Sandy has been an auditor (briefly!), a lawyer, and a lecturer, but always thought she would like to be a writer. Now she is picking up a part-time role as custodian of her own and her parents’ memories and the Plummer, Lewis and Gillan family histories. She is hoping this undertaking will also be a good excuse to explore more of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland and to visit Samoa all in the guise of research.
My grandfather, John Claude Lewis, was brought up in Liverpool but his Welsh heritage was in no doubt as his father‘s name was Lewis Job Lewis. John Claude’s ancestors came from Ffestiniog and in honour of this heritage we spent several summer holidays at ‘The Cottage’ in nearby Penrhyndeudraeth.
John Claude expected all his three children, Joan, Ted and my mother Beti, to have a university education, to do well and to be financially independent, which fitted with his oft-quoted (according to Beti) ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’. His other favourite, ‘To thine own self be true’ did not fit quite so well with his insistence that his eldest daughter Joan, the artistic one, who was desperate to be a dancer, train to be a teacher and marry Arthur, a steady young man from his tax office.
To me he seemed a stern but kind man. He introduced me to stamp and coin collecting, giving all the grandchildren an old penny (1d.) bearing our birth year, in a teeny coin-sized brown envelope. More coins and stamps followed. When I proudly showed him my 1968 set of British Ships he was shocked that I had not heard of the sinking of the cruise liner ‘Lusitania’, built in Liverpool and torpedoed by the Germans.
When grandpa was sick, I remember sitting by his bed, asking him about the investment pages of the pink newspaper (The Financial Times) he was reading. When he tried to explain the share market to me, I said, ‘Oh, like gambling’, which amused him.
I was very upset by the loss of Grandpa when I was just eleven and about not being allowed to attend his funeral and farewell him. It seems strange to me now that parents could consider a child old enough to go to boarding school but not old enough to attend their grandpa’s funeral.
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