Grandad smokes pot. Shuffling words for lost men.

Grandad smokes pot – three words, but how much information do they impart?

I found seven meanings to ponder:

  • a man
  • who is old
  • has children
  • who have children
  • he smokes
  • forbidden
  • substances

Here’s my memory of my father’s step-father. He should have smoked pot, when crippled with arthritis, after a life of work, too hard, but he didn’t.

The Stanley Router. It came in a cabinet, not a box.

Grandad’s Router

Pine box, morticed corners, polished lid,
Holding hardened steely pieces.
Shining sharp shapes in ordered rows
Each for hacking a different desire.
Wires, springs, lignum vitae grips
With smooth grain patterns,
Ready to gouge, but forever waiting.

I inherited it, with its dusty years, and
The cabinet-maker's name in the box
Welcoming the skilled journeyman
To his craft.
Wasted effort!
It was grandad's pride,
But by the time he could afford it,
Was too weak to use it,
So left it to me, with a small legacy.
I bought the power-tool version.
Stanley – the name in woodwork

My mother’s father, would have smoked pot.

Both my grandfathers were called Will. Unlike the paternal side, my maternal grandfather was so incensed by the treatment of soldiers returning from the first war, that he went on a personal crusade to shaft the state of everything he could. He was always a respectable reprobate, but capable of violent outbursts when he sensed injustice. The priest discovered that, when he blamed the death of my aunt from a botched abortion, on my grandfather’s disinclination to go to church.

We think we are the stressed generation, but we know nothing!

He was fighting throughout the war, and regularly ordered to charge at heavy machine guns. ‘We only did it because we were drunk, due to small food rations and large shots of rum, just before the charge,’ he told me. Back home, there was no work, no welfare safety net, which meant if you defaulted on the rent, you were on the street. By 1923, he had five to feed, and did and cheerfully broke the law whenever necessary! Doubtless, MPs at the time, in top hats and choking collars on silk shirts, called his type, ‘cheats and scroungers.’

The description doesn’t fit the man in the picture.

My grandfather, during his time in the Camel Corp, in North Africa. No one knows if this was him, or a stylised generic picture, mass-produced to send home to anxious girlfriends.


 Time and space change
 Our perception of reality.
 We no longer form family tribes,
 But isolate in cells of lost identity.
 We, now richer and fatter,
 Need analysis to know
 From where we come and
 What needs to be done.
 Stress is the modern test
 To give us credibility. 
 A century ago,
 He knew the symptoms,
 But not the word.
 Trenches, charges, mud, blood
 Machine guns, lost friends
 And then, with King and Country,
 No longer to defend, 
 He padded the streets, he would 
 Live on, if the spend didn’t
 Stretch to the rent.
 He knew Stress,
 Just not the word.
 It was the old test, too
 For a face in a different crowd,
 With different knowledge, 
 But the same point of view. 

Grandad’s pot smokes.

The same words, just one alteration.

  • a man
  • who is old
  • has children
  • who have children
  • who heats his house
  • with coal or damp wood
  • with the damper closed.
Grandad’s pot smokes

Published by Clive La Pensée

Clive La Pensée, ex-science teacher, recognised writer on history of beer, novelist, expressionist, dreamer, believer in never giving up, empathiser, hopeful for a future without class, gender or racial prejudice. It's tough and at the moment, one has to remember distance travelled, rather than where we are at.

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