From the Thinking Strange Thoughts series
During a recent visit to the city, I couldn’t help but notice how much graffiti there was, I’m sure that my granddad would turn in his urn, if he saw how times had changed. I remember when I was about eight years old, I kicked a soccer ball against his shed door, he flew out of the shed and explained to me how he had died in two world wars for the likes of me , just so I could kick a ball around without getting shot at and did I appreciate it, obviously not. Then he tapped me on the head with his pipe just to emphasise the point. Of course, child abuse had not been invented yet so you could get away with that sort of thing. Anyway, that was just for kicking a ball against his shed, I’m sure that if I had put some graffiti on it he would have had a stroke.
I can actually recall him telling me off once, because I was moaning that we were having beans on toast yet again. He said that I should thank my lucky stars that Hitler had not won the war or I would be living on big sausages now instead of beans on toast. I’m still not sure what point he was trying to make, because personally I would much prefer to eat big sausages than beans on toast.
Now if you are reading this you probably think that he sounds a bit grumpy, but no, nothing could be further from the truth, most of the time he was a very jolly person . He loved collecting old electrical goods and repairing them, unfortunately he was not very good at it and would electrocute himself on a regular basis. Often, you would hear a large bang in the shed and my granddad would emerge with his hair standing on end and smoke coming from his ears.
Another unusual thing about him was his ear wax problem, now as you know, once you reach a certain age, you can have trouble with ear wax but my granddad abused the privilege, he produced phenomenal amounts. For years it was assumed that he was going deaf, until one day during an argument, my gran struck him on the side of the head with a tea tray,out shot a lump of ear wax which was so large, it allowed the entire family to “Dubbin” their boots for a month. Funnily enough I just saw an advert in the paper for a new small machine which actually removes ear wax, it comes with several attachments so that more than one person can use it. Imagine, say every Sunday night, you and your wife could sit by the fireside, glass of wine in hand and de-wax each others ears. It certainly paints a romantic picture. Of course there was nothing like that in my granddad’s time, often he would wake up with huge piles of wax on his pillow, my gran never liked to waste anything so she made him keep it in a bucket by the side of the bed and when she had enough, she made some very attractive candles.
Peoples attitudes were very different in those days, I remember my gran telling me about the day her father died, she explained that she had been helping her mother with the Sunday roast and he had been sent down to the bottom of the garden to get a cabbage. When he did not come back they had searched for him and found that he had passed away with an heart attack. I said to my gran, “That’s terrible, how did you manage”, she had just shrugged and said “It was ok we just opened a can of peas”.