Remembrance of all beauty that has been.

I missed honouring National Grandparents Day in October, so let me make up for it here by remembering my father’s dad – who I’m named after.

My grandfather fought in the First World War (and was too old for service in the second). Because he worked as a cook in London restaurants before 1916, when he volunteered they tossed him into the Catering Corps, and held him back in the UK to make canapés for the high-ups.

One day while running the Summer lawn tent at some aristocratic affair, he got annoyed at all the lords and ladies drinking champagne while his friends were being slaughtered in the foxholes in France. So he drank the contents of the tent’s beer barrel, and when a General’s wife found him passed out below it, they gave him what he wanted.

Active combat in a Royal Engineer’s tunnelling company… the lucky sods who got to dig trenches and tunnels under heavy fire, as well as making attacking earthworks under enemy lines.

He developed a dangerous habit of running out into no-man’s-land and carrying back wounded soldiers. His card was marked as a rabble-rousing working-class Union-type, however, and he received no medals for this – not that he would have accepted them, I suspect.

He survived the war (thankfully for my existence).

After he returned, he spent three years sleeping on the ground in his garden, because he couldn’t get used to a soft bed, again.

When he attended the annual Armistice parade, my dad was always struck by how many people would come up and thank my granddad for saving their lives, including one memorable gent with no legs who propelled himself on a square of wood with castor wheels in each corner.

This was my grandfather’s victory.

Remembrance of all beauty that has been.
Remembrance of all beauty that has been.


I am an author of various fantasy, science fiction, crime and other genre books from Gollancz, Hachette and HarperCollins. Some day I hope to grow up and be an astronaut. Exploring Mars would be nice.

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