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Never really knew my mother’s father.
All I remember: tuft of nostril hair,
spied from sitting on his knee; hoard
of half-hidden threepenny pieces
slipped into a sandpit outside the lido.
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In pictures he looks a decent man.
Worked until death for just one firm,
service interrupted by overseas
trip lasting several years. Given
leave when his father was killed.
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After France and Germany, retreated
for his holidays to the mud
of Weston-super-Mare. On marriage
his football club gave him a cruet set,
inscribed 1922. Team photo dated 24-25.
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Found the never-used, tarnished cruet set
in my mother’s cabinet; rescued it.
My wife made it shine again like new,
saying, laughing: “At last! We finally
have some family silver to look after.”
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It sits now on a long-dead great-aunt’s
chest of drawers, close to the footballers
in their baggy shorts. The treasure of objects;
relatives who never really go away.
Good that my grandmother still let him play.