A grandfather I never met

submitted by Clifford Maughan

I have a sepia photograph of my grandfather William George Harrison in his uniform, just head and shoulders and a later black and white photograph in a suit and tie, he looks like Humphrey Bogart on that.

He was gassed in the war but survived with chest problems until 1950. I never knew him as I arrived five years later and I know little of fact, lost in time sadly. I think he might have worked with horses in the war, my gran definitely said, ”His horse would stop at the cake shop and go no further until he was given a bun”.

I found his medals when I was a little boy and began to polish them one cosy winters night with my grandmother sitting close by. She said to me, ”If only he could see you doing that, I wonder what he would think? When the medals arrived he threw them in the fire and I had to fish them out with the poker”

All told he was a kind gentleman, a craftsman, a gardener and recently somebody told me he was quite a well known banjo player in Liverpool. My gran kept his banjo safely in her wardrobe for many years and eventually passed it onto her son, he died a while back and the banjo is lost, I wish I had that banjo to cherish, I loved it’s construction, it’s wear marks from hands but I never
played it.

Grandfather won the Littlewoods Pools and he hoped to pay for treatment with the money he won, sadly there was some kind of mix up and he sent the wrong copy in and didn’t get anything! I often thought to myself that was so futile to think that a lot of money could cure him, I suppose he lived in hope.

He left behind a homely wife, three sons, all musicians and a beautiful daughter, my mother. I always thought she should have gone to Hollywood and been a movie star with her Hedy Lamarr looks. She told me grandad wanted her to do something special with her life, instead of being a ladieswear shop girl but she was happy as a glamorous ballroom dancer and met my dad, a handsome sailor from Morpeth.

Somehow I feel close to my grandfather I never knew, I think he was special and I am pleased to give him a little memorial, simple and loving as it is.

War for me is too sad to contemplate and it hurts me that we can kill our own family of human kind on this wonderful Earth, that should be filled with love, not hate, we have much to learn, we are still primitive until we eradicate hate, evil, war… call it what you will, it needs to go!

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