Elle: “Granfy – why are your face and hands so black and dirty?”
Tom: “Because I’ve been kissing the cat’s bottom.”
That silly little exchange happened a number of times as I was a young child, and never ceased to make me giggle. It is one of the happy memories I have of growing up. My Granfy (Tom Finigan) ran his own engineering business at the time… and used to come home covered in graphite. He looked like he’d been down a mine.
I spent a lot of time at my Nanny (Irene Finigan neé Emerson) & Granfy’s house as I was growing up – my Mum and I also lived with them for a time when we first moved down South… and I was rarely happier than when I was sat by his side… “helping” him with his crosswords… sorting his cigar cards (yes… I always needed to file things, even then)… watching Countdown with my Nanny… or racing about with their white Boxer dog, Rocky.
I was the eldest Granddaughter of the family… and spoiled rotton of course! I was their little princess, and they always had time to give me a cuddle, or tell me silly stories.
I knew that my Granfy had served in the Second World War, but unsurprisingly it wasn’t something he liked to talk about very much. He was only 14 when he joined, and was still a just a teenager when he went to war. During the Normandy Landings, he had helped to clear the area of mines, and worked 4 days and nights straight in order to achieve this. He lost a great many friends and colleagues.
He’s a quiet man, my Granfy… a dignified and proud chap. I’ve always been firecely proud of him… and thankful for the freedom that we take for granted – that he and so many others fought for during those dark times.
Recently, the Churchill Initiative has launched an initiative to get youngsters talking more to our older citizens, who felt that they weren’t as in touch with younger generations as they could be. My Granfy went to Henry Cort School in Fareham in Hampshire, this week, and spent some time with the young teens… some of whom were the age he was, when he first joined the Army.
I haven’t seen my Granfy for quite some time… so you can imagine how lovely it was to see him on the television… and then have a chat to him and Nanny on the phone afterwards.
I love you Nanny & Granfy! See you soon.
Eleanor xx oo xx