Friday, 8 October 2010

A Man Named Jack? - Part The Second

My grandfather was a very bright man but circumstances conspired to prevent him from ever being able to utilise that intellect to its full potential. While his brothers were able to achieve some degree of satisfaction in the military and in journalism (in part thanks to the sacrifices my grandfather made), Jack took what work he could in order to support the family. That's not to say that his work wasn't valued. During the war, he was excused from service as his work in the munitions factory was considered more vital to the war effort.

Circumstances being the emotionless sequences of events that they are, my grandfather was once again cast into less than fortunate circumstances as, once the war was over and Britain's colonial influence over India came to its end, the family were forced to "return" to England. I say "return" for they had been born and bred in India so England wasn't really there home (but then, as the former oppressors, neither were they particularly welcome in India).

Jack fond that post-war Britain was offering even less in terms of employment. He took a job as a cleaner on the Tube, determined to get enough together to make ends meet. Being a man of single-minded intent )often described as stubbornness), he stuck with his job and eventually worked his way up from cleaner to a management position at London Underground.

That stubbornness is something that Mum says she sees in me - when my mind is made up, it is very definitely made up (that's not to say that I don't waver, hesitate, vacillate or procrastinate - just that, on those occasions when a decision is made, it's final). Ultimately, though, this "done is done" attitude may well have been my grandfather's undoing.

You see, Jack was a smoking man. From a very young age, he'd been a smoking man. And we're talking serious smoking here - three packets a day. Unfiltered in those days, too, and probably composed of more tar than tobacco. However, after nearly fifty years of hefty nicotine intake, Jack reached a jumping point. It was Budget time and my grandfather announced that, if the price of tobacco were to rise once again, he would no longer be counted amongst the ranks of the smoking. Lo and behold, the price did rise. And lo and behold, his lungs were untroubled by the stain of smoke again.

Perversely for such a heavy smoker, he's always been a healthy man but, having denied his body the drug it had depended on for so long, his health began to suffer. My mother remember him getting ill more often but, still having that stubborn streak, he hid just how ill he was getting. Eventually, he succumbed to a heart attack and my Nana, having been a professional nurse all of her working life, never forgave herself for not seeing the symptoms sooner.

But he lives on - in the silly sense of humour that was passed to my mum, my brother and me and in the shiny head and slightly stooping walk of yours truly. That man named Wilfred who everybody knew as Jack.


MJenks said...

My grandfather died in much the same manner. He quit smoking--a habit he began during the war--in order to get healthy. The cruel ironies of fate, however, gave him a heart attack several months later around Thanksgiving. The following January, he had another and died in his chair.

MJenks said...

It's odd that, something that is so inherently unhealthy, has taken the lives of (at least) two men after they stopped smoking. Almost as if their lives depended upon the drug to live on.

I think I originally had a much better point here, but my mind has wandered a bit in the making of this comment. I apologize.

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Baldy,

I think that they quit because they had a precurser to the big one and were trying to stave off death for another day.

It take a lot of years to undo all that damage.

But on the up side, I love the story.