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My grandfathers story…

Thomas GandyAs a child, my granddad (Thomas Gandy) was my idol. I remember him as a little old man, apparently frail and ‘bow legged’, but if you looked further the man had the strength of an ox. If he rolled his sleeves up he had muscles like Popeye on a spinach high! I idolised him he used to sit me on his knee and tell me great stories about his travels in Canada – so spectacular to a child that you wondered whether he was making them up at times…. Cows and cowsheds being lifted by winds, travelling under the rails of trains – stories you might expect to read in something written by Jack Kerouak rather than to hear from your own grandfather.

To put you in the picture of the type of man he was, he was very gentle with us. I remember him most of the time sitting quietly in his chair as my grandmother would talk constantly. Boy could she talk – well, when she got the chance between bringing us constant supplies of cakes and ginger beer made and bought in specially for our regular visits. He was quiet – but you always knew who wore the trousers in that house!

I recall one time – as a child does – asking “Why do you have such big ears”? At which point (socially acceptable in those days) my mothers hand came from nowhere around the back of my head. He said calmly, but authoritatively, and with a suppressed anger I’m sure – “What was that for? The boy asked a perfectly reasonable question. I DO have big ears”. He took his gaze away from my mother, looked into my tearful eyes and answered the question as though nothing had happened. That was the kind of man he was.

I’ve told this story many times as I was told it by my dad – to the best of my recollection – over the years… But after writing recently about my uncle Fred passing away thought it was time to write it down.

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RIP – Fred McDonald

FredToday is the day of Uncle Fred’s funeral. Well my great uncle… A man I only have fond memories of, a genuinely nice guy and a big influence on my life – not directly – but through his influence on my dad. As well as the immediate family (you know who you are if you are reading this) I feel for my dad today. I grew up with stories of my dad’s childhood – many centred around Fred. Fred seemed to figure somewhere in just about all of them. Amongst other things Fred taught him to drive, they spent a number of years in the TA together, and have always been close…

My dad hasn’t just lost his uncle, he’s lost his last real link with his own parents, and he’s lost a man who was as much a big brother figure and a friend to him as anything else… Fred taught him, Fred looked out for him, Fred helped shape him…

I hate funerals, and if I’m honest avoid them unless I feel affected closely. This is one I would have liked to have been at – I would have been at – if it were possible. I wish I could have been in Liverpool today to pay my respects and say my own farewells…

Goodbye Uncle Fred – you were a great guy – we were all honoured to know you!

Norton’s scrap yard in Liverpool

Norton’s scrap yard in Liverpool

This is a picture I’ve been meaning to take myself for years but somehow never got around to stopping to do it… Anyway, something reminded me of it today and I just knew I´d find it on Google Images…