A grandfather’s gift from the Barry Pankhurst collection



For the past few weeks I‘ve been having recurring dreams about my late grandfather who himself had Alzheimer’s, there not in any way scary or morbid just a mixture of my memories about him, but I can see his him so vividly in the dreams as though he’s sitting watching me, then stretching out his arms beckoning me yet with the wonderful smile he always had on his face, its almost as though he’s saying I’m here waiting for you ‘when your ready lad’ (as he always called me)

A grandfather’s gift’


I can still remember my grandfather, so vivid in

my dreams, reclining in his armchair beside an open

coal fire, with a mass of silver grey hair and the

twinkling in his eyes, but he was slipping into an

illness, of which then I knew not why,


Unto all his grandchildren he was called by a pet name,

Pom-Pom, and up to this day, I don’t know from where

it came, he was a staunch upright figure with a positive

attitude to life, though having survived two world wars,

yet could still remain so calm,


He always wore a trilby being the fashion of the day, and

just like Humphrey Bogart, peak pulled over one eye,

endlessly puffing on his pipe, filled with the finest Black Bore,

or taking a pinch of snuff making us all sneeze and laugh,


By profession he had been a monumental letter cutter, a

craftsman, chipping verses into granite, marble and stone,

his hands had been so steady, but now they shock like a

wreck, so I sat down by his side, talking and filling his pipe,


I was telling him I’d now finished school and about to go

out to work so he tried to squeeze my hands saying, then

advice I have for you lad, ‘ears and eyes open to what’s going

on around you all the time’ ‘only speak when spoken to’

you’re there to work not talk’


What he had told me then still remains in my mind to this day,

but finally the day came when his own steps he had to climb,

and it was goodbye, but as he left, something strange happened,

of which then I was not aware, It was a gift, of his soul, and

the skills in his hands, he had passed onto I,


My mother always told me, you are your granddad right to a T,

could this be true, since a craftsman I became with my hands, I

smoked a pipe just like him, and yes, wear a trilby just the same,

Pom-Pom, have you remained in this life…

but as a spirit within me?


I’ve followed you in so many ways, right to the last detail you

could say, as now I have exactly the same illness Alzheimer’s

that took thee, so please keep a chair vacant within the wisps

of the clouds, then again we can sit together,

as we reminisce, puffing on our pipes.         




Dedicated to my late grandfather George Mills, (about 1893-1961)

3 thoughts on “A grandfather’s gift from the Barry Pankhurst collection

  1. petesmith

    Hi Barry,

    Just found you on this site, I have been thinking about you a lot lately, I was your apprentice in the bakery in Royston, I talk about you all the time, you where a great inspiration to me when I started out in 1976, I would like to tell you I still use the skills you tought me and will be ever grateful that you sent me off to the Borough polytechnic to complete my City and Guilds.

    I thought the seven Dwarfs piece was great, Not that I remember to much of the Grumpy?? however I remember the fun times we had on our night fishing trips to Pakefield and the pier at walton!!

    It sounds like you’ve had some great times and shared your knowledge far and wide, I have tried to do the same, reading your story I still have a long way to go.

    I will tell my Mum & Dad I have contacted you they often speak of you and ask if I knew where you ended up.

    Thanks Boss

    Hope to hear from you


  2. barry

    Hi Peter,

    What a fantastic surprise when I read you response to my poem on my dear friend’s website, likewise I have often thought about you and what happened with you and your further career and I would love to get in touch with you personally so if you do not mind I will E-mail my friend Richard to see if he has you home E-mail address and then contact you again as there is so much to talk about and far more than we could do via Richards web site, but out of interest are you on “Facebook” if so you can also find my Facebook page with my home E-mail number.
    As you looking at Richards’s website I’m guessing that you must also be a fan of ‘outsider art’ anyway I will leave it at that for the moment but will be in touch again, but in the mean time please pass on my very best wishes to your Mum and Dad.

    I sill can’t get over the surprise of your reply so Peter (Tight lines)

    Barry the Bread!! (as your dad always called me)

  3. petesmith

    hi Barry,

    I have sent you an email, so you will now have my email address, I can’t tell you how special it is to hear from you, My wife Sue has contacted you via facebook as well, so speak soon,


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