Friday, 13 January 2012
96 and counting
There's my grandfather (above) - 96 years old today! Happy Birthday! He's sat beside Hilda who worked for him and about whom I've blogged here. Hilda was a lovely person and so is my granda.
I'm lucky enough to speak to him every day/week as he lives with my parents. He's still doing his crosswords, watching Countdown and enjoying his sport on TV.
I must recount some of his memories some time. His recall is fantastic. Just today he was telling me how he got demobbed in York when he was 30 (he'd fought out in Burma in World War II). Didn't fancy the standard issue demob suits so got a smart blazer and trousers instead! He served with the Border Regiment and kept being called back to Barrow-in Furness Army Base but managed not to sit around in the army ranks (once the war was finished) as he had his fish and chip shop to run. This was during the time when lots of soldiers were waiting to be demobbed i.e.: allowed to leave the army officially. Apparently you got 'demobbed' according to when you were drafted into the army. FIFO = First In First Out. He was in unit 26 or 27 or so he said. Must check which.
I've always got on with him. He's a meticulous man and very practical as well as being very intelligent. Started work at 14 as a butcher's boy. Self employment runs in the maternal side of my family so he got his own fish and chip shop (following in the family tradition) as soon as he could. Made plenty of money that way. There must have been hundreds in South Shields alone. It was the only type of fast food available in those times. I remember going to his fish and chip shop on Saturday lunchtimes with my other grandma. I remember Hilda working there too.
I love listening to his stories. He always tells me of the size of the cod that was landed at South Shields' quayside just after the war - enormous - because the fish had been left to grow and grow for years and years.
At one point his family had a general store...stories of being a boy and licking the home made ice cream from the wooden vats on the counter...
What it was like to fight in the war...in the jungle...there's a not very nice story which I won't repeat here. A war time accident. Weapons being acidentally used/fired on our soldiers on our side. 'Friendly fire' as it's called now. He's matter of fact about it all: "When it's your time to go. It's your time to go."
I'm/we're hoping it's not his time to go for a good few years yet. Not sure the Queen sends a telegram now but, with luck, he should receive Her Majesty's equivalent.
Good on you Bob! Here's to you, let's hear more of your stories over the coming years! gratulationes! - Congratulations on making it to 96 years' young!
Much love and hugs from your granddaughter and the whole family xx xx xx xx
P.S.: Before I forget - he also told us yesterday that if my mother hadn't been born in January too..he would have been called up to fight at Dunkirk...and maybe all our lives would have changed!
He also also told us that he had paid a deposit for a house elsewhere in South Shields and was not told that the army paid a soldier's mortgage when he was away fighting. He lost the deposit (£100) on the house and the family moved in somewhere else. That DID change their lives and therein lies a whole other story...to be continued....