If time travel became possible I know exactly where I would be heading to first, I would almost certainly be tempted to go and roam the earth with a family of Triceratops or a Parasaurolophus, inclined even to walk the streets in times of Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare. I could even be enticed by the macabre to visit Jack the Ripper if only to assist in solving the enigma that he has become. In spite of my curiosity to visit these famous and infamous people and places, my choice, at least my first choice, would be to transport back through time and space and arrive at the heart of my happiest childhood memories, I would go back and spend one more day with my Granddad Ted.
As soon as I say the words ‘Granddad Ted’ this dearly missed person is in my thoughts, a happy, smiley Yorkshire man, with his flat cap donned, leaning on his shovel in the front garden that was his pride and joy. He was a tall, handsome man, prominent nosed and, to me, always smelled like tea and potting sheds. The mere thought of him can have me grinning from ear to ear and then be reduced to tears in the next breath as I remember how terribly I miss him, not only does it hurt to miss him for myself but I often wonder how much it must hurt my Nana Lil. My Nana Lil was also very smiley, and still is, it’s difficult to conjure up an image of how I remember her as I still see her on a regular basis now, I do remember the singing though, I couldn’t pinpoint a specific song, to be honest it could have just been humming most of the time either way it was always happy.
I can’t recall an actual conversation that I had with my Granddad, at least not a grown up one, just a series of silly moments and happy things that make me smile no matter what is happening. I feel as though the majority of my childhood was spent with my Nana and Granddad, especially school holidays. They only lived upstairs from us which was wonderful for me and my brother. Our house was huge, we had six bedrooms and was separated into two houses, one where I lived with my parents, my brother and the numerous amount of cats we had adopted at that time, Nana and Granddad lived in what was originally the upstairs when it was one house. Their staircase was enclosed and was always in darkness, unless it was Christmas and the fairy lights would trail down the banister, any other time of the year I would run up the stairs as fast as my legs would allow just to be certain that the horrible monster I had conjured up in my head didn’t grab me from behind. A comment would be made in jest about me sounding like a herd of elephants thundering up that staircase and for me to stop being so soft. On entering the living room I would always be greeted with the same familiar scene, Nana Lil would be sat in the corner of the living room in her armchair, usually doing a bit of knitting or a crossword, her standing lamp would be on, the one that stood infront of a cupboard door that hardly ever got opened, this cupboard door fascinated me, surely it must contain the most marvellous of secrets because it is forever guarded by the lamp, unfortunately I think it was just bank statements and boring paperwork. Anyway, Nana Lil would be in her corner and Granddad would be sat at his end of the sofa, one of the tables from the nest would always be there for Granddads cup of tea or his pint of bitter. They would be watching The Bill (1984-2010), Family Fortunes (1980-2002), The Generation Game (1971-2001) or some detective series. If Granddad happened to be watching Nana would usually be found in the kitchen baking; chocolate cake or bread, if it was the latter we would be repeatedly told not to bang the door or go jumping around otherwise it won’t rise! The salad sandwiches that my Nana would make with that homemade bread were out of this world, crispy lettuce, zingy spring onions and a big dollop of mayonnaise, all washed down with a cup of my Granddads famous sweet tea and of course a ginormous slab of gooey chocolate cake for pudding.
We seemed to sleep over quite regularly, we would stay up late playng cards, a game of which the name escapes me, but we would makes bets with pennies and my Granddad would make me a bitter shandy and we’d eat bread and dripping or chocolate digestives. Although there were two other bedrooms for us to use we would usually sleep in their bedroom on the camp bed, this was a proper folding camp bed that sagged so much it almost touched the floor but it was so cosy and warm, we would drift off to sleep listening to the Disney Classics cassette tape, Colonel Hathis March (1967) and Trust In Me (1967) were my favourites.
I loved going up into the village on an afternoon, we’d walk up Market Street past the library, where I would have to climb up on to the wall and precariously walk along it, past the doctors surgery and up to the paper shop, we’d call in here but I don’t actually recall buying much, there was a second hand shop on the corner which was full of interesting dusty objects, one of which was a rocking horse but I don’t remember anything else specific, we’d drop in at the pet shop so I could see the chinchillas then head over to the wool shop, this place was tiny but it smelled amazing. The fruit and veg shop was owned by a sweet little married couple, the lady was called Olive, I don’t remember the man’s name but he would always give me some grapes or strawberries in a little bag to eat on my way round the village.
Every memory from my childhood is a happy one, it was filled with fun and laughter and so much silly! In summer our back garden would be turned into a free for all, the paddling pool would be out, water guns, eating peas straight from the pods, chewing on fresh chives and sucking on mint leaves. It was what summer holidays were made for, sticky ice cream and high pitched squeals as you chased someone with a water gun. Come winter and the driveway would be turned into our own slalom sledge track, snowball fights and snowman building. We could always rely on Nana and Granddad to have a cup of tea waiting in front of the fire where we could snuggle up with the dog and get ready for whatever it was we were going to do the next day. Whatever it happened to be it would be magnificent because Nana Lil and Granddad Ted are the kind of grandparents that every child should have in their life, nothing was too much trouble and every second spent with them felt as though you were all that mattered right there and then, they shaped my childhood perfectly and if anyone does ever make good use of a Delorean they should most definitely stop off to see Lil and Ted, anytime between 1986 and 1996.