Friday, November 19, 2004

Nine beautiful things.

My grandfather died yesterday, so these beautiful things are about him. There are nine of them.

1. He was always absurdly modest about his carpentry. He made me a doll's bed and table when I was about eight and took as much care over them as if they had been for his own house. I imagine that my children's great grandchildren will still be playing with them. When I mentioned this to him once, he scoffed and changed the subject.

2. He built swings. The best one was in an enormous oak tree in his garden. It hung on two strong chains so you could twizzle round and round on it, and it had a seat of polished oak that was lovely to touch. I remember him testing it himself before we were allowed to use it.

3. He wrote about his war and gave it to me to edit. It made me understand the Second World War better than anything else I have ever read.

4. When we were little, he always had a pound coin or three on hand, and as we got older, overpaid us for working in his garden and woods. He also always shared his Mars bars with us.

5. He kept his woods, garden, stream and fields immaculate but wild-life friendly. I reckon this must have contributed to my interest in conservation.

6. He would take us round the fields in his smelly and tempramental old Land Rover - this was a massive treat because there was room for all of us in the front and it lurched and bumped like anything.

7. He was always gentlemanly and kind.

8. He taught us all to ski and to love the Alps in winter. I remember going down the nursery slope between his knees. And I remember him skiing backwards while filming us.

9. He made miles and miles of cine films, and later videos of us and my mother and aunt.