My Grandad was such an amazing man. He was loving, caring and I believe, a major influence on why our family has such amazing dynamics.
My Nan and Grandad were almost like a second set of parents to me and my brother. We spent holidays with them, going for trips in the caravan or in seaside chalets and I distinctly remembered that we saw them pretty much every weekend during my childhood.
Grandad grew up as a working class lad from Nottingham. He enlisted in the army during the second World War and that was where he met my Nan – I believe it was in Newquay. He told me it was like how most relationships started back then – a bit of fun that got serious after finding out my Nan was pregnant with my Dad.
But before he even met Nan, he got up to some wild things.
Grandad was an engineer. Even though he was from a poor background he manage to educate himself to a degree that saw him shine in the examinations during enlistment. Because of his high scores and intellect he was trained as an engineer to fix Lancaster Bombers. He was one of the men responsible for keeping the planes in the air.
When I was in my late teens I remember a time sitting with Grandad, in their flat in Lenton, having a cup of tea. I have always been curious in nature and loved to ask questions so I asked him if he had any regrets. He said ‘No, I’ve had a wonderful life, full of adventure and I could die happy tomorrow’. I asked him about the time he was in the army, before he met Nan and he told me about the time he was in stationed in South Africa.
This story isn’t particularly mind blowing, but it’s one of the things I remember about conversations with him and I often ponder about the possibilities. I can’t remember how long he was in South Africa for, but he said whilst he was there he struck up a relationship with an older married woman. I forget where her husband was, perhaps she was a widow, I don’t know. But suffice to say you can image what he got up to – a young man on an adventure, with an older woman.
He said the relationship came to an abrupt end when he was sent back to England. He never saw the woman again. He said that there were other women he had ‘relations’ with whilst there, but this older woman was the one that lasted most of the time he was there.
It’s funny, you would think that talking to a grandparent about their sexual activities when young would be weird, but we talked candidly about it and it made me see him in a different light. I found it fascinating and it was lovely to think of him as this young, care free man and not just as my Grandad.
I’ve often imagined what he would have been like. I have seen photos of him when he was younger and he was quite a catch. Curly hair, which was quite a head-turner back then, a wry smile and, so I have been told by my Nan, he was quite the charmer.
Of course back then contraceptives weren’t available over the counter (if at all) – hence why I am here today. But, Grandad did say there was a high possibility that we may have relatives in South Africa, borne out of random meetings and passionate interludes.
My brother will be going to South Africa next year with my parent’s on holiday. I wonder if there’s a chance a random passing in the street with a stranger might actually have more ‘behind the scenes’ – unbeknown to anyone but The Powers That Be.