A is for Auction #atozchallenge

For the last two years I’ve joined in the #atozchallenge, namely to post every weekday in April using each letter of the alphabet in turn. In 2015 it was places I’d been to, in 2016 it was London themed. This year it is a dictionary of my family, recounting incidents small and large that have taught me lessons down the years, caused me consternation or generally seared themselves into my memory.  I hope you enjoy them. To find other bloggers doing the challenge and maybe be inspired yourself, check out the A to Z Blogging Challenge Blog, here

As a child I was big on fairness. Towards me. I had a heightened sense of injustice. Against me. This is the result of my parents and their unconscionable and, frankly, cruel decision to copulate so soon after my brother appeared. There are barely 15 months between us. Take our names. He is Gordon Francis and I am Geoffrey. See? No second name. If you want the bitter detail, click here.

My gran, however, was a perceptive woman. Not sweet and twinkly eyed; she was far to shrewd and cunning for that but she could read me like a book. And she liked to spoil my brother and me.

For instance, Gran gave us our first watches. But before she handed them over we had to prove we could tell the time. ‘It’s not an ornament’ she might say. My ‘test’ came in a  cafe on, or near, Waterloo station, before we caught a train, probably to her house in Herne Bay where we often holidayed. This would have been circa 1963 when I was 6 or 7. I expect the Archaeologist got his when he was 3; precocious little sod.

Ha, and there’s another grievance; we caught this train several times before we got a family car – only to be procured when Dad passed his test which he did in 1963, while he was between employments. Back then the trains were often steam; and which of us two boys was allowed on the footplate and which had to make do with standing on the platform and watching his smug little toad of a brother helped up to discuss rivets and pressure gauges and governors with the driver? Funny I recall that incident and not any others – well apart from the time we went to collect our Boxer dog, Punch, who used to travel in the guard’s van – the guard was staggering as he handed him over with what I subsequently learnt was a massive erection – I knew mum was mortified only not why. And before you ask, no, I wasn’t jealous of that.

So, gran. She loved going to the local Herne Bay auction. As kids we weren’t allowed into the auction room but we were taken around the Lots before it started and it was like being inside a museum cabinet – every conceivable thing seemed to be piled hither and yon.

The Archaeologist spotted a globe; but not just any old globe but one showing the night sky and the constellations. To be fair, he was fascinated by the stars and the planets and such – while I was still musing on the type of cheese that made up the moon’s geology and why the man in the moon seemed to be permanently wearing dark glasses. Gran didn’t say anything but she bought it for him – he was delighted.

But a grand-parental dilemma must have ensued. If she bought that for him, she had to buy something for me. And I was, according to family lore, devoid of interests and hobbies; actually I liked stuff most children liked back then – playing Cowboys and Indians and soldiers and kicking a ball and making dens. It just wasn’t the sort of intellectual pursuits my 8 year old sibling enjoyed since he was already into proving the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, disproving Santa using Pythagoras and Fibonacci and critiquing Jane Austen. So she bought me this:

Leo the Lion.

A small garden statue. I recall being bemused but taken with the notion I now owned something so solid and, well, pretty unbreakable – believe me that was a very important criteria. It became a door stop and a talking point. I liked that too.

Mum painted it and kept it close while I shuffled from home to uni to flats to a house and on. When eventually we bought our current place some 25 years ago, I got it back. It’s in my hall. It’s rather ugly, poorly made and bloody heavy. And we have no doors that need propping open.

But I am buggered if I’m going to get rid of it. At least not until the Archaeologist gets rid of his night sky globe. This is a brotherly thing. It’s all about recognising fairness.

At school I’d often try and end a discussion by following my killer point with ‘Fair’s fair’. Until a boy called Richard Trillo started hitting me to stop me saying it. I felt that rather an extreme reaction but the fairness equilibrium kicked in eventually when he absent-mindedly emptied a pipette of acid onto his leg in chemistry one day. Justice had been served if a tad delayed.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in A to Z blogging challenge, families, family and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to A is for Auction #atozchallenge

  1. Ritu says:

    Totally get you on the sibling fairness thing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think you should get rid of it even if something does happen to the globe. It’s a constant reminder of how much your grandmother taught you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Geoff Le Pard is undertaking an A – Z challenge this month. And he has chosen to follow the alphabet to its conclusion with incidents that took place in his family over the ages.. Today an auction that resulted in a fetching door stop. head over and check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shari Elder says:

    Great idea to preserve memories for you and your loved ones. Happy blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gordon759 says:

    Well I still have the celestial globe, so I suppose you are stuck with Leo.
    Now here is a little challenge for you, a little while ago I discovered one of the original versions of Leo in the Dorset County Museum, it was hiding behind a case of medieval seal casts. It was originally designed by Alfred Stevens of Blandford to cap railings outside the British Museum. The rails have been moved but I understand that some of the lions are inside the museum and others have gone to St Pauls – now on your perambulations around London have you found/can you find another Leo?

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Lisa says:

    I love your writing style and your wit!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Iain Kelly says:

    Looking forward to more posts of nice family memories – great theme. Good luck for the month, hope you can find time to pop over to my blog and read my efforts too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m uncertain as to whether it was the guard or the dog that had the erection……. either would have mortified your mother I’m sure. 🙂 And in this story I can clearly see the beginning trail that led eventually to your lawyering career. I’m going to enjoy April!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. noelleg44 says:

    What a wonderful A-Z theme, Geoff.I might have to emulate you next year (taking a break this year). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that….
    How nice the lion is a tangible memory of your grandmother! I think it looks a bit like Aslan, but then, I am a bit Narnia-addled.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. LucciaGray says:

    Lovely family history. It’s not easy for the person you are to impartially see and understand the person you were. We should all try it:)
    However, you have a monumental task at hand now. I think you’ll have to find the rest of those lions!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Liam says:

    Brilliant story! Thanks for posting. May Leo the Lion forever proudly roar.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Then you win. Keep the lion.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. willowdot21 says:

    Good luck with the April A to Z you will have no problems with it i am certain.
    Could you clear up one thing for me, because my mind is bogling!! Was it Punch dog or the train guard who had the erection it does not seem clear or am i thick?
    As the youngest of six I understand the meaning of sibling fairness too! 💝☺

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Helen Jones says:

    I enjoyed your A-Z challenges in previous years, Geoff, and this one is shaping up to be just as enjoyable 🙂 Totally get you on the sibling fairness thing – although I am the older sibling in this case.But yes, those are the memories that stick, of watching as a cake or chocolate bar was divided in half with almost mathematical precision to make sure my brother didn’t get a crumb more than I did haha. We’re still a bit like that, probably 😉 And I love Leo the Lion – what a lovely piece of memory.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. My late brother, Chris, was born 14 months after me. Mum took a tape measure to sticks of rock

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Rowena says:

    The whole thing of sibling fairness is interesting. My mother’s cousin was one of three and she’d always divide everything up evenly three ways and her brother tells me of being given a third of a drink he didn’t want because she couldn’t cope otherwise. Having only one sibling, I can divide anything in two, equally down to the crumb too. However, I struggle with the whole fairness thing when I’m having to fork out for double of everything. I have been known to tell them child who’s with me not to tell. I am also finding that I’m having to put my foot down on some of my daughter’s activities to ensure our son gets himself organised and gets his homework done. He fell off the wagon for a few weeks there and it doesn’t take long for the assignments to pile up and over your head. xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think you have to keep Leo Geoff, and, perhaps find a Leonie to keep him company?! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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