Christmas letters #9
My maternal grandfather, Albert Mellor – my best friend when I was a very young boy.
He was a tea-total railway engineer with a passion for sketching and oils.
The painting above is the only actual piece of art that has made it to 2014 – I don’t know when it was painted but suggest the 1920’s.
As a child I do recall leafing through numerous sketch books full of line drawings and water colours.
He also used to submit cartoons to a local newspaper, some of which were published. I remember a black and white drawing of a letter box outside a house, with a sign over the box which read:
“no hawkers, no canvassers, no money”
Satirical comedy in the pre-War era.
The even earlier photograph shows him on a beach (notice his clothing), either Blackpool or Morecambe I suspect, with my Mum and her elder brother William – I’m dating the event in the mid-1930’s, when a train ride to the coast and a week in a guest house would have been the highest expectation anyone of their working class background could have hoped for.
In later life he rode a Lambretta and would pick me up after primary school, much to the envy of my classmates. I had my own little crash helmet and felt like an adventurer as we whizzed along at 30mph.
Often, he would first take me to the local newsagents where I avidly collected Classics Illustrated and thus became familiar with many great works of fiction before I reached secondary school age. Albert made sure my appetite for literature (even if in cartoon format) was constantly nourished – for that introduction to the world of the novel I owe him much.
Fascinating how Albert’s passion for art translated into my passion for reading and writing, through his mentorship of a young boy – the legacy of a grandparent and one that I hope to pay forward one day.