Stories from my grandad: PART I

For those of you who know the famous Peter Thompson, he hardly needs an introduction. But in case you haven’t had the pleasure, let me set the scene for you. My Grandad is many things, but in my mind he is first and foremost a storyteller. A great storyteller. And the key to a great storyteller is a fact checker – enter my gorgeous Grandma. Grandma has kept him accountable and kept him in line when he felt the need to take creative license with his stories.

Some of the other hats Grandad has worn is Dad, Grandad, Greatgrandad, entrepreneur, manager, public speaker, wood turner, friend, traveller, fixer-upper… the list is actually endless. Through these many hats, he has taught me a lot. As my Dad pointed out, he instilled an immense sense of pride in each of us and allowed us to strive and work towards excellence. I think this is where I developed crazy high standards of myself, because my Grandad believes I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m very grateful for this gift.

Memories of my Grandad when we were young include sitting and listening to his wild and crazy stories from his boarding school days in the Blue Mountains and being terrorised by Brother Malackey, to growing up in Corrimal, to driving a wooden caravan across the Nullarbor plain and getting stuck in a sandstorm.

Born in 1936, my Grandad has seen a lot, been through a lot and created a lot. And he’s created, well completed, a book of writing prompts. Towards the end of 2019, Grandad was diagnosed with cancer, an awful disease which he is bravely and strongly fighting. I knew I needed to capture some of his famous stories so I gifted him a book of writing prompts which he kindly gifted back to me for Christmas.

A few years ago, my Grandad wrote a blog post for a uni assignment, so I thought it was time to bring him back to the blog with some snippets of his stories, and his life.

Grandad… you’ve got too many stories to fit in one blog post. So while I busily type them up and craft them in a way that captures your adventures, cheekiness and energy, I thought I’d begin by sharing some of my favourite things about you and Grandma. I’m lucky I’ve had 26 years of knowing you both, though I don’t think anyone could have predicted my first beer would be before I learnt how to talk (see image above).

Here are 26 things I’ve learned from and love about you.

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable to drink wine that comes from a cask
  2. You can get by with just one eye (though using a gun made by yourself and your brother is not advised)
  3. Learning is fun and cool
  4. So is running fast and looking after your health (I’m still waiting on my pair of golden spikes for winning the 100m dash in my age group)
  5. No matter how far or wide you move, your parents will always track you down and come for an extended visit
  6. It’s important to stay on top of technological advancements so you can Facetime and avoid email scams
  7. October Sky is the best movie ever made
  8. Little Beach and Shoal Bay Beach are the best on earth
  9. Marry someone you’re still obsessed with 65 years later, and deeply, madly, truly in love with
  10. Being a storyteller is a great thing to be known for – it brings people together
  11. Master the art of listening, especially if you end up with a storyteller (see point number 10)
  12. There’s nothing quite like a nice cup of tea and a biccie
  13. Be careful helping someone off the couch, you might just pull them onto the floor (I still can’t stop laughing about that one Grandma)
  14. You can’t get rich off of spock found in the depths of Cooper Pedy
  15. Something as iconic as the Warrnambool kiss can never be forgotton
  16. Travel far and wide, take lots of pictures
  17. The most traumatic thing you will go through is being stuck at preschool ‘All Day Mumma, All Day’
  18. Gifting someone one of your pens is possibly the best gift I could give
  19. Pickles belong on burgers – even though Grandma is willing to dive across the room to pull it off
  20. No one has a better memory than Grandma (except maybe Elly)
  21. Travelling around Australia in a caravan is the ultimate adventure
  22. There’s nothing Grandad can’t fix
  23. Shepard’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food
  24. Asking questions and being curious is a great asset to have
  25. It doesn’t matter how many days or months, you’re always there for a cuddle and to listen to my stories
  26. That above all else, family is love and love is forever

So, Grandma and Grandad, thank you for taking the time to write down some of your stories, I know you’re still busily one-finger-typing the rest of your memoir, just as I’m busily typing out your stories (watch this space). You’ve been so generous with your storytelling so I thought it was my turn to remind you of how much you mean to me.