Now my grandfather and father have their birthdays one day apart on June 13 and 14. I’m assuming that as this was now June 16th, 1985, my trip for afternoon tea at Hill End was in honour of my grandfather’s birthday.
My grandfather, or Pop as I used to call him, was really Walter Willis, as conservative and stoic a man as could ever be imagined. I spent a lot of time with him and my grandmother when I was younger. Pop loved to have a routine for me whenever I stayed over and it usually involved either Brasso or Silvo, or the tyre blacking.
He was a man who lived through the Depression and hated to waste things – he had a workshop under the house full of jam jars and tiny drawers of screws, nuts, bolts, bits of wire, old hooks, electrical tape, rawl plugs, paint… anything he couldn’t near to throw out in case he needed it later. Most of it now resides under my house – useless slotted screws, imperial measure nuts and odd bolts, rusty nails and old washers all housed in those tiny scottish jam jars that used to come in a scottish jam sampler pack. My favourite Pop story is the one about the birds… He used to keep peachfaces and then budgies in a largish cage that he had built himself – he liked building things but he wasn’t too crash hot at it – but he sadly kept suffering bird death after bird death, so much so, that my Dad found him an old cage and suggested that he should try a bird or two in there. Still birds were dying – not 100s, maybe 4 – till we realised that Pop had been tarting up the cages and using up some of his old paints on the them. Lead paints + birds = the Norwegian blue.
Walter Willis – Pop
This day I was there for three-tiered passionfruit sponge and all that mock cream and chocolate sprinkles (bizarre description is actually there in my diary) can do for a lad of 25 with a grandfather’s birthday to celebrate.
The old passionfruit sponge gave way to dinner with Pip and an evening at home with her and Anne Jones.