maandag 7 april 2008


He seemed a huge man; tweed jacket smelling of pipe tobacco, flat cap stained by rain and sweat, boots with a generous covering of soil from the garden; his voice boomed when he spoke.

He drove a Singer Gazelle; hardly pristine; in those days before MOT tests the front passenger door was nailed shut with a plank of wood on the inside, but the knobs and levers on the dashboard fascinated, the bench seat allowed both my sister and I to sit side by side with him as he drove.

And he took us everywhere! Mum was pregnant with our little brother so almost every Saturday night we slept at their house. Every Sunday morning, as grandma was getting Sunday lunch ready (dinner as it was known) he “looked after” us.

But not for him a trip to the swing park, or building sandcastles on the beach. He took us wippet racing once; on a grey and damp Sunday we found men in a misty field surrounded by trees, the lure dragged before the dogs, who shot off too fast to read the numbers on their jackets. Betting was surreptitious - before the race groups of men, my granddad amongst them, passed cash over in exchange for slips of paper. After the race the men regrouped and swapped slips of paper for cash.

He taught me to make snares to catch rabbits; together we followed muddy paths along wooded hillside to set the snares, me in tartan trews and anorak; he careful to show me the rabbit runs, and how to place the wire without leaving a scent. He never took me to check the snares, but the evidence of their success hung head down in the garage, glaze eyed and cold.

We visited the gamekeeper, to see the new crop of baby pheasants being nurtured carefully towards the shooting season, then on to Bella’s farm, to buy eggs from hundreds of free range chickens. Brown and speckled hens flocked round our knees, scarily, pecking at the ground round our start rite shoes.

And after each trip, we went to the Kings Arms at Seaton Sluice. We to sit in the car and watch the fishing cobles in the harbour, while Granddad disappeared into the pub. A few minutes later he would bring us a bag of crisps each, the type with a blue twist of salt included so you could season to taste. My sister would bite through the blue bag to suck on the salt, but I carefully opened the packet and shook the contents into the bag of crisps - I was often disappointed by the uneven spread of the seasoning.

The crisps would be long finished when he came out – and we drove home to grandma, roast beef and a welcome orange squash.

2 opmerkingen:

BevS97 zei

Hi Jane

It brought back a particular memory for me. We had stayed with Gran and Grandad and went in the car for ice creams and my tong froze to the iced lolly. Phil

Jane zei

Hey Phil,

I think I can remember that event...

Love Jane