gennepher

By gennepher

These are J's ....

...desert sand goggles from when he was a National Serviceman in the Canal Zone, in the early 50's.

I was barely a toddler then, yet we were to get together around 40 years later.

J gave me these goggles when I was having problems with my dry eyes due to Sjogrens in the 1990's. For me to wear! But I didn't, I bought swimming goggles instead at the time, and sprayed eye mist inside, and wore the swim goggles to ease my dry eyes, but only indoors.

I couldn't sleep last night due to my dry and horribly itchy eyes. The steroid eye drops, given as a form of antibiotic for after the laser treatment so my eyes wouldn't get infected, have been making them itchy (I was told they could). And the steroid eyedrops were giving me headaches (I generally never suffer from headaches, so to get one every day for the last fortnight was not good for me). I did email the hospital and was told it seemed okay, and that the headaches should stop when I finish the course of steroids.

But last night my eyes were so incredibly itchy, like they were sand blasted...no eye drops were helping. So I went in the shower, sat down on a chair, and sat under that steaming running water for an hour.....

I felt so much better. Went back to bed, but Dawn streaked her red skirts across the window, the curtains were slightly ajar...

So another cuppa tea, and I am thinking about J's desert goggles he gave me years ago (he died this month In 2009). I fell asleep for a couple of hours, and then sleep was elusive. Popeye had come in through the window....

Anyway, I found the goggles easily, put them on a white paper, and took a pic with my phone. And put them away. They are so flimsy. A piece of plastic with brown bias binding, and a sort of adjustable strap at the back. Along the top is a sort of hard bit stapled on to the plastic. Incredibly the staples are perfect. They are not rusty.

So, I decided it would be my blip for today.

And that would be the end of this post.

But I decided to go out to potting shed with Popeye and took my phone and tablet with me. After a sleep, I find my head aches have now gone...it was the steroid drops. Why do they have to make medicines with side effects?

I suppose because I was half sleeping and sleeping I was thinking about J. He was a lot older than me as you will have guessed. I was remembering that when Blair (I think it was) finally decided that National Servicemen who served in the Canal Zone would finally be awarded a medal after being denied any real recognition over all these years, in about 2003 I think it was.

J has always been bitter and angry about this. So when he could finally have a medal he refused to fill in the paperwork, and gave me his reasons. And no persuading, or cajoling from me would change his mind. And if I mentioned it he would stand to attention as if with his rifle from all those years ago, and recite his name, rank and number, and then turn away. End of subject. That was me told.

I spent one day going over all the paperwork, seriously considering applying for it on his behalf, then I knew I shouldn't have even considered it, so handed all the paperwork to J. And never mentioned the subject again. He died in 2009.

I had a look for these goggles online, but there is nothing much on them. Then I saw his regiment...

I am remembering more he told me. J was a person who wasn't suited for the army. By that I mean he caused mayhem wherever he went. He didn't mean to, so ended up cleaning the latrines until they shone..., or washing the dishes. There was an antiquated dishwashing machine, but no one had told him to change the water...

J had gone through Liverpool College of Art, and been trained by some interesting people. He was also a good calligrapher.

He finally found his niche in the Survey Engineers Regiment. They are in the desert, in totally inadequate tents, with just sand and sand dunes, nothing else.

J was mapping out the desert from aerial photographs. There were others too. All the maps were hand drawn.

I got told lots of stories.

When he was on night sentry duty he said he always had a box of Cadbury's Milk Tray inside his overcoat. It helped him keep awake and alert. His perfect night sentry duty was pointed out to the others in the morning by the Sergeant Major (I think it was).

However J always had problems with right and left, and this caused some bad problems on the parade ground...so this meant latrine cleaning again.

J was always the map reader when I was driving, but this caused problems, because according to him I had turned the opposite way he had said. Finally, I didn't tell him (and this was the days before Sat Nav), I would memorise hundreds of miles driving before we started the journey....so this made for better tempers in the car...

So, a wee bit of history for you to read this weekend...

Thanks for all your good wishes for Popeye's Birthday...he appreciates them all.

Oh, I nearly forgot to say, I was trying to find possible maps that J worked on in the early 50's in the Canal Zone. I had been trying when J was alive, but they hadn't been released then (50 year rule?), so he was sad.

This afternoon I found 3 hand drawn maps of the right time period, and for just after. They had his regiment's name on. I had little emotional cry (the tears soothed my itchy eyes...an added bonus).

Take care x
I'll look when I have had a rest to see if any typos, but I cannot now.

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