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.




Welcomed home


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.


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.


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!


Shorts down on Baden-Powell scout show

Hastings17Joseph Ineichen (1899 -1977) was my grandfather! The London born Joe left a considerable number of articles at the house journal of his long-life place of work, Lloyd’s of London.

In 1970 he recalled how his life developed from age 10 and to adult life. He joined Lloyd’s at age 14. One can but imagine the feeling of the time, a period that lead to the First World War and then saw the horrors of this butchering conflict that did all but dignify the human race!

As a boy of ten my grandfather recalled how he entered the newly founded Scout movement. For my grandfather the nearest troop was the 8th Westminsters. But he and some friends preferred to start a rival group to the Baden-Powell organization and formed the General Buller Scouts! This was the consequence of events during the Boer War that these boys had taken notice of and stand for.

After a number of activities by this group, a call was made at Joe’s home from the scoutmaster of the 8th. The rebel, Buller half dozen boys, accepted to try the Baden-Powell organization.

Later on they were given carbines without bullets or bayonets- But still! A full and complete show was given before General Baden-Powell himself at Caxton Hall in Victoria Street. At this event my grandfather was told by B-P that he did not approve of boys carrying firearms. His greatest misfortune during that event happened however when the boys did a show of bridge building. “Carrying a baulk of timber, the top button flew off my shorts and down they came to rest about my ankles”.

The following year Joe was promoted to playing the drum and this musical talent in the family is not shared by anyone else as far as I know. We also learn from Joe’s article, on the Lloyd’s log, that many of the scouts were approaching military age and with “old patriotic spirit found their way to the recruiting centres, some never to return. My elder brother… (William Hatchard) was in the 2nd London Fusiliers, went in August 1914. It was on the Somme in June 1916 that a German trench mortar cut short his life at the early age of 21”.

Even Joe would later be called for army duty but that story will be told another time. There was still time and opportunity for some fun as the published picture shows on an outing to Hastings in 1917 with Grandfather Joe standing on the right!

Unique minerals


When Mona and I started to be a couple it needed to be officialized. The family approval is universal and no exception in our case! I told my grandfather Joseph Ineichen, that I had met this girl from Sweden and she was my first girlfriend to be introduced in this manner! Serious staff, in other words… He wanted to know where she was from in Sweden so I remember telling him the odds were he had never heard about it. Sundsvall, a small town somewhere along the Baltic coast…

How wrong I was! Dad had heard about it as he had many times insured cargo to and fro…Mona and Dad got on very well and jokingly he called her “Moaner” and what are you moaning about?

My curiosity was growing. What was this Sundsvall like? I recall dreaming about it. Many wooden houses perched on hillsides…

Mona in turn came from an island that had its own rocks and some were even named after the island as Alnoit was. At the London Geological museum I remember once looking curiously at theses volcanic, rather unusual minerals!

My information about this land and what to expect grew as letters poured in from Sweden in 1972. We started to talk engagement and marriage and even children. The idea was clearly that of big changes in our lives! And we were right!

On the first letter from Sweden I was told that the trip had taken ages. After the boat there was a train, and it took 12 hours to go from Gothenburg to Sundsvall.

Life in Sweden started to take shape. Mona’s father Olle Hillman worked a whole day on his boat, they went off at weekends to the mountains and visits to graveyards were common in this new culture!

Dadda Glasses


Up to date I have concentrated my blog writings to my first 20 years, comprising the period between 1952 and 1972.  Naturally, I will, even when moving forward in time, describe something of my ancestry. Today I am writing about my grandfather. To some of his grandchildren- Dadda Glasses.

I owe him his dedication and support during my late teenage years when I lived on my own in London from the age of 16. I owe him that £1 note duly received by post, every Friday, often with the words “Best wishes. Enclosed £1”. It was a good help to me when my salary was low. I owe him the many weekends with Pat and Dad at 3, Hurst View Rd.

My maternal grandfather,Joseph Ineichen was born in Westminster in the year of 1899. The son of Josef, a Swiss immigrant and Mary Hatchard from Fulham, he grew up with his older half brother William who died in the Great War 1914-1918.

He left Westminster Cathedral School at 14, to start his business career as a “policy pusher” with Lloyd’s brokers T. Bainbridge &Co. In 1917 he became a deputy underwriter.

