Saturday, 6 June 2009

There and Back to See how Far it is.

Do you remember the saying' There and back to see how far it is.' I wonder where it came from.

I was on holiday in Southwold recently. There I met a delightful man and his family. We chatted, as holiday makers do and he turned out to be, like myself, a football fan. Now I reckon I'm keen, but he far surpassed my dedication to Derby County. I noticed he had tattooed on his fingers letters that together spelt out the words TRUE BLUE, his love of Chelsea Football Club self evident. Even more remarkable was the large tattoo on his back. He was proud of his tattoo and showed it willingly, there presumably for all eternity. The name Chelsea and their post code for all to see. He was indeed a character, a very affable one and he lived on the Isle of Sheppey.

Many years ago, when lessons came to an end early (lesson plans, what's a lesson plan?) I had a pupil who rescued me many a time. He gave a touching rendering of 'Old Shep' that was far more moving than anything I had offered in the previous fifty minutes. The ending was guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of even the most street-wise.

'Old Shep he has gone

Where the good doggies go

and no more with old Shep will I roam

But if dogs have a heaven

There's one thing I know

Old Shep has a wonderful home.'

(Evidently you can get the lyrics of Old Shep as a ringtone. As Michael Caine would say 'Not a lot of people know that'!)

All this was in the seventies when Elvis Presley, who recorded Old Shep was particularly popular. (Walter Brennan's version is far more moving and probably influenced Elvis.) The day Elvis died is one of those dates in history that almost everyone can remember where they were when the news broke. (August 16th, 1977. I was at Chapel St Leonards at the time camping with my family.) Who could fail to remember such important moments in history.

Yet they also reckon most people remember where they were when both J F Kennedy and John Lennon were shot. I remember the Kennedy assassination yet have no recollection as to my whereabouts when John Lennon's demise unfolded.

A strange thing, memory. Many amongst us can remember what we were doing at the age of five, in some cases being over sixty years ago. Yet we have difficulty in remembering more than three items 'the wife' sent us to buy at the supermarket less than an hour ago. I once attended a funeral on the wrong day, went to the wrong church to attend a wedding, visited town on my bike and came home on the bus. (Not all on the same day!) Not that a sat nav or a computerised memory aid would have made much difference.

Sat navs, who needs them! I reckon we are on auto pilot in life, particularly when driving, for much of the time. (A year or so travelling north from Bath on a filthy black night, my wife and I had sat nav trouble; the darn thing refused to let us find the motorway. After what seemed for ever, the wind blowing a gale we arrived in a dark gloomy town. I wound my window down and shouted to one of the few people daft enough to be on the street. 'Gloucester?' I enquired quizzically. 'Cheltenham' he replied dismissively.)

I know little regarding Cheltenham. It has if I remember rightly an establishment for the education of young ladies, Cheltenham College that is highly regarded. I served as a teacher in a large comprehensive for many years. But it was certainly no Cheltenham. A public school yes, in that anyone could come, but an establishment of refinement, not really.

I have taught both in the secondary age sector and in adult education. In the latter I taught a young man, previously one of my school pupils. He had led a somewhat undisciplined life since leaving school, and had served a spell in prison. He was sentenced, amongst other things for hiding a policeman's helmet in a lively street altercation. I wonder what the charge was.

He once told me that 'he had run over a car.' 'What were you driving, a bulldozer' I asked with typical teaching ignorance. 'No,' he replied, exasperated at his former teachers stupidity. 'You know, ran over a car. Ran over, up onto the bonnet, over the roof and down the boot.' He was in my 'night school' class because he now realised the value of education and wished to 'better himself.'.

He too had a tattoo; plus it was on his back ; a tattoo and picture in large letters. Only he wasn't a Chelsea supporter. He had had this tattoo done when he was barely out of school. Now, some fifteen or twenty years later, with a wife and children, he was less than enamored with his tattoo.

He no longer went in the local swimming baths and certainly not with his children. At seventeen or so it had seemed a fun thing to do. His tattoo too will be there for ever and a day. And why is he less keen nowadays. I don't suppose too many people would like a large coloured butterfly and the words 'Butterflies Eat Shit' across their nether regions. Ah, the foolishness of youth. I wonder if my Chelsea friend will ever rue the day he had inscribed his support of Chelsea.


Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi! I enjoyed your train of thought on this blog post. Thanks!

Bernard said...

Why do I get pages and pages of blanks at the end of your post to get here to leave a comment?
Enjoy it as always.
I, like you know where I was when Elvis died.....but only because I had the radio on in the garage at the time.....and still have my old Elvis LP's

ADDY said...

When you have finished typing your post, always make sure that the last line of text is right up against the bottom frame of the box. If there is any space after that last line, it will appear in the blog as space between your last line and the comments prompt.

To eliminate the blank space, go back to "edit posts" on your dashboard and once there, scroll down to the very end of your text. Press the delete key that deletes any spaces AFTER that last line, so that the last line is flush against the bottom frame of the box. That should solve the problem. (I hope.)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks for the visit and kind words

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I still play 78's sometimes on my gram!
Re the gap on the blog, I have problems and am waiting to be sorted. I'm limited technically. (Most people think I'm limited full stop!)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks for trying to help. Its a bit more than what you suggest. Waiting for son in law to sort me out.
IF I ever get sorted I will tell you what the problem was.

Shammickite said...

Funny how one thought leads to another and then another.... and it's fun trying to retrace the steps to take your mind back to where it all began.
Funny too how we remember those significant dates in history and our personal locations.
JFKennedy's death... I was on a train going from Exeter to Ilfracombe, N Devon.
Man landing on the Moon... I was at Buffalo Zoo, New York State.
Bobby Kennedy's death... downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Lennon's death... in hospital, Toronto.
Falklands war... second son was born the next day.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Butterflies eat shit? I don't think so. I believe they drink nectar. What is it with tattoos? As a lad, in Hull, the only people you ever might see with tattoos were sailors and ex-prisoners. Certainly, you'd never ever see any women with tattoos. Instead of self indulgent designs, I think there should be just one tattoo available - "Stupid Chav"!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Blimey, your memory is better than mine!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Not mad keen on tattoos either but 'stupid' is far too strong. My daughter is a caring, conscientious teacher and a top class individual. She also has a discreet tattoo.