A Letter To My Beloved Malaysia…

To my beloved Malaysia,

My name is Omar Mukhtar, #The12YearOldAuthor, and I’m a British-born Malaysian…

Even though I was born and bred in the UK, I am still proud of my parents’ birth country – MALAYSIA! I’ve always felt a strong connection to my roots, and from the very first time I set foot on its soil, I’ve experienced things I never would have experienced anywhere else!

When I was little, I used to think that there was no place better than England, and the mere thought of travelling abroad made me shiver! But my trip to Malaysia proved me wrong, and I’ve never been more proud of my Malaysian background! My first book, ‘My New Pair of Eyes’, documents all of Malaysia’s glory.

‘My New Pair of Eyes’ is not just a book…I wrote #MNPOE as a gift to Malaysia, and to show my appreciation for my roots. Through my humble writing, I wish to convey how proud I am of my heritage! My journey was truly unforgettable, and I just had to share how brilliant the culture, years-old traditions and kind, welcoming people were!

#MNPOE is not just a recount of my time in Malaysia; it’s the story of my unforgettable journey around a beautiful country with the power to change the way a little boy who didn’t even want to go to heaven looked at the world forever! It’s my homage to the amazing culture of the country and the people in it!

I don’t like to think of Malaysia as just one big chunk of land…I think of it more like a combination of different ‘kingdoms’, each one beautifully diverse and unique, with its own ethnicities, dialect, culture, historical background and cuisine! I’ve only explored a tiny part of Malaysia, but I’ll definitely be back for more!

In honour of 62 years of MERDEKA, I pray not only for the prosperity of Malaysia and Malaysians, but for the preservation – and CELEBRATION – of its heritage, because to me, that’s something that all Malaysians should definitely be proud of, and something we should all hold on to before it is lost forever!

Salaam Merdeka,
Omar Mukhtar

#The12YearOldAuthor

#BritishBornMalaysian

Officially A King Edward’s Boy!

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It’s official! I am finally a King Edward’s boy! 😆 I’m going to go to King Edward’s School (KES), my dream school! I am more than over the moon right now, and all the hard work and sacrifices that led up to this moment have paid off!

When I was in Year 5, my class teacher, Mr Webster, said I had the potential to apply for a grammar school. At the time, I was clueless as to what a grammar school was. I had never heard of it. All I knew was that after Year 6, I’d be going to a normal secondary school. Mr Webster then gave me a leaflet for an open day at King Edward’s School. I went home and did some research, and I found out that KES was one of the best schools in the UK and one of its famous alumni was the author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, J.R.R. Tolkien himself! That’s when I decided that I had to attend their open day!

It was 18th March 2017 when I first set foot into my dream school for their open day. It was like I was Harry Potter stepping into Hogwarts! The building looked old and grand, and almost castle-like – just the way I like it! I felt that connection between us as soon as I stepped through the front doors. KES was the only grammar school I visited, and I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Whenever people asked me what my school choices were, I always said KES and only KES! Everybody was surprised because the other students had at least 3 choices of schools that they wanted to go to…but not me! I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else other than KES!

The entry requirements to join a grammar school were not easy! First, I had to take and pass a test called the 11+ to be considered for a place at any of the grammar schools, and a separate entrance test for KES. And I couldn’t just pass the test! The results had to be outstanding because there were thousands of students like me sitting for it too! However, Mrs Mom was gravely ill at the time and Mr Dad had his hands full with taking care of Mrs Mom and Fatimah and Ali, so, unlike the many other people who started preparing many years back, I had to start a few days into the summer holidays when the 11+ was less than one month away in September (2017)! 😰

Preparing for the 11+ was hard enough as the things I had to learn were not covered in school, but the search for someone to become my tutor was FRANTIC. Almost everybody turned me down because it was seemingly impossible when everyone had started two or three years back when I had to cover everything in less than a month, but one person had gone beyond the act of kindness and took me as a student of her own – Auntie Shaheen. We didn’t even know her. She was a complete stranger to us but she was like a God-sent angel! She was willing to give me some guidance and support so that I could do the test! I couldn’t have done it without her and I will never be able to thank her enough! Not only that, she also guided Mrs Mom and Mr Dad and told them what they could do to teach me from home!

