Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christodoulos Ioannou 1922 - 2012.


'Melbourne 1949'

Welcome to 2014. You're probably asking yourself, who the hell is the bloke above? Well, I'll get to that in a minute, but first I want to waffle about what's been happening.

Firstly, can I Ctrl+Alt+Del the year so far and start again? The long suffering reader who visits this blog will be aware the chump who actually writes this crap has been suffering even more than the reader. Wow, is this getting a little existential?

Anyway, my imploded neck continues to give me grief and it's not helped by my neurosurgeon who still hasn't come back from his holidays. No doubt he's in Tuscany somewhere. I was thinking the other day, would you want to be the first patient after he's had a long break? Maybe he's still in holiday mode and is a bit rusty with his slicing around the jugular and spinal cord? Would he do a bit of practice on holidays? You know, on fruit or maybe a french-stick? I'd like him to chop up a few other people before he gets to me, just so he gets in the swing of it again, even though this pain in my arm is quite infuriating.

Oh yeah, here's a good one about him. He has a PhD. Sounds good, right? Guess what it's in? Yep, philosophy. Huh? Shouldn't it be something to do with slicing and dicing? Maybe he slips in a bit of Socrates (for ultimate street-cred, just call him 'the sock') before an operation. My life was normal until I started this blog. Since then the blog title has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and just to get in the swing of this special philosophy edition, how about the best quote ever,

'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man' - Heraclitus.

Remember my Viking Circuit trip? Well, that was my last hike completed in anger. Since then, the only walking I've done is the traditional sprint to the fridge or the comfort station. My total mileage for the year so far is... mm... let me think... about 350 metres? At this rate, by June, I may not fit out the door of my house and will require the fire brigade to knock a wall down and forklift me out. Oh well, maybe a sneaky cortisone injection into my neck can be slipped in and I can get moving again? Maybe I need something like heroin? Have there been many heroin-using hikers? I could write a book called, 'On the Silk Road'. What do you think?

Well, that's extremely overblown that. How about this post? Are you still wondering who's the suave bloke in a suit rockin' the cancer stick? It should be easy, as it's my dad who died a year or so ago. I wrote this post in late 2012, but didn't publish it. I ummed and ahhed, as I usually steer clear of personal stuff, but decided to do so now. In 2014, there might be a few more personal posts, as I want to break up constant trip reports a bit. Last year, I began to lose a bit of the blogging mojo and I think it was due to standard hiking write-ups. A few oddball entries will keep me interested and more productive in writing to a higher stratosphere of crap than you've ever seen before.

What made this particular post easy is I already had some 'ye olde' photos scanned. With the neck playing up, I wanted something simple I could bang out in a couple of hours than the usual, 'all-week-to-write-one-post-torture' method. Why is it so simple? Well, all I'm going to write is a summary of the eulogy speech I blurted out at his funeral. I'm telling you now though. It was a tough crowd, so I didn't slip in any jokes, so the whole thing is pretty dry.

Do I start? No, not yet. I told Ben I needed something different to start the year. You know, keep the readers in suspenders. When I mentioned this as the post topic, he was aghast. "Are you kidding? Didn't he die a few years back? Is this the most delayed eulogy in history?" I replied, "Yes". It was a tough crowd in the chapel and an even tougher one in my lounge room. All the captions to the following photos are what's written on the back of the tiny black and white snaps, as I've no idea who's in most of the pictures.

Okay, I'm done. Time to start the most glacial post in history, as this was written 15 months ago. Not this sentence though. I wrote this today. Just like this one, which has no meaning whatsoever, but it's a current sentence nonetheless.


'With George. Melbourne 1948'


'Christodoulos Ioannou was born in October, 1922 in Lemithou, Cyprus, to Athena and Costa Ioannou.

Chris came from a working class background and his life was to change with the onset of the Second World War. He was a student when he enlisted in July, 1940 into the Cyprus Regiment, which had been formed by the British Army.

The family has little detail about his time during the war as Chris was a private person who rarely spoke about that period in his life. His army service book indicates he served in Greece between March and April 1941, before heading to Crete on the 25th April, 1941. Crete, was attacked by German forces in May 1941 and Chris was captured on 30th May.

According to his service book, Chris was transferred to Germany as a prisoner of war until the 2nd May, 1945. We know little about what he endured during this time other than he worked in factories for the German war effort (he did mention once he was bombed by British planes at night. That would have been a real hoot) and we have a grainy photo of Chris standing in snow and on the back it's simply marked, 'prisoner of war. Berlin 1943'.


'Prisoner of war. Berlin 1943'

'Berlin. Prisoner of war 1943'

With the end of the war, Chris remained in the army and spent some time in England before being resettled in Cyprus. (I do like old photos. The feathery circle around Chris was already on the picture, but of interest to me is the faces of the others. Check out the blokes with the smokes.)...


'Naafi staff. Trodos. Cyprus 1946'

The next photo has a pretty inspiring caption. I'm sorry, but this is what it says...


