“FOUR-SCORE & FORWARD”
by Desmond Kelly “The Star of eLanka”
“HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE EIGHTY,
FORMERLY KNOWN AS “FOUR-SCORE” ?
MY DAUGHTER HAS WRITTEN A “BOOKLET”
BUT I’LL ADD JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE
IT WAS “GREAT” TO BE BORN IN SRI LANKA,
A LITTLE “CANCERIAN MAN”
IN THE SUBURB, NOW CALLED MARADANA
WHICH WAS FORMERLY NAMED “MARANDAN”.
The “booklet” mentioned above was written by my one & only daughter, Michelle, specifically as a “bonus” for “THE ULTIMATE DVD” produced in England by my good friend Jude Goonewardane, which is also proudly, the ORIGINAL “YOU-TUBE STYLE” DVD IN THE WORLD.
As a result,(Although I still have a fortnight to go), “FOUR-SCORE & FORWARD” is being written, as what I would term “a brief autobiography” on the special request of MICHAEL,DOUGLAS,MICHELLE & WARREN, four of the “best kids” that any father, anywhere, could hope to have. I am NOT “waxing lyrical” here.
To have four children who “work as a team”, DO NOT drink alcohol to excess, DO NOT “do drugs” of any sort, DO NOT “swear” to excess, except one, who takes after his dad), DO love animals, DO work hard to earn an honest living & DO look after their “old -man”when necessary,(I hope)& ALWAYS look after each other.
I am very proud of ALL of them and even though their mother left this “old-man”after forty eight years of marriage, it is CYNTHIA (R.I.P.) I have to thank for giving me a splendid family. It seems pertinant to add at this juncture, that my ex-wife reverted back to her “maiden” name after she left me, NOT because she was’nt proud of the name that I gave her(she was ALWAYS proud.of FOUR other KELLYS anyway), the MAIN reason for the “reversal” was the fact that she lost her father when she was ten or eleven years old, was so devastated about it, as he too,was only in his “early fifties”,she never did actually get over it and decided, I suppose, to BRING BACK that particular SURNAME, a name that we were all proud of. Oswald Michael Elibank GEORGESZ was a Barrister in Ceylon, the youngest, with the distinction of being chosen to be a JUDGE of the Law-Courts there, when his sad, untimely death of heart-failure occured at age fifty four. He was married(for the 2nd time) to Lucy Elizabeth Ruth THIEDEMAN & had two daughters by her, CYNTHIA & MERCIA.I am CERTAIN that neither of them got over their dad’s death, for the rest of their lives, so, again, R.I.P., Cynthia & Mercia. You have every reason to be very proud of both your father & mother. Ruth Georgesz was another remarkable woman & also the “best mother-in-law” in the world, as far as I was concerned, anyway.
Now, we move on, to “Four-Score & Forward”, the good, the bad, happy & sad, my life in Ceylon & Australia, told as truthfully as I remember it. I am happy and thankful to the Lord up there, who has given me a long-term memory that is second to none but HE took quite a lot of it back with a short-term one that is bordering on amnesia. It is nontheless very strange that this is a fairly common but unsettling “malady” with all &sundry,(especially the “Ancients”).
Most.of us seem to be able to remember “way back when” but, as we grow older, seem to forget what we had for our last meal or even if we had one at all. This is why, I suppose, it seems necessary to write about my life which was extremely interesting in so many ways, it is almost impossible even for me to believe that I could have “fitted-in” everything I have done, over the years. A “frenzied” 26, in the beautiful Isle of Ceylon, starting School & “Showbiz” as well, at 5 years, Leaving College & home, at just fifteen and a half to join an English “Circus” & then touring the Country for nearly six months with them, working part-time for the Country’s leading Entrepeneur, the late great Donavan Andree,which involved many “gigs” at Hotels,parties, nightclubs and other “venues”, far too numerous to mention, beginning to “compose” my own songs, playing ukelele, accoustic & electric guitar, making regular “Radio Ceylon” guest appearences, attracting many “pretty” female fans, then joining the Royal Ceylon Navy, recording the first of my original music compositions which were accepted by the then giant recording Company Philips, in Holland, & pressed on a 45 rpm “disc”,.A Stores Assistant in the Navy, but still a part-time stage worker for the greatesr “showman”in Ceylon at the time, getting married at “twenty”, to the “Girl of my dreams” Cynthia, which involved the “first ever” Wedding Mass” to be celebrated fully in English, by her Uncle, Rev. Fr. Joseph Georgesz, a Catholic priest who had to get special permission for this, from the “Bishop of Rome” at the time, the Pope. It has to be understood that, until then, ALL Church Services had to be celebrated in Latin. Cynthia & I were also very lucky to “secure” the “Limo” of Commodore Rangan Kadirigamar as our Wedding Car, complete with it’s civilian driver whose name was Asoka Silva.