The whole family was super supportive too! Dadajee and Dadijee flew all the way from Malaysia to help us! Mrs Mom and Mr Dad taught me all they knew, Dadajee always sat by my side every day to help me and time my practice tests, and also made sure that I had enough rest, Dadijee took over the kitchen and made sure all the food was ready and everybody else encouraged me to keep on working hard! Dr Auntie and Mamajee also played their part in assisting me in my studies! I studied from morning to evening and we didn’t go on holiday anywhere during that summer! But I think that the hardest thing I had to sacrifice was reading! I have Obsessive Reading Disorder😁, and giving up my books was like TORTURE!!! There were days when I found myself reading the back of cereal boxes at breakfast time – that was how desperate I was to find something, ANYTHING to read! 😂

After plenty of preparation, the day of the 11+ finally arrived, and I wouldn’t say I whizzed through it with ease, but I was feeling pretty confident! Soon, it was over, and there was nothing I could do other than pray and wait for the KES test. That came in a matter of a couple of weeks, too, and the anxiety was getting to me. 😞

Then, one fateful day, I was at school when I was unexpectedly called out of class by Mrs Chesney-Ly, my school’s English Leader. She told me that Mrs Mom had called. I wasn’t that sure about why. Maybe something serious had happened at home. But then, I put the phone to my ear and when the conversation ended, I was speechless. I had passed the 11+ – with flying colours! I nearly burst into tears of joy! This was basically a dream come true! Now I could go to any grammar school I wanted to! I can still remember that moment when I broke the news to Miss Patrick, my class teacher, she jumped up, waving her hands in the air, and shouted my results out to the whole class!

I thought that this was the last of God’s blessings because this was much, much more than I asked for! I quote what Auntie Shaheen said: “Now you don’t have to worry about anything! No school will reject you!” I had hoped to just pass the 11+, but I had excelled! But later on, we got a phone call from none other than King Edward’s School…my dream school! Apparently, I had done extremely good in their entrance test, and had been offered a school place with a chance to get a scholarship out of the 125 students! In order to actually get the scholarship, I would have to attend a separate interview at the school. The funny thing is that the results for the 11+ were released on Mrs Mom’s birthday (10th October 2017), the call was on Mamajee’s birthday (10th November 2017), and the interview was scheduled on Dr Auntie’s birthday (14th November 2017)! I had a good feeling about this, and when the interview was over and done with, I was glad that I had done my best. But deep inside, only God knew how anxious I was about not being able to get the scholarship because the yearly school fees for KES were extremely high! 😳

Then, the awaited day came when we were all waiting for a letter from King Edward’s School. It was the day before the deadline date for the outcome of the scholarship interviews. The night before, me, Mrs Mom and Mr Dad were discussing that it was fine if I didn’t get the place, even if it did break my heart 💔. KES seemed far out of my reach, and we were grateful that we wouldn’t have a problem to secure a place at any normal grammar school. I was restless, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then when I came home from school that day (Thursday 7th December 2017), I found a letter on the fireplace addressed to me and it had a KES stamp on it. Both Mrs Mom and Mr Dad were there too. They were both waiting for me to open it. I opened it nervously…and I couldn’t believe my eyes! Suddenly all the tension melted away, as if a weight had been lifted off my back. I had been awarded the full scholarship! It was one of the happiest days of my life – I burst into tears of joy! I was going to be able to go to my dream school, where one of my idol authors studied, where I would be able to do great things! I am truly blessed!

