The Grandad Chair

At long last we have got the Grandad chair recovered!

It had been in a very sorry state.

Following our mother’s death in 1986 Bob, as the eldest son had taken the chair back to his Oxford home where it had pride of place at his kitchen table and was quite definitely his favourite seat. Although, our mother, Effie, had had the chair recovered in the early 1970’s the intervening years of constant use had had a huge impact.

This chair belonged to my mother’s father, David McMartin and she inherited it when her mother died along with a set of 4 round backed, antique, mahogany dining chairs. The dining chairs were also beautiful but were sold when we sold the house we all grew up in on Poplar Avenue, Townville, Castleford.

Similar type of chair.

When I think of those chairs I vividly remember one Christmas we all had at Poplar Avenue. I must have been about 9 or 10 and my brother, Robert, as he was then known by the family, had come home from Oxford where he was attending University College. He had brought with him his very good friend, Steve. As two northern, working class lads attending Oxford university in the 1960’s with all of the challenges that that brought with it they had quickly become fast friends building a close friendship that would last throughout Bob’s life.

Steve fitted in very well with our family and was welcomed by all of us. He enjoyed consuming our mother’s Christmas home made baking extravaganza of vast tins of mince pies, jam and lemon curd tarts, almond tarts, coconut macaroons, chocolate biscuits, Christmas cake and coconut tarts. I would watch fascinated as he would pop a WHOLE tart, which me and Sue would just delicately nibble at to extend the sheer joy of its consumption, into his mouth. He and Robert loved engaging in lively and at times heated,political debates with our father, JMH otherwise known as Waddulus or the Demon King. He even took time out to play with me, Bob’s youngest sister. That was so very kind of him and I loved the attention.

One of the games I loved playing that Christmas was for two people. It was a type of table football game, one of my Christmas presents from my parents, and had pinball style flippers which you used to score and also save goals. Steve was a towering presence in our house, broad shouldered and standing well over 6 feet. He also loved playing that football game with me and we spent many happy hours playing it together.

The trouble was that he would get very enthusiastic, one could almost say over excited. Every time he scored a goal he would roar with enthusiasm, throw his hands in the air and rock backwards on one of my mother’s beautiful antique dining chairs. These chairs were not used to such stresses…….and after he had broken off the backs of three of the chairs our mother finally declared that there must either be no more table football or Steve could only play it sitting on a stool.

Looking back, I must say that our mother….or The Old Bat ….according to Bob…. was a woman with a very forgiving nature. Not only did Steve break her heirloom chairs that Christmas but he also spilled a plate of stew on her brand new settee by bouncing into the front room and leaping back into his seat to watch Top Of The Pops, forgetting he had left his plate precariously balanced on the arm! Despite such heinous crimes Steve was always welcomed by her and he continued to visit the family on many other occasions.

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