Monday, 14 September 2015

My grandfather's chairs

 My maternal grandfather was a docker. In those days, in that Belfast, this meant that he worked at Harland and Wolff's. Everybody's grandfather worked at H&W's, maybe even their fathers too, if you believe them. Both my father and my grandfather did really. I'm not sure that they both worked on Titanic, which everybody's male predecessors also did. That's probably an urban myth too.

I'm sure that it is another urban myth that all these men were taciturn, tattoed and emotionally reserved. It just  happens to be really true of my grandfather, though I think the tattoes dated to his Navy days in WWII. It is true that he served on the Murmansk Convoys, and I think it's true that he survived the sinking of one ship in the Indian Ocean. I wish I'd recorded all this properly.
 This was my grandfather's chair. It sat in the living room window of his house, and he sat on it, and Max the dog sat on him, and the three of them weathered into one silent character in the story of my childhood. Sometimes Max would bark. I remember one speech that my grandfather gave. He was strangely at our dining room table, railing at God for having taken his wife so young and leaving him with six children to raise alone. I imagine this is when he left the Merchant Navy and joined Harland's.

His chair came to live with us last week, because my father got himself a recliner.I must take pictures of something in our house that hasn't come from someone else.

 But not yet, because here is the only other remaining chair of my grandfather. I remember when they bought a new dining room table and chairs- made of teak, with black leather seat covers. Very modern, very expensive. The seat came to me when my aunt sold the house. It was my desk chair all through school and university. And it has trundled along through three houses since. The leather ripped long ago but it took a Jo to demand repair.
 New foam, new material- beach boy, my Jo. X really does mark the spot now.
 No longer does he need to slide about on the hooked cushion that my mother made once upon a time. Now he has my grandfather's chair at his desk whence he can go to sea too. I'm hoping that they'll survive many shipwrecks.


Kezzie said...

I just adore snippets of history like this! Both chairs, may they weather ling in the journey of life!

Pom Pom said...

Wow! VERY wonderful, Mags! I love the chair with your A sitting in it!
I think Jo did a fantastic job upholstering.

Angela said...

Love the chairs, and the history. Love the family who sit on them too!

M.K. said...

Oh ... not shipwrecks, surely :) Adventures!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Oh, dear, I just wrote something halfway clever, but it disappeared. I think it's good to have chairs that we knew as children. I think it's good if our men sit in those chairs with their long feet shod in Converse sneakers.

Done thinking. xofrances

Pam (Isabelle) said...

What a lovely post. Coincidentally I was just writing about elderly furniture too! It's strange, isn't it, how chairs last so much longer than their occupants? But how nice that you have the chairs and the memories of your grandfather.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

The only 2 things that were new to us are the rocking chairs we bought at Cracker Barrel Restaurant when we first moved here. Everything else belonged to someone else and was well loved, or at least well used, prior to arrival.
I love things with a history! Your chair is beautiful and now it has a new home and new life.