Sunday, 4 September 2011

Storytelling Sunday - In Which Grandpa Wins a Car

It's getting colder here today; and I've been thinking about lighting the fire before I start. But maybe not. Let's just settle down for a yarn instead.

You know, back when I started blogging I was completely, delightedly taken by surprise when someone left me a comment about my storytelling. The way I saw it, there was only ever one storyteller in our family and that was my Grandpa.

Grandpa left school when he was, oh, about fourteen and he worked with his hands for most of his life. By the time I got to know him, though, he was seldom to be seen without a pen and a pale blue writing pad. We wrote to each other often (he sent silly poems when I was sick); and every night, without fail, he would set out to finish a crossword.

But there was one thing Grandpa was even better at than finishing puzzles. One thing he excelled at. One thing he lived for. And that was winning competitions. You can probably guess the kind he was good at - the ones with slogans to invent or phrases to finish. He did them all the time. Grandma quite often went into the cupboard and discovered that the labels had disappeared from all the tins because he needed tokens to enter. But there was usually a coffee table to be had for it in the end; so she served up tinned peas for breakfast and they learned to like it. That table sits in my Mum's now (1960's G-Plan - it's right back in fashion). Then there was the radiogram. And the honeymoon in Rome (which he donated to my aunt: she bought the wedding lingerie, he took the box and won a holiday).

But, best of all, the prize of a lifetime: Grandpa won a car. Imagine! Look, there's Grandma being presented with the keys:


Funny, she doesn't look like that in any other picture. She looks softer, usually. She must have been on her very best behaviour. It was just before I was born, so I'm a little hazy on some of the finer details. Maybe this one was clinched with Grandpa's all-time classic slogan:
"Christmas is coming, it's so plain to see, Here's your lawnmower back, may I borrow your tree?"
I've looked at the pictures and I'm guessing it had something to do with Findus Frozen Food. And fishsticks. Looking back it's hard to imagine the impact that car must have had on Grandma and Grandpa. They were born just as the very first cars were being made. They lived in a terraced street with, I think, one other car owning family. I guess it was life changing. They drove out to the countryside, down to the sea, over to the blackberry hedges, round to their friends and family. When I was a little girl they would call for me on a Sunday morning and I would ride to church in style. On the plastic seat covers. After all, they had to keep it looking good, didn't they? And it served them well, that car. Until Grandpa wasn't fit to drive it any longer. They got older over the years, and the Triumph stayed the same. Shiny and bright and smelling of "new". The competition car. Won by Grandpa.

That's my story for today. If you have one would like to share (and I hope you do), leave us a link! Write your story post, linking back here so your readers can find the other stories too, and add it to the list. All stories welcome: long ones, short ones, tall ones if you like. The more the merrier!




39 comments:

Nathalie said...

I loved reading your story!!! Your grandpa sounds like a star with words!!! Love that you have a photo commemorating the event too!

laurie said...

grandpa sounds like a clever man with a lot of ambition and a bit of luck! a car - can you imagine that!? i'm jumping up and down with joy for them even though that was many years ago. i guess that is what stories do - make us feel what others felt in that moment. and you do tell the best stories. :-)

Amy said...

Your Grandpa reminds me of my Mum, she loves a good crossword and it is part of our life to see them scattered all over the place!
Winning a car must have been such a monumental experience, Grandma looks very pleased!

Melissa said...

Wow, I can't imagine winning a car. What a wonderful family story. Your grandfather obviously enjoyed words & writing - you've definitely inherited those traits.
Robbie and I enjoy doing crossword puzzles (always with a pen, too.

Alison said...

I can only imagine the excitement in your family at winning a CAR!....especially in those days. My mum and dad are crossword addicts..they arrive here with as many crossword books as they can collect at the airport, and work their way through them during their visit!
Alison xx

helena said...

Lovely story - the love of words and being able to use them well is clearly a family trait you inherited

debs14 said...

Brilliant story - you can just imagine how mega exciting it must have been in those days to win a car, they must have been the talk of the town!
I also like it because my first car was a Triumph too - a little grey Triumph Herald called Bessie ... ah, fond memories!

Ruth said...

That's a great story ~ you can feel the excitement when Grandpa knew he'd won a car!!

Mary B said...

Oh such a lovely story and such a clever grandoa

Miss Smith said...

This is such an amazing memory! I LOVE it. And the photo to match is priceless. It really sounds like your Grandpa had a way with words.

scrappyjacky said...