So only a few days ago, on Thursday 28th of June, me and the family were invited to the Admissions Ceremony, where I was formally welcomed into the school! Walking up onto the stage to shake the Chief Master’s hand – Dr Mark Fenton – feelings of nervousness overwhelmed by excitement passed through me. I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening, that I actually had the chance to go to my dream school and make my family proud! 😊

Dear Future Pawsome Lion,

You may be reading this in 10 years or so from today, Sunday 1st July 2018, and if you are, then never forget all the people who sacrificed things for you! Remember what your family has done for you, what Mrs Mom and Mr Dad have been through, what Fatimah and Ali have had to sacrifice for you, all the prayers family, friends and teachers have sent for you, and all the hard work everybody has done for you, because without everything, you wouldn’t be who you are today! And most importantly, please remember to stay humble, be thankful to God as He has given you more than you wished for, and be a great person in this world so that hopefully one day…YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

From The 11-year-old Pawsome Lion

Sunday 1st July 2018

Dear God,

Thank you for all the blessings You have bestowed on me and my family. I can’t thank You enough! Please restore all world peace so children across the world can have happy moments like this too and can grow into wonderful people who can make a good difference in this world and SHINE…

p/s: Feeling:

  • Blessed 😇
  • Grateful 🙏
  • Excited 😜

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A Message From A Brother…

When I was born, people from Malaysia laughed at my parents for naming me ‘Omar Mukhtar’. According to them, it was a backdated name. They said, “You live in England, why would you give him a name like that?”. The funny thing is that living in England, none of the local people who lived here ever made fun of my name, even at school, students and teachers alike. My parents call me by my full name ‘Omar Mukhtar’, or ‘Mukhtar’ for short. I did choose to be called ‘Mukhtar’ at school too, because ‘Omar’ is also my father’s name and it could get confusing. Even though my friends and teachers found it hard in the beginning to pronounce the name ‘Mukhtar’, they didn’t choose to call me ‘Omar’ just because it was easier for them. They all respected my decision and tried their best to pronounce it. They never call me anything I didn’t want to be called.

I love how my parents named all three of us – Omar Mukhtar, Fatimah and Ali. They didn’t simply just say, “Ooh, ‘Omar Mukhtar’ sounds like a nice name, I’m going to call my son that” no, they named us after the owners of the names, hoping that one day, we might become as great a person as they are – Omar Mukhtar, after the famous Lion Of The Desert; Fatimah, after the beloved Prophet’s daughter; and Ali, after the 4th Khalifa in Islam. Our parents always reminded us how important our names are and that we must live up to them. They also told us to be proud of our names and never be ashamed of them, even though some people say they are old-school.

Whenever we go out and people ask all three of our names, they praise our parents for giving us such great names. There is even a teacher from my school who, whenever I pass him, tells me how much he loves my name. He tells me this on a daily basis without fail!

Now, the same thing that happened to me is happening to Fatimah too. People called her ‘Timoh’ and made fun of her name. It made her really upset! She gets annoyed whenever people call her anything other than her full name because at home and at school, everyone always calls her Fatimah. Sadly, the only people who make fun of our names are Malaysian. Some people simply label those who call Fatimah as ‘Timoh’ only from Kelantan or Terengganu. They’re not! They’re actually from all over Malaysia, which has spread to Singapore and Brunei too!

My parents have been telling people for years to call Fatimah properly but they never stopped calling her ‘Timoh’ until my aunt decided that she too has had enough with all this name calling, so she wrote a post about why we called her Fatimah. After this was posted, we received floods of messages from people who went through the same experience as us. It was truly shocking reading their stories and thinking about what effect it must have had on their lives! But sadly, after that, still, there were many who kept on calling her ‘Timoh’ because they say it’s ‘cute and funny’. How rude!

Name-calling is an act of insult and is a form of bullying. I’m surprised how with all this anti-bullying awareness around the world, people still don’t realise that name-calling is an act of bullying! Don’t take name-calling lightly because it’s a very serious matter! It can affect the person really badly on the inside, even though you can’t see it. They may lose their confidence, for example, and that may affect their life in the long run.

They may blame themselves for their problems, which can also lead to loss of confidence. I could go on and on with this list of effects.

As the Head Boy of my school, if anything like this happened, I would strongly go against it as bullying cannot be tolerated in any situation whatsoever! I would also plead to parents and teachers out there to take this matter seriously and do as much as they can to play their role and prevent things like this from repeatedly happening!

Imagine that every day for a week, you went up to a mirror and called yourself something you don’t like being called. It wouldn’t make you feel too good about yourself, would it? That’s exactly how Fatimah feels when she’s called ‘Timoh’, and how I felt when people made fun of my name. Sure, some people don’t do it intentionally, but we’ve been telling them how to call Fatimah correctly, and still, when she’s now already 4 years old, they continue to mock her name!

