Back in the Day

Old May 11th 2023, 2:40 pm
  #226  
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My first foreign country was Norway, in the summer of 1963, - not counting the few stops the ship made between Australia and England, and not counting England itself. I hitch-hikeded by myself around the three Scandinavian countries, and worked for a few weeks in one of them. That story belongs here in this "Back in the Day" thread. However... in what I can only call a fit of absent-mindedness, the other day I started a thread in the Scandinavian forum. Still in the "Living and Moving Abroad" section, but in the Europe sub-section, and the title of the thread is "Travels in Norway".

Now... I can't duplicate my posts - that's against the BE rules - and I don't want to abandon the poor old Scandinavian forum, which needs the attention - so I can only invite anyone who would like to read any of those back-in-the-day posts (limited to Norway and its near neighbours) to go over to the Scandinavian forum. So far, I've only told about having a birthday swim inside the Arctic Circle and rejecting the offer of a week-long voyage up to Spitzbergen, but there was plenty else that happened in my three months in the region.

I wish I'd done more. I now have three Norwegian grandchildren, who probably expect more. Sigh...
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Old May 14th 2023, 1:31 am
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Originally Posted by scrubbedexpat143
... The apple of Mum's eye - the rest of us see her as a self-centered and rather stupid spoiled brat who dedicates her entire 17-year old life to using everyone to her advantage, but that's not the basis of my yarn, so let's let it go. She had a casual job in a local food shop but lost it, as it turned out she was spending more time yap-yapping to her friends on her mobile phone than serving customers. So she was let go. Came home crying her eyes out. Said to her parents, "I'm not able to save anything for my first house!" This at all of 17... The story is that her folks will give her the deposit for a small unit (= apartment, condominium) as her Sweet 21 gift..
Cripes! That's pretty thick of the girl's parents to spoil their child - and dangerous for their own financial security, surely. The deposit on a unit isn't going to help much if the girl isn't taught the basics of earning a living! I must admit that Linda and I paid for our son's first house - a nice little shack in a forest in southern Norway when he looked set to marry a girl there. He and his friends built on the ruins of what was already there, and the cost to us was about $60K, if I remember. We reckoned that every child can reasonably expect the old folks to come good for the first house. (Though not at age 17, for goodness sake!) His marriage intentions fell away, but one of his daughters lives in the house now, and pays him rent. His next purchase was for 60 acres of (mainly) trees on the side of a mountain up in ski-country, but that one he had to take out a 20-year mortgage for. My first house was a "town house" (a two story condo) here in Cayman at the age of 39, and we paid cash from what we'd saved over the years.

His (my son's) financial-management skills have lain undeveloped for as long as he's been alive, pretty much. He was a hippie for more years than was prudent. The closest he came to owning a house (well, to be fair he did actually own it, although er...) was living for six months in a tree-house in Guatemala overlooking Lake Atitlan. The local Mayan natives built a platform 20 feet or so up in a solid tree while he and his girlfriend were down in Peru. In theory, he still does own it. Ah well, that's a whole nother story! I'll stop here.
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Old May 18th 2023, 12:57 am
  #228  
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As I've told in the "Small World" thread of this Forum... when I stepped off the bus from Southampton to London in 1963, Graham was walking down the street and greeted me with a surprised "G'day Pablo!" We had been school chums in Brisbane eight years before - he a day-boy, me a boarder. On long weekends we boarders were allowed to spend Sundays with friends at their homes, and Graham invited me a few times during the years we knew each other there. His mother thought Pablo was my real name, and neither of us bothered to correct her. That happened with most kids with nicknames. How I got my nickname was this...

I was eleven when I started at boarding school, 250 miles from home because the local school ran out of teachers. Painfully shy, and small for my age, I was put in the charge of a veteran boarder of my own age who showed me the ropes and introduced me around. Four or five of us kids squatted in the dirt and scratched our names in block capitals with twigs. When some older boys came by to see what we were doing, we hastily erased them to avoid being jeered at; but I wasn't quick enough to do more than wipe out my first name and bits of the surname. One of the intruders looked down scornfully at what was left. "What's this name? It looks like PABLO! What is he, a Mexican? Hahaha!" "Yes he is", my protector retorted bravely. "So what?" "Huh. He doesn’t look like a Mexican." "Well, his mother's Mexican. Have you got something against Mexicans?"

Now, even bullies were rarely brave enough to bad-mouth a boy's mother. Shamed, the intruders wandered away. My companions - all younger than the others, remember - felt obliged ever after, to call me and refer to me by the invented name, lest they be beaten up by the older boys for lying. There were a few foreign names in the school, but I was the only Mexican, and the name stuck like glue. Very few of the 1200 pupils ever knew my real name. When my brother came the next year, aged nine and even smaller than me, he was Little Pablo.

