My Granddad never…

20 Jan

I wrote this a few years ago and it didn’t see the light of day. Not sure why but as Joe Biden is about to take the oath of office and the maniac is airlifted from the White House, it seems a good time to praise the stoicism of a previous generation.

My Granddad Never..

Wore jeans or shorts – not even when he was playing tennis. I have a photo of him looking like Fred Perry in long whites with a Dunlop Maxpli.

He never knew seatbelts or health and safety or Doombar. These are very important now.

He died in 1972 so he never knew Margaret Thatcher or Monica Lewinsky but he might have caught sight of Sir David Attenborough. He never knew we were in Europe so Brexit wouldn’t have caused him the pain it caused me.

He never looked casual so he would have approved of the headteacher who sent silly boys home for wearing trainers. He wouldn’t have known what a trainer was anyway. He might have liked the head saying zero-tolerance despite it not being invented until Arthur Scargill came along.

He never knew smoking was bad for you so his house was filled with pipe, cigar and cigarette smoke and smell. I rather liked it.

He never knew what it was like to be a teenager at school. In the 1911 Census he is registered as a clerk. He was 13. He never complained about this and he never worked for another company. A Blue Circle Cement man through and through. All his life. Well apart from his stint in the Queen’s Own 7th Hussars. He knew Lawrence of Arabia. He never talked about him.

He never raised his voice. He thought that he was lucky to survive and have food on the table. He wore suspenders to keep his socks up and braces to keep his trousers up and armbands to keep his shirtsleeves tidy. He would never be seen dead without his sartorial aids.

He never thought antimacassars would go out of fashion. Or that Brylcream would be renamed gel when David Beckham came along. He never knew David Beckham. More’s the pity, he never knew Lionel Messi.

We never called him Granddad. Poppa it was. And Nanna. Nanna and Poppa. Always that way round. Never Poppa first.

He never complained. I think Nanna was quite high maintenance but since Poppa didn’t know this phrase, he never used it.

He never listened to weather reports on the wireless, he just tapped the barometer. That told him all he needed to know. That and the seaweed hanging by the front door. He never watched television at home. He was into his 50s before people started owning these strange machines and so he contented himself in watching it at our house on Sundays.

He never knew about political correctness. He was just himself and never ground axes or adopted causes to promote himself.

He never rode a bike that I saw and certainly had no idea about lycra. He never knew what a mid-life crisis was. He thought feeling sorry for yourself was an indulgence. He liked his middle-age spread and never sought to reduce it. He never went to a gym – there were none. He would never have thought of jogging. I only remember him as old. In those days old meant over 50.

He never knew the term Alzheimer’s but that’s what he got, quite early. He never thought of himself as young at 74 when he died. Nanna didn’t cope so well without him. She carried on smoking and set fire to herself. This didn’t kill her because people who are high maintenance live longer.

Poppa was never unkind to us. He gave us pocket money on Saturdays. By 1960 this had climbed to half a crown. That’s 12.5pence. It was a lovely, heavy coin.

He would never have thought that I would write about him and remember him so fondly. Will I do it again? Never say never.

3 Responses to “My Granddad never…”

  1. John Trotman January 20, 2021 at 3:24 pm #

    Sorro, Thank you for this. Very touching indeed, in that unsentimental, straightforwardly telling way you have. It sounds as if you might have inherited some of that from him. Best wishes, as ever, John


  2. Jane Taylor January 20, 2021 at 3:33 pm #

    Loved that 🙏🏻 Your Poppa sounds like a wonderful man


  3. del59shan January 20, 2021 at 3:44 pm #

    Quality Granddaddery! I’m only sorry I never met mine.

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