Remembrance Day 2018; remembering my grandfathers and remembering who profits from war

My grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield
My grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield.

Last weekend, Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018, was the 100th anniversary of the armistice and the end of fighting in the First World War, and I spent time thinking about my lovely grandfathers, Ernest Swinard and Harold Manterfield. Both of them, thankfully, and unlike many, returned home after military service in that appalling conflagration.

During the Remembrance ceremonies on the TV and radio, I heard ‘Rule Britannia’ being played, and some of the words stuck in my mind;

“Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves. And Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”

But we are slaves. We are all slaves, like most of the world, to the vast corporations and the obscenely wealthy and powerful who set the agenda, who promote wars and profit from them, who set us against each other to distract us from their activities, who own and direct the majority of our media to spread lies and misinformation in furtherance of their own greedy, self-serving schemes, schemes that are to the detriment of the majority and that add to the destruction of our environment.

Those of us who are fortunate, through accident of birth, to live in relatively wealthy countries and to have a certain amount of personal freedom, must take more care in choosing who to vote for. We must look carefully at our choices and try to select candidates who are independent of the rich and the corporations, or of those who are stoking the flames of nationalism, xenophobia and false patriotism for their own personal gain.

Remember who profits from war, and remember who suffers from it, because they are not the same people.

 

The Old Soldier by Harry Fellows 1987

 

‘The Old Soldier’, shown above, is a moving poem by Harry Fellows that I posted on social media for Remembrance Day. The poem was written in 1987 by Harry Fellows about his friend Walter Smith; they were both living at the Willows Elderly Persons Home where my wife Sue worked at the time.

 

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Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield)

7 September 1957 – 9 November 2017

 

Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield) 1957 - 2017 (A4)Monday the 27th of November 2017 was a very sad day. It was the funeral of my lovely sister Janis. I wanted to mark the day in memory of a very special person.

Janis was wife to John, Mother to Amy and Tom, Sister-in-Law to Sue, Aunt to Alice, relative and friend to many others and my only sibling.

Janis’s funeral took place at Loughborough Crematorium at 11am, with a wake afterwards at The White Horse on Leicester Road in Quorn. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the turn out for her funeral was astonishing. The crematorium was completely full, all the seats were taken and people were standing all around the room from end to end.

Order of Service for Janis's funeral (27 Nov 2017)

This is the eulogy that John, Amy and Tom Lewin put together, read by Suzanne Buckeridge during the service:

“Janis Ellen Manterfield was born on the 7 September 1957 in the family home at 5 Front Street, Birstall to Dennis and Betty Manterfield. A sister for older brother Roy. Jan’s father gave her the nickname ‘Pod’ because she was so small when she was born, he thought she looked like a pea in a pod. This affectionate nickname stayed with her all her life. Growing to the height of 4ft 10½” tall (always aspiring to be 5ft, but never quite making it!), Pod was living proof that good things come in small packages!

Two years after Jan was born, the Manterfield family moved to 56 Denegate Avenue in Birstall, with a big garden that was landscaped by Dennis. Janis loved spending time in the garden with her Dad; making bonfires, planting seeds, and drinking cups of tea. The large garden also enabled them to have many family pets; so many that at one time the nickname ‘Manterfield Menagerie’ was coined! The pets ranged from dogs and cats, all the way through to Charlie Jones the tortoise. The Manterfields were an active family, going on family holidays around Britain, and regularly attending clubs, such as the Bowmen of Birstall.

Janis left school at 16, and after 6 months at BPX Electrical she moved to the British United Shoe Machinery Company where her parents worked. It was also the place where she met a long haired, bearded individual called John Lewin. Jan always got a lift to work with her Dad, so before work started, she would sit in his office reading the paper. Janis was initially cool to John’s advances and decided instead to hide behind her newspaper when he visited the department. A decade later, fate played a hand when John was on a Saturday night out with ‘the boys’ and happened to bump into Jan. John asked Jan if she would like to go out for Sunday lunch the following day and she agreed. 

After a couple of years together, John and Jan planned their first holiday abroad – to the Greek island of Santorini. This first holiday to Greece was very memorable because one night, while walking on the beach in the sunset, John got down on one knee in the waves. It was a good job that Jan said ‘yes’, as the tide was coming in; John had wet trousers all the way back to the apartment!