Honestly, I’m curious why some Malaysians, who are from the same religion as us, mock our names, whereas people from different religions praise them.

So all in all, name-calling? It’s an act of bullying. It’s something that needs to be stopped and together, we can make that happen. Let us build a world where we can feel safe and happy, a world where bullying is a thing of the past! I am an 11-year-old boy in Year 6 whose sister has experienced bad name-calling, so I’m speaking for her and for those who have suffered and are still suffering from the same issue. If we all act as one then maybe, just maybe TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

p/s: STOP calling my sister TIMOH. Her name is FATIMAH! She has me on her right and Ali on her left. As for me, I’m not bothered if you don’t like my name because I am OMAR MUKHTAR THE PAWSOME LION!

He Came Back To Cornwall

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He came back to Cornwall.

He came back from the war with a bloody arm, a bandaged leg and a few scars on his face. He came back from the war to find his dear family in their little village. He came back from the war, but he wasn’t expecting this.

The year was 1919. After spending a few more months in London, he finally decided to travel back to his hometown. He needed to feel warmth again, he needed to feel love and happiness, and his lovely little Cornwall was just the place for that.

Lugging his rucksack on his back, he walked into St Mawes, not knowing what to expect when he knocked on the door of his house. Maybe shouts of his name or crying or laughing and hugging. He walked through the streets filled with desolate but running shops, and many grey houses. They were tilted and uneven, like buildings from a fairy tale.

He walked further into the village, people eyeing him strangely as they passed him. Then he found it. Right in front of him was his childhood home, still standing as it had been 27 years ago.

Shuffling nervously up to the wooden door, he gave it a slow tap, creating a deep, hollow sound. There was a sudden scrambling inside, and then the lock clicked. The door creaked open, and the face of a middle-aged woman, wet with tears, met him. It was his mother, and as he looked over her shoulder, he spotted his father, sister and brother.

Hastily, his mother wiped her tears away. “Oh, hello,” she sniffled, “Um, who are you?”

He was puzzled. Why wouldn’t his own mother remember him? “It’s me, Mum. Your son!”

“Son?” she repeated, “My dear boy, you must be mistaken!”

“Who is it?” his father coughed.

“It’s a young man. He’s come back from the war. He says he’s our son!”

“Son? Poor thing, you can’t be! It’s all that war business getting to your head! Old Matthew, he…he, um, he died.”

Surely this was a dream, or some kind of practical joke! How would his own family forget him, and, what’s more, say that he was deceased? He simply couldn’t believe it.

“But…” he whispered, “But I’m Matthew!”

“Matthew was killed at the start of the war by a bomb in London.” his mother said firmly but not unkindly. “Do come in though, dear. You must be worn out!”

Silently, he stepped through the doorway, shutting the door behind him. “Thank you.” he murmured.

“This is Sarah and John.” his mother said, gesturing to his sullen-faced brother and sister. He did not respond.

Later on, they all sat down at the table in the kitchen, which was very familiar to Matthew. They had a dinner of corned beef and morsels of bread, and then they all retired to their bedrooms.

He had some trouble dozing off, and it seemed like a few seconds when he woke up again, realising that something was shaking his side. He widened his eyes and turned his head, only to find his ginger cat, Oliver. It was early dawn, and it would need feeding. He got up and walked into the kitchen, the floor making the occasional creak. Then he remembered. Oliver had died before the war.

He dropped the bowl he was holding onto the floor. It made a loud crash, sure to wake someone up. He turned around. The cat was not there. Frantically, he ran up the hallway to the other bedrooms, not finding anyone. He ran outside, meeting with cold, icy air biting into his cheeks. The village looked deserted. Then he saw something coming up the street. Oliver. He was dazed, confused, not understanding what was happening. He turned back to return to the house, only to be pushed to the floor by another man. It was his father, and he was armed with a gun.

“Heil Hitler.” he whispered. The family followed: “Heil Hitler!”

