  maybe perhaps …

Eina pyn, jou bliksem – spoke too soon. The itch burn, inflammation returned. What evil could be pursuing me like this, is there a witch doctor hereabouts that I have offended?

In the middle of the night I had an epiphany: Nasturtiums – my belovedest flowers almost. We use its flowers, seeds and peppery leaves in salad; the parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

People take nasturtium in combination with other herbs for urinary tract infections, swollen airways, cough, and bronchitis. Nasturtium is sometimes applied directly to the skin in combination with other herbs for mild muscular pain. it contains vitamin C and might help fight bacteria, fungi, viruses, and tumours.

Apparently it is part of the mustard seed family which can cause severe allergic reactions.

Lawks!! Mustard allergy can cause anaphylaxis!!

I picked the first bunch of Spring yesterday: a creamy yellow, shouting oranges, deep crimson, brilliant yellows … so lovely!

sooo innocent and beautiful!

It turns out I have an allergic contact dermatitis. Fortunately I still have tubes of cream… at least I know now what caused it, even if it is so sad.

Apparently there is a large number of these potential killers on the loose in your flower beds, disguised as sweet smelling, colourful, joy giving blooms: sunflowers, inca lilies, jasmine, wisteria, some daisies aaand even chamomile! Life is sooo cruel!