Who is the Scotsman in Suburbia?

It’s a good question. I sometimes wonder what the answer is. Actually I don’t think that there is one definitive answer. The answer tomorrow will probably be slightly different to the answer today.
The short and easy answer to the question is that I am a Scotsman who now lives in South London Suburbia. I often use johnm55 as an online name because I am actually called John Manderson and surprise, surprise, I was born in 1955. The blog used to be known simply as johnm55, but I changed its name in January 2015 to “A Scotsman in Suburbia”.  Much snappier ne c’est pas?

By the way, just to make things clear from the start;
I am not really a ‘grumpy old man.’ I am a middle-aged man who occasionally gets a wee bit hacked off with things.

A short biography.

I was born in the Scottish Borders. I grew up on sheep farms in the Border Hills. My father was a shepherd.  I loved, I still love, the Border countryside, but had no wish to work in it. On leaving school I joined the Merchant Navy as an engineering apprentice and set off to see the world, or at least the parts of it than can be reached by a 40000 tonne container ship.

That phase lasted about fifteen years, until I met my partner Grace. We wanted to find me a job that didn’t require me to be away for eight or nine months of the year. We found one, lecturing in Marine Engineering at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education. It was an experience, and one I probably should write about some day, before I get too old and senile to remember it. We were there for about two and a half years, until my contract expired and we came home to London (United Kingdom) in 1990

Since then,  I have lived in South London (Wallington if you know the area) and worked for a large multinational insurance company as a Pressure Systems Surveyor, which isn’t as boring as it sounds and pays for the groceries.

My partner, Grace, sadly passed away in April 2016 after a three and a half year battle with ovarian cancer. In many ways I am having to find out anew who I am. It will probably be reflected in my writing from time to time.

I don’t want to turn the blog into a “How to cope with grief”  blog for two reasons;
1) there are other blogs out there that do that,
2) how I cope, or don’t cope, with losing Grace won’t be the same as someone else would cope with losing their partner.
Having said that there may be posts from time to time reflecting on how I am doing.

Other random facts about me:

  • I am widowed.
  • I own three bikes, one car, and no pets.
  • I am an amateur painter – and an amateur art critic, but only because no one pays me for my paintings or my opinions.
  • I do not like flying, but love travelling by train.
  • Any fashion sense that I may seem to have was courtesy of Grace, expect a gradual deterioration as I have to choose my own clothes without her advice.
  • I support two football (soccer) teams, one Scottish, one English. The Scottish team I support is Heart of Midlothian, and the English one is AFC Wimbledon.
  • But coming from the Scottish Borders when it comes to people chasing a modern-day version of a pigs bladder around a muddy field I also like to watch rugby (either code).

A bit about what to expect in the blog.

I originally started the blog back in 2010 because I was in favour of changing the way we vote in the United Kingdom to some form of proportional representation (I still am, more than ever). I thought that my blog posts could be the difference between victory and defeat for the Yes campaign (possibly they were the reason we lost). If you are really interested all the posts are still there in the archives.

In writing those blog posts I discovered something. I found the process of writing and researching was an excellent way to work out what I actually thought about something, rather than just going on a gut feeling. So I carried on writing the blog after the referendum was over and lost.

For the time being I don’t really have an over arching theme for my main blog. I tend to write about what I fancy or what has caught my attention. There are a few subjects that tend to write about more often than others. Cycling, art and food feature regularly ( I actually have a second blog which consists of my recipes, though it needs a bit of work). Politics and the News in general, interest me, so you sometimes get my take on the current state of the World. I got quite heated about the Scottish Independence debate. I also serve up the occasional side order of theology.

Politically I am a bit left of centre with greenish tendencies. Theologically I am less sure about how to sum myself up, agnostic Christian, is probably the best short description.

I also have a category “Songs I Love” where I post a YouTube video of a song and give a bit of an explanation about what makes it special for me. I enjoy music, I tend towards Folk and the music that gets labelled Americana, but there will be some Rock, some Pop and some Classical.

Throw in the occasional book and/or film review and you have the blog.

Short disclaimer

All opinions expressed on this blog , even the sensible ones, are my own, unless I have directly quoted someone . They should not be construed as the opinions of my employers or of any third-party.


9 thoughts on “Who is the Scotsman in Suburbia?”

  1. Hi John,
    Thought I would have a sticky beak at your blog site. I have only gotten as far as the “about me” section and have already had a good laugh. Looking forward to reading more when I have time.


  2. Hi John,
    I have a copy of that photo. William was my great grandfather from the second half of his family. My surname was Elliot before I was married and my 2 kids have carried on the Elliot name. I was born and brought up in the Scottish Borders, but moved to the USA about 13 years ago, so don’t get back to Scotland very often.


    1. Jo
      William is my Great Great Grandfather twice over. My Grandfather’s mother Helen was a daughter from his first marriage and my Grandmother’s father James was a son from his second marriage. I guess that makes us second cousins or something like that.
      The family tree or what I know of it is online here if your want to take a look.


      1. I have a fair bit of the family tree that some sort of cousin did a few years ago. There is some missing details on the earlier ones, such as your grandfather’s generation, who they got married to, their children. What I would like to discover now, is who William’s parents were and if he had any siblings. I think his parents were Henry Elliot and Esther Glendinning, but I’m not certain and have no more information on them. I only discovered the family tree on my mothers death earlier this year.


  3. John,

    Great “About Me” had a great laugh, looking forward to reading other posts. I can also relate as a fellow Scot and MN Deck Officer now residing in Canada. Which Company? – I did my time with P&O Group and was 3rd Officer with P&O Cruises. Went to South Shields in 1976 & 1978.


    1. I was with mainly with OCL, which had become P&O containers by the time I left. I was at South Shields as well, Phase 1 Sept 1972- July 74 the back for Phase 3 Sept 75 to June 76. We probably overlapped slightly, but as I remember there wasn’t all that much interaction between deck and engineer cadets at shields.


      1. Naw, just missed you. My phase 1 was Sept – Dec ’76 and phase 3 was Apr to Jul ’78. Only time we met up with the Engineers was in the student bar or downtown at the pub/nightclub.


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