Back at Naval Headquarters, I was given the job of getting all the R.Cy.N. Requirements from the Government Stores with the minimum delay. Everything was running smoothly, until suddenly
A woman’s breast was mutilated, her nipple sliced off,
THIS IS HOW ALL OF IT STARTED.
Fighting broke out, Sinhalese against Tamil people, We, Navy guys issued with rifles & ammunition, but sometimes confined to barracks for “duty” of 4 hours “on”, 4 hours “off” for over a month & naturally getting irritated at not being able to go home to our families.
Later, I was then transferred by the Navy to Karinagar (Jaffna), Diyatalawa, (twice), Kochchikade (“Gemunu 2”), & back to Galle-Buck in Colombo to finally leave the R.Cy.N. after eight years to “migrate” to Melbourne with my wife & two young sons Michael & Douglas who were born in Ceylon while Michelle my daughter was “manufactured” in Ceylon and “produced” in Melbourne Australia. THAT WAS ONLY ONE QUARTER OF THE “AUSSIE-RULES” FOOTBALL MATCH SO FAR.
Later, much later, my life until “FOUR-SCORE” will be revealed. It has to be mentioned here, ere this bloody forgetfulness sets in, that I started WORK in Australia less than a WEEK after arrival here (details later) and even at 70 years, had not fully “retired”. As Michelle has said, I will only retire fully when they carry me out in a box, but, I must add here that I DID ENJOY every minute of my working life. I “CHOSE” what I wanted to do, chose often, and always did the job to the best of my ability. I am proud to say that my principles in life included 100% HONESTY, “doing unto others as I would, them, do unto me.” NEVER being “tardy”. The R.Cy.N. taught me that. “even a minute late & you’ve MISSED the Ship” never “GIVING or TAKING BRIBES”,”ADAPTING” to whatever situation I found myself in, which was another good lesson taught.
Being neat & tidy, “a place for everything & everything in place (without being pedantic about it) NEVER EVER taking DRUGS of ANY TYPE to enhance my life. I have never used marijuana, heroin, to inject or “puff”, no “hasish” or “rubbish”, that kind of “stuff”.All drugs are just “crutches” for the “weakies”.& I firmly believe this.
Then, if I ever had to go to China & there were”Election Problems” (they cannot pronounce their “Rs” there), No “Niagra or Viagra”,(if one cannot function tonight,
don’t go over the cliff, there is always tomorrow night). Never ever WORRY unnecessarily. If there is a problem, there has got to be a solution to the problem. Worry only makes the problem WORSE. However, it has to be said that I was no “goody-goody” I DID “drink”, I DID “smoke” , I DID “fight”, was always a “rebel” who enjoyed being one, but now, at close to FOUR-SCORE, I have had to give it all up, so I can honestly say that thankfully, I never did find myself ADDICTED TO ANYTHING . As a matter of fact, I can proudly add that after 50 years of both “drinking & smoking” I gave TWO bad habits up OVERNIGHT & feel so much better for it.
Gambling was NEVER a shortcoming of mine. I did’nt have the money to gamble with,
“HOWEVER, LIFE GOES ON, AS IT MUST”.
It was a “Thursday”, the 2nd of July, 1936, in the main “Public Lying-In Home”, at around 7.30 am.(or so my dear Mum told me many years later), I first saw the “light of day” in one of the most beautiful Islands on this planet, CEYLON, now called Sri Lanka.
“MONDAY’S CHILD IS “FAIR OF FACE”
TUESDAY’S CHILD IS “FULL OF GRACE”
WEDNESDAY’S CHILD IS “FULL OF WOE”
THURSDAY’S CHILD “HAS FAR TO GO”
FRIDAY’S CHILD IS “LOVING & GIVING”
SATURDAY’S CHILD WORKS HARD
FOR A LIVINGot
BUT THE CHILD THAT IS BORN ON
THE “SABBATH DAY”
IS BONNY & BRIGHT IN EVERY WAY.
How true it is!. far to go, indeed, and still “battling on” at eighty.
