Danny Breslin

How it is…

Grandad Jack

As I told you before, this kidney stone has got to come out so I’m going into hospital tomorrow. Therefore I won’t be able to post anything for a while, I’m sorry guys. Hopefully all will go well and I’ll be thrashing the keyboard again on Monday. In the meantime if you believe in any deity then please have a quick word with Him for me during your daily devotions. If you don’t believe or are unsure what to believe then just wish me well eh?

Today I’m handing over the blog’s reins to my mate and fellow blogger Jamie Golds who nagged me into writing Me & Gus on the Roof of the World, so if you’ve read it and didn’t like it blame him not me! He told me this story about his Grandad Jack and his world record for drinking, I asked him to write it down and send it me as a guest post. Here it is…

Imagine walking into a bar in a foreign country, and seeing a wall decorated in pictures and press cuttings about a direct relative.

On Friday May 31st this year, I married my gorgeous wife Melissa. A few days later we flew to Malta for our honeymoon.

Not only was this the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind after a frantic few weeks; it also presented me with a golden opportunity to get to the bottom of an extremely interesting family tale I had been told…

My Great-Grandad Jack was born John Vincent Goldsmith, in 1919. He was actually born in a Royal Naval Hospital in Gibraltar, due to his father Arthur serving there in the Navy.

Grandad Jack followed in his footsteps, serving in the Navy (coxswain) for King and Country during World War 2 and being awarded medals for bravery along the way.

After the war had finished, Grandad Jack stayed in the Navy and was aboard HMS Brissenden whilst it was stationed in Malta, January 1947.

Now all I had been told that was 1 day Grandad Jack went for a few beers in Tony’s Bar, Sliema. This ‘few’ beers ended up being about 40+ beers. I kid you not.

40 plus beers in 1 day.

Off course I was staggered (and as any bloke would be, mightily impressed!) by this story.

Apparently, there was a newspaper article a few decade’s back which stated this was a drinking world-record. And apparently, there was a plaque in this Tony’s Bar complete with my Grandad Jack’s name on.

I had to see this.

I spoke to my Auntie Jacqui, Granddad Jack’s daughter. Imagine the bestest Auntie in the world, the Auntie you just love seeing and even when you get well into your 20’s, she still spoils you rotten! Well that’s my Auntie Jacqui.

At my wedding reception Auntie Jacqui confirmed again the name of the bar I had to go to, and handed me a letter to pass to the bar owner.

I felt a huge weight of responsibility.

Thursday June 6th was my 27th birthday, and my birthday drinks were going to be in Tony’s Bar.

We walked for about 20 minutes, had a few pictures took along the promenade that looked out onto the stunning Valletta; then headed in earnest for Tony’s Bar.

As we neared the bar, with its busy outside seating area, I actually felt a few nerves inside of me.

It was like I was on a mission to find out the complete truth about what happened in Tony’s Bar all them years back… but what if there was nothing in there?

What if I was going to be left desperately disappointed? Left having to text everyone back home “sorry, nothing there in the bar… nice cocktails though.”

No. That wouldn’t do. Auntie Jacqui was relying on me for pictures of this fine accomplishment, and I was not going to let her down.

Into the bar we strode.

Onto the floor my jaw dropped.

I noticed the face on the picture towards the corner of the bar instantly. It was Grandad Jack.

There was a big frame on the wall. Inside it was a drawing of Grandad Jack and his drinking buddy; J Gilbody.

The date was written on in red pencil; 19th January 1947.

The accomplishment? 46 ‘blues’ each, from 1.30-7.30pm.

There was a picture of Grandad Jack underneath the drawing of J Gilbody (guessing these got mixed up by mistake), him looking a double of my Dad who himself served in the Navy from 1980-1984. (If you’re wondering if I followed in these Naval footsteps, well no; I can’t even swim.)

There was an original newspaper cutting with a blown up version also framed.

It explained how “the feat is part of Naval folklore, beloved of old med fleet buffs and even those who had only a passing acquaintance with Malta.”

We sat at the table below the framed picture, and I just kept turning and staring above me, reading every single little detail again.

46 beers?? 6 and I’m struggling the next morning.

I dragged myself away from what was to me, a treasure-trove of family history, and went to the bar.

Straight away I told the barman who I was, and how the record-drinker on the wall was my Great Grandad.

“Nooo way, wow!! We very proud of all this, it’s a massive part of our history… My Grandad was the barman that day!” the barman told me, getting nearly as excited as me.

I passed him the letter from Auntie Jacqui, explaining that the letter was just asking that if anything should happen to the bar that we’d like to keep anything they have regarding the feat within our family.

