I was born and raised in a coal mining town North West of Nottingham Named Bulwell. The town sat in a dip which was always covered in a haze of smoke, fog, and dirt because we were surrounded by coal mines and part of our wages was coal.
There was almost a total absence of crime and idlers. In my family there was also an absence of aspiration. Mam could hardly read or write and left school aged eleven or twelve, we didn’t celebrate birthdays in our family, to work in a lace processing factory. I only managed to get her to speak of her work once. ‘We were a group of little girls who mostly only had one frock. The room we worked in was filled with steam and we hung our frocks outside the room to work in our knickers and vest.’ She looked at me with a look of disgust. ‘The men loved that.’
No-one I knew, outside of chapel folk, ever read a book. And my Sunday school prizes, most of which I still have, were the only books in our house. A brother told my wife a few years ago, my three brothers and three sisters always said, Mam had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital. I was the only not born at home.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
I was married aged eighteen and widowed aged fifty-eight. My late wife left school aged fourteen and, as two backstreet kids we didn’t have the nerve to visit a museum, an art gallery or to attend a symphony concert. That life was ‘not for the likes of us’. Some time after being widowed I came to live in Malvern and, well into my sixties, I had come home.
I joined the University of the Third Age and in my very first meeting met the woman whom I married the following year.
We attend Symphony concerts, museums and Art galleries in the UK and across the European continent. In Paris I was photographed alongside my favourite writer’s portrait Emile Zola and my favourite painter’s, Van Gogh.
What turns you on creatively?
I am switched on when seemingly from nowhere a picture forces itself into my consciousness. Often it is a remark, ‘One morning when I was taking this pig for a walk.’ My work-mate Alwyn. ‘We went to rob the club one Christmas.’ Anon.!
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
Ubiquitous. NO. You never hear it said now.
What is your pet peeve?
Grumblers who don’t seem to understand how fortunate they are.
What defines Grendad?
My happy gratitude for all this wonderful life and love that came to me when I moved to Malvern. I thank God for it every day and I claim to be the happiest and luckiest of men.
I was one of four brothers working in the pit in spite of the fact that Dad had been killed at Bestwood pit in 1940 leaving six children. A short piece of writing helped get me out of the pit after nine years working on the coal face. I have been Chair of Malvern Writers' Circle and have two of my books selling on Amazon and various other sites. Married at eighteen and widowed forty years later I came to Malvern and shortly after married a local woman who has made me the luckiest and happiest of men.