I just love this story,Sian....especially as I'm a competition addict as well....I've never won anything as 'big' as a car......but the 'biggest' prize I've won.....£1000 worth of wood flooring.....also came as a result of a winning slogan.
I think you should take it up..you'd be great at slogans, I'm sure.

Angelfish said...

what an amazing prize to win! You have such wonderful family stories Sian and you tell them so well. I always enjoy reading your blog xx

Lisa said...

amazing story! and such a great photo - so perfect for that time!

My grandad didn't do competitions or anything but when I moved away from home to France, he did write to me. Not often but often enough for me to have a collection of more than treasured letters written in his wonderful handwriting and clam measured voice. I will treasure them forever... I really need to find them and hear his voice again.

Thanks for sharing and for helping me get a little nostalgic too.

Cheri said...

you do have the most interesting ancestors!

Tracy said...

Sounds like a lovely man. I am sure that car was a very treaured posession.

Becky said...

Wow, what a clever and lucky Gradad you had! A lovely story, as always. Thanks for sharing :)

Karen said...

What a lovely story Sian. I just love your Grandma's hat in the photo.

Gail said...

Oh how neat is that! Imagine winning a car. Your Grandpa sounds delightful and it's obvious where you get your story telling genes from.

S said...

What a clever Grandpa you had - and I am sure you are right that winning the car was life-changing - not unlike winning a lottery these days. Great story - thanks for sharing.

Amanda said...

Wow your Grandpa was very talented at competitions wasn't he? Fancy winning a car. It must have been so exciting especially at a time when not many people owned one. Great story.

Louise said...

A moving story Sian, I love how you know so much about your lovely grandpa xx

Wanda said...

It's nice when good things happen to nice people, and that certainly seems the case with your grandparents. It's easy to see, too, where you get your get your storytelling gift from.

♥♥ Liz ♥♥ said...

That's a brilliant story. He must have been amazing at the one liners to manage to win so many prizes. What an acheivement to win a car though, especially as you say hardly anyone had a car at the time.

Sue Althouse said...

What a great story! Sounds like your grandfather knew how to keep himself young. And after winning that car, I bet he never stopped trying for that next big prize.

Barbara Eads said...

It's easy to see that your come by your storytelling ability naturally! How much fun it must have been to have a grandpa who won things with his talent. Every visit from the mailman must have been a surprise!

Ginger said...

That really would have been something back then and pretty exciting. The photo is a gem and a great addition to the story :)

Maria Ontiveros said...

What an amazing story! I could see a movie based on your grandpa's life. My dad was the master storyteller in our family. I was at a soccer tournament this weekend so am only now getting around to read the stories. I so love the first Sunday Sian! Thanks for putting it together.
Rinda

Lynn said...

Your story has brightened up my Monday morning - fancy winning a car! Even now that would be fantastic but back then must have seemed almost unbeleivable. You don't see so many slogan competitions anymore do you.

Miriam said...

Yes a wonderful story and to have a photo too! What happened to slogan competitions?

Adam said...

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jennifer said...

Fantastic story, your grandad sounds like a very clever and lovely man. X

Amy said...

Hi Sian, thanks for the feedback! I love the idea of this and will definitely try and post something new for the next one, no doubt life will provide some amusing blog fodder before then ;)
Amy xXx

Jimjams said...

Could have sworn I'd commented ... oh well that must have been in another universe!?!?
Brilliant story - what a way with words he must have had - now I know where you get it from!

JulieJ said...

Great story. My Mom is good at winning things but it tends to be cuddly toys, the odd kettle or toaster - she's never won a car. What a scoop!

Ta Da! Crafts said...

Such an amazing story! He sounds like a character and a half!

Ifa said...

Wow, amazing story. I cant figure out how the slogan have anything to do with Findus though. I know someone who does this religiously. She always took care to post her postcard very late on so that they end up at the top of the pile. She has won a house and many holidays.

Alana said...

Sorry for the late comment on this but blogger didn't want to play ball. Just wanted to say that your grandad sounded like a very interesting man. Do you know if that man in the photo with your gran is famous....I am sure I recognise him.

Winnie said...

Wow! Your Grandpa was very lucky with his wins, especially the car! Thanks for the entertaining story. I don't suppose you enter lots of competitions in the hope of winning a car too? LOL

Angie said...

What an amazing story ...I smiled all the way through.
Carmen suggested I dropped by ....I write a story once in a while and sometimes describe trips round ruined places with historical information. I actually wrote one this weekend, on people watching but I'm not sure whether iIam ready or qualified to link ....yet. xx

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