Saturday, 15 May 2010


One thing I've always wished I could change was that I got to know my grandparents properly.

As a child and even as a teenager I don't think you ever really appreciate your grandparents. I certainly didn't. I didn't see them as people with lives, they were just this entity that the family congregated around. Always the strong ones. Always the peacemakers. I never got to know them as people, who live as you live, achieve things in their lives and lived through different times. They know things you can learn from, they can teach you things about yourself.

I never had the chance to get to know any of my grandparents as an adult. My mum said to me the other day that I reminded her of her mother, in the way that she was a creative writer, good with words, handy with a crossword and loved crime television (I may not watch Midsummer Murders but I am partial to Wallander.)

Another thing I've always liked to know are useless facts. I love to read up on interesting and bizarre points in history, as well as finding out facts about the things that interest me. I have bored many a friend over a drink with facts about films, authors, bands, political movements, explorers, race car drivers. I have this memory of my dad's father, sat in his front room in Sheffield watching sports, being supplied with an endless plate of bourbons and custard creams and toast with real butter but the most pressing memories that I've never been able to shake are all the facts that my granddad used to tell me. About plane crashes and survivors, about a cross country runner getting lost in the desert and how you couldn't drink too much water in one go after you've been that dehydrated (as you would, being lost in a desert.)

I never noticed before this likeness between me and my granddad Geoffrey. He died when I was 14. I never got the chance to ask him how he knew all these facts or the chance to trade some with him. He told me that even if you could afford to buy a Formula One car you wouldn't have the money to run it. "That's the most expensive thing, the team you need to make it run." I would say to him now "Apparently the cockpit of your Formula One car is the comfiest place in the world as everything is made to fit your body. Custom made seat, shoes, race suit, helmet, everything. Coulthard said it's like sitting in the bathtub" and no doubt he would have an ever better fact that would blow my mind just as they did when I was a nipper.

I have never let my relationship with my parents slide since I realized how much it counts when you get to the stage of knowing about their lives before you came along. I know all about my mothers career as a nurse and the holidays she went on when she was my age. I know about my fathers business and his career as a Rally racing driver right down to the time he hit that tree and the other time he flipped the car. I am going to make it a priority when I go home to dig out of my parents, aunties and uncles attics the pictures of my grandparents when they were my age. I hope that even though I live on the other side of the country to my parents, that I can get to know more and more about them and find out the habits and similarities I have inherited. So one day I can tell my kids "You remind me of my father when you do that..."

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