By general Aussie standards today is’ bloody cold mate’. According to the thermometer outside the back door it’s 10c in the sun just after 2pm on Saturday afternoon.

Ideal time to do a bit of blogging I thought but what to write about today?

Photography? No. Motor bikes? No. Landrovers? No. Computers? Hell no. Travelling? No. Work before retirement? No way. Early life?

Early life. That got me thinking about those long gone days and how my childhood growing up in the 1940s and 50s has influenced my way of thinking and my behavioural patterns.

My mother and father were a profound influence. Both were musicians, both were religious, both were well educated and importantly, never lost their individuality. Additionally, both had their own particular activities and both smoked like chimneys.

Family history was important to both of them and as the years went by I heard more and more about the importance of family traditions. This was reinforced on a regular basis when family get together took place at the home of my maternal grandparents. My paternal grandparents passed away before I was old enough to fall under their influence.

My father was an academic whose hobbies, apart from music, were Latin, Ancient Greek, Hebrew and of course, English, all of which he spoke, read and wrote effortlessly.

Mom on the other hand spoke, read and wrote French and German fluently. French because back in the ‘Old Country'( England) she had a French nanny and German to annoy my father.

My father believed in firstly learning by rote and then completely analysing what had been learned.

Now I get to the point of this yarn. I still vividly remember, word for word, a number of the pieces of doggerel my Dad insisted I learn at a very, very young age. This was he said, to convince me that learning can be fun.

Just one example of great doggerel is this piece written in the 1800s by a British playwright and actor named I think Samue Foote. Here it goes, around about 65 years or so after I memorised it:

She walked into the garden to pick a cabbage leaf to bake an apple pie and at the same time a  great she bear came up the street and shoved its head into the shop.  ‘What, no soap’, he cried. So he died and she very imprudently married the barber and they were all present at the wedding,  the Jobillies and the Picanninies and the Great Panjandrum himself with the little round button on top and they all fell to playing catch as catch can till the gunpowder ran out of the heels of their boots.

Certainly doggerel and totally inane. Fun to learn though as Dad said it would be. Impossible for me to analyse though. Years later I learned why Foote wrote it.

Dad’s habit, which I also learned, was to polish boots and shoes when learning a passage by rote. He told me that the rhythmic to and fro of the brush assisted the memory. Worked for me then and I’ver done it ever since; while learning dirty ditties to sing in the Officer’s Mess, memorising risqué jokes to tell around the camp fire, not to mention memorising  specific instructional details for using the camera,  tools and all things mechanical and most importantly, learning essential information for passing exams.

So there we are, a well learned aide memoir that has helped me to remember lots of useless information over the years.

By the way, they also taught me to never smoke and I never have, Even in the presence of smokers, I’m like Bill Clinton, I never inhale.