Then the father pulled the trigger, and then it was the end. If only he hadn’t felt the urge to come back home. If only he was ordered to stay in London. But he still arrived. He came back to Cornwall.

Sunday with Adam – The Brains Behind the Burger!🍔

Howdy y’all! It’s The Pawsome Lion! Did you enjoy last week’s video? Have any of you given it a try? If you haven’t, then you should! Now Episode 3 of the kids’ series is out! For this video, it’s…Lamb Burgers! This is a lovely delicacy that we all enjoy. But, what about the history of this dish?

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The Origin of Burgers

Long long ago, burgers weren’t the type of burgers that we all know today. They were something slightly different. The first burgers came around in the Middle Ages. Travelling merchants from Hamburg learnt how to make patties from The Tartars of the Baltic Lands. They used raw meat for the patties and seasoned them with salt, pepper and onion juice. Pretty basic, right?

Then another cook (nobody knows his name) improvised on the patties. He got pieces of beef, shaped them into round patties and broiled them.When these burgers arrived in the U.S, they were eaten quite raw, like the French still prefer their meat.

Dr. James H. Salisbury

The English and Irish were the first ones to cook their beef patties well done throughout. People in England named the burger ‘Salisbury Steak’, after Dr. James H. Salisbury, who advised his patients to eat a well done beef patty three times a day, followed by a cup of hot water to cure colitis, anemia and other illnesses.

The First ‘Burger Sandwich’

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The first burgers weren’t actually eaten between two sliced buns though. It was only until the early 1900s (when burgers were popularised in America) that this eating fashion began. Apparently, the idea was invented by a gambler called John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich. He stuffed his patties between slices of bread so it was more convenient for him. This way, he could eat right at the gambling table! The official appearance of the first ‘hamburger’ sandwich took place at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri (this is also the birthplace of the much loved ice cream cone).

Burger Evolution!

 

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The Delicious Veggie Burger!

In where we are today, the burger has many different varieties. For example, vegetarians can enjoy burgers in the form of ‘veggie burgers’! The patties in these burgers are made from soy protein and vegetables. A lot of people are also creating new types of burgers. A Welsh zoologist is working on a high-protein burger patty made from rat meat!🐭 A group of scientists with tainted tastebuds are also trying to make a new burger. They’re going to use cotton for the patty! I wonder how they will taste like?

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Another type of burger is the renowned Ramen Burger! The creator of this burger is a Japanese man called Keizo Shimamoto. He grew up in California and loved both parts of his culture: L.A (burgers) and Tokyo (ramen). He decided to merge both of these dishes together and create a whole new unique dish – The Ramen Burger, a twist on two dishes! In this dish, the normal burger bun is replaced with two circles of delicious, well-seasoned ramen! The Ramen Burger has spread worldwide and everybody loves it! Sounds PAWSOME!

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A burger that is similar to the Ramen Burger is the Rice Burger created by MOS Burger in Japan. MOS Burger is a fast-food restaurant chain known in various parts of the world. In this burger, two compressed rice cakes are used as an alternative for normal burger buns. The Rice Burger has become popularised in many parts of East Asia and other places like Australia and Indonesia. I really want to taste on of those! 😁

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Burgers with fish patties are also very popular. Take the Salmon Burger for example, the patty in this burger is substituted with a chunk o’ salmon! The majority of people like this burger because it’s meaty and full of flavour. I bet it’s delicious! YUM!!! 😛

100 Billion Burgers!!! 😵

McDonald’s is one of the best selling fast-food restaurants that sells burgers. Till date, they have sold over 100 billion burgers!!! Stack all of them up and you’d get the height of 100 of the world’s tallest buildings!😱 McDonald’s also owns a place known as ‘Hamburger University’, where people are taught the basics of hamburgerology. It is located in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.


