The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Francis Gay


Clearing out some paperwork, I found a short autobiogra­phy typed by one Davey Mulligan. Decades ago, Davey wrote to me about working on borders farms during and after WWII.

Born out of wedlock, he had been raised by his grandfathe­r. When the old man arranged a job for him in a creamery, Davey ran away from home. He worked on various farms for the next five years. Then word reached him that if he wanted to see his grandfathe­r alive, he should get home quickly. The old man greeted him with tears, then rallied, and lived another seven years.

But it was how Davey wrapped his story up that caught my attention. Despite ostensibly being an account of his many farming adventures, he began the telling of his return home with the words “you always save the best story for the end!”

Coming home. The best story of them all!

I could tell by her eyes how tired she was.

“We’ve been having our two grandsons to stay over one night a week,” she said. “The big one’s three. His wee brother is one. And they are full on! Despite not sleeping much during the night, they have boundless energy during the day. And we... well, we don’t!”

I sympathise­d, thinking age catches up with us all. I was about to suggest she might tell her son and daughter-in-law it was too much for them, when she surprised me.

“So, I’ve just said we will take them two nights a week. After all, if one night a week tires us out so much, what must the other six days and nights be like for them?”

They say you sympathise more with someone after you walk a mile in their shoes – or you could have their children for a sleep-over!

It’s the holiday season! Some folk are off on cruises, some jetting to exotic locations. I have friends holidaying in a glorified tree-house!

Mandy was talking to her grandmothe­r about less expensive times. When her parents couldn’t afford holidays, her grandparen­ts would take a much younger Mandy to the caravan park. Her gran recalled one such time as being “a week of rain”. They were given a map at the park entrance to help them find their caravan. They had to ask for help after the map was reduced to soggy mush.

“But, Gran!” Mandy objected. “What about the ice-creams, playing with you and Grampa in the rock-pools, and how cosy the caravan was for bed-time stories?” Her gran laughed, and said, “A child’s memory is a wonderful thing!”

I agree. But more wonderful are the grown-ups who put what they have into making those long-lasting happy memories for children!

To ride a bike can bring such joy, with a breeze upon the face. Cycling through countrysid­e, no need to rush or race. Enjoying all the lovely views, there to be admired. Lifting heart and spirit, that this pastime has inspired.

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