For those who don’t know me, my name is Richard and I want to say a few words in memory of my Granddad on behalf of his grandsons.
David Martin was a remarkable man. One that inspired me greatly. His broad range of interests, and his happy and positive demeanour made him a lovely person to know. He was extremely kind and patient and generous with his time. Grandad never displayed impatience or anger, never raised his fist or voice to anyone.
He always took an interest in people he met and loved to tell stories. Sometimes the same story would get told more than once, but it didn’t matter because they were good stories. The stories mingle and the details fade, but here are a few of the things I can remember:
Granddad read Maths at Southampton – it wasn’t as easy to go to University 70 years ago as it is today, so that was a great achievement by itself. I think Grandad liked the precision of maths. In maths the answer is either right or wrong. If you were given a maths test and you answered all the questions correctly then you get full marks – there can be no other interpretation – although I do remember he once told when he was a teacher, a colleague of his gave a pupil a couple marks for neatness as they left all the answers blank.
There were stories about the war and about operating the aircraft search lights. Granddad was in a team of about seven men. When the air raid siren sounded they all rushed into action. The main problem was, by the time everyone had moved into position and done what they had to do the plane had gone. I think he told me that he never actually saw a plane but thought the searchlights were good for moral. Later in the war Granddad reached the rank of Captain and – due to his knowledge – worked on radio and predictors, an early form of radar.
Grandad was also a great sportsman and had a few cricket stories: there was one about the torrential rain at the Victoria Rec. The pitch was transformed into a lake within just a few moments as the players watched from the pavilion. Another one was the time someone hit a six and the ball landed in a pram being pushed around the boundary – the players ran up to the pram fearing the worst, but fortunately the ball missed the baby who slept through the whole thing. Other stories told how someone was once hit on the head by the ball and it went for a six (we’re not sure if the player concerned was fielding or batting at the time). The time he forgot pack the cricket kit for the tour to the mainland and had to catch the next boat. Grandad often described happy summer times with his brother John, the legendary Shutty and other “run getters”. If grandad edged a ball to the wicket keeper you can be sure that he would have walked and not waited for the umpire’s decision. Equally as wicket keeper you can be sure that he would have appealed only when he thought the batsman was out. Cricket as it should be played.
Grandad set a good example to his grandsons about the right way and the the wrong way to approach problems and how to treat people. Even now, when faced with a difficult sitution or a dilemma in life we can ask ourselves “What would Granddad do?”
As a keen golfer there were golf stories. Like when Grandad first won the Rudd Cup at Osborne Golf Course. He didn’t get around to getting the cup engraved until it was time for the next competition the following year. The trophy had shields that went around the base. The engraver was supposed to put the shield under the last one but instead put it on the top row of the next line and etched it for the current year. As luck would have it Granddad went on to win it again that year too so was able to fill in the gap with the previous year and no one was any the wiser.