The eldest son of Robert Carl Kelly & Gwendolyn (Lyn)
Kelly(nee Kriekenbeek) again, according to Mum, I was a 7 pound weakling, frail, prone to pnuemonia which I was very nearly a “victim” of, twice, before I was even 5 years old. The reason for this? (diagnostically) stated, was “over-care” by two very young & inexperienced parents, especially my Mother who was the youngest of three sisters & two brothers of the Kriekenbeek family who also lived in Colombo. My aunts, Iris and Ouida were married to brothers Hugh & Roy Demmer, respectively, both of whom were employed by the then C.G.R. (Ceylon Government Railway) , and my Uncles, Anton and Shelly Kriekenbeek, who, because of the “old-Dutch” belief of discipline at any cost, and “too-strict tactics” of their Father “Dada” K. left home, or to be more precise, were “forced to leave’ rather early in the piece. Anton, later, even changed his name to “Freeman”, ending up in Ceylon as a “Planting Superintendant” of a huge “Tea-Estate” and Shelly, who was an expert carpenter, took up abode in a little Country Town, married a Sinhalese maiden who “bowled him over”, started his own family and “did his own thing”. Being the expert he was in the carpentry business, he was never short of work, we believe.
Of the lot of them, my Mother was always supposed to be “a panic-merchant”. If I sneezed, she would wrap me up, stand on the main road and frantically try to stop someone, anyone, passing by, to get us to the nearest hospital. For my part, all I needed, even as a baby, to make me feel better and stop sneezing, was for her to play me some music as I lay there, on the old H.M.V. gramaphone which belonged to Aunt.Iris with whom we stayed until Dad took his little family to Unit 2, Fife Road, Thimbirigasaya, which was our very first “rental-accommodation” in that little Suburb just South of Colombo . So, it seems that MUSIC was a natural part of me, from the day I was born. I may have been frail, illness-prone, confined to my cot & cranky, as a result, but play me some music and I would calm down. Right from the start I loved “COUNTRY MUSIC”.
Strangely, being narcisscistic from the beginning, I suppose, I remember that my favourite song at the time was one titled “Wonderful Child” recorded on an old 78 r.p.m. Vinyl disc that would smash into smithereens if accidently dropped on a cement floor.
Just “over the road” from where we lived in Thimbirigasaya, on his property, were the stables of a gentleman by the name of Walles or Wallace, (just depending on how you wanted to spell it of course). He trained racehorses there, but more importantly, my Grandfather J.R.Kelly or Jack, as he was better-known to his “boozing-buddies” worked for this “old man” Walles as his accountant. While on the subject of the few Kellys in our particular family at the time, Jack had a brother named James and both hailed from Dublin where James finished up as the Manager of the Dublin Zoological Gardens.This is an important fact because, to end up in a Zoo, one either had to be an “animal” or an “animal-lover” and happily, James Kelly was the latter. This also accounts for the fact that ALL the Kellys in OUR family have always been,in the past, are now, & will always be (I hope) , genuine lovers of animals and birds (of the feathered sort, ALSO!) It has to be said here, that there were many “branches” of KELLY in Ceylon at the time, but WE were the main tree.
Also, importantly, in Ceylon, us KELLYS were actually ALIENS. The Irish were never really interested in keeping “records”. As such, my “Irish background” cannot be traced very far back, whereas, my “Dutch-background ” goes back into dim, dark, past simply because the Dutch kept ALL of their records, which are still readily available in the Dutch Burgher Union Offices in Colombo.
If my memory serves me correctly, Jack Kelly’s first wife was a Scots-woman whose name was Anne Kynoch. There IS a photograph of this grand old lady somwhere. Then, like so many Europeons in the “good old days”, Jack “migrated” to Ceylon, later met & married Marion Foenander who presented him with two daughters, Doreen & Marion, plus one son, Carlo,
my Dad. Doreen Kelly, later married Earl Assauw and Marion married Frederick (Fred) de Kretser.Cousins aplenty, unfortunately, I have “lost touch” with most of them, but the names I remember are ESTELLE, EARDLEY & JOAN (my favourite) DEMMER, a la Uncle Hugh & Aunt Iris, (all deceased), VILMA, MAUREEN (dec.)& AUDREY, a la Uncle Roy & Aunt Ouida DEMMER DERRICK a la Uncle Earl & Aunt Doreen ASSAUW and BRIAN, CHRISTINE, MARLENE, MAXIM, RAY & PAULINE a la Uncle Fred & Aunt Marion de KRETSER. Christine & Ray from the above family have passed on at the time of this writing, as have all my Uncles & Aunts of course. May they all rest in peace.
