Wednesday, 14 May 2008

4th birthday, Polish and British Prime Ministers

As I said it was my 4th anniversary on Monday of my stem cell transplant. Had a nice visit when I was in Ward 8 earlier of some of those from what has come to be known in certain circles as Team Asquith- the nurses and docs who have looked after me. A nice 4th birthday card and also nice cakes. What Team Asquith didn't know is that the cakes they brought were my favourites and what I turn to when I need a treat- Tunnocks Tea Cakes! I was also able to tell them that when I started my first job in Lanarkshire in 1971 on the induction week I was to visit key institutions- some of which were children's homes, old folks homes etc but it also included the Tunnocks Biscuit factory!! Thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

But a pretend 4th birthday and the fact that my tea persons were Polish also set me off on a train of thought. With a name like Asquith I regularly get asked if I'm related to the liberal Prime Minister H.H.Asquith. The answer is no for at least one major reason- my father was not Asquith. The other reason is that I'm not sure if the Asquith who married my mother was from that dynasty though there are rumblings about black sheep etc. But it in part explains why I grew up with an interest in ( which I never understood) the Tennants of the Borders and also the Bonham Carters- particularly Helena Bonham Carter. Tennants and Bonham Carters were related to Asquith through marriage I think. So no Alf Tupper experience suddenly discovering I'm from aristocratic background!( If any of you recall Alf Tupper let me know or if you want to know who Alf Tupper was- drop me a line).

OK so no link to a British Prime Minister. What about Polish Prime Ministers then and why if so?No I'm not related to a Polish Prime Minister ( where is this going Stewart?) but my father was apparently Polish ( which I didn't discover till well into my teens) and I never knew him. But ( here's the link!)when I was about 4 or even younger I remember being shouted to by bakers who worked in the bakery next to our house " Hey Paderewski" and they called me Paderewski whenever I met them. Always wondered about that- very few people in Brechin are called Paderewski!! But of course when I later discovered my father was Polish pieces of the jig saw began to fit. Why I was referred to as Paderewski was easier to understand and also that it wasn't said maliciously at all. Amazing man Paderewski- had a highly successful career as a concert pianist particularly in the states where he was greeted by huge crowds but was also hailed as one of the great international statesman of the interwar era.

So this all came from my pretend 4th birthday and the fact I got my tea and biscuits from two Polish folks. Serious side though is that having been to hospital a lot I've been regularly asked that inevitable question " Is there anything in your medical background which might explain......" The answer is I don't know because I have no knowledge of half of my parentage. Was there any evidence of myeloma related issues from that line for example? The other is that ( and I've always believed that what we do reflects our earlier lives in some way) most of my working life has focused on children's and especially in Eastern and Central Europe. So I've visited or worked in most central or east european countries- with the exception of---- yup you've guessed it- Poland ( Right Sigmund, can you explain that?).

I think I'm away for another lie down!

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