Tuesday, 22 January 2013

My Great-Great Grandfather's Forge

I can't name any of them. I think my sister can...
The boxes of tools on the floor, modern-day shoeing smiths still use the same pattern.

 Great-Uncle Percy.
In this picture, he's forge-welding a wheel-rim. By hammering the red-hot overlapping joint, he'll cause the steel to flow together, to weld with no visible seam. I liked Percy, only met him a few times. There was a family feud, following my great-great grandfather's death, Percy and his brother and two sisters disagreed about the meaning of the wording of the will. It went to the local court, to the county court, then the high court, and eventually to parliament.
So Percy was estranged from his family, he moved away, to the far side of the country, but my father always kept in touch, and, when the protagonists were all in their eighties, my father decided enough was enough. He persuaded Percy to come and stay with us. Then, one day, they went out for a ride in the car, and my father steered toward Hobberley Cottage, Percy's childhood home.
Dad  knocked on the front door. My great-aunt Sybil came to the door, wiping her hands on her apron, the house full of the scents of baking.
She stood, I am told, mouth open, looking at the tall, grey-haired  old man in her doorway, then "Come in, our Percy".

My dad left them.
Great Uncle Walter was in the orchard. "Walter," my dad said "You'd best go in, you have a visitor."
The feud was over.
Regrets over lost years, tears, and a lot of catching up. The following day, Percy was helping Walter repair the shed, Sybil was cooking her mother's fruit-cake recipe, and they were a family at peace once more.
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