The only female member of the “olde Kelly family,” also, later resident, in Ceylon, was the sister of Jack & James who, I was to find out later,had the reputation of being the very best dress-maker of bridal outfits in Colombo. Unfortunately, her name & marital status is unknown to me. She must have been another member of my family who was either arrogant or extremely “private”, did not want to have any close relationships even with her own family but, I believe, manufactured the most magnificent bridal gowns in Ceylon, for many years. When the daughters of top Politicians, “Brass”, Businessmen, Millionaires & such were in the process of “tying the knot”, they were advised to go to this “Burgher Lady” who lived somewhere in Colpetty if they wanted the finest bridal outfit available. She was’nt at all backward in coming forward as regards the price either. My grandfather’s sister lived very well, I later learned, on her ability with the “Singer” sewing machine, needle & thread. Another “Singer” of an entirely different variety.
Grandfather Jack, as I remember him, was a mathematical & Arithmetical genius. There were no electronic devices to work with, in the good old days but I always remember my Grandfather telling me that everything mathematical solely depended on what was termed “formulae”& that even MUSIC was purely mathemetical.He was an extremely handsome man, my Grandfather, in his prime, looking like the twin brother of film-actor Randoloh Scott, square jaw, smiling blue “Irish eyes” twinkling, as he told you stories of his escapades, which were many. He became even more popular with me because, from a bakery on the main street in Thimbirigasaya, he would buy me some “angili”(finger-biscuits), still warm from the bakery-oven, which I loved. When he was’nt doing his “cross-word puzzles”(he was a whiz at English too) or when he was’nt doing the Walles’accounts, Jack could usually be found in a bar, at some tavern, seriously imbibing and drinking anything other than water. He loved his booze, but then, coming from pure Irish Stock in Dublin, who could blame him for simply “bending his elbow” with monotonous regularity. He was a “happy-drunk” however, very happy, indeed. I used to call him “Grand-na” , my Dad never did talk too much about HIS Father but always insisted that he, Carlo Kelly became totally tee-total because of Jack Kelly. “One drunk in the family is more than enough”, my dad used to say.
One famous “episode” , featuring Jack Kelly, that I will never forget was when my grandfather and his usual Rickshaw-Coolie who were both “under the weather” because Grand-na made the poor man stop at each and every tavern from Colonbo Fort, had a “shot of arrack” & “shouted” the Coolie one too,which was happily accepted, “hit a car” at the Bambalapitiya Junction, on the way home to Wellawatte and ended up, side by inebriated side in the General Hospital,from where my Dad had to “claim him”, pay the rickshaw-man and take Grand-na home. My Dad always chose not to remember this hilarious event, but I did, and am very proud of it. Just imagine it. KELLY on the one bed and KAMALAWASARUM on the other. I do believe that both Ks were so drunk, neither was badly “hurt” but the car that was involved sported a slight “dent” on it’s front “mudguard”. Amazing!!.
Another story from raconteur Jack Kelly,God rest his merry soul, was about his “love-life” as a young man.
Being as good-looking as he was, he was never short of a girl-friend, or three. He did not mind how far away from Colombo, they lived, just as long as they were pretty & special, they were pretty special and if they were ESPECIALLY PRETTY he was theirs for the taking if one wanted to be blunt about it, & my Grand-na WAS.
On a particular weekend, he walked a a few miles to a little Country town for a rendevous with a pretty young Miss, spent the weekend with her and had to walk back to Colombo, late on Sunday night,when no other transport was available. Everything was alright, the distance by foot was manageable but one thing he had not reckoned with, was the extreme humidiry of the area and soon he was feeling very thirsty indeed. He was carrying no water and soon the dizziness of dehydration hit him and he sadly contemplated on what might well have been his “last date”.”Then”, as he said to me, “I turned around a corner and noticed a small ditch. I sat down and scooped up a handful of dirty debris-loaded ditch water and drank it. It was the sweetest,coolest liquid I had ever tasted .Never forget
Son, you can live without food for much longer than you can without water. Always remember this” he said to me. Here he was, the same Jack Kelly who scorned water when he was in town, having to drink the “filthy stuff” to save himself from dehydration.
He was a great man, my paternal grandfather I am happy to say that I have inherited some of his “romantic” idiosyncrasies. I am in no way homophobic but I do believe that MEN were created for WOMEN & vice-versa.
However, ” my women” MUST be pretty. Also, they must be intelligent. Altogether, they must be pretty-intelligent in order to keep a fool like me interested in them. Everything about a pretty woman is beautiful.
In my eyes, the handsomest man, by comparison, is PRETTY ORDINARY. I rest my case.