Grandfathers

Two grandfathers. One tall, straight, cheerful. Always sunny. One, short, slumped, slightly mournful, slightly sad. They had both been through the War.

The tall one pulled his comrades out of the water when the landing craft beached at Normandy, dragged a few of the drowning and wounded up the beach at Normandy through a hail of bullets. This one came back to work at Watneys, but never drank. Retirement was never enough, he got a job at Tescos in the Arndale; talk to anyone, friends with anyone. The hospital screwed up and he died young at sixty-two.

The short one was a carpenter, among other things. He hung the doors in the House of Commons and made wooden milk bottles for trade shows at Olympia. This one marched up through Scicily and Italy. A tough march. Whether he was crackers before he went, or the War made him that way I don’t know. He finished in a bungalow in Raynes Park, living with a demented terrier and a demented woman from Wales. I never saw any friends. They used to go for holidays in Italy. He spoke a little Italian. He went back for the sunshine and the wine, he said. The cigarettes killed him in the end.

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About Robin Catling

Writer; performer; project manager; sports coach; all-round eccentric.
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