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Thank you grandad by Jamie Smith

Thank you grandad

By Jamie Smith

My hair was what I thought was trendy back in 1975. Light brown hair parted in the centre hanging well past the ears and over the collar like all my friends had theirs except for a couple of military boys whose father made them keep it short.

As I said the year was 1975 and I was 14 when this occurred. My father had deserted us when I was 10 for another woman he had been seeing behind our mums back. We struggled and had to move into a council house as child maintenance was not in existence them days and mums parents were always there to help us out with paying the rent and any emergencies. One morning our mum complained she was not feeling well so she would take the day off work and see me after school. Walking home from school I saw my grandparent's car outside our house which I thought was unusual as they usually collected us at the weekend for Sunday lunch before bringing us back. As I walked in and saw them sitting in the main room waiting for me.
"Your mum has been taken into hospital. My grandad told me. "So you will be moving in with us for a while.
"What is wrong with her? I asked him as I pushed my long hair from my eyes. "How long will she be in hospital?
"It is serious she will be in for a few weeks they reckon. My gran told me.
"Now pick up your case and get in the car. My grandad told me.
Without saying a word I picked up my case and put them in the boot of the car and climbed into the back seat as gran made sure the door was secure and a note left for the milkman cancelling the milk.
"What will I be doing about school? I asked them.
"I will be bringing you in by car and picking you up from your mums friend Brenda when I finish work. Grandad told me as he drove off.
"When can we visit mum? I asked.
"Not for a few fays she is very poorly. Gran told me
The rest of the journey I sat in silence just looking out of the window pulling my hair back out of my eyes.

Arriving at my grandparent's house I got my suitcase out of the boot of the car and was shown to my room which has a single bed in it along with a wardrobe that had a couple of drawers under it.
"Unpack your case and put your clothes away neatly and then come down for your supper. My granddad told in me in no uncertain terms.
"Yes granddad. I replied knowing that I had to be courteous or he would slipper me without hesitation as he had done in the past for my mother due to when I had stepped out of line.
"I will be up to inspect when you have finished. He told me.
I knew he would due to his life spent in the military and how his father had raised him. I duly finished unpacking and went down the stairs to the main room and sat on the lumpy old sofa they had.
"Come with me James so I can check your unpacking. Grandad told me as he stood up.
I followed behind him not saying a word. I just stood there as he checked my clothes were neat and tidy.
"Very good young man, now I expect to see it like this when I do my daily inspection. Grandad said closing the doors.
"Yes granddad. I replied following him back to the main room where gran had laid out the table for supper.
Gran bought out the supper which was sausage and chips for me while grandad had a pork chop and gran the same as me. Before we ate grandad said grace as he always did as they were both strict Catholics.

After supper I helped gran in the kitchen drying the dishes and putting them away for her before going back into the main room where grandad was smoking his pipe.
"Now James as you are living here for a while it is a good idea that ground rules are laid out for you. Granddad told me in no uncertain terms. "Bed for you will be at 8pm during the school week and nine at weekends.
"Yes grandad. I sighed as mum was far more lenient with me.
"Breakfast will be served at 7.30 weekdays and 8 at the weekend, you will dry the dishes and put them away. Grandad said. "Lunch at weekends will be as normal.
"Of course grandad I understand. I replied.
"You will do your homework which I will inspect when we get home understood. Grandad continued.
"But I usually watch the tele or am out with my friends and do it after tea. I replied.
"Television here is restricted to 1 hour per day for you young man. Grandad told me. "And on Sundays you will accompany us to church.
I looked at grandad in disbelief as I never went to church before with mum but I reluctantly said yes sir to keep the peace.
The television they had was an old black and white set and any hint of sexual activity on it and it was switched off without hesitation and as I was told at 8pm that first night I was sent to bed. I hated the bed it was like a slab of rock and could not sleep well on it. Next morning I was woken by grandad at 7am and told to wash and get ready for school.