'On the chair'

He was discharged in September 1946 and was awarded the 'Africa Star', which was a campaign medal for service in the operational area of Northern Africa. His service book notes on his discharge that Chris, 'has been sober, honest and conscientious'.

What's interesting is another document filled in by the resettlement officer at Limassol states, Chris is 'anxious to immigrate to Australia and he's a young man who is willing and sober'. (What's with the sober references? Were blokes getting plastered all the time?)

In 1947, he obtained a British passport, before travelling to Melbourne in January, 1948.

Chris' uncle was in Melbourne at that time and they both worked selling fruit in stalls outside the GPO in the city. Chris famously told me once that selling fruit is where you meet women, as they always want fruit and often ask for directions. (Mind you, this was possibly the worst pick-up story I've ever heard, especially the way he put it in his heavy European accent, "Greg. You want women? Sell fruit!!!")

Apparently these are some of his fruit selling sidekicks. I'm only guessing this, as in another picture they're holding... fruit.


'Melbourne 1948'

We're not sure of the exact circumstances, but he met another immigrant from England, Winifred Evans in Melbourne. Judging by the numerous photos of the pair, their time spent together in the 1950's was a joyous one and included numerous trips to various parts of Melbourne. There are photos of many places, which are still frequented by Melburnians today for leisure. St Kilda, Dandenongs, Kinglake, Warburton, Ballarat, Bendigo and Phillip Island.


'Beach. Melbourne 1951'

(Actually, just to throw in a random photo, here's one I like. Mind you, the woman with Chris is not my mum, but what's more important is I admire his eating method, as it resembles my own 'hoovering' approach)


'Picnic. Melbourne 1948'

Chris and Winifred married in August 1953 and lived in Essendon. In November, 1957 he changed his name by deed poll, which I think the rest of the family would be relieved about, as the previous incarnation was a bit of a mouthful.


'Carlton. 1949'

Eventually, they settled in Forest Hill and had three children. Chris worked as a storeman with Woolworths for over over 25 years.

He lived a simple life, but retained his liking for the outdoors. During the last ten years when his health was failing, one of the biggest things that disappointed him was the inability to go on daily walks. He really loved his walking.

After a couple of trips to Cyprus he resettled in the western suburbs where he retained simple pleasures, such as gardening and believe it or not, wrestling, or what he called 'fighting'. (Actually, he'd cry out, "Where are the midgets? Why don't the midgets fight any more???")

His last couple of years were affected by memory loss and constant pain, so in some way it's a relief he's now resting peacefully.'

There you go. That's it and how easy was this post? For me that is, not you. What are the lessons? Mine are time is ticking away and the bloody thing can't be stopped. Get out doing stuff, because before you know it, you're knackered. Barely moving and the joys once taken for granted are gone. Feeling the positivity yet?! The one thing I'm more aware of more than anything as I approach 50 is mortality. It's right there, which is one reason this stinkin' neck business is driving me nuts.

Anyway, I missed slotting in a few photos, so here they are, in no particular order.


'With George. Melbourne 1948'

'Motorbike. Melbourne 1948'

In signing off, this was a dry post, but at a later stage (not in another two years time, but I have to scan old photos, so you'll have to wait) I'll do a follow up, which will remember some of the weird and wacky stuff I remember about him. Mind you, I'd like to do one for mum as well, rest assured, it will be completely bonkers compared to this story.

I must say, I don't mind a post about someone who would normally be lost in history. I think everyone should have something written about them at some point, otherwise when all are gone, who's there to remember they existed? Time to go.


'Studio portrait. Melbourne 1948'


16 comments:

  1. It's a shame about your neck. My last dog had something similar, which tended to make life difficult as he needed his front leg for walking. The vet would give him an injection and the vet nurse a rub behind his ears, and that seemed to work. I would be careful what you suggest to the neurosurgeon's receptionist, especially if she accompanied him to Tuscany. I did some work for a neurosurgeon registrar who is doing a PhD. Hers was more what you expect, blowing up bits of peoples brains in a small way. At this stage they were only aiming at rats. Though if my rat had a brain tumour I'd probably just get it put down.

    Nice to see the family history photos. My cousin has been finding out the more interesting details of our family. Unfortunately it is all rather boring.

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    1. Thanks Ken. I'll be open to the injection, but not really the ear rubbing. If it leads to a full body rub, then I might reconsider.

      One thing I liked about my neurosurgeon is his hands are small. I reckon that's an advantage for delicate stuff? I'd be useless with my man-sized mitts getting in the way. I'd probably fix the blokes neck problem by accidently lopping his head off.

      Regarding the photos, thanks! There's a bit of history (I think) tied up in my family. I should go through the albums and pick out some for the post on my mum. She has quite a few around the 1930's. Pity about your history. Sounds like they won't be making a 'Where Do I Come From?' episode about Ken any time soon?

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    2. Actually, it isn't that bad. One child born on ship from Scotland in 1850's. Ten children orphaned. Great-grandfather spent time living in bush because he didn't like foster family. A track cycling champion of Australia. One shire president.

      Boring compared to my mum's family who were Australian hillbillies.

