For those who couldn’t attend but wanted to, this is the speech that I gave at the infamous Grandad Lush’s funeral, in celebration of his marvellous life:
I am used to writing about my Grandad, given that he has made several appearances in my column over the past year, so it seemed only appropriate that I write something about him for today.
In fact, how could I not, because if it hadn’t been for the influences of Grandad, my Grandma Rose, and my Mum and Dad, then I wouldn’t be the person that I am today; and today, for me, is all about family.
My Grandad has always, unstintingly, been there for me. And I know I’m not the only person in this room who is lucky enough to be able to say that about him. From the earliest days of my childhood, when I used to force him to sit in my paddling pool, or walk me around the rainy back roads of Denmead, just so I could try out my new raincoat, he has been there.
Which leads me to think, how lucky am I? How incredibly lucky and fortunate am I to have had him for 38 years? And because he was such a presence, and such a huge inspiration, I am now lucky enough to have been left with a million memories. And surely that is where we all live on eventually: in memory.
And I don’t mean the cloudy recalls of times that have passed, or the memories that begin to fade before we’ve even really begun to make them. Instead, I mean the kind of memories that are cut in crystal clarity; for my Grandad had too much charisma to ever fade to the format of vague recollection.
I will always remember weekends in Denmead when he would take me to the local One Stop and buy me sweets; Saturday mornings at his video shop in Baffins, and being able to choose what I wanted to take home to watch; little glass bottles of Britvic orange from behind the bar at the pub, and eating chicken in a basket from the pub kitchen, sat on the sofa with my Grandma.
I remember Grandad coming to the hospital when his first grandchild, my daughter India, made her appearance into the world, and I remember his utter pride and love for both of my girls, always tinged with the melancholy that they should have had – had life taken a different turn – a Grandad, as well as a great-Grandad.
And, of course, a couple of times over the years, I moved in with Grandad, and I think I say with some surety, that there can’t be many young women who were out-partied by their 80 year old grandfathers like I was. Friday night card games were the stuff of legend in his house, and rightly so, because if there was ever a man who was never going to give in to the stereotype of a lonely old man, living a lonely old age, then it was Grandad Lush.
Las Vegas and cruises; card games and horses; braces and smart shirts; huge hugs and a stubborn nature; a titantic heart and a dapper suit; tomatoes and cucumbers growing in the greenhouse; chocolate biscuits and Kleenex for Men tissues; Imperial Leather soap and Marks and Spencers everything; automatic cars and the Daily Mail; puzzles and bacon sandwiches; watching the boxing and placing the bets; Sunday roasts and maths homework; chocolate eclairs and lemonade, and – who could forget? – brandy and dry ginger.
Each of these, a memory, taken like old-fashioned flash bulbs bursting into colour in my mind. The list could be endless, the memories are myriad, and my love for him is infinite.
And so, today, try not to see this as a mourning and a grieving and a beacon of loss, but as a thankful celebration for all that was and is Alf Lush. He was an unrepeatable, unforgettable, fountain of colour in all ours lives.
And because of that, I was – and I am – so very lucky. Thank you, Grandad.