Why Bernard is Bernard

Bernhard Olthoff is a 37-year-old mariner, when on the 20th June 1882 he marries my grandmother’s grandmother Johanna Klingebiel. Both live in Shadwell, East London and it is at the local parish church the wedding takes place. Witnesses are Adelaide Grannemann and Jacob Schaumlöffel which witnesses on the German speaking community they must have belonged to.

By this time Johanna already had 2 children Henry William (14 years old) and my great grandmother Johanna Dorotea  ( 3 years old). Both these children and the deceased Arthur Henry Fredrik had the surname Rump. We have not been able to find anything on the mysterious Rump but Johanna most certainly came to England via Southampton where the oldest boy was born.

Bernhard became a father to these children and he must have been a most liked person as his name lived on never having himself any own children.

Henry Rump married Nancy Parker in 1892 and gives his daughter born in 1901 the name Johanna Bernhardine and his youngest son born in 1903 is Bernard.

Johanna Dorotea also wanted to Bernardise her children  so her son William my grandmother’s brother was christened William Bernard Ernest. My grandmother might have remembered Bernhard as she was 5 when he died because her son Bernard Ineichen is Bernard.

Bernhard Olthoff dies in 1905 and is buried at the Tower Hamlets cemetery having outlived Johanna by 6 years.

Hope the ancestry map above will help to keep track of the Bernards.

Freddie and I


Well, here I am in Stone Town Zanzibar. This city stands in the center of a long historical trading period with the drama of slavery  included. A certain Dr. Livingstone played an valuable part in abolishing slavery here. I was shown the appalling conditions created to keep men and women as prisoners before being auctioned out.

I am posing in front of the house where Freddie Mercury (Farough Bulsar) opened his eyes for the first time. Freddie’s  father was a British Civil servant who came to the island from India. The Bursars belonged to an ancient minority that left Persia when it became Muslim, keeping their Zoroastrian traditions and religion through centuries during their India exile. Events to overthrow the Sultan from the island in 1964 sent the Bursars to London where they first settled in the Heathrow airport area where Mr. Bursar took up employment.

Queen’s music is the favorite in my home and Freddie Mercury’s voice and creative musical genius has had a strong standing throughout my life.

My mind boggles a little extra,  when I consider that I might very well have crossed a young Freddie in any of the streets around West Kensington where we both lived in the beginning of the seventies.

I wonder if any of those eccentric looking guys standing on underground platforms would not be the upcoming world artist oblivious of a famed future and destiny.

Curiously I do reflect on the fact that the most famous Zanzibari was not a real native the same way as Portugal’s most famous personality in the sixties – soccer player Eusebio- was an African arriving in Lisbon as a teenager to play for Benfica.

Immigration is not something you can ignore. It is instead a goldmine for development of the human race, provided immigrants are given opportunity to develop their skills.

Freeing Nelson Mandela

mandela

The struggle for justice and a better world relates for every generation, to special conflicts and events. One of these conflicts for me was the situation in South Africa and the implementation of the system of apartheid there.

Then as now, some people choose to intervene and be a part of the struggle for a better world.

I am remembering today the date of 17th july 1988. We were in London and had heard that a march had been organized and carried through by the AAM (Anti-apartheid Mouvement). This march started in Glasgow and ended in London, where more people could and did join up, to protest against apartheid and show their solidarity to those on the frontline of the struggle and resistance to this despicable system.

 This was the year when the leader of the ANC, a certain Nelson Mandela, became known to the world. It was the year of his 70th birthday and a concert was held earlier on, in Wembley, London.

This was the occasion when the world got knowledge that heading this long struggle there was a man locked up on an island off Cape Town. The anti-apartheid mouvement had finally a face.

 Nobody could then have known that this demonstration would help, not to release a man and a leader but also an example of humanity and leadership. Those there played a small part in freeing nelson Mandela and stamping out apartheid.

 

We have now lost Mandela. Why he became a landmark in a time that saw war and destruction worldwide, is not difficult to understand. Mandela showed by action and not words that humanity has a chance.

 I know, as I write these lines that there are many people and ideas locked up by oppression and the mechanisms of power and greed. I am happy that the world has the example Mandela to guide us on our most difficult times.

 

My contact with South Africa and South Africans would later materialize in a number of ways. I hope to be able to write about them at a later stage, on this blog.

Farewell Dennis

Pollards hill

Most of us learn in time to understand that we all are different. Uncle Dennis and I did not always hit it well, but whether it was for conflicting personalities or the flow of circumstances is not important any longer. I choose today to remember you, Dennis Frith, for the man you were, and my memories attached to you.

My first encounter, that I remember, was visiting the family in the late fifties at your house in Thornton Heath. I remember that from the back window I could see a large cemetery. But most of all you made cakes at home. I believe somehow that you were beginning your successful career in the business of pastry. The smell and looks of sugar icing and whipped cream is something that no child can ignore. You were never one for hanging around chatting as I recall!

