I upset my Aunty Pat, with my I Hate Housework post. She felt that my poor Grandad, aka Ginge, received a bit of a raw deal and that I didn’t touch upon the things about him that made him truly wonderful and only looked at some of the darker sides. I deeply loved my Grandad too, he was an equal part of the rock built foundation of love that was 49 Tenent Rd which gave me the security to grow into a loved child.
Those pre-feminist black and white days of the 50s and 60s, in the industrial North, and the Saturday Night, Sunday Morning culture personified by Albert Finney, was part of that time.
It was after Grandad died that those days came out to air in the back room, next to the gas fire, sipping strong Yorkshire tea, cup after cup,
‘Ooh your Grandad could be a right sod!’ said Betty as she spun the tales of those early beginnings.
But the Grandad I knew as a child was gentle, kind, happy, simple man, who waited for me at the gate of 49, with his arms stretched wide and his knees bent, as I ran as fast my chubby little legs could carry me, into his strong, swooping arms and spun into candescent laughter. He was always waiting for me in his banger at the station when my train arrived. He always made me bacon sandwiches in the morning.
Betty made the best Yorkshire puddings in the world, as big as dinner plates. Grandad would always eat them as a starter, saturated in gravy. It was fixed, firm rule of Yorkshire pudding eating etiquette. This, the traditional way to eat them. A pudding as a starter, only in Yorkshire!
I can see him now, sat in his chair in the back room, doing The Daily Express crossword, waiting to collect, or deliver me, or make me a cup of tea.
When I was young, he would wrap tinfoil around a finger on each hand and sing me a song,
“Two little dickie birds, sitting on a wall, one name Peter, one named Paul,”
“Fly away Peter’ with slight of hand, one piece tinfoil would vanish,
“Fly away Paul,” whoosh there would go the second. I would marvel at the trickery.
“Come back Peter,” whoosh, there was the tinfoil.
“Come back Paul.” And the other piece too. It was so funny and clever. I thought he was the best Grandad ever.
My most favourite thing to do to Ginge though, which occupied me for literally hours, was too coiffeur his hair. The irony of this adored past time was that he barely had any hair. He had thick hair at the sides, bald on top apart from a 10cm section in the middle that was long, and reached from the top his hairline to the nape of his neck. He had a little black plastic comb, with tight placed prongs, and I would groom, plait, twist, style the weird central section, standing on stool at the back of his Winchester armchair, while he smoked, drank tea and did the crossword.
Gran said that Grandad mellowed with age, and they settled into the comfort of retirement, and had a happy marriage at the end, to the end. They loved each other and I loved my Grandad, to me he was a good man. I am sorry Aunty Pat if you don’t think he got a fair crack of the whip and I hope this post goes some way to redress the balance.