john p birchall ... student, beer drinker, saxophone player ... general whippersnapper and twerp ... perhaps better described as a sceptical empirical pip squeak from Cheshire ... worn out but still learning ...
Don't forget we grew from seeds ripened the middle of rural Cheshire and Cheshire folk always claimed to be different but denied being crazy.
Everybody in the pub thought we were both preposterous & obstreperous but we thought that weeding out daft ideas was a splendid, spot on, strategy for survival ... even though such a strategy was a perpetual, ongoing, work in progress, it was much better than the alternatives.
It became clear to us that most folk in the 'big beyond the pub' also thought that natural selection was a confusing counterintuitive design process ... and many though it just plain wrong, they were certain it was clever folk that designed the Boeing 747 ... quite so ... but we stuck to our guns & smiled ... just like the Cheshire Cat ... the Boeing 747 evolved just like everything else?
We loved Lewis Carroll and his Cheshire Cat, not only was he born a Cheshire man and a brilliant Oxford mathematician but he also had an enviable way with the meaning of words in his madcap fantasies ... meanings which weren't madcap nor fantasies at all.
To help to find our way around this extravaganza our very own passions & interests were sort of 'investments in weeding out techniques'. Darwin's trial & error learning process triggered ginormous personal satisfactions which seemed to spread out from deep roots in family, home & garden - our very own local patch in a 'universe expanding & immense' ... of little interest to others but we thoroughly enjoyed all the fun & malarkey of our inheritance & our efforts ... inspired efforts of excitement & fear, of cricket & empirical science, of English speak & island history, of moral urgency & personal responsibility for compound growth of good behaviour.
Here are the stories -
Family History Site Map detailed some of the obscure bits of this ongoing spectacular ... involving the Hindley, Birchall & Howarth genes & 'cousins for Africa' ... then surprisingly we found a bit of time for some investigations into the deep mysteries of ...
Evolutionary Economics, science & technology and business, and the natural selection of synergies ...
Dixieland Jazz, music & solace for bashed up souls hoping for some exciting fun ...
Autobiography of Beer Drinking, a long ramble thru all kinds of active sports & doing productions in manufactories for the family with all kinds of terrific friends who were always sceptical but never grumpy ... and then only when scarce time permitted did we mess with economics & saxophones ...
Adam's Forge, another long ramble thru a very personal journey of enlightenment, it was easy to imagine our travels to epiphany started in the gutters of Sauchiehall Street near Gilmore Hill to be confirmed underneath the soap pans in Apapa but we believed our journey really really started a long long time before that maybe 13.6 billion years ago ... and every day the confirming evidence seemed to mount ...
Smithy Lane Stompers, our own bit of steam jazz music, bags of enthusiasm lousy sound, we put in some hours and tried for our own meagre smiles and the gross amusement of others ... it was only ever just a bit of fun!
Some thought we were 'deplorable' & others thought we were 'despicable' but we reckoned we were around to help by asking awkward questions ... after cricket & science we managed to pass as Chemical Engineers but we soon became embroiled in the business of exciting global Manufactories ... real jobs for real customers ... later we dabbled with the thought that we were deluded Business Economists or perhaps even confused Biological Historians ... but really we turned out to be only a wishful saxophone player ... who drank beer.
JJ 'the high one' was a big business Vice President, Sportsman & Beer Drinker, SJ 'the star' was a Mum, Biological Psychologist and knew all about a guy called Richard Dawkins who explained amongst all the guesswork that at least two things were certain -
john p inherited his genes from the Birchall & Hindley families and ...
genes expressed themselves 'as if' through cost/benefit analysis ... otherwise they would never have survived all the hassle.
Then against all the odds, some time was found to write a few yarns about the forgotten past, just as the youngsters were all focused on the future opportunities. But the thing was that it was in the past where we had spent most of our time, lost in the hubbub of history ... playing cricket, wresting with science, enjoying friends, some log gone, messing & saxophones and having fun drinking beer ... it seemed to us that folk could learn from the past but nobody we knew had sussed out how to learn from the future ... although lots of folk frequently tried!?
... here we are ... wrestling with curmudgeons & economic models ... and again ...
... trying to play A Cup of Coffee a Sandwich & You on our Yanagisawa ...
and with beer drinking mates from The Goshawk messing with
2017 three generations at The Grange School
The momentous event of September 19th 2003 Joshua David Birchall ...
... and 1 year old
... and in a flash 2
... and now 3
... 5 ... 6
... and double figures 10
... 16 driving
... made it young man @ 18
for Josh !! - josh's page !!
and December 8th 2005 Georgia May our favourite grand daughter ...
More spiel ...
We were almost educated in science & cricket at The King's School, Chester and learned a bit of Chemical Engineering at Glasgow University close to the gutters of Sauchiehall Street ... there we met up with with the ghost of James Watt, at Adam Smith's place ...
