Thursday, March 06, 2008

Conversations With My Grandfather.

It is a large house, but my Grandfather prefers to spend most of his solitary days occupying only one room of it. Being bloody-minded, it is also the smallest room, but it does boast the best view of his beloved garden. He claims he can actually see it grow throughout the day, despite being virtually as blind as a bat.

He is in his chair by the gas fire with a rug over his legs, Radio 4 murmuring agreeably in the background.

He is either 92 or 93, dependant upon the day you ask him.

Also present are my sister, Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter.

There is some chatter between my sister and Grandfather regarding the replacement toaster she has just purchased for him.

Grandfather: I still don't understand. It had always worked perfectly until today. Very odd for it to just cease functioning like that.

Me: When did you buy it Grandad?

Grandfather: Well. Let me see. Your mother had just started high school ...

My mother is in her fifties. I feel we are some way toward solving the mystery of the non-functioning 'perfectly good' toaster.

Me: Christ.

I forget that he is blind and not deaf, and quickly make myself busy checking that the children have not fried themselves on the house's pre-war wiring. I'd get in ever so much trouble if they had.

Grandfather: I do worry about the money though. Was it terribly expensive?

My Grandfather has more money in the bank than he could possibly spend.

Sister: Only fourteen pounds Grandad. It's fine.

She is removing the toaster from its packaging.

Grandfather: Really? Well. I say. That is quite reasonable. Tell me dear, how do you think they manage to make them so cheaply?

Sister: I think they're made abroad Granded. You know, in countries where things aren't quite so expensive.

Grandfather: Ah yes. Of course. [Nods sagely] The Negroes.

I sigh and begin rolling my Grandfather his cigarettes for the day. He won't buy pre-rolled ones any more. Too expensive. Instead he gets a monthly consignment of black-market tobacco from someone my brother knows. I think this secretly excites my Grandfather. It makes him feel rogue-ish.

The toaster is given a test-drive, and thankfully my Grandfather approves of the result.

Grandfather: Ah yes. Perfect. Very efficient, our coloured cousins. I must resolve to buy more Negroe Products in the future.

He adjusts his blanket.

Grandfather: Is anyone else a little chilly?

Sweat is streaming from me and I cannot easily blink as my eyeballs are so dry. I do not know what to say. He turns to my sister.

Grandfather: Throw another peasant on the fire would you dear?

My sister turns up the gas on his fire a little.

I hear my children playing in his garden, as I did when I were their age.

He gazes, half-blind, out the window at his garden.

Grandfather: Thank you dear. Now. I wonder what the poor are doing today?

I hope he never dies.


Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

He sounds perfect.


12:35 am  
Blogger Angela-la-la said...

Bless his heart. Before meeting her second husband for pensioner-discounted drinks at 3pm, my late nana would, every week-day, power walk 3 miles to my mothers house in her reeboks in order to have lunch with three generations of her offspring and tell them all about the darkies she'd passed on the way. 'Rude bastards!' she'd posit, 'nothing like Nandra, rest his soul'*

Yes, we'd cringe. But also, we'd feel sad that she just didn't know any different.

*Nandra was one of the very first sikhs to settle in East London and raise a lovely family amongst massive prejudice. His eldest son and I fancied the pants off each other but never got brave enough to do anything about it.

He hung himself in the end.

12:36 am  
Blogger Amanda said...

awwwww, bless :0)

10:10 am  
Blogger Shane said...

Grandfather, the ambassador. They say that in his youth he liaised with Princess Margaret.

1:49 pm  
Anonymous Puskas said...

Brilliant, sounds just like my Gran. I'll never get tired of her social comment.

4:56 pm  
Blogger Cynnie said...

your grandad was massa on a plantation?

My mama took my nana ( 90 something at the time ..) on a cruise, all the help were spanish people..
nana turns to mama and whispered..
"those aint your regular negroes are they"

And I feel guilty just writing that story..

African American african american african american.

7:07 pm  
Blogger Windypops said...

Cripes, you're getting prolific. And on cracking form. Bastard.

7:54 pm  
Blogger Clarissa said...

When my grandmother turned 92 we had a big party for her. She was asked, "how's it feel to be 92?" (yes, dumb question. Her response, "I wouldn't recommend it to anyone."

11:33 pm  
Blogger Misssy M said...

This post made me miss my two rascal Grandads.

12:08 pm  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

If ever there was a case for immortality he is it!


...oh yeah. I hadn't had my quota of vodka last post hence the seeming depression. Far more cheerful now. hic.

4:58 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

Joan: He is.

Ang: Sad. Thanks. I could do with more misery right now.

Amanda: Yeah.

Shane: He used to go shooting with Prince Phillip. Fact. (Not).

Pus: Hi. What you said.

C: It's funny because it's wrong.

Windy: Thanks and erm thanks.

C: 'The one thing it's taught me is patience' he says to me. It takes him 20 minutes to make a cup of instant coffee.

Missy: In a good way I hope.

Dinners: I agree. And fear not. All sorts are welcome here.

10:28 pm  
Blogger H said...

god I miss my racist grandad. He used to send me down the 'paki shop' to buy his woodbines and daily mail, and encourage me to haggle.

Of course he was a bigoted intolerant old bastard, but he did let me buy blackjacks with the change.

7:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

H - have to agree with you - although with my Grandad it was always the "nignog shop". And my Gran once told me that my aunty was married to a "big scary black man" which had me worried about meeting him as I had images of some sort of tribally dressed, musclebound, cannibal. When I met him he was a lovely, kind faced man of asian descent whose family had settled in Kenya - he was one of the nicest people I've ever met and gave me a taste of his very expensive melon liquer (i was only 8 and easily impressed)

11:38 am  
Blogger tea and cake said...

Awe, it does make you miss your warm, caring, bigoted, racist, prejudiced, sweety toting, grandparents.

ps. did you find out what the poor were doing?

10:49 pm  
Anonymous Kaija said...

*sigh* He sounds much like my grandpa, God rest his soul. Thanks Tired, for the descriptive trip down the memory lane. :)

8:50 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

h: And I bet you love the memory of the smell of his 'bines to this day.

Anon: Lovely.

Tea: According to my Grandfather the poor are currently 'worshipping whatever coconut-shell they currently call their God.' Or something. I made that up, but it wouldn't suprise me.

K: Hope it didn't make you too sad.

9:45 pm  
Blogger bittersweet me said...

That was wonderful. A moment to treasure.

9:50 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

God. It isn't funny. I had to get my sister to proof this. We're so fond of the old man. Thanks.

10:38 pm  
Anonymous TDub said...

When I told my hillbilly hard-shell Baptist grandmother I was marrying a Catholic, she exclaimed, "What?!? You're marrying a Papist!"

10:39 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

My God. It's still the eighteenth century for so many.

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Louisa said...

Keep up the good work.

6:43 am  

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