Friday, 12 December 2008

Of Things Past...

The insane 2008 crazy busyness is finally teetering on the brink of slowing down. I have one big interview/meeting today - to put a cap on the 6 months' screenwriting course - then a final pre-christmas meeting on Tuesday...

...and then I'm in the booze-quaffing, turkey-guzzling clear until January. Cannot WAIT. Have never been so stressed in my life.

I still don't have much time to resume proper blogservice in order to explain exactly what's been going on over this past 1/2 year. Soon, I promise. But something rather amazing just dropped into my inbox and I couldn't resist sharing it.

My (maternal) grandfather, John Elvy, died long ago. I never met the guy, but I'm told that the photo we have of him - a profile image with him looking terribly grand on a horse in Rhodesia - apparently looks a lot like me. Not having often seen my often profile, I wouldn't know. Somehow I doubt the likeness goes very deep, because by all accounts he was an impressive man. He commanded a troop of the SA armoured division during the Italian campaigns of WW2; loved his wife and kids with all the raw energy of a person destined to die young; and was such an inspiration to his friends and comrades that one wrote a book centred on his life. He died of a wretched lung condition - not helped by all those dusty years at Monte Cassino and beyond, hunched inside the sooty innards of a tank - while my mother was only a baby, so she has no memory of him either.

We've known for a long time he was awarded the Military Cross - twice - for exceptional bravery and leadership during the war. Just recently I've received the two citations which describe how he came to be awarded the first medal and the second bar. I've attached the first one below as a taster. On the one hand it's just an amazing little artefact from the past: the language used, the events described; it's all so astonishingly evocative. To me it seems, frankly, a little surreal, like it's been cut from some larger-than-life hollywood flick or a historical novel. Which is why, on the second hand, it fills me with so much pride I want to pop, because this stuff WAS real, and it WAS awful and terrifying and astonishing, and it was MY grandad out there, doing all that batshit crazy courageous stuff.

So next time someone comments that the old photo of him looks like me, I intend to set them straight: I'm nowhere near being worthy of the comparison.

-sx

1 comment:

Matt Hollingsworth said...

Good story. Nice to see family history though it's sometimes sad. My maternal Grandfather died at Stalag IX-B in Bad Orb, Germany.

Here:

http://www.efour4ever.com/44thdivision/stalagix.htm