So now you know a bit more about one of the dishes you love. It’s pretty amazing, huh? There’s been a lot of change over time! Don’t forget to watch the latest episode of the Sunday with Adam kids series! And in case you were wondering, hamburgers aren’t made of ham (they’re from Hamburg! 😛 ).

p/s: Let’s Cook & Sway!

p/p/s: Don’t forget to follow Mr OCD Uncle on Instagram & Facebook: @adamdidam & subscribe to his YouTube channel too!😉

Pawsome Book Club: Dear Olly by Michael Morpurgo

WARNING: MAY CAUSE HYSTERICAL CRYING

Hey there pawsome peeps! Long time no see…

This post is going to be another book review for a different book that I read for the BFR. If you read the warning above, then you will know that this book is very emotional! Anyway, the book that I have chosen for today is called…Dear Olly by Michael Morpurgo! FYI, Michael Morpurgo is an award-winning author! This story is told by three voices and I had tears in my eyes whilst I was reading it!

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The main characters in this book are called Olly, Matt and Hero (a swallow). Olly is waiting for her brother, Matt, to come back home as she watches the swallows leaving for Africa. When Hero the scarlet-ringed swallow journeys to where his companions are, he has to dodge numerous obstacles. And Matt could never have imagined what was going to happen to him at the African orphanage. Will he be able to travel back to England, his home country?

I am going to stop right there! I don’t want to go too far! This book is a truly soul-gripping tale. I would recommend it to people who are into thrills, family and love. It is definitely a must-read. That’s why I’m rating it…4 stars!! There is just one thing I would change about it. I personally think that it would be better if it was written in the first person. But overall, it was an excellent book! If you would like to get your hands on this book, visit your local library today to read it!

Wow! Is that the time already? I’m afraid I’m going to have to say goodbye pawsome peeps! But don’t worry, I’m just around the corner! Look out for more book reviews from my Pawsome Book Club and see you soon!

p/s: Please kindly visit my YouTube channel – The Pawsome Lion to watch my Pawsome Book Club videos & don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!

My Pawsome Smethwick!

History Day: Smethwick’s Heritage

On Tuesday 24th November, SHP will be celebrating History Day. The aim of the day is for us to understand and celebrate Smethwick’s heritage. To get involved, we have been given homework to interview a family member/member of the community who has lived in Smethwick for a long time. Since I’m a blogger, I thought “What could be a better way to present my findings than to dedicate a whole post to Smethwick?”

We’ve been given 4 sample questions that we could include such as:

  • Where in Smethwick have you lived?
  • Where have you worked?
  • Which school did you go to and what was it like?
  • How has Smethwick changed?

Based on those sample questions given, I managed to generate 21 of my own questions for the interview.

Interview Questions:.pdf

My Road to Smethwick

Because I don’t have any family members in Smethwick, I had to find a member of the community that was willing to share their life in Smethwick with me. So, I went out with Mr. Dad on Saturday and started to approach random people. What I did was introduce myself, gave them one of my name cards and explained to them the purpose of the interview. Now, this part was very challenging because most of the people that I approached either said that they are not from Smethwick or that they are simply too busy to spare their time for me.

The first place that I went to was Thimblemill Library. I asked a few people until I came across the affectionate Mr Noble. I managed to complete the whole interview session with him. However, he was only 29 years old and I would love to find out more about Smethwick back in the older days. So, out on the road, I went to my next destination which was Smethwick library. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find anyone but the good thing was that I found more information about Smethwick and some photos too.

After that, I went back to where I started, Bearwood Road. I visited the butchers but apparently, he was too busy. Fair enough, though, because it’s Saturday. As I stepped out of the butchers, I was feeling down. Little did I know, a miracle was about to happen. When I looked up, ‘Maureens Florist‘ sat in front of me. I entered the shop and there stood my heaven-sent Mrs Collier! She said “Yes” straight away and the interview session went smoothly. I enjoyed every single bit of her story.

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Who is Smethwick?

Did you know how Smethwick got it’s name? According to the Smethwick Heritage Centre, it was suggested that the name Smethwick meant “smiths’ place of work”, but a more modern interpretation has implied the name in fact means, “The settlement on the smooth land”. Smethwick was recorded in the Domesday book as Smedeuuich.

As I was doing my research, I found out that there are many notable residents that have lived in Smethwick. Most of these people were born in Smethwick. Some of them are:

 

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I. Sir Charles Douglas Fox (1840 – 1921)                                                              He was an English Civil Engineer who was born in Smethwick. Amongst other things, Sir Charles had designed The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park.