The weekend finally arrived and I was woken at 8 and told to get ready for breakfast then grandad would take me into town. I duly washed and ate breakfast before drying the dishes.
"Come along James time to go into town. Grandad told me.
I put my shoes and coat on and followed him to the car and sat silently in the car as he drove into town and parked up.
"This way James. Grandad said walking down the street eventually arriving at a shop with the name Mr H Evans barbers on the front.
"I usually go to the salon on the high street grandad. I told him.
"While in my home you will look like a man not a girl now get inside! Grandad barked as he pushed me through the door.
"But grandad all my friends have hair like this, please don't make me get it cut. I pleaded.
"Any more of this young man and you will feel my slipper. Grandad told me as he sat down. "Now sit down and wait your turn.
"Good morning Mr Southland. One of the barbers said to grandad. "A bit soon for your usual haircut.
"Good morning to you Mr Evans. Grandad replied. "It is my grandson James who is here for a haircut.
I sat on the bench looking round at the barbers shop which was painted a light blue colour with just the 2 chairs both taken by elderly men. There was a couple of young boys my age with their fathers looking scared knowing what was coming.
"Next! Mr Evans said as he finished off his customer.
One of the young boys was told by his father to get in the chair. The boy sat in the chair and was caped up.
"The usual if you would be so kind. The father told Mr Evans.
"Very good sir. Mr Evans replied combing the boys hair.
I watched horrified as Mr Evans gave the boy a short back and sides. The same happened to his brother with the other barber.
"Next! Mr Evans shouted looking at me as the boy climbed out of the chair.
"You are next James now be sharp and get in that chair. Grandad told me.
"What will it be sir? Mr Evans asked my grandad.
"A crew I think make it half and a quarter. My grandad replied.
"A good choice sir. Mr Evans said as he caped me up before combing through my long hair. "When was the last time he had a haircut?
"My daughter allowed him to attend one of the fancy salons in the high street. Grandad replied.
"Not a good choice for boys. Mr Evans said as he picked up the scissors.
Mr Evans pumped the seat up a bit and started to cut large chunks off the hair on the back of my head. I watched horrified as the long strands of my light brown hair fell into the cape. It seemed that Mr Evans was just chopping off chunks of hair as he moved to side quickly revealing my ear before moving to the other side and doing the same. Mr Evans then moved to the front and cut my fringe close to the hairline before placing the scissors down and picking up his clippers.
"A half and a quarter crew you said sir? Mr Evans asked my grandad.
"Yes with a good high taper to go with it. Grandad replied. "He is already looking better.
Mr Evans fired up the clippers and told me to put my head down like a good boy. Not saying a word I did as he told me and I felt the comb lifting what hair I had left and the clippers without a guard on cutting my hair down to a quarter of an inch. I watched in horror as Mr Evans moved to the side and proceeded to cut that down to a quarter of an inch before moving to the other side and doing the same. Finally he proceeded to cut the top down to a half inch length. Mr Evans then tapered the back bare bladed high up and round the ears.
"There we go that looks a lot better doesn't it son. Mr Evans said as he showed me his handiwork with a mirror.
"Yes sir. I stammered not knowing what else to say as I just stared into the mirror at my new look.
Mr Evans then dusted my neck before removing the cape. I stood up and rubbed the back of my head feeling bare skin going up to a quarter of an inch at the crown.
"He is now ready for the army cadets. Grandad told Mr Evans as he paid for my haircut.
"So will it be monthly visits? Mr Evans asked my grandad.
"It will indeed. Grandad replied.
"Army cadets. I thought to myself as we walked out of the shop remembering that grandad was a leader of a local army cadet corp.
"Do you fancy the football this afternoon James? Grandad asked me.
"Yes please grandad I would like that very much. I replied.
"I know that is one thing we have in common so let us go to the game. Grandad said smiling.

I was dreading school on the Monday and was ribbed about my ultra-short haircut but at least I could tell them I had to have it cut as I had joined the army cadet force my grandad run and I got the nickname army boy. Unfortunately after a week at my grandparents we were given the bad news my mum had died through cancer. I was devastated but it made me more determined to carve myself a career I knew I wanted after a couple of weeks with my grandad at the army cadet hall. Every four weeks it would be back to see Mr Evans at his shop but I no longer minded the crew style I had and progressed well in the army cadet force and passed my school exams with flying colours. On my 17th birthday accompanied my grandad I enlisted into the royal marines where I had a long and distinguished career. I married at 21 and had three boys who all followed in my footsteps.

I guess I can now say thank you grandad for helping me get to where I am today running my own security firm.

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