A Little Bit Of History
Maybe I've got PMT. I definitely feel narky, which is a sure sign. I bumped into a colleague at lunchtime, who asked how my weekend had been. I snarled that it had been shite, and launched into a rant about something or other. He looked a bit scared, and started backing away slowly from me, much as you might carefully retreat from a rabid dog.
The highlight of my weekend was seeing my grandad on Saturday afternoon. His wee face lit up when he saw me coming in, and he told me lots of stories about his exploits during the war. Some of the stories I've heard many times, but he treated us to a couple of new ones, and showed me an old black and white picture of himself that I'd never seen before. It was taken while he was in Saudi, wearing traditional Saudi headgear and looking for all the world like Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Except without the mascara.
His favourite story of the day (by this I mean the one he repeated more often than any other) was of being on the bus going down to Malvern to be inducted into the Navy, when the news came through that the war had ended. My grandad, 18 at the time, thought he'd get there, get his kit, and be sent straight 'back up the road again'. It wasn't to be though, and he served aboard the HMS Volage for 3 years before coming back up the road.
He realised he'd been talking about the war for a while, and he actually apologised for it - I had to reassure him that I was interested, and that I liked hearing about his experiences. It saddened me that he thought I wouldn't be interested. He risked his life in the Navy - he was on board when the Volage was shelled during an engagement alongside HMS Saumarez. Three crew were killed, and five wounded, and they got off quite lightly compared to the Saumarez. But one of those three could easily have been my lovely, cheeky, funny grandad, and I wouldn't have been sitting here now typing this.
My grandad thinks no-one wants to hear his memories of the war, but I'm fascinated by them. I suppose I'm trying to store up all this information because I know he's not going be here to tell his stories forever. And no-one tells em like he does.