Hard work was in 'production', in Manufactories with Unilever, there we learned most of our economics underneath the soap pans in Apapa ... but that was before the male menopause nudged us into a second degree in Evolutionary Economics at The Open University
... and if you're really interested in this unlikely tale of woe, pelf and evolution read about The Apapa Generators.
Some of our inspirational giants were long dead like Adam the Smith, Jimmy Watt & Charlie Darwin, others hailed from a litany of urban conurbations like Glasgow, Oxbridge, London, Warrington & Chester ... all egged along by mavericks. We lived on an island land full of hopeful, but not quixotic, immigrants ... we were all immigrants with dreams who waxed as we paraphrased one of our favourite historians, Michael Wood, who explained in his history 'A Search for the Roots of England' in 1986 -
'Understand more about the whole story of the Bronze Age farmers of the Eddisbury Hillfort, their tale was important because the history of a small island off the shore of Europe became World history, its speech became world speech, and, perhaps more important, its social and economic experience also became that of the rest of the world’
Of course we were biased but we had a long list of luvs -
English language, common law, empirical science, agricultural & industrial revolutions, liberal democracy, checks & balances, separation of powers, term limits ... Adam Smith, James Watt, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Francis Drake, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Whigs Edmund Burke & William Wilberforce, Richard Dawkins, Princess Di, James Bond, Harry Potter, Louis Armstrong, Bert Ambrose, Humphrey Lyttelton, Dennis Williams @ Clemances, The Goons, The Beatles, Morecambe & Wise, BBC World Service, Flook ... and all the many enthusiasts & aficionados gossiping away at the MCC, FA, Lords, Old Trafford, Henley, Epsom, Twickenham, Wimbledon & St Andrews ... and unforgettable friends who shared their time at ancient institutions, with warm beer & village cricket on the green ... at Bradburn's Lane, Abbey Gateway, Gilmore Hill, Newton Lane, Filkins Lane, Oxbridge, LSE, The Royal Institution, Ronnie Scott's, Port Sunlight, Dakar Road, Mpingwe Hill, The Waldorf, Ademola Street, The TajMahal & The Goshawk CH3 8AJ ...
Why ... do almost all folk seem to pontificate about economics? ... and call it politics or religion? Believe it or not but Evolutionary Economics and the analysis of behaviour interested us ... it was the only way through the blizzard of questions!
We had a Selmer Mark VI soprano saxophone and a Yanagisawa tenor and played with a few mates around Chester ... bags of enthusiasm, lousy sound ... playing for our own meagre fun and the gross amusement of others ...
Why ... did almost all folk seem to love music of one kind or another ? ... but so few played jazz? Believe it or not but we enjoyed Dixieland Jazz and we even toyed with little bits of understanding about music and occasionally attempted to be creative ... which can't be bad for factory managers and beer drinkers?
'Maverick' was our destiny, many thought a 'Stanford drop out' was our ambition, but folk often simply called us a curmudgeon (an ill tempered fellow, full of resentment and stubborn notions) ... but in truth we'd always worked hard at our fun ... and one of our notions, the explanatory pervasiveness of evolution, was big time fun! We admit we often felt much like a leper, shunned & ostracised as a freak indulging in 'thought crime' ... an empirical nerd and certainly not very woke ... ridiculous yes, but hopefully not stoopid ... relentlessly, day by day the evolutionary evidence from Empirical Science mounted ... everything but everything we imagined was 'viewed' through the lens of evolution and in the 'context' of natural selection ... your protagonist had been given 'the black spot', guilty as charged, just a maverick who asked awkward questions!
... and there was more ... day by day the evidence from empirical science for the natural selection of good behaviour mounted and became so compelling that we were confident enough to strike a wager with our future great grandchildren's children and their mates!
Natural selection had no foresight, so what were they all arguing about?
We can still hear our Gran -
'meddlers, the lot of 'em, and they're up to no good'!
A vague glimmer of understanding about Darwin's natural selection cost us the requisite 10,000 hours ... do the sums ... and although it may not look like it on the surface, we did have prolonged but not promiscuous fun ... who would believe that?
But as the man said -
'if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. If only I'd had some of this stuff available when I first started'
... and as the other man said -
'I only mess with all this stuff because I can, and I can only 'cos of help from networks of friends ... interconnections, interactions, trades, deals, rapports, links, clubs, communities, associations ... of like minded folk ... I'm a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants, and many friends, some of them long time dead'
... if you get the drift of Darwin's insight?
The future was unknowable, so many questions, and the past was a strange land, they did things differently there
Time was always unfathomable -
... the older we got the more we wish we were younger ...
... the older we got the more we liked it here ...
... the older we got the better we were ...
... but the older we got the more questions we asked ...
