Grandad – the father of a person’s father or mother – paternal or maternal. Also a fun or derogatory slang term- “get a move on, grandad”.
Looking back, both of my grandads were worlds apart. My maternal grandfather – the gentleman whose name I’ve taken as my pen-name – was a strict Methodist and retired firefighter, who always took a pride in his appearance. He had a wardrobe-like cupboard in the kitchen, where he kept his ‘going out’ coat and shoes, with a top section for his fedora and extensive shoe-cleaning kit. He used to say that you could tell a lot about a man from his shoes and how they were kept. This is something that sticks with me to this day. He also did a lot of work at his church, a Methodist chapel nearby, as a painter, signwriter and general handyman. He was a great carpenter, with a shed similar to my paternal grandfather’s shed. It’s just that this one was filled with plant pots, garden canes and spades – a tradition I appear to have taken on with my own shed. He loved to tend his garden and the adjoining greenhouse. There was an old piece of carpet on the floor. It had a comforting smell that I can still remember to this day; a blend of earthiness and wood. He was also an extremely talented artist with a makeshift studio in one of the spare bedrooms. I remember a variety of items from paperweights with hand-painted scenes, to crab shells cleaned and beach scenes displayed inside.
My biological paternal grandfather was an extremely clever engineer who spent nearly all his life working for Rolls Royce. When it finally came to the point of retiring, he was running both sides of the main works factory site, yet he always seemed to act the clown around me; more so at holiday time. I suspect that he may have been drinking a little bit, but I don’t know for sure. But even though he liked his scotch, it never took hold of him, unlike his son; grandad was always a very responsible person. He had a large purpose-built shed, adorned with his old nameplate from his office door at work. This was were he kept freezers, lawn mowers and tools, and also where spent his time after the obligatory pipe in the kitchen, until he eventually kicked the habit. . He constantly acted the fool, much to my grandmother’s huge annoyance. Like the one time he goose-stepped out the living room to make everyone drinks, while blowing raspberries. While Gran wasn’t amused, I must say my sister and I both thought it was hilarious. He would forever be blowing raspberries or making really bad what would now be described as “dad jokes”.
I’ve now come to accept that now I’m a grandad myself, I’m slowly becoming a strange hybrid mixture of both of them. I’ve spent the majority of my working life as an engineer of some sort or another. I can’t paint or draw, but I am an adequate poet and I’ve managed to put together a number of anthologies. I like to spend my spare time in the back bedroom (my office) at my desk, writing poetry, blog posts and now a book, so I do have some creative talents like my maternal grandad. There’s something I share in common with both of them. I’m rather partial to spending a sunny Sunday afternoon sat in my shed, reading with a coffee or tinkering on something or other.
Personality wise, as I slowly mature, get comfortable and eventually settle into my skin, the strange amalgamation of both my grandfathers continues. I find myself having a love of gardening, fedora-style hats and taking a pride in my appearance. Yet I also find myself acting the idiot while I’m talking to my grandchildren and making trumpet noises while wandering around the house.
I guess with these things, that we learn from our lived experiences and surroundings. I often wonder what traits my two grandchildren, whom I adore, will take from me.