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II. Sydney Francis Barnes (1873 – 1967)                                                               He was an English professional cricketer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest ever bowlers.

 

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III. Ken Wharton (1916 – 1957)                                                                                He was a British racing driver. In 1957, Wharton was fatally injured when his Ferrari Monza crashed in a sports car race at the Ardmore Circuit in New Zealand.

And many more…

Out of all those notable residents, there was one person that really caught my attention. Personally, I adore her work very much. Remember the 89 individually sculptured owls which have been displayed all over Birmingham? Well, they were sculpted by the one and only Caroline Jariwala! She is a painter, visiting lecturer, exhibitions organiser and community artist. Her experience covers a wide range of art forms, such as illustration, batik, mural and mosaic.

“There is also something magically about mosaic-making with broken, chipped, discarded, rejected and second-hand crockery. Using the unwanted and making it desirable; transforming ‘ugly’ into a thing of ‘beauty’.” -Caroline Jariwala

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Not only these, but, there are lots of other great things that make Smethwick a unique place to live in. For example, Smethwick is also famous for it’s architecture, political history, transport history, and many other things. Smethwick is a wonderful place with sensational smells, tastes and sights. But how was it like in the past? Well, you are just about to find out. There were strict teachers that hit children with the cane, it was busy almost every day and there was a smell coming out of the famous Brewery that filled the air. Still, Smethwick was a great place to live in. But lots of things have changed about Smethwick. The teachers are less strict, the Brewery doesn’t exist anymore and we get less homework. But imagine if you could experience how Smethwick was in the 1990‘s or even further back to the 1970’s. Me and the people that I interviewed can help you with that. Here they are!

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My Heaven-sent Mrs Collier

Have you ever been to Maureens Florist in Bearwood? If yes, you might have met Mrs Collier. She has been a florist all her life. If you put her and flowers together, you will not be able to break them apart! This is her pawsome Smethwick:

“Hello! My name is Lynn Collier and I am 54 years old. I am married and I have two sons. My family have lived in Smethwick for approximately 60 years now. I am currently working as a florist and have worked as a florist in Northfield, Harborne and Quinton in the past. But, I am proud to be working at Maureens Florist because they have been serving the community of Smethwick for more than 40 years. I have lived in Bearwood, Gladys Road and Galton Road.”

“My primary school was called St Mary’s Primary School and my high school was called Dame Elizabeth Cadbury Senior School. I can still remember how lovely both of them were as if I was there yesterday. When I was 9 years old, the streets of Smethwick were busy almost everyday. And how could I forget the smells of the Brewery at Cape Hill that filled the air. In those days, going to school was really nice. It was safe and we had no worries. The teachers were very strict and there was lots of homework too. Naughty children got the cane but strictness is a good way to help them evolve into well-behaved children. Our uniform was brown and cream coloured with a touch of blue. My favourite subject was art because I love colour! I also liked pottery and history because I like to know about the good old days. One of the best teachers that I can remember is called Mrs Bared. I am actually still in touch with her until today. She was a lovely lady and a great teacher. I couldn’t possibly forget about the school lunch which was absolutely divine. My favourite pudding was called Chocolate Concrete.”

“In the past, there were lots of shops packed with hundreds of items and a range of houses just in front of the shops but now, there are lots of empty shops and houses scattered here and there. Some of the local shops that I remember visiting are Woolworths and my favourite Edward Toy Shop. In our spare time, me and my friends would play outside in the park. And last but not least, if I could keep one thing about Smethwick for the future generation to see, I would definitely keep Lightwoods Park with the old, big house and clock because that is a part of Smethwick’s heritage that we should all preserve!”

library

My Affectionate Mr. Noble

That was the interview with Mrs Lynn Collier. Now, moving on, the next person that I interviewed was a man called Mr Noble. He is a librarian at Thimblemill Library in Smethwick. Here is what he said in the interview:

“Hello there! I am Richard Noble and I am 29 years old. My dad is from Birmingham and my mum is from North Yorkshire. They met when they were both studying at the University of Liverpool. I have lived in Smethwick for most of my life. I have lived around Bearwood next to Warley Woods and I love it! I have two jobs: one was as an admin assistant for NHS and the other one is Sandwell MBC Library Service. I am also an artist in my spare time. I have worked all across Sandwell and Birmingham.”

