Grandfather William

One of the unexpected joys of having children has been watching my father flower into a superb grandfather.

He was always too busy working to spend much time with my sister and me when we were growing up, though I do have cherished and vivid memories of building Lego, doing jigsaw puzzles, and listening to the Goons together.

But as a grandfather, he has come into his own. Now he has plenty of time. Infinitely patient, he will spend hours stapling and transcribing miniscule picture books with Evie. He explains the principles of flight to Alice and teaches her the controls of light aircraft. He will watch them throw a glider in the garden all afternoon, and retrieve it from the roof when it goes astray. He understands clouds, and coins, and model trains, and gravity, and how clocks work. He can mend broken toys with his special glue. He will help them build houses out of toothpicks. He picks peas, nets the apple tree, digs caverns under the house. If you have a job that's fiddly, or complicated, or painstaking, Papa is your man.

"Papa knows everything," sighs Evie contentedly.
"Yes," Alice agrees. "He should run the government."

I always knew my mum would be a wonderful grandmother. But Dad has been more of a surprise. He seemed almost shy of my sister and me when we were little.

But now I know he was only practising.

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