There’s no simple way to begin this post, dear reader but I feel I owe you an explanation for my sudden absence from blogging.
Friday the 19th of June 2015 was the saddest day of my life, it was the day I lost my wonderful Grandad. It is impossible to explain in a mere blog post the influence my grandfather had on my life. So allow me to share with you the tribute I wrote for his funeral, entitled, ‘Biff: The Man Beneath the Flap’ to show you a fuller picture of the man who brought me years of love and laughter.
My Grandad was many things, he was an electrician, a hard worker, a comedian, intellectual and occasional philosopher. He was a cherished and deeply loved husband, dad, grandad, great grandad and friend. But to me he was Biff. A wonderfully hilarious man with a heart full of love, an amazing sense of humour and the most majestic comb-over known to man.
Like most things with my Grandad, there’s a story that goes with his title of Biff, it reads like this… When I was but a mere babby, and the old mon worked at Rugby Cement, there was a programme on TV called ‘Astro Farm,’ a strange little animation about a cast of clay characters who lived on a farm in outer space. If I remember correctly, there was a pink cow that produced strawberry and banana flavoured milk and two grumpy aliens named Biff and Splodge who caused all kinds of havoc on the show. From that day on, it was permanently inscribed on the pages of destiny… He was Biff and I was Splodge.
Over time, Biff became more than a simple childhood nickname that I bestowed upon him, but an embodiment of everything the man was to me. A loving and consistently supportive father who fed, clothed and raised me, a funny and eccentric Grandad who taught me the art of mick-taking and a best mate who was always there when I needed him. The years went on, and though ‘Astro Farm’ was soon replaced by the likes of ‘Open All Hours’ and ‘Celebrity Juice,’ the depth of our bond never altered. We spent some of our funniest times in front of the telly watching a mind-blowing list of sitcoms and stand-up, too vast to recall. He introduced me to comedic icons like Spike Milligan and Billy Connolly as well as countless others. We listened to Jethro constantly, reciting his gags to each other on a daily basis. We saw him live twice and even shook hands with him before the gig. Great night.
Grandad taught me to find humour in everything. The fact that his favourite films were, ‘American Pie,’ ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ says a lot about the man. I received some of my first life advice from Baloo the bear,
“When you pick a paw paw or a prickly pear, you might get a raw paw, so next time beware.” Now that’s deep.
When we weren’t relaxing in front of a square screen, we were reading some of the books that inspired me to become a writer. On the rare occasion we were out of each other’s sight, we spoke all the time. In fact, the longest I went without seeing him was the two weeks he spent working away in Germany.
The one image of my Grandad that’s most vivid in my mind is when he would walk in from work. He would step through the door in a checked shirt and faded jeans with a cry of, something like “Alright youth,” or “Ay up me duck.” As he caught his breath, I’d look at his comical expression and marvel at that legendary flap of grey hair that had lost a furious fight with the cruel autumn wind moments earlier.
Beneath the aforementioned flap, there lay a mind full of knowledge and stories on a mind-blowing number of subjects from old comedy shows and politics to most periods in history and a spoonful of science. No topic was off limits. In the last 18 years we discussed everything from war and the universe to 19th century romantic literature. How many kids can say one of the last conversations they had with their grandad was about quantum mechanics?
“It’s better to know a little bit about a lot of things, than a lot about nothing, me old mate.”
That was my Grandad, full of wisdom, stories and phrases. So many in fact, it was impossible to choose just one. There’s the countless ones about his childhood and apprenticeship down the pit, many of which are far too verbally explicit to tell in polite company. Then the thousands of work-tales, again too littered with swearing to recite. And of course, his personal favourite which took place during our trip to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012. The evening when a piece sea-bream or ‘sea-breeze’ as he called it, was suddenly transformed into a piece of leathery steak, what can I say? You had to be there. His timing was so sharp and his wit so quick, he could make anyone laugh, especially after a few glasses of red wine. My Grandad spent his life having a laugh, whether it was at home with his family, at work with all his mates at Pro-spot or enjoying a glass of the red stuff with Liz, Ena and a few other lovely people who raised a glass with him.
All that’s left to say now is thank you. Thanks for all the laughs, ta for all the cups of tea and advice, cheers for the love and for keeping my mom sane during all of my operations and stays in hospital. Ta for being a grafter and instilling me with your never-ending work-ethic that enables me to achieve my goals. But above all thanks for making me the person I am.
Love ya Biffit.