“The first school that I went to was called Abbey Junior and Infants School. Later, I went to Warley High School which is now known as Oldbury Academy. Then, I went to Halesowen College, Bourneville College of Art and also Birmingham City University. Smethwick is a nice area, quite cultural and is ethnically diverse even then. When I was 9 years old, I used to have many friends which I am still in touch with until now but some of them have moved away. Back in my days, the teachers were alright. A few were strict and the others were eccentric. In primary school, we wore blue jumpers or cardigans with the school logo in yellow with sensible trousers and shoes. I liked art because I was always creative and I liked history too. I also enjoyed Maths. One of the best teachers in primary school was called Mrs Brown. She was truly inspiring! School in those days were pretty much the same as it is now. The school lunches were quite like the school lunches we have now. It was either packed lunch or school meals. The only difference is what is on the lunch box.”

“When I was a child, I remember visiting lots of shops in Smethwick but my all time favourite would be none other than Woolworths. They had lots of toys and sweets inside their shop. Some of the businesses have come and gone. Even though Smethwick was already ethnically diverse, more groups from different ethnical backgrounds arrived over time. Whenever me and my friends had nothing to do, we would play sports games, play video games, watch tv and watch videos but we didn’t use YouTube, we used VHS. I bet modern kids have no idea what VHS is! I also loved reading. Books have always been my passion. Finally, if I could keep one thing about Smethwick to be in the future, it would be the parklands because they do so much to enhance local residence lives.”

The Grand Finale

That’s the end of Mr Noble’s interview. These two people have been kind enough to give up some of their time to be interviewed, therefore, I would like to give them a big thank you. I really appreciate their stories of Smethwick that they have shared with me.

Having heard the stories of their pawsome life in Smethwick, I wish that I had the time machine from the movie Back to the Future. Maybe I could be McFly and Mr. Dad could be “Doc” and we both could travel back in time. If I can go back to the 1970’s, I wish that I could smell how the air was like at Cape Hill. I could even sit down with Mrs Collier during lunch time at school and enjoy the taste of divine Chocolate Concrete. Perhaps both me and Mrs Collier could spend time together at her favourite Edward Toy Shop. How pawsome would that be. If I could go back to the 1990’s, I will surely join Mr Noble and his friends watching videos on the VHS! (In my dreams…)

I wish that one day, someone could invent the time machine for real because it would be a great and fun way for children to learn if they could travel back in time. They will not just be looking at photos and reading information, they’ll actually be living it! Oh, and a note to the teachers, think of it as a school trip!

Last but not least, sit back and enjoy a poem written by me which is dedicated to Smethwick.

My Pawsome Smethwick

My pawsome Smethwick,

What would I do without it?

It’s great, 

Ain’t it, mate?

It’s a county,

In a city,

In a country,

In the world!

At night, everyone’s snuggled up and curled

And when it’s day,

They’ll put France in a beret!

There’s shops galore on one street,

Some of them sell meat

And if you come and they’re all sold out,

Most of you will start to pout!

And all of this is in…

MY PAWSOME SMETHWICK!!! (#No.1)

by: The Pawsome Lion (Sunday, 22nd November 2015)

Here comes the grand finale! I would like to present a video of my PAWSOME Smethwick shot by Mr. Dad. Here it goes!

p/s: I really enjoyed learning about local history and I hope everyone else did too!

p/p/s: Special thanks to Mr Dad for the Pawsome video and a Roarsome thank you to Mrs Mom for always believing in me!!

Word Count: 2,225

Reference:

  1. Smethwick Library
  2. Smethwick Heritage Centre
  3. http://www.smethwick-heritage.co.uk
  4. Wikipedia
  5. The Bearwood Blog (bearwoodblog.com)
  6. We Love Bearwood (welovebearwood.blogspot.com)
  7. We are Bearwood (www.wearebearwood.org)
  8. http://www.carolinejariwala.co.uk
  9. Media Source: Google Images & TPL

APPENDIX

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