Monday, 30 April 2007
grumpy old men & other stories
Today l feel has been a grumpy old man day. Firstly whilst checking emails, my father rang. An hour later l was still attached to the telephone yes-ing & no-ing in, what was hopefully, the correct pauses.
My father is, what you would call a bit of a character & l'm sure that he was the origin for Richmal Crompton's Just William. He hasn't improved much in the intervening years. Always up to something despite the fact that his body is no longer that of a young tearaway! From stories that get told, l think he must have run wild as a boy. The 3rd child in a family of four whose busy parents owned & ran the local post office in a small market town on the outskirts of the Forest of Dean. The post office was a large Georgian building full of nooks & crannies with haunted attics filled with the spirits of long dead ancestors whilst the large garden, surrounding fields & rivers were the ideal place to fish & shoot. In fact when he was armed with an air riffle he shot any thing that moved including the weather vane on the church opposite. Talking about the church & church yard the little devil took a chisel and defaced an ancient tombstone that contained the mortal remains of one of his namesakes, thus removing 'his' name as he [my father] wasn't dead yet! More tales recall how he attempted to chop down an apple tree because his big brothers wouldn't let him climb up to join them. Today l suppose he would be given ASBOs or put in care, but then children were allowed to be kids, to play & explore unsupervised despite the fact that there was a war going on.
From teenage years to national service he lived life to the max. Driving along rural lanes he would announce that he had 'jumped' that hedge on a motor bike or skinned his knees on that corner. How he ended up married with children l just don't know. Whenever we went anywhere he would always stride out in front doing the hunter man thing with me racing after trying to catch up. Everything was a competition, who could catch the most fish, jump the most hedges out hunting. It was great fun & a really good practice for life out there. If you see me today, l am always marching out in front, leading the way, ready to fight my way through the outlaws & pirates to save the day.
It is strange that on my evening walk to the sea l was chatting to one of our caravaners who also started on the grumpy old man thing, moaning about much the same things that my father had been hours earlier; what was really scary was that l was agreeing with points raised. Does that make me a grumpy old woman? So as not to boor you too much the conversation drift was concerning the decidedly lack of great in Britain. Both chaps from completely backgrounds & probably politics too, unhappy about how little Britain had become.