Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Grandad - OMG!

In the next few hours there will be a monumentous personal event. I will be a grandad!

In the early part of this year there were two earth-moving events that I can remember vividly. One night at the end of February there was an earthquake in Lincolnshire that measured five point two on the Richter scale and which shook the house in the early hours of the morning and woke me up with a dramatic start and on a Saturday morning in March there was an early morning telephone call that measured about fifty thousand, at least, on the family disaster scale and which kept me awake for a whole weekend. My daughter Sally was going to have a baby and I am to be a grandad. Holy Shit! I am only fifty-four and much too young for this sort of responsibility!

So what sort of grandad will I be I wonder? And I need to prepare for this now in a much bigger rush than I had ever imagined I would have too. I had two of my own of course (nothing unusual about that) and they are my primary role models and I suppose I can take something from both of them as well as Sally’s own grandads as well.

This is really unfair I suppose but grandad Ted was always my favourite because he seemed to have a better understanding of children. Going to visit him was always something to look forward to. He was the one that I remember had all of the patience and the unlimited time to spend for hours in the back garden at Cleveleys Avenue playing cricket (it might only have been ten minutes for all I know but my memory tells me that these bat and ball sessions lasted as long as a test match) or taking me to the brook with a fishing net, or fiddling about on a Norfolk beach in rock pools and flying kites on the beach. He was about forty-five when I was born and must have had a job but as far as I can recall he was always around when I was a child. He could drive a car and used to take us to Groby Pool near Leicester to feed the ducks or to Bradgate Park to see the deer and he liked football and cricket and was a safe and reliable grandad to be around. He took us on holiday to Lincolnshire and Norfolk and everyone seemed to like him.

Grandad Ernie was quite different. He was Londoner and worked as a bus conductor on the old London double-decker Routemaster buses operating from the Catford depot in South London. I can still remember him in his dark blue London Transport uniform with his red conductors badge and his leather satchel slung over his shoulder walking home from work in a jaunty sort of way all along Barmerston Road back to the flat my grandparents lived at, at number 50. Grandad Ernie liked to have a drink (or two) and would always give my dad (who was a hopeless drinker) a headache after a night out and he used to smoke forty Embassy cigarettes a day until the doctor told him to quit or die. He spent a lot of time sitting in his favourite chair watching the horse racing on the TV and didn’t seem to have any particular interest in children. He was a really nice man but he never quite seemed to have the time for or the understanding of children that grandad Ted used to have. He was generous and kind but just didn’t seem to have the time to spend with us on all of the trivial things that the other one did. He like history and reading and he bought me a book about his hero Winston Churchill shortly before he died and I like to think that perhaps I inherited my own interests here from him.

This of course isn’t really a very big help but I will try to take the best of both of them but I suppose I will have to be the grandad that comes naturally to me. I’ll do the same things that I did with Sally when she was young, except that I can’t run as fast any more of course, spoil the baby of course and do everything that I can to make sure she has a wonderful start in life.

1 comment:

sally louise petcher said...

You are already a great Grandad