Photographers, artists, poets: show us AGE.
I do not want to think about the generation immediately older than myself. I am an only child, my father is 98 and lives in England – I live in Switzerland, problem enough. My sons are now old enough to look after themselves, one being at home. I am not really interested in learning anything from the older generation or younger. What do they understand least about me and what can they learn from me? They have their own lives to live and so do I.
The gentleman in the photo is my grandfather pictured in his uniform from World War I (1914-1918) and it seems that in Europe this year there will be many celebrations commemorating the centenary of this war. My grandfather was not a young man when he was pulled into the army. He was in the medical core (see the emblem on his sleeve) and my dad told me his main occupation was collecting the dead. I think that expression sums it all up.
My father was a baby when his father left for the French fields of war. My grandfather returned after the war and my dad asked his mum who that man was in the uniform. She answered “your father”.
Who was my grandfather? I remember him as an elderly quiet person, sitting in his chair in the corner.
According to my dad his younger years were not so quiet. He spent one night in prison as he assaulted a man that insulted my grandmother. Yes he had quite a temper. Dog racing was quite a hobby of the men in my part of East London. My grandfather visited the dog track with his colleagues and my father gave him some money to put a bet on a dog for him as my father could not go. This was the night when my grandfather arrived home in the early hours of the morning, quite inebriated. Yes, the dogs won, but there were no profits to be shown. They had dissolved into refreshments at the bar.
His working life was a night watchman at the Lloyds Insurance Company in the city of London. He worked his whole life during the night. It seems he was successful as during the war years the company kept his job open for when he returned. I remember he had a lovely old clock celebrating his many years as an employee of Lloyds. My dad told me of Friday evenings when he was a boy and the complete family would go to the local market of Stratford. There were oyster stalls and it was the custom to eat oysters. I was surprised; I have never tasted an oyster in my life. It was often combined with an evening at the local cinema or at the Theatre Royal in Stratford.
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