Grandads

Priya and Anya’s relationship with my Dad (who passed away two years ago) was always a joy to behold. They both miss him like crazy.

From and early age Priya and her Grandad (PomPom) had what can only be described as a mutual respect! They both “got” each other. Their occasional glances into each others eyes often meant no words would be exchanged!

Anya (who is the genetic double of her grandad) just loved him. When he was dying, she would often just sit at the end of his bed. In the final days she would sit with him for hours. Occasionally she would encourage him to have a sip of water or maybe try to eat something. More usually she was just there. Quietly. Watching and waiting.

Whenever we go back to Cardiff to visit Grandma, we will always make a trip to the church yard and take flowers to his grave. Anya is out of the car first and she runs to where he is buried to get there first! We are not sure what she says, although Priya tells me she is convinced that he can hear her. It makes me wonder.

Not sure why but yesterday I was thinking about my own Grandfathers. I was lucky that up until my late teens I had both of them still alive:

Bampy Jim  

You know the expression “a man of few words”. This was my Bampy Jim. He spent the majority of his life as an underpaid factory worker for Currans in Cardiff.

As a young boy I remember sitting in his living room every saturday. Nana used to dote on him! He would eat cottage pie and swede, watch the racing on the box, and then disappear down to his second home. The Splotlands pub at the top of his road.

He was evangelical about Brains beer. So evangelical, when he travelled the four miles up to North Cardiff to our house for Christmas Day, he would bring beer from the Splotlands to drink – “Brains in this part of Cardiff” he informed us every year, “is just not the same” 

He never really retired. Well into his 80’s he was the cellarman in

his second home!

In no way could you describe Bampy Jim as family focussed. My last memory of him is arriving back from University one weekend and immediately going to pay him in visit in the pub. It was 1985. He was sat on “his stool”. He was drinking out of “his” glass. You could tell it was his glass because it he’d stuck an elastoplast with “Jim” written on it. This was so he would be safe from “catching Aids”.

Rather than open a discussion, I sat there happy to accept his offer of a pint of SA. “It’s pouring well today Bob” 

Grampy Scotland

My Father’s Dad was the polar opposite of Bampy Jim. A larger than life character who was every boys idea of what a Grandfather should be. A fireman by profession he spent his later years as the Warden of the Aberdeen home for “down and outs”.

  Twice a year, Easter and Summer we would come up to the Lodging House for our holiday. It had a strong “combination” smell of old men and carbolic soap. One of his many “rules” was that every man who came to stay had to de-louse first. This meant a compulsory bath with said carbolic soap.

One of my many “jobs” while on holiday was to go to the carbolic soap store and make sure every bathroom had an adequate supply of the huge pink bars of soap. The smell of the storeroom is one of those that once breathed in, will never leave you.

It was a rough place. He was a tough man. Most days he would be physically attacked. One of his other rules was that men couldn’t stay if they were drunk. This was Aberdeen – a port and oil town. There would be dozens of men a day claiming their sobriety to no effect!

Being 6ft, being as strong as an ox, and being agile enough to avoid attempted right-hooks from drunk men were the essential job requirements for Grampa Scotland!

The real memories came from the fact that he had every afternoon off. This meant he would get me and my brothers to load his Vauxhall Viva with fishing rods and 12 bore shotguns so we could go into the Scottish countryside and catch fish and shoot anything and everything that moved.

The total joy for young boys of such expeditions was only compromised by the fact that being young,  Rabbit and/or Salmon for dinner everyday got a bit boring!

I could end by saying how sad it is that my girls are being brought up without active in-put from their grand fathers. But I won’t. I will take time to reflect on how lucky I was to have had such different characters as part of my childhood 🙂

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About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
This entry was posted in Bob blogs, Family life, Putting children first. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Grandads

  1. Lovely stories, Bob. Bampy Jim sounds like my kinda guy. A man who knew his beer and refused to compromise. Nice one.

  2. Will says:

    I only knew one Granddad. The one I was named after. I think he was a combination of Bampy and Grampy. He could be just as happy watching and observing or joining in the games with his grandchildren. And he knew his beer (or Guiness).

    My granddad worked all his life at the docks in Dublin, retiring only just before his death from his job in Dock Security. A big man and a happy man who would be happiest talking your ear off with all the stories of his long life in Dublin.

    My mum tells me that although my granma was a fierce woman, it was my granddad that she and her siblings feared the most. A side of him that I never saw.

    My fondest memory of him is a visit to Ireland just after I became a teacher. He took me to his local, where he was most respected, and he introduced me to everyone in the pub with, “This is my Grandson, He’s a teacher”. He was so proud. He could only have been prouder if I had become a doctor. Or a Priest.

    • onlydads says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      The bit your Mum tells you is interesting. I think my Nan was a bit fearful too. I am sure this is a generational/employment related thing. Work in factories or down the docks in those days was very much a “man’s world” I guess?

      Interesting stuff though.

      Bob

  3. Catherine says:

    Hi Bob,
    Just want to say that what you said about Pom was absolutely lovely. I also still miss him and the first part of this post actually made me well up a little! I have only been to his grave once since the funeral and I found myself chatting with him as well, despite my being an atheist.
    It was also very interesting reading the second part of the post with your memories of my great-grandparents. I wish I could have met Grandpa Scotland, he sounds like a great laugh, despite the toughness. I don’t remember Bampy Jim very well – strangely enough my only real memories of him involve his telephone which I remember was a lovely, old fashioned whirry one before it got replaced with a more modern version which had massive buttons on it. It’s very odd what you can remember sometimes…
    Your Niece,
    Catherine

  4. Scottish Mum says:

    Hahaha. The dossers house right enough. What a colourful way to visit aberdeen though. You are one of the few outsiders who will have seen that side of the city. The City has changed beyond recognition now. There never, ever were people begging on the street when I was younger, as they had too much pride to let people see their need, so probably just did without instead. The streets are full of beggars of all nationalities now, and some seem to have “pitches” at local shops.

    Some I feel right sorry for and one woman seemed to be particularly needy so I got into the habit of slipping her something little every time I went to the shop. Then, one day I gave her a couple of pounds on a freezing cold day, and on my way home, I saw her use a key to get into a reasonable attractive block of flats. Duuuhhh.

    I’m not sure the dossers house is still being used as that, but you never know. Maybe thats where they put the old fishermans refuge when it closed. Will have to check next time I drive past now.

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