“Noooo no”, Tony Junior instantly replied, “We never get rid of this! It’s our history! We need this…”

I re-assured him I wasn’t planning on stealing anything; that merely SHOULD the worst happen and the bar was to close, please could they keep the family in mind for the pictures and article’s adorning the bar wall….

Now it was time for beer. And there was only 1 beer I could have, wasn’t there?

I studied the bottle of Blue Pale Ale. It tasted alright, not my favourite drink but definitely drinkable.

The strength was only 3.3%, but after 46 pints of the stuff I’m sure you’d know about it.

I started taking Mel on a few trips down memory lane, telling her about the few memories of Grandad Jack that I had. He passed away in 1997 when I was 11, but lived down in Dorset if memory serves me right so it wasn’t like I could pop around to visit him and my Great Granny Phyllis whenever I wanted to.

I still kept looking above me at the ‘shrine’.

My mind wondered all the way back to January 19th 1947. I wondered what the weather was like that day? When had Grandad Jack last seen his little family all the way back in the UK, had he been allowed home for Christmas? I wondered what type of world it must’ve been to live in; relieved after the horrors of War; tension that it could all-so easily happen again?

Grandad Jack was already married back then to Granny Phyllis, and he had a son, Derek – my Grandad who would’ve been just 5 years old on this winter’s day full of drink.

I wondered how often Grandad Jack could contact Granny Phyl. No Facebook, Twitter, email… just the sincerity and trueness of a letter.

We delete email’s like they’re going out of fashion… you’d never throw away a heartfelt letter that felt held so much meaning.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking “bloody hell, getting a big deep isn’t he? Your Grandad drank a few beers, get over it!”

All I can say is, to be completely honest, it was a bit of an emotional experience. You’ve got this bar all the way in Malta, the other end of Europe that literally has a shrine to my Great-Grandad. It just bought back so many family memories, some particularly precious ones of time spent with my Grandad Derek (Great-Grandad Jack’s son) who sadly passed away when I was 4. Yet I still have them precious memories stored away in this head of mine, and Tony’s Bar bought them flooding back.

It was the perfect setting for some birthday drinks, but I laughed away the insistence of one of the barmen that I should try breaking Grandad Jack’s record.

After a few beers and a Del-boy style cocktail, it was time to head back to the hotel.

After 46 beers, Grandad Jack headed back to the ship.

When I got back to the hotel and as a result of the beers and cocktail, I went to sleep.

When Grandad Jack got back to the ship, he showered, and went back out for a night on the town.

Serving his country with distinction, setting a drinking record along the way.

What a man.

Tony's Bar

Tony’s Bar

 

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July 17, 2013 - Posted by | Stuff and Nonsense | , , , , , , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. Embattled

    What a great family for the generations!
    Namaste.. . . Anne

    Comment by annetbell | July 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Absolutely. He must have had hollow legs though.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | July 17, 2013 | Reply

      • Certainly! Blessings for safe surgery and speedy recovery!

        Comment by annetbell | July 17, 2013

      • That’s very kind.

        Comment by Danny Breslin | July 17, 2013

  2. Hope the Op goes well Danny

    Comment by bulldog | July 17, 2013 | Reply

  3. Loved this post! 🙂 Now, we are praying for you… get well soon.
    God Bless You!
    the concerned collies and chuck

    Comment by colliesofthemeadow | July 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks guys, I’ll be back next week spouting my usual rubbish.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | July 17, 2013 | Reply

  4. Welcome to the blogging world, Jamie -well done!
    I loved this story!!
    Wishing you well, Danny, and praying for a quick recovery 😉

    Comment by Denise Hisey | July 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks Denise. It is a really good story, I’m so happy he shared it.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | July 17, 2013 | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on Jamie Golds and commented:
    A piece I did for my good mate Danny. Hope you enjoy.

    Comment by jamiejlg1986 | July 17, 2013 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the comments, glad u all like it 🙂 All the best for tomorrow Unc!

    Comment by jamiejlg1986 | July 17, 2013 | Reply

  7. Wish you a safe surgery and speedy recovery!!! take care…

    Comment by nepaliaustralian | July 18, 2013 | Reply

  8. I hope all goes well with your kidney stone removal…

    Comment by Jack Flacco | July 18, 2013 | Reply

  9. Good luck with your op, Danny, and welcome to Jamie!

    Comment by Yaz | July 19, 2013 | Reply

  10. Hi Danny. I hope all went well with the op. Thank you for liking my poem ‘ Highway Robbery!. Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.

    Comment by Malctg - The Foureyed Poet. | August 7, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, it went well but its not something I’d like to repeat. Guess I’ll be drinking a lot more water from now on.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | August 8, 2013 | Reply


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