COLUMN: The Ely Grumpster’s bizarre story

The Ely Grumpster

The Ely Grumpster - Credit: Archant

The Ely Grumpster

• Today, I have a real life story that is truly stranger than fiction. It is so bizarre that I am thinking of flogging it to Jeffrey Archer as a plot for a novel. Jeffers – you have my number – give me a call.

• Anyway, the story. Doris and myself are spending Easter in western Scotland, with three new acquired Scottish cousins (to add to my current portfolio of three Welsh and two Australian). “Newly acquired” I hear you ask? Well the story starts in 1931. The Grumpster’s paternal grand-parents and their three young sons [the youngest of which is my Dad] are living a life of luxury in a magnificent if crumbling Manor House in the depths of the Hampshire countryside.

• However, all is not well. Grandfather is a musician with no understanding of, or interest in being a husband or father. He spends all day in a dusty attic, playing the piano and composing. Grandmother, trapped in a house with nothing to do other than cater to the needs of three small children, needs a diversion and decides to learn to drive. A tutor is selected and instruction commences. Unfortunately, many hours spent in a car together results in more than my Grandmother just getting to grips with the rudiments of hill starts and three point turns.

• To the horror of all, she finds she is pregnant. She is sent away to Norfolk for her confinement and gives birth to a baby girl, who is promptly adopted by a South African couple and whisked off to Cape Town. My Grandmother dies within months, of tuberculosis. Grandfather disappears, dumping the boys with his sister.

• Many years later, my father discovers he has a sister, who married a Scottish merchant seaman, had three children and emigrated to Scotland. Dad writes, hoping to meet, but is rebuffed. Contact is lost. After his Mother’s death, one of my “newly acquired” cousins finds my Dad’s letters in her belongings and traces him through the Royal Marines Association. A rather emotional meeting took place last year and now it is my turn to meet my new family.

• I have mixed feelings, for sure. Will I hear stories about the family that I would rather remain buried? Will they be as grumpy as me? Well on March 28, I will get the answers and probably a whole lot more. It should be an intriguing weekend.