So don't sprinkle the desert with a teaspoon ... get on with it ... and learn how how to find time to do?!
We soon learned that endless repetition of Darwin's insights was the biggest time waster of all ... just déja vu all over again ... mindsets would eventually flip as the evidence mounted!
... our job was to speed up the happenings ... by experiments not design ...
... and if you really want to see us again ... here we are with our beer?
In 1993 @ 54 - we retired from Unilever Manufactories ridiculously early after 29 years and 3 months of hard work & fun. The actuaries insisted on extravagant pension provisions for all those who managed to survive sweating time underneath the soap pans in Apapa. Sure we missed the overseas life & the suitcases but we enthusiastically grasped the oodles of lucre, lined our pockets and escaped from the adversities festering in parochial bureaucratic bubbles in Lever Europe ... and we began to work on the excitement of Family History, Evolutionary Economics & Dixieland Jazz ...
In 1997 @ 58, at vast expense we secured on July 1st a magnificent Yanagisawa Tenor for £1,275.
In 2000 @ 60, at Millennium after graduation at the Open University, we prepared some 'case study notes' for teaching Market Economics in the English language to Eastern European students.
In 2011 @ 72 just before Ancient Eda died we started jotting down bits of Hindley & Birchall Family History as fun conversation pieces.
In 2019 @ 80 just before Covid, as eyes and bladder were injured & petering out, we announced that we were retiring proper, for real, while we were mercifully still able to reflect on the oodles of fun. We were still learning ... whenever, wherever with whoever ... our beer glass was still half full ... we remained stubbornly optimistic ... however The Banjo Player insisted we were full of inchoate bombast, but we didn't know what it meant.
In 2022 @ 83 we stopped climbing ladders and vowed to avoid tiresome 'jobs' and this time we vowed to really really retire. Hopefully this would slow down the insidious degenerative decay. We also moved to easy blowing soft reeds for the tenor and tried black coffee & a butter biscuit to complement our moderate two pints of glorious J W Lees ...
We thought we were famous but not many people knew it ... apart from Carole with an 'e', who always possessed impeccable taste & abilities ... and it was Carole who confirmed that really we were both just enthusiastic but ordinary bridge & saxophone players ... nevertheless after a couple of more beers at The Goshawk CH38AJ we did managed to negotiate a slick wager with our great grandchildren's children ... just for a bit of fun!
Ancient Eda had ... what we always wanted ... and maybe our great grandchildren's children will have -
we chose our parents well !
So when Ancient Eda, our mum, died at 103, we were chickens at 72 ... during our weekly visits to the Nursing Home, Eda only managed to talk about the long long ago ... but the stories she told about her Granddad Edward were fascinating ... mysterious stories which posed burning questions ... we panicked because soon there would be no one around to ask. To help the conversation to flow we started to Google and make some notes ... and our very own family story started to grow & grow ... embarrassingly we realised that we had no idea what had really gone on in our own family ... but we guessed that some of the shenanigans might be interesting ... you never knew?
Earlier when our own curious youngsters had asked ... who was Aunty Clare? ... we had made an effort to map a 'family tree' on a roll of old wall paper ... and in 1989 we even managed to secure a Certificate of Authenticity ... but wot did it mean? We told the kids how the tree grew as best we could but it wasn't very good. However we did remind them that they had enjoyed a propitious start in life because they had chosen their own parents very well ... both mum & dad were survivors ... and also teachers ... as all mum & dads were?
We never forgot Eda's prescient teachings when patient grumbling turned into a raw entreaty -
'use your imagination and try'!
Kids everywhere had inherited the tools but then they had to learn to use them for themselves if they were to survive and have babies ... just like their ancestors.
So the old family tree scribbled on faded paper was a bit of a mess but 'stories' about what might have happened were a much better bet. We knew fables had always been cultural necessities for 'tuning the brains' of the youngsters ... and everyone else for that matter ... it was as if brains thought stories as stories captured imaginations and stories were remembered ... stories had staying power. Our roll of old wall paper just didn't cut the mustard ... it painstakingly recorded some births, marriages & deaths ... but it didn't tell the story.
Re-telling exciting yarns proved to be positively therapeutic for us wrinklies ... a sort of cathartic outpouring, an emotional rant which emptied the mind of the stuff which was instantly available but only possibly worth remembering ... but who was to judge?
Charles Darwin told the greatest story of all, we were impressed big time, and so were many others, even some of the Bishops agreed it was best to search for nuggets of truth beneath your feet on the ground rather than in make believe above your head.
Have a look at our Hindley and Birchall story at Family History Site Map to find your way around ... the story so far ... you'll find some answers to some of the questions we were too busy to ask ... known knows, known unknowns & unknown unknowns ... a maze of memorabilia and, you never know, you may discover some useful insights ... but if you're a Birchall we guarantee that it will surely be fun ... and some of it might even be true?