I did however get a better picture of you, when I took my big step, of starting a new life in 1968. Then, you and auntie Dot played a main role. By this time you had built up a considerable activity with several shops in the south of London and own production in what was called Frtith’s Patisserie. Your home and kitchens were in Barnes, so that’s where I came. You fixed me up with a room at Mrs Meltzer’s and gave me my first employment working at your office in Richmond. No one would ever ignore how important this was for me to start off my life as an adult.

Your favourite song was, for along time, Cliff Richard’s “Living Doll” and you did never miss an episode of the Forsythe Saga on television.

By this time you played tennis and had a passion for antiques. You were always in the look for a rare old painting and meticulously learned more. Whatever you did had a purpose and was well in line with the self made man you were. Rest in peace and thank you.

Foot note- In this picture from left to right- My grandmother Bua, auntie Dot, uncle Bernard, uncle Dennis, and my grandmother Dorothy Begernie Ineichen. Standing behind- my father João and my grandfather Joseph Ineichen. The picture was probably taken in 1951 in connection with my parents marriage on the 14 July.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN9NuSj43s

 

 

Welcomed home

AXO

After a long wait of nearly six years, conditions had been  created for a return to Portugal without risking being accused of escaping the army. In that summer of 1974 it was decided we would take the trip and fly to Lisbon. With us the new baby that we would introduce to great grandparents, Joseph and Pat in London and Bua in Lisbon. Great-grandfather quickly gave the baby a nick name. He became “Barbershop” as he sang himself to sleep.

It would also be the opportunity for grandparents João and Pamela in Lisbon to meet their first grandchild John.

Besides all this, a return to a country that was still celebrating and where everything seemed to be possible. The revolution was on its way and nobody would stop it! Mistakes were made and consequences were laid on those who most  probably  were innocent. But the fear of things going back was there, as were the demands for nationalizations of all types of production. Like all other revolutions things tended to go to extremes. Many people that had businesses were seen as supporters of the recent regime. It was obviously not so.

We were met by my father at the airport, who said- This cannot go back!!!!

But before that landing, the pilot gave us the grand view, which is standard when coming from the north and landing from the south. The plane turns over Lisbon and gives the passenger the opportunity to see this beautiful city across the Tejo’s majestic estuary, the long Caparica coastline to the south and then across the whole city for a landing practically spot on it.

For the first time there was no fear from passport agents, instead a smiling welcome. Benvindos! Suddenly a uniform was something positive. Things had indeed changed. The emotion of this return was strong and I am not capable of putting into words the extension of these feelings.

bua

There’s always IKEA

BillyWhen you are expecting your first child you want conditions to be as good as possible! Our basement one-room- flat, in Mornington Avenue, London didn’t quite make the ticket in comparison to what Sweden had to offer. Mona’s hometown of Sundsvall with caring future grandparents was there waiting for us.   

I came back to Sweden roughly one year after I had left it. It was a completely new life we were talking about. Sundsvall was limited in almost all aspects but it did have some advantages.

The first one was the one concerning accommodation. A flat was fixed before I arrived. It had two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. The new address was Bruksgatan 4C. It was a council flat and we paid rent for it. The houses were new. The area had this unpronounceable name of Skönsberg and it was at walking distance from the centre of town. But who in their right minds would do this stretch in the freezing and windy conditions of the Swedish autumn?

The second one was that I was provided with a course to learn Swedish. All foreigners were. The procedure was as such: you went to the labour exchange and said you needed a job, which was true. But this labour exchange ( Arbetsförmedling) did not seriously commit itself to getting you work according to your merits. What they could and did do was to offer you this SFI course. This stands for Swedish for foreigners. In those days it was considered a part of the employment system so I actually was meant to get paid while attending. It was also explained to me that I could continue after 9 weeks with a professional course on the same terms. I obviously enrolled even though I thought I could manage with my English abilities.

 The third was that there was an IKEA warehouse where we could buy your Billy bookcases and as matter of fact everything else. The year was 1973.

There were now three things that IKEA couldn’t  fix, the baby, the Swedish course and a job!

The new king of Sweden

hurst view rd

The year of 1973 was almost all spent in London! It was an eventful period. Looking at the pictures it is clear that Mona came back in the summer now evidently pregnant! At this time she would have taken Maxwell, the cat, to Sweden. During this visit a rare family gathering can be seen outside my grandparents’ house in Croydon. The reader can enjoy the two pictures on display and sort out who the photographers were.

Sometime around this time I had started a new job. Someone said a person speaking Portuguese was needed at the Banco do Brasil near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was interviewed and offered the job by the Brazilian manager. In reality I was working for the Portuguese bank BPA- Banco Portugues do Atlantico. My job was to send remittances (money) from Portuguese immigrants back to Portugal. At this time immigrant remittances were an important part of the Portuguese economy . Some of the clients came from far away as Wales with their money in cash. Every morning I awaited a fax message stating the actual exchange rate.  Someone in charge for this office once came and gave me some instructions. I kept this job right up to my final return to Sweden so when I did arrive there it was as a bank clerk.

