‘Go on, Granddad, the electrified doorknob!’
Plates cleared, it was time for tales of boyhood escapades. Shimmying up the telegraph pole, moving the porch steps for an April Fool, legendary snowball fights.
‘Great Uncle George, cycling into the canal!’
‘Ah, the holiday in Holland.’ But Granddad was changing it. ‘Got lost, cycled too far. Found a huge camp: boys – training, singing. Like boy scouts, George said, only with shorter hair. Weren’t told off, but we all packed up there and then – straight home to England.’
‘That wasn’t funny, Granddad.’
‘No, Poppet.’ He patted the little hand. ‘Not funny at all.’
M J Lewis ©2015
This is fictional, but based on my father and his two brothers who grew up in 1930s England. Over the years we heard various bits of family folklore: the boys sawed through part of the roof structure (from inside the airing cupboard) of their 1930s flat-roofed house, in order to climb out and enjoy the view over the neighbourhood; they constructed an elaborate pulley system so nobody had to get out of bed to turn off the bedroom light. We have a photo album of their cycling/hostelling holiday in August 1938, actually in Belgium (although my father once recalled it as the Netherlands, proving that fact can be as slippery as fiction at times).The album shows an idyllic time of ice creams across Europe, but I later discovered their mother realised there was rather more going on near the Belgium/German border than she’d anticipated and took her family home early. All three brothers survived the war ( my father worked on radar on an aircraft carrier) but are sadly no longer with us.
The times they were indeed a-changing.