John and Jan were married on the 2 August 1986, after another holiday in Greece. When the DJ announced that it was time for the first dance, instead of ‘Always and Forever’ as they were expecting, the opening bars of ‘Zorba’s dance’ started playing as John’s friends arrived dressed as Greek dancers! Throughout their time together, Jan and John enjoyed many wonderful holidays to Greece, France, Turkey, Egypt, America and more.

In April 1988, Jan gave birth to her first child, Amy. Jan was over the moon to be a Mum, and took to it perfectly. Three years later, in April 1991, Tom was welcomed into the world. To Amy and Tom, Jan was the best Mum in the world: caring, loving, patient and kind.

When Amy was born, Jan made a decision to go to a local ‘Mum and Baby’ group at the health centre in Syston, as she didn’t know any other young Mums, and wanted Amy to grow up with friends her own age. A large group of friends was quickly formed there.

Jan originally worked as a secretary and shorthand typist, but when Tom started school, she decided on a new career direction, and became a healthcare assistant at PPD. This was the perfect role for someone with such a caring nature, as she was able to put her natural kindness into her work. When PPD closed, Jan continued in a similar role at Bupa. She always enjoyed working with people, and the camaraderie she shared with her colleagues.

Her family meant everything to Jan, and she was happiest with those she loved around her, or on the end of a characteristically long phone call. She also loved hearing from her French friends, and her relatives in America and Brighton. While bringing up her children, Jan remained tireless in supporting her parents and auntie, dedicating herself to their care, as she did everyone who ever needed her.

Her many friends – as we can see here today – played an equally important role throughout Jan’s life; friends who loved and supported Jan as she loved and supported them. Jan was often the life and soul of the party with her feather boas and her happy smile. She had a musical ear and loved to dance, as everyone who has been to a party with her will agree.

Jan was well known for her thoughtful words, cards and notes. Any occasion, Jan always sent a card in her neat handwriting, usually with appropriate, sparkly confetti inside. She wrote notes to Amy and Tom in their lunchboxes all the way from their first days at school, to the end of sixth form. Notes were left inside the door if she had gone out, and upstairs if she was working a night shift. Such was the care and thought that went into everything she did.

Everyone who knew Jan said that she was lovely, and she truly was. It is customary to focus on a person’s good points in their eulogy, but the truth is that Jan really was a good person, beautiful inside and out. It was her way to focus on the good in life, and to see the best in everyone.

Jan considered herself to have led a happy life, filled with the love of the many people who mattered to her; and that is the way that she would want to be remembered. Happy, and loved.”

 

Now it’s an immeasurably sad time, but Janis had early onset dementia, so in one way it’s a relief to know that she is no longer so confused and anxious. It was terrible to see my bright, caring, smiling sister gradually fading to the awful illness. I really don’t know how John coped from day to day with caring for Janis during the last couple of years.

 

Janis was born when I was five years old; she is the only person I’ve known for the entirety of their life. On the day she arrived, at home in Birstall, I couldn’t wait to meet my new sister. I whiled away the time drawing on a small blackboard easel, then Dad came to fetch me and we went up to my parent’s bedroom where Mum had just given birth.

Mum was in bed, the District Nurse was fussing around and tidying up, and my little sister was wrapped up and sleeping. I remember being slightly surprised because Janis was shiny, almost glistening, a tiny bit wrinkly and quite red with blue tinges. Being already familiar with how babies looked, I had expected her to be much paler.

Perhaps because I was a few years older or maybe because we were simply compatible personalities, but whatever it was we always got on very well. We played together, building dens with boxes and blankets, dressing up and posing our poor long suffering menagerie of pets, setting up lending libraries with our books, play fighting with sticks and dustbin lid shields, and probably many other games that I’ve since forgotten.

I frequently teased and joked with Janis; we laughed and giggled together at many silly things. I miss our familiarity and companionship, or siblingship, or whatever it might be called.

I always looked forward to her visits while I was at art college in Leeds and after I moved to Nottingham to work, and the many holidays we had together, with family and with partners.

It was a huge privilege to know Janis and I will miss her so much.

 

I’ve been touched with the kind thoughts and comments made on social media since I posted the composite photo of Janis at different ages. Here are just a few of them:

“Very sorry to hear this, No age is it, seems like she was cheated. I hope she enjoyed her life, I suspect from the photo’s that she brightened many. Thinking of you.”

“Really sorry to hear that. My condolences to your family. If personality does affect the face as we age she must have been a delight, her smile is wonderful.”

“She’s beautiful. I’m so sorry you had to lose her so young.”