The king of Sweden Gustav VI died on the 15th September in Helsingborg so the chap I was serving drinks to, a few months earlier at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street was now the Swedish king under the name of Carl XVI Gustav. He was crowned on the very same day of his grandfather’s death, exactly 40 years ago, yesterday.

hurst73

Find them, fuck them, forget them.

padrãoRight now I am expecting to get an answer and some news, from Gilberto, one of the three musketeers on the London mission! As everyone knows the musketeers were in fact four. Gilinho, Quim. Mané and I would perhaps rather be seen as conquerors. What sort of mission or conquest were we on, in those very first years of the seventies?

Pretty much looking for a future… All worked from early age and just as kids of any generation, meeting females was part of the essence that kept us going through thick and thin. Girls were in fact present in our lives and there was always some type of relationship going on. The teenage male image of the day, was to show that you were not really in love . The measurement of your success was rather down to how many conquests you managed to make! Or as a representative from the previous generation once said to me after being introduced to my girlfriend of the time!

– You want to follow the three F rule. – Ok, and what is that? Find them, Fuck them and Forget them! I will admit that that rule never really applied very much to me as I was more of the kind that Found, Fucked and Fell in love!

But going back to the topic in hand. Mané lives in Macau where he is in the business of selling Portuguese wines to the Chinese. Quim probably lives in Houston, Texas, but his restless spirit does not leave him put too often in any place. . Gilberto or Gilinho as we called him resides in Watertown Massachusetts. What he does I do not know as yet. As for myself I have been faithful to the small town of Sundsvall right in the middle of Sweden where I have committed myself to work for the town’s development, now in politics and previously teaching teenagers.

None of us stayed or returned to live in Portugal. In that sense we are like the millions that throughout history left Portugal following a good Portuguese tradition of “giving new worlds to the world”.  

Time for a reunion, chaps?

Goodbye Forskarbacken, hello Mornington Avenue

pass sl

Passport stamps do not lie! Because of them we know that the newlywed couple Mona and João, did not stay long in Stockholm in that cold and windy autumn of 1972. Something made Mona decide she wanted to quit University and digs at 5,Forskarbacken. She suggested we should go back to England. I did not feel that our situation was worth defending, so I agreed.

London was, after all, our hometown, together… According to the stamp, we left on the 2nd December on what I recall was a charter flight with hotel. The hotel was somewhere in the Elephant and Castle area. We got about looking for a room or flat as soon as we arrived. Eventually we moved in to Mornington Avenue. It was a small basement room, furnished and clean. There were some green bushes and grass outside the window. We were quite comfortable and even grandfather Dadda glasses and Pat came to visit.

We both went about looking for employment and we had contact with Rodolfo and Luisa just down the road.

Twenty year olds could get work those days. I registered at an employment agency and was sent to different places like a big publicity company and a council office where boring work had to be done! A new life was evolving where an old one had just been left behind!

mornington

Jorginho in London

mane

The human memory works this way… You remember mostly the good times and forget the unpleasant ones. After the Hippie surge in the sixties it became rather popular and romantic to live together and share as much as you could. Some youngsters went off to the Kibbutz in Israel, but many tried to make it work near home. When four Portuguese decided to share a flat, it was mostly for practical reasons.

Gilberto worked in a restaurant, Mané, Quim and I worked in the same disco, The Maximus, in Leicester square. We worked at night and it was a good solution to change individual digs for a larger accommodation. I do not know, who found the flat in Nevern Square, but I was responsible for the contract, most probably, because I was the only one carrying a British passport!

Living together was fun most of the times. But it seldom lasts too long. Conflicting personalities, economic issues, standards of tidiness, sense of responsibility, love of privacy, female contacts. All these aspects could and did contribute to animosity and bad feelings. But who cares about this, some 40 years passed?

I was, unlike my flat mates, in the unique situation of having family nearby. Now and then, when not working, I could visit my grandfather in Croydon and stay with him over night and even for a few days. This is most obviously what happened at Christmas in 1971 when Jorginho came to stay!

Jorge Paixão da Costa was a Lisbon neighbour to Mané and Quim from the Avenida dos Estados Unidos! At the age of sixteen, this youngster came over and was left at their responsibility. Whatever prompted Jorge’s parents to put him in Quim’s and Mané’s hands I do not know, but I recall how worried Quim was that everything would go alright with “the kid”.The picture I am publishing here shows Mané’s farewell party with Jorginho and Tony Carolo present… This took place on the 1st january 1972.

Jorge went on to study cinema in Sweden and became a successful film director in Portugal, after surviving the London experience.