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    3. There you go. You've got more than me for something to write about! I can't top the stories you could come up with.

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  2. I remember not commenting on your previous post about your father because as a complete stranger (does blogland count?), I was afraid anything I had to say would sound either trite or stalker-like. But this is such a wonderful insight into a life that may otherwise be forgotten - the old photos are wonderful and, with your commentary, show that no one's life is ordinary and everyone's history deserves to be on record.

    But seriously, you got that good advice and DIDN'T try out the fruit thing??

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    1. Hi Red. Aren't we old friends?! I do like the idea of leaving something somewhere about a person who has passed on. Unfortunately for the world, I'm leaving this blog, so the universe won't be short on stories about me!

      I'm really dubious about the fruit method. I can't say I've tried, so as a social experiment I should lease a fruit stall for a month or so. See if my best material is successful in the city streets :)

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  3. Good post mate and well done for preserving some nice history. Your work here has kept me entertained and this post has me looking forward to the next. Cheers.

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    1. Thanks Darren! This ended up being one of my quickest posts to write, so I'm contemplating a few more! I'm glad you liked it.

      I do love photos of people from the 1930's to 1960's. I figured it's because their clothes generally look pretty stylish. I look at my photos from growing up through the 1980's and I look like a complete dick! The 80's sucked for fashion!! You won't see me dragging out old photos of me in my double-breasted suit complete with shoulder pads any time soon :)

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  4. Hi Greg. Great story. Someone once said to me that a person only truly dies when people stop talking about him/her. So your dad is still very much with you. Preserve the memories.

    On another matter, some friends and I from Brisbane are walking section 3 of the AAWT from Mt Skene (on the Jamieson - Licola Rd) to Mt Hotham commencing Sat 18 Jan, and finishing on Fri night 24 Jan. There were 6 of us but one has pulled out at the last minute. You seem like a funny guy and you could be our guide across the Viking Saddle if interested! Everything is organised including minibus transfers to/from the start and finish back to Melbourne. Call me on 0418 556048 if you want to know more. Cheers

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    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for your kind words! I guess there'll be no problem with me when I'm gone. The world can sit and ponder this blog. Poor bastards :)

      Thanks for your walk invite! You know what? I'd love to do the hike you're about to do. Unfortunately work is in the way and not to mention my head is still falling off from my neck problem. I've got my neurosurgeon appointment next week, so I might have an idea about what's going on soon. Until then I can't see myself carrying a pack.

      I'm sure you'll have fun up there and hopefully it's not too warm! I think you'll breeze across Viking Saddle, as it was a surprise to me how straightforward it was considering its reputation. Could be famous last words, but I think the constant track markers will keep you heading in the right direction! If you get lost, then maybe I'll withdraw this paragraph at a later stage :)

      Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. I enjoyed this, Greg. I wonder if future generations will find our stories, meticulously documented in digital form, as entertaining and illuminating. I was just watching a news story about the WA fires, and one victim said, "I just had time to grab our computer with all the family photos on it before the house went up." I said to my mother, "Nobody grabs the family photo album to run from their burning house anymore," and she replied, "I would!"

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    1. Thanks Goat! The thing is, when we're gone, who are the keepers of our blogs?! It's an interesting thought, as we're all part of an online world, that's only really been going about 20 years? In a hundred years, the crap we've posted will still be here haunting people :)

      I guess our digital ponderings can be a time capsule? Wise people of the future can ponder this phenomenon.

      That's an interesting thing about the fires and what one keeps. I've got all my digital photos backed up on a hard drive which I keep at work. One can never have enough back ups! The thing is, I'd also have to follow your mums lead and collect the photo albums as I've got all of my parents pictures in albums. This reminds me. I need to get scanning, so I can add them to my hard drive back up at work!

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  6. I really enjoyed this post - he was very handsome and dapper. It brings to mind my friend's grandmother who met her Latvian husband dancing at the balls held upstairs at Flinders St, although I know it is a bit of a bow to draw between fruit outside the GPO and dancing at the train station LOL I just love those old multicultural love stories! Mum and I are getting stuck into our family history this year, despite blogging on and off for awhile I never considered blogging it but I think that is a great idea, it will hopefully be echoing around the digital space for awhile like that for other relatives to find.

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    1. Thanks Leah. Like I said in a previous comment, people in the 1950's always seem to look a little dapper due to the clothes. My 20's through the 1980's are a series of offensive fashion disasters :) They certainly don't stand the test of time like the ones in this post!

      Yes, I like your story of how your friend's grandmother met. It must have been an interesting time? Post-war and suddenly a bit carefree, plus combining the sudden mix of different cultures? I've actually no idea how my mum and dad met. Was it at the fruit stall...?!

      You've got a good idea to blog a bit about family history. The thing is, you might not think it has an audience, but a lot of people can identify with those stories. As this post shows! I like how this one has been received :)

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  7. I dunno...going for a walk worked for me.

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    1. Really? Well done! I tend to see very few people on any walks I do and when I do they're usually sweaty male oddballs :)

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