Two years after that chance meeting with Graham in London (see above), Linda and I were dragged into a shop in Esfahan, Iran, to meet another pair of European bums. It was always a fun thing for the local loiterers to watch foreigners gabble away in their weird languages. Graham didn't disappoint them - or me. "G'day Pablo!" he said in surprise. And he still calls me Pablo on the phone and in emails. Gathered around the barbie at his home last time I was in Australia, I was introduced to his friends as Pablo. Well, why not, eh? It's too late for him to change now.
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Old May 22nd 2023, 12:07 am
  #229  
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In my dotage (84 in August), I fill in my days wondering what to do with all the junk in this house. Starting with the old stuff. An oil painting of my English grandfather's grandmother, for instance, dating from the mid 1800s. I first saw it in my dad's cousin's house in Bath in 1963, and she promised to leave it to me in her Will. When she died, her lawyers shipped it to me in Cayman, and insured it for 2000 pds in case it got lost along the way. It didn't get lost, and in due course I got a call from Cayman Customs telling me I could collect it for a fee of 800 pds. Say what??!! "It's worth 2000 pounds and the Import Duty is 40%," I was told. I protested that it had no commercial value at all, and the senders had just plucked a figure out of the air. "Sorry, but rules is rules. Pay up or you can't take it." Huh. Well, that was easy. I told them to send it back to England.

Now if there's one thing a bureaucrat never wants to do it's to reverse a decision. And if there's one thing I never want to do it's to lose an argument. The talent that bluffed our way through the Berlin Wall forty years before (1965, I've posted the story somewhere on BE) came to life and lifted its stubborn head. After a bit of argy-bargy, we agreed that the painting probably qualified as an antique and as such didn't attract any Duty. The girl and I had a bit of a chuckle, and I picked it up next day.

It's on my wall in the lounge now, opposite a pastel picture of a Mrs Farrar who was some kind of family friend in Bath. Sadly, that picture (painting, is it?) is spoiled by water that dripped from a hole in my roof that I didn't notice in time. Can pastels ever be re-done? Remember that one of Jesus in the museum in Madrid a few years ago, that the cleaner wiped with a wet cloth? Was that ever fixed?
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Old May 22nd 2023, 2:41 am
  #230  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
In my dotage (84 in August), I fill in my days wondering what to do with all the junk in this house. Starting with the old stuff. An oil painting of my English grandfather's grandmother, for instance, dating from the mid 1800s. I first saw it in my dad's cousin's house in Bath in 1963, and she promised to leave it to me in her Will. When she died, her lawyers shipped it to me in Cayman, and insured it for 2000 pds in case it got lost along the way. It didn't get lost, and in due course I got a call from Cayman Customs telling me I could collect it for a fee of 800 pds. Say what??!! "It's worth 2000 pounds and the Import Duty is 40%," I was told. I protested that it had no commercial value at all, and the senders had just plucked a figure out of the air. "Sorry, but rules is rules. Pay up or you can't take it." Huh. Well, that was easy. I told them to send it back to England.

Now if there's one thing a bureaucrat never wants to do it's to reverse a decision. And if there's one thing I never want to do it's to lose an argument. The talent that bluffed our way through the Berlin Wall forty years before (1965, I've posted the story somewhere on BE) came to life and lifted its stubborn head. After a bit of argy-bargy, we agreed that the painting probably qualified as an antique and as such didn't attract any Duty. The girl and I had a bit of a chuckle, and I picked it up next day.

It's on my wall in the lounge now, opposite a pastel picture of a Mrs Farrar who was some kind of family friend in Bath. Sadly, that picture (painting, is it?) is spoiled by water that dripped from a hole in my roof that I didn't notice in time. Can pastels ever be re-done? Remember that one of Jesus in the museum in Madrid a few years ago, that the cleaner wiped with a wet cloth? Was that ever fixed?
If you have old photos or documents from a specific area and time, they may be of interest to a local museum?

No advice about repairing the pastel, sorry Gordon. Only that you couldn’t possibly make a bigger farce of it than that Jesus picture
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Old May 25th 2023, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Rainydaze
... No advice about repairing the pastel, sorry Gordon. Only that you couldn’t possibly make a bigger farce of it than that Jesus picture
For those who don't know what Rainydaze and I are laughing about, here's a link to a short YouTube summary of the disaster.
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Old May 27th 2023, 7:15 pm
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For any visitor here who is interested in travel stories of earlier times, there is a wonderful series of posts called "The Travel Thread" in The Lounge forum by BE member Kimilseung. The stories are well worth reading. It begins on the thread's Post #32. He hitch-hiked in Mongolia, Tibet, and Cambodia, to name but three. I've invited him to post here in "Back in the Day" too, and I hope he does.
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Old Jun 1st 2023, 9:07 pm
  #233  
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I can't be the only father on BE who didn't want children. The English comedian Simon Evans says that when his wife told him, "it's now or never", he thought "so never is an option. Alas, no. That was merely a rhetorical device..." I too was abruptly out-voted.