In 1918 he joined the forces and served with the 7th London Regiment. He returned to Lloyd’s in 1919. During the Second World War he serves in the Air Raid Warden Service in Croydon where the family lived.

At the age of 48 he was elected an underwriting member and specialized in marine cargo risks. He retired from Lloyd’s in 1967 after sitting in three different premises which gave him access to the exclusive Three Rooms Club.

He wrote many stories and memories in the staff magazine “the Lloyd’s log “. In them he shared important recollections of his childhood in Westminster, but also historical research work of his beloved London!


The home away from home

Pat Dad

Even when one has moved away from home and is trying out one’s wings it is always good to have a fixed place to go and relate to. In London my home from home was Pat and Dad’s at 3, Hurst View Rd, Croydon.

I visited my grandparents quite often and kept a good and healthy relationship with them. I often took the train from Barnes or whatever station was nearest and headed to South Croydon station. These trains were practical and ran quite regularly. Once in the platform you waited for the train and opened yourself the door to the compartment where you would sit. There was a special feeling about travelling on these trains that served the greater London area (probably still do!).

Every country has its own feeling…its own smell! England is no exception. Those who have not been inside a typical middle class detached house in the London area might not be aware of what makes it different. To me there are a few things that prop up. Let me try to give you some examples that contrasted with Portugal.

Fitted carpets everywhere, large flowery furniture and wallpapered walls with different patterns. Very soft beds with thick quilts. Well scented toilets with the windows opened almost continuously, access to hoovers labelled Hoover. Piping running outside the house, central heating, large rubbish bins, milk bottles outside the front door, Sunday meals with lamb joint and roast potatoes with vegetables and gravy or mint sauce. Colour television showing cricket matches. Gardens with roses and apple trees, lawns always green, bonfires, garden sheds, blackbirds and robins.

I miss it all!

The Blitz in Norbury

Messerschmidt 109      junkers 88   spitfire   

I have earlier mentioned my uncle Bernard as being a figure comparable to Indiana Jones. This description is of course more of a picture, one could make of someone somewhere out in the world, who  as a boy I seldom put my eyes on. A more true description is of a witty and contemplative academic with a degree in Sociology!

What I have learned from him recently is that my grandfather Joseph Ineichen used to serve as a warden on top of Pollard’s Hill during the Second World War.

During the Blitz, at the beginning of the war planes flew over London with different intentions. Some of them were set on bombing the city. The warden’s job was to recognize these different planes in order to warn and give the alarm so people could go down to their shelters.

The very young Bernard took an interest and studied a chart at the Warden’s post with pictures of different models. One day the Chief Warden came to visit and as he had heard of my uncle’s collected knowledge he decided to put him to the test by covering up the names on the different airplanes. After correctly identifying the Spitfire, Messerschmitt 109, and Junkers 88 there was an Italian plane that had never flown over London. The chief warden couldn’t name it but the young Bernard could.

We can only imagine the worries in the family as my grandfather was out all night on duty, whilst the rest of the family could from their beds or shelters hear as bombs crushed down not far away.

How many do you recognize?

Welcome to Lloyd’s

Lloyd's waiter

In November 1968 I was offered a job at Lloyd’s in Lime Street. My grandfather Joseph Ineichen had previously fixed me up for an interview with a Mr. White, Underwriter at Lloyd’s, specializing in Marine insurance.  My new employer was Anton Underwriting Agencies and the box I sat at, was known as G.F.Hinds and others.

My salary was established at £550 per year payable per month. And I would also, for every working day, receive a sum of 3 shillings worth of luncheon vouchers. The working hours were between 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. with one hour for lunch. I would also receive thirteen working days as a holiday.

This was my first real job and it was thrilling to be able to start.

My grandfather Joseph Ineichen took me to a ready-made clothes shop and I tried a few suits. Before this I had never put on a suit so I thought I had really come into the adult world. A couple of shirts and tie completed my City uniform. My grandfather taught me how to make the knot.

In order to get to work there was the underground in Hammersmith and I would travel to the Monument Underground station and walk from there on a flowing river of gentlemen dressed in suits and many with bowler hats and rolled up umbrellas. On arrival I was greeted by a uniformed Lloyd’s waiter. Work could begin!