Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
I don’t suppose I ever told you about my Dad, at least I don’t think I did. He was a great guy, not very demonstrative, quiet for the most part; Mum was the power in the family, but she always acted as if Dad was the one to decide things, but he never did.
Dad was the last of six children in Grandma Walker’s family. I say Grandma Walker’s family because Granddad Walker seldom said anything. He just sat in his chair in the corner next to the fireplace. In fact I cannot remember a single thing he ever said to me. In my mind’s eye he seemed to be always smoking or sucking on a pipe, but I am not sure any more. Grandma, on the other hand, never stopped talking, even when she was brewing tea or making sandwiches with white bread and some sort of paste. I have no idea what the paste was supposed to be, but I gobbled up her neat little triangular sandwiches like someone from one of the concentration camps everyone was talking about after The War.
Everything was rationed after The War. We learned to count our blessings and appreciated every small mercy. I suppose it was a terrible time but I enjoyed my childhood.
Dad, strangely enough, was born at the end of the First World War which made him just the right age to become cannon fodder in time for the Second World War. He was an engineer. Engineers built bridges for troops to cross when they were on the offensive and then blew them up when they were on the retreat, or at least that is what he told me. To me, Dad’s wartime job seemed to illustrate the futility and pointlessness of war.
Dad had an elder sister who was brilliant. She passed all her exams and was even accepted at college but she never made it. Before she started her studies she got some sort of brain disease and died, and that was the end of education for the rest of her surviving siblings. Grandma Walker decided that too much studying had addled her brain and she made sure that none of her other children would ever suffer the same fate. She removed them all from school, which was a pity because Dad was also brilliant.
I think I learned most of my Maths from Dad. We would spend hours and hours solving mathematical problems in our heads. Mental Arithmetic became my thing and even today I find myself trying to work out any possible relationship between any random group of numbers. 358 is easy because 3+5 = 8, but 359 is more difficult. Of course, you could say that what is missing between 3 and 5 is 4, and 5 + 4 = 9, which is quite nonsensical, but, on the other hand, using the same principle, a 3-digit group that started 24?, would end up being 247 because what is missing between 2 and 4 is 3, and 4 + 3 = 7. Don’t worry if you don’t get it, but if you ever take an IQ test, this sort of mathematical gymnastics helps a lot.
So Dad ended up driving a truck for a company that supplied Fish & Chip shops with fish, which meant we all ate fish several times a week, and fish, as everyone knows, is good Food for the Brain!