And at the actual birth of our son, I regretted being there. It was the most outrageously nasty event of my life - watching a display of a cruelty beyond measure. The average woman's response to that complaint is "Well, what about us? You only have to watch. We're the ones suffering the pain!" Which rather evades the issue, doesn't it.

A question arises... When and why did it become customary for men to be present during their wives' torture? I don't think my father was present for any of his children's births (1930s & '40s). Old movies show fathers pacing up and down in corridors, waiting to be allowed to greet a baby cleaned of all blood and intestines, in the arms of a smiling mother glowing with pride and sweat. So why did that ever change? I went through the ritual forty-odd years ago, yet it's still painfully easy to recall. I can't be the only father here who regrets being present. Surely not.
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Old Jun 2nd 2023, 4:17 pm
  #234  
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It wasn't routine for fathers to be present during childbirth a couple of generations ago, but it's a lot more common now.

I was there for the birth of my son and, a couple of years later, my daughter. Wouldn't have missed it for anything, but I think it's a decision couples have to make for themselves. My son was there when his two boys were born too. It's probably not for everyone though, and some women may prefer to exclude husbands/partners until the baby arrives!

FWIW, I worked in a hospital (casualty department and theatre porter, during surgery) for a while when I was a student, and witnessed several post mortems as a police officer later on, so the environment, blood and pain weren't really an issue for me.
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Old Jun 5th 2023, 5:38 pm
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What with post-partum depression for mothers and PTSD for fathers watching, and months and years for the babies to become capable of caring for themselves, it's a major miracle that the human species has survived!
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Old Jun 8th 2023, 5:05 pm
  #236  
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Gosh, aren't those Canadian wildfires something? Affecting places as far away as New York, for goodness sake! The story triggered a childhood memory in me, from way back in the day. I was never exposed to the reality of bushfires in our corner of the Darling Downs in Queensland, but I well recall our family being on holiday down on the coast, when Dad was called back home to help fight a fire in our district. We two boys must have been eight and five, and our holiday-home was a fibro cottage belonging to Mum's mother. Our one-month turned into three or four months, and I was signed up at the government school for a whole term, until the crisis was over and Dad came down to collect us.
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Old Jun 17th 2023, 2:33 am
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Linda wrote her own obituary, and I published it in the programme for her Memorial Service. I was surprised at how little I knew about her life as a child in post-war Melbourne, Australia. I am still surprised today at how little I remember about myown earliest days. Is that common?

A few incidents spring to mind, but not many. I'm talking about the first seven years. Seven was when I started at the government school-house three miles from home. Before then, Mum taught us lessons sent out by the State's Primary Correspondence School system; and we didn't leave home much at all. She apologised once - in later years - for my boring childhood, but I told her I don't remember it as boring. I would always rather read a book than help Dad around the farm, but a little kid in the Queensland bush doesn't have access to a library!

Are there any BE members in the same boat as me? Can't recall their early years? Please tell me it's not just me!
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Old Jun 24th 2023, 5:22 pm
  #238  
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"Salad Days"... Life doesn't improve as we get older. Most of us oldies look back at our salad-days, before the main course, and regret they didn't last longer. Ah well, shouldn't complain, I guess.

Mine lasted for about 14 years, which wasn't bad. Between ages 22 and 36, just about everything went right. Work was satisfying and well paid in every job I had. There were a few challenges along the way, but nothing that upset my peace of mind. After 36, there were more responsibilities. At least, it seemed more...

Would anybody else like to report on their "salad days"?
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Old Jun 30th 2023, 8:02 pm
  #239  
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Back in the day... Hmmm. I've been reading reports recently, claiming that one's twenties is too young an age to get married. Well, maybe. I have an open mind. I married in my twenties, to someone who I thought would be a good mother to our children. A bit cold-blooded a decision, looking back, but there you are! After we married I really, really fell head over heels in love with her, to the point where I dismissed the prospect of children. Why spoil a perfect marriage, right? But... in our thirties, she demanded children - or one at least, just to see how it goes. And, I have to say the new arrangement didn't go well. We stayed together, but the relationship was never quite the same.

It's a complicated business, marriage and children.
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Old Jun 30th 2023, 8:45 pm
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Relationships are complex for sure. I spent 30 years with a wife who I eventually divorced some years after she decided a physical relationship was no longer something she was interested in.

I was given a ‘hall pass’ and truly became polyamorous, which was a wonderful experience in my 50’s.

Now in my 60’s I still have several visceral relationships but I have a Caribbean love, who is smarter than me, a real entrepreneur, lives in a different country, 25 years younger, but has decided she appreciates a mature guy and that I am the guy for her and so my life evolves . She has openly told me I have been researched, she has asked her friends about me, and chooses me, so I am happily in love again. Yes I know you might see several red flags but I am confident of the relationship
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