As probably my most loyal reader, I thought it was about time my Grandpa Vickers got a post all to himself. I keep telling him he should blog too (seriously, you’d love it) but this will have to do for now.
I’ve already mentioned him on here a few times, including when I shared the amazing Italian song he found for me: Papaveri e Papere. That is one of my favourite things I’ve ever discovered, but he’s shared so much more than that with me and continues to do so. So I thought I’d chronicle just a few of the ways he’s made my life awesome:
1. He taught me the piano.
One of my favourite photos from when I was tiny is my sister and I sat at his fantastic Roland piano while Grandpa teaches us a tune or two. And throughout my teens he taught me some of the best pieces I ever learned to play. I wish I’d kept practising – they were super fun. My favourite was a book of jazz duets – I always did the easy top part, and I could still never get the rhythms right, but we played them anyway and had a jolly good time.
2. Stacey Kent
Stacey Kent – I Wish I Were In Love Again
Our jazz LOLs weren’t restricted to the piano: oh no! I can remember when he used to pick me up from school sometimes, we’d listen to CDs in his car and one particular voice stood out: Stacey Kent. When she sang, it was so easy and so relaxing, it felt like being in a warm bath. Serious audio-nectar. She also sings in French – perfect, much?
3. He taught me French
Leading on nicely from Stacey Kent’s French tunes, my Grandpa is also responsible for several of my biggest moments of WIN during my school years. From Year 7 until Year 13 I learned French, and I was always one of the top of the class. In my Year 7 oral exam, my teacher gave me full marks and actually said “I can’t believe your accent when you’ve only been learning for a year!” I almost exploded with pride. This is all down to my Grandpa, who spent some time out in Paris before he was married and – unlike me and my shoddy piano loyalty – has kept practising and is still pretty much fluent today. He taught me pronunciation, he corrected my grammar, and most importantly, he chatted to me in French. It was awesome. It was also the reason I always got an A.
4. He made me a Book Thief
Just like Liesel Meminger in my favourite book, The Book Thief, I too have a series of volumes on my shelves that do not belong to me. Things like James Thurber’s short stories. Things like a collection called Other People’s Clerihews (if you don’t know what a Clerihew is you *have* to look them up, they’ll make you laugh all day). Things like a book about teaching yourself Russian. These books have been instrumental in making my life a better thing, and they’re all his. And I keep meaning to give them back, and then convincing myself I’ll read them one more time before I do. This is really a public apology, Grandpa. I should give you your stuff back!
These books also symbolise the fact that he has instilled in me my passion for English. He proofread all my essays, he shared his favourite authors and plays with me, and we still laugh about how when I was little and he asked me what I’d done at the weekend, if I said “Me and my mates went shopping” he wouldn’t let me continue unless I corrected myself, sheepishly rephrasing “Oh…my friends and I went shopping”. Yep, he made me a grammar geek. And I’m proud of that.
5. He Keeps This Blog Going
Sometimes, I feel I don’t have time to continue doing this – not know I’m getting paid for my writing, doing three jobs and trying to write another novel. But I always think of the great chats this blog produces with my Grandpa, and then I realise I have way too many brilliant things to show and tell him and I’d never remember to fit them all in our brief Sunday afternoon chats. And knowing he likes reading it encourages me to keep going, and to try and keep the content interesting and the writing as decent as possible.
He also corrects my bad habits – such as saying “I heart it” way way WAY too much, and writing too much in brackets (I’m always going off on a tangent – DAMN, I’m doing it again), and it’s refreshing because too many people are too scared to tell me where I’m getting slack, and this makes me a better writer! Plus, sometimes he’ll just give me some feedback that totally knocks me for six. Like yesterday, when he commented on a book review I’d written:
HOW AMAZING IS THAT? If that doesn’t inspire me, nothing will.
Lastly, he sends me the funniest stuff to put on here when I’m running low on ideas. Which is all the time. This blog post was originally just going to be me telling you about his latest send – super comedic pianist Slim Gaillard – but it sort of spiralled and then I realised that – much as Slim will knock your socks off – I was a whole lot more excited about telling you about Grandpa. This is also a nice way to link the end of my blog to the beginning – it’s been a long time since we’ve played his piano together, but I’m hoping Grandpa and I can have a giggle attempting to play a tune with the backs of our fingers like Slim some time soon:
So there you go. He’s ace. I don’t think I tell him often enough how hilarious, fascinating and wonderful he is. He’s like my very own Dumbledore, and I heart him big time (haha, sorry Grandpa, I couldn’t resist that. Or these brackets.)