However, during the hospital’s afternoon visiting my grandparents came up to see me and say hello. I was their first grandchild so I should imagine there was a fair degree of excitement. Following the visiting hour introductions, my grandfather went into town and bought me a teddy bear from Robb’s Department Store. That evening he brought the bear up to the hospital to give to me only to be stopped at the maternity ward door and told that evening visiting was for fathers only. My grandfather, not to be denied, announced that he was the father and marched straight passed the startled nurses.
At the time I was born, my mother was eighteen and my grandfather was fifty. This was the 1960s, I am surprised he was not arrested on the spot but nobody said anything. My grandfather gave me the teddy bear and spent an hour chatting to Granny (my mother, remember). That teddy bear was none-other than Great Uncle Bimbo who, if you read the original Jammy Toast, you may remember.
Many years later, I was told the story of my grandfather’s shenanigans getting into ‘father’s only’ visiting time and I confronted him about it. He denied it was a deliberate ploy and said that he thought that visiting was for ‘fathers of the mothers’ only. Yes, we believe you but thousands wouldn’t!
It might be worth mentioning at this time that my grandfather was called ‘Da’ (pronounced ‘dar’). This was because as a very young child I heard Granny calling him ‘Dad’ but I couldn’t pronounce that so it kinda came out as “Dar”. It stuck and he was called Da by family, friends and even work colleagues for the rest of his life.
I have often been asked where I get my love of teddy bears from and that is probably the man.
Luckily for me, and Bimbo, he lived a long life, being born just before the First World War. He lived through many things during his lifetime. Two World Wars, the Titanic sinking, the creation of the USSR and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall, the invention of Penicillin, Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space, Nelson Mandela’s jailing and his release, the first man to walk on the moon, the Falklands war and he saw the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster (on the news, I hasten to add, he wasn’t actually there).
He even voted for Margaret Thatcher but we will gloss over that!
Not only was he the one responsible for my love of teddy bears but he was probably the one who gave me my ‘childish’ outlook on life. He used to buy my comics when I was young but the whole family knew he bought them more for himself than he did for me. He would spend hours reading ‘The Lion’ and ‘The Tiger’. It often got to the point where I would have to ask if I could ‘borrow’ my own comics to read them. By which time they were usually wet because he had been reading them in the bath.
At Christmas time, he would be the one looking stupid, still wearing his Christmas-cracker hat long after everyone else had put theirs in the bin. He also carried on driving for years after he was safe on the roads. Some of his expeditions through Raby Mere were the stuff of legend. He never passed a driving test in his life; he was granted a licence around the time of the Second World War and, because all the examiners were away at war, they just gave people a licence without the need for them to take a test. If they didn’t have an accident within two years then they got to keep the licence.
He was also the man most responsible for turning me into a ‘naughty’ boy. I used to spend weekends at my grandparent’s house and on Saturday’s my grandmother would be at work and we were left at home on our own. This was the day we ate steak and kidney pudding and chips out of the newspaper, had music or the television on too loud and to hell with the neighbours. We could watch the sport and the wrestling without being told off. It was often bedlam on Saturday but we had to have the place looking like a new pin by the time my grandmother got back home.
However, the most eventful thing he ever did was to present me with Bimbo as my ‘birth’ day present. Bimbo came home with me and we grew up together and moved around Merseyside, but everywhere I moved to Bimbo came with me. We used to like the same things, like music and films, and we also had our favourite celebrities.
Years later, I adopted The Chimpton and the pair of us discovered a Renault Bear by the name of Eddie. We both became obsessed with saving these poor, unfortunate bears who were deserted and abandoned to the mercy of charity shops and car boot sales. Bimbo was with me throughout all these years and was given the honorary name of Great Uncle Bimbo by the Renault Bears.
I can tell you more about all that next time.
Bye for now!
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