I was born at an early age and am still alive. To that end I tend to respire a lot and devote sufficient time to other metabolic functions in order to maintain this state. These functions are many, varied and mainly occur automatically. Specific connected activities include sleeping (taking up about a third of my time), eating, excretion, personal hygiene and drinking raki. At lesser intervals, though not all at the same time, I shave parts of my face, cut my toenails and emit flatulence.
An important activity is moving my body from place to place in order to carry out tasks at various locations, for example a daily perambulation with the dog. I also interact with other people, have recreational pastimes, spend money and have impure thoughts. I am a carbon-based life form and a vertebrate with my lower pair of limbs specialised for two-legged locomotion and the upper pair specialised to carry and manipulate objects. As I am not a quadruped, I utilize both sets for their designed purposes.
Sometimes I sneeze.
I was very fortunate because if neither my father or mother had emigrated to Britain, then I would have been born here with no parents at all.
Photographic records show that I had a deprived childhood – most of my early life was in black and white and I was often out of focus. However by the time I reached university, it appears I had outgrown these and achieved the full range of natural colours (though there were the occassional bouts of transparency, blurring and, at least once, a rather distressing doppelganger effect). Since then it appears I have stabilised but the last few years have been marked by re-occurring bouts of my eyes glowing red as well as the presence of so-called ‘orbs’ hovering in my vicinty – the combination of the two apparantly does not bode well for my future when I am dead.
My Maternal Ancestry
On my mothers side I can trace my ancestry back to somewhere in the 13th century in the area that would become the Netherlands. Apart from one ancestor who was hung as a pirate sometime in the 15th century (in Brabant I believe), the family was a solid line of stolid respectable farmers. [..and this leads to the question of why only this branch of the family have allowed themselves to be so identified? Most of my other ancestors had the foresight to conceal themselves within the mists of time but not these – was it the same recklessness that lead to the charges of piracy?. But such is the stuff of the human condition, there are those that look into the future, want nothing to do with it at all and leave quietly by the back door whilst no one is looking, others blithely muddle through, blissfully unaware of the consequences until someone taps them on the shoulder and asks “Here, aren’t you the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of that Eric character, you know the one they call the Bun?” and they then cringe wih embarassment, back away, muttering incoherently, regretting their rashness back in 1323 in registering the birth of their child. (Personally I put it down to the introduction of the potato and too much garlic in the sauce) ]
Following World War 2, the country, like much of Europe, was in an appalling state and my grandfather sent all his 14 children out into the world to seek their fortunes. Whilst four daughters dutifully trekked a few kilometres down the road and got married, the rest of his children roamed the globe. Two settled in New Zealand (farmer and baker), one farmed in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) picking up a Greek wife on the way, one became a nun in the Belgian Congo, one a priest in the the Far East (mainly Singapore), one farmed in Germany, two returned home having learnt trades and my mother came to England where she met and married my father who came from Malta.
Since then the Zimbabwean side of the family have moved to Australia, the Singapore connection went to the Congo and, after a life-time of tropical rain-forest then retired to the Australian Outback, the nun in the Congo retired to France and the German side is back in the Netherlands via Spain and Teneriffe. One family briefly tried South America but didn’t like it and came back.
Oddly enough, no one seems to have considered the United States as a destination – though my nephew went there to travel around for a year as a gap year experience. However, after 6 weeks, he left to work in a drug-rehabilitation clinic in the slums of Durban, South Africa (the States apparantly has that effect on some people).
I’ve lost count of how many cousins I have especially as they have moved about a bit.
My Paternal Ancestry
As far as we can tell, it was all the fault of my father’s grandfather’s grandfather who, legend has it, came from Birmingham and arrived in Malta some time during or after the Napoleonic war, married a local lass and settled down. It was his father ( i.e. my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather) that was Scottish and his name has a lineage going back to the mists of time and probably indicates all sorts of relationships with the current population. However we don’t know where we fit in – which is probably a Good Thing for everybody concerned.
Gratifyingly enough it appears I come from a long line of awkward buggers perhaps best exemplified by the tale of my father’s grandfather ( i.e. my grandfather’s father) who was accidentally awarded a medal in World War I. Not that he didn’t deserve it – he did. He took part in a daring submarine raid against the enemy or let us say, rather, a country at war with Britain [ as far as he was concerned, the enemy would include the British, the Catholic Church, lawyers, the upper classes, a goodly proportion of his neighbours, etc. etc. ] As a result of this raid the commander received a VC and all the crew got the Distinguished Service Medal.
However familly tradition has it that there were a few reasons why he should not have got one. Firstly he was Maltese and thus not eligible to receive one. Secondly submarine crews were one of the special forces of the time and thus should only have been manned by True Brits (he was Maltese). Thirdly he was actually employed as a dockyard fitter (a Maltese one). And, of course, there was the little matter of his refusing to take the oath of loyalty to the King (who was not Maltese).
We have a good idea of how he managed this – it was his name. The powers that be were overwhelmed by the surfeit of vowels in his first names (Antonio Lorenzo Giorgio Coronato) and pathetically grasped at the one thing they could understand – the Scottish surname – and decided he was British. His record shows several instances of promotion to a ‘Brits-only’ post followed by demotion when they realised he was Maltese. Essentially he managed to confuse the British Empire into awarding him a medal, it then refused to admit it made a mistake. It therefore had no option but to start to decline as a world power and hope that in the resultant analysis no one would notice the cock-up.
We have copies of pictures of the time showing the crew lined upon the submarine following their exploits and I had narrowed down my father’s grandfather to one of two men. My wife however compared me to the candidates and scientifically identified him precisely based on the evidence of genetic inheritance i.e. a pre-disposition to scruffiness and the tear in his trouser leg.
[Coincidentally, I inherited a shirt from my maternal grandfather that he’d bought in 1939 and ‘lost’, only to find again in their attic when they moved to a retirement bungalow in the 70’s. This remarkable event went unchronicled by the world media and, puzzlingly enough, was not picked up by the European Journal of Human Genetics – odd, that].
The Maltese family is small and essentially stuck on the island (apart from all my female cousins who migrated en masse to Canada in order to find husbands). My father carried on in the family tradition by working in the dockyard and achieved the ultimate pinnacle of success for most Maltese – i.e. he left Malta for good. He went to sea, travelled the world and ended up in England where he met and married my mother.