On Tuesday morning I dropped into The Hope Café around 8 o’clock; I had an hour and a half before I needed to catch the bus to go to yoga in central Brighton. Josh waved as I entered, as I hadn’t been for a few days and it looked as though he had some news. As he prepared my double espresso he handed me an envelope and said it was from Sami, who had been in the day before.
I sat down and used my finger to open the envelope. A handwritten page was inside. Probably best to quote verbatim what he had written:
“Hi Richard I was hoping to catch you before I left (‘Left?’ I thought, ‘where’s he off to?’) but I didn’t see you so thought I would tell you my plans. The Post Office Inquiry will not be completed until the end of the year and until it ends there wouldn’t be any firm offers of compensation (You will remember Sami was charged with stealing, sacked and made bankrupt. (PC 271)). Rather than just sit around I thought I would go to India. I had been reading some of your older postcards about finding your family roots, (Note 1) and realised I knew little of my own.
Ok! I know I was born in Southall in 1956 and that my parents had left India on partition in 1947. I also know that my English mother had worked for the colonial service in Gujarat but I know nothing of my father’s family’s surname Gupta. (Bit like Smith!) I have been to the India Reading room in the British Library but feel the only way to find more is to go there. I am flying out today, Monday, and have a three month visa.
No doubt I’ll send you an email occasionally – my address is Samig56@gmail.com
I’ll miss The Hope but before you know it I’ll be back. By the way I have bought Grisham’s latest book (Sparring Partners); I bought a new Kindle as it’s lighter for travelling.
Best wishes and stay in touch
Having read this on Tuesday it was weird and coincidental (!) to see a news item on BBC South yesterday evening about another Sami, Sami Sabet, who had run the local Portslade and Shoreham Post Offices. This Sami had found himself in a similar position; in 2009 he had been convicted of a $50k fraud, given a year’s prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 180 hours community service. Yesterday he talked of his life destroyed and we now know it was a known fault in the Post Office Horizon computer system! Shame on the management of that organisation.
I sent my Sami a quick email to say I hope his research bears fruit, told him to keep reading my weekly scribbles and wished him luck.
In last week’s post I mentioned the obituary of a Mark Sykes; “an art dealer, gun smuggler, gambler, jailbird, bookie, womaniser, racing driver and all round upper-class rake.” Having read my scribbles my brother wrote: “Perhaps there’s a challenge here; describe one’s own character in eight aspects!” The writers of obituaries are very objective, and rising to this challenge one is bound to be subjective! However if you feel able to, happy to publish and give the best description a bottle of champagne!
The Hope is not busy. Susie is also behind the counter, so Josh comes over for a chat. I like him and his partner Luke and we swap thoughts and inconsequential news:
“Am I the only person who notices this phenomenon?” he asks.
“What are you talking about?”
“I am walking up a pavement and there’s a tree or a rubbish bin or a car half-parked on the pavement or a discarded supermarket trolley that constricts the width of the pavement?”
“There’s someone coming towards me and I guarantee nine times out of ten we meet just as the space narrows and one of us has to let the other go first. So weird!”
“Do you know? You’re right Josh, I have noticed that too.” I was about to recount my own similar observations but got side-tracked when I noticed Edith was not here. “Have you seen Edith recently?” I asked.
“No; let’s hope she’s OK.”
I asked him whether he had read my PC 284 Knowing your Nyms and Mnemonics from May? He hadn’t so I gave him a very sketchy overview and said that a xenonym is a name for a people or a language or a city which is not used by the natives themselves and, as an example, used Cologne as the international name for Köln. My little news item was that earlier this month Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan declared that his country would for here-on-in be called Tűrkiye – so there will no longer be an association with the bird traditionally eaten at Christmas or indeed its meaning as something that fails badly or a stupid or silly person. We weren’t sure if this was a xenonym and I don’t think I have never made any connection to the bird!
My other bit of inconsequential news was that here in Britain a new recruitment company, Indeed, is making a name for itself and building its brand with its advertisement strapline ‘I need Indeed! Indeed you do.’ I wasn’t sure whether the double entendre was intended in an advertisement on the radio a few days ago: “ ….. for instance an expanding Dental Practice has roles that urgently need filling.” We had a laugh and then he had to get back to the counter.
I looked down at my watch. “Gosh” I thought “ I need to get going or I’ll late for yoga. Waving a hurried ‘bye’ to Josh and Susie I hurried out of the black-framed door and off to the bus stop.
Richard 17th June 2022
Note 1 My own roots started in Durston Somerset in 1706, can be traced through India, New Zealand and the USA and thence to the United Kingdom.