I think my Grand-Dad was always grey. I don’t remember him any other colour. My Mum said when she was younger, he had black hair- as black as the night sky, then later as she grew older the stars came out and his hair dotted white. His eyebrows- always bushy, seemed to flow left and right, like a palm tree in the wind. I used to sit on his lap and watch as the crinkles in his face joined together while he laughed. Grand-Dad had a name, but I can never remember it- it was a normal name and although it might have suited him when he was younger, Grand-Dad suited him best.
His beard was my favourite; to me it seemed to have the best colours of the rainbow. There was a rich red, like clay clinging to his chin and a shining blonde that tipped the ends of his moustache and glowed every so brightly in the summer. It was soft; sometimes he would let me brush it with a small comb.
He wore clothes that he had found in the attic while searching for old board games. The clothes looked good on him. He told me he’d first worn them in the 1960’s. He showed me a photograph of him and his friends, they all looked the same, but much much younger. He was taller then, I think and he stood straight and proud. The paper the photograph was printed on had the same yellowy shade that his beard now boasted. He had the beard then as well. In photos from the 1980’s the beard had vanished. Maybe it’s still in the attic?
His favourite thing was to sit in the window and stare out at the garden in the spring and summer. I think he liked seeing the plants wake and the flowers bloom. He’d sit there, quiet and smiling, with a picture frame facing out. Grand-Ma liked the garden too. She’d planted it years ago and he’d watered and tendered it ever since. She loved the Hibiscus; its bright red petals and its centre stem with glowing yellow. It reminded me of him. He’d brought it from the island and it had stayed there, in the garden ever since, happy.
We drank it when the leaves fell and dried them in the airing cupboard. The tea tasted like cranberries and was best when he put a tea-spoon of sugar in. Mum didn’t approve of the sugar, but Grand-Dad didn’t always tell her. That was our secret.
He was fully able and used to take me on walks. We’d go past the Castle on the corner, at the end of the road, where he’d battle the Arabian Captain of the guard- Ali and free the savage brown beast- Buster, from its chain. Then the three of us would journey along, my Grand-Dad with bold, long steps, I with hurried little feet and the savage beast with slobbery tongue and thunderous plods.
We would round the corner, stride down, past the fields at the rear of the house and on until the sun was high in the sky and the savage lulled into a lazy and tied heap. Under a tree we would free our reserves from the bag on my back and drink deep in the waters of justice- which we’d bought at the Castle Corner Shop earlier.
My Grand-Dad was the only knight I ever heard of from Brixton, by way of Jamaica. I asked him about it once and he told me that there were very few of his kind left, even fewer in Brixton, but of the ones that remained, he was by far the bravest and as a member of his family, I was sure to keep the tradition going.
Our knightly adventures rarely lasted longer than the end of lunch or took us much farther than the allotments at the back of the house or the hill around the corner, but for every adventure and expedition, my Grand-Dad- Deon the Knight of Brixton, his noble, slobbery beast and his squire always freed the captives, rescued the Princess (who drew a striking resemblance to the woman in the picture frame) or simply ate the last Cucumber sandwich.
With victory assured and a happy ending guaranteed for all, the heroic trio arrived back at their modest home and with feet high upon a reclining chair each; they enjoyed a cup of sugary tea and a well-deserved nap.
Entered into the Inclusive Works- Children’s Story Competition