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Whether to distract attention from crumbling plaster, or to conceal peeling and mildewed wallpaper, a pair of matching oil paintings hung on the wall across from the bed in my room above our pokey wool shop in Syston’s High Street. A third hung at the top of the stairs at Aunty Betty and Uncle Reg’s house in Markfield. As Uncle Reg was a dab hand at home decoration, and his wallpaper stuck firm, theirs was most likely there for aesthetic reasons. All three paintings displayed different steamships steaming through choppy seas from one side of the pictures to the other. From port to starboard, if my memory serves correctly. My port to starboard, that is. Or the other way round. The ships were part of Charles Barrie & Sons’ Den Line operating out of Dundee. During his life at sea, my grandfather had been master of all three at various times. And only one sank while under his command, to the best of my knowledge. As a small boy I often gazed at the ships, their funnels trailing black smoke, as my mind conjured up visions of all the strange and exotic places grandad must have seen.
This is an edited version of an article first published on this site in 2011. Click here to read more.
Copyright © 2011, 2015 Bryan Hemming
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