“Best wishes and my thoughts to all.  I love that she was smiling through all those images.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful smile Janis had.”

“Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Condolences to you and all she held dear.”

“What great photographs, she looks like a lovely person. Thinking of you all x”

“I’m happy you had such a wonderful sister and I’m sorry for your loss. She was born about 10 months before me.”

“She looked to be a sparkle of life to many. 💖 My Condolences.”

“Such a sad loss to you and your family. What a beautiful sister you’ll always hold dear.” https://youtu.be/IMtnLkXCKlY

“My condolences Roy. Her pictures indicate a happy demeanour. – Bet you made her laugh lots.”

 

The following photo montages are six panels I put together with images I had of Janis, family and friends, and that John arranged to be printed and displayed at the wake.

Janis Lewin - Panel 1Janis Lewin - Panel 2Janis Lewin - Panel 3Janis Lewin - Panel 4Janis Lewin - Panel 5Janis Lewin - Panel 6

 

Back to Family history

The life of a sinistral snail — Snailtergeist

Jeremy the snail was first found minding his own business in a southwest London compost heap. Most would have overlooked Jeremy as an ordinary garden snail; in fact it’s undoubtedly the case that most of the other rare snails who have the single gene mutation that Jeremy possesses will have at best been ignored, and […]

via The life of a sinistral snail — Snailtergeist

 

Whoopee…

A post on social media reminded me of my obsession with practical jokes as a child in the early 1960s. I spent my pocket money on quite a few from the Ellisdons Jokes, Magic and Novelties catalogue. Ellisdons sold all manner of practical jokes; rubber beetles and spiders, wind-up butterflies, whoopee cushions, and realistic looking rubber things such as food, soap and bars of chocolate. I had, for example, a very lifelike chocolate finger biscuit made of brown rubber.

Practical jokesI also had a handshake buzzer, which never really caught anyone off guard, but the floating sugar cubes and imitation rubber snail with a real shell were both winners; I suspect the snail put many friends and relatives off salad for life.

I loved the floating sugar cubes; a family friend’s grandfather spent an incredibly long time with a teaspoon trying to make them sink, it was only my barely controlled mirth that eventually caught his attention.

I’d also forgotten about the imitation dog turd. I had a brilliant shiny metal one, very realistic. It’s probably still in the attic somewhere. I left it on the rug in my grandmother’s best/front room on a visit once and all hell broke loose. Both the poor dog and I were in so much trouble, but it was worth it…

Ellisdons 1960s Joke Catalogue

 

 

‘The Colour of London: Historic, Personal, & Local’ First published in 1907

By William John Loftie FSA. Illustrated by Yoshio Markino. With an introduction by Marion Harry Spielmann FSA and an essay by the artist.

 

An interesting read, peppered with period Victorian/Edwardian morals and outlooks, and fascinating historical details.

In the introduction, Marion Harry Spielmann talks of “London by warm gaslight on Chelsea Embankment, or by cold electric rays on New Vauxhall Bridge…” and when discussing Yoshio Markino’s depiction of Baker Street Underground, he describes the “sulphur and noise”.

Later in the book the arrival of cars and the decay of fashionable life is lamented; “…we cannot expect ever to see again. The gay throng has been broken up by the invasion of motors” and “…motors render impossible that slow and stately pacing, the long waits under the trees, the show of fine horses and carriages”.

Originally published in London by Chatto & Windus in 1907; this edition was published in 1914.

A selection of the fascinating illustrations by Yoshio Markino.

Goodreads review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1971532399

 

Did You Know?


Did You Know?A thousand seconds is about 16 minutes, a million seconds is about 11 days and a billion seconds is about 32 years.

About 20 percent of the Earth’s land is desert.

Approximately every two minutes, we take more pictures than all of the photographs taken in the 19th century.

For every human on the planet there are approximately 1.6 million ants.

Hippopotamus milk is pink.

Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil.

Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per person than any other country.

If the earth were completely flat, water would cover everything in a layer two miles deep.

Mammoths became extinct approximately 1,000 years after the Egyptians finished building the Great Pyramid.

Oxford University is centuries older than the Aztec Empire.

Pluto didn’t make a full orbit around the sun from the time it was discovered to when it was declassified as a planet.

Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.

The full name of the toy Barbie is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

The ice that covers 98% of Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s fresh water.

The initials YKK on your zip stand for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushiki Kaisha; YKK is a Japanese group of companies.

There are more atoms in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in all of the Earth’s seas.

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth.

You are twice as likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark.


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