Before my Dad left to go back to France we went out for dinner and somehow started talking about my Grandma and Grandpa. I feel huge amounts of guilt that I don’t really know much about their lives when they were younger, that’s the trouble with me not really speaking to that side of my family for near on 5/6 years, those were the years when I would have been asking those questions and by the time contact was re-established those bonds weren’t there anymore and the topic never came up.
So what Dad had to tell me was a bit of a revelation, I didn’t know any of this stuff and after he’d told me I knew I would need to write it all down before I forgot it. Enter....the blog. If I didn’t have this, I wouldn’t write it down and I’d soon forget.
During the WWII my Grandma worked in a dairy office – she was actually lucky, a lot of women had to switch jobs and become more ‘useful’ but dairy’s were pretty damn necessary so when war broke she didn’t have to leave. In fact only one person did have to leave and that turned out to be Grandma’s friend, who went from working in a dairy office to being a welder on ships in the docks in Hull – quite the career change.
Grandpa was in the RAF, working as ground crew, he was lucky enough to not have to leave British soil for the duration of the war. The reason he joined the RAF? He knew he would have to join one of the forces – the Navy was out because he couldn’t swim and he didn’t want to be shot, which knocked the Army out of the field, so the RAF it was.
In town there was a dance hall called The Dump. Grandma used to go there most weekends, she was a bit of a wallflower and would sit on the sides, waiting to be asked to dance. She had terrible eyesight but refused to wear her glasses out, so she would sit patiently waiting until a shape loomed towards her and asked her to dance.
One night, a man called George asked her to dance. They danced the night away and he asked her if he could walk her home. She obliged and they went off to their separate cloakrooms to retrieve their coats, and in the case of Grandma, her glasses.
She obviously didn’t have a clue who he was and it took some friends to point out her suitor so she could see him with the added benefit of lenses. Her reaction? He looked really old and had a stupid big hat on.
Not the best of starts then.
She obviously put these feeling to one side at some point however because eventually they became engaged. It was at this point that Grandpa uttered the ever so romantic words, “I suppose you’ll want a ring then?” (He had a way with words did Grandpa.) He then tried to foist on Grandma a used engagement ring that came from a broken engagement he’d had previously, Grandma politely (I’m sure) declined but suggested that he could maybe use the ring to put towards getting a new engagement ring for her.
The wedding wasn’t devoid of drama either. Grandma was terrified of what would happen on the wedding night that she ran away immediately after they got married and went to the cinema for the night on her own. Without telling anyone. Clearly she got over her issues with my Dad and two Aunties as testament to that fact, but for as long as I can remember, they slept in the same room, but in separate beds.
Before you think they were totally devoid of romance, there is one nice story. When they were married they went to live with Grandma’s mother. This proved to be short-lived after an argument about Grandma cleaning out the passageway meant they had to move out and live with Grandpa’s parents. Grandpa objected to Grandma having to clean the passageway (she wasn’t treated particularly well by her mother) and pointed out that they gave her board so they could stay in one room – at which point Grandma’s Mother kicked them out. Perhaps not the best ending, but at least he stuck up for his woman.
(And now what I really need to do is pump my Aunts for information, I know that my Dad has a tendency to not remember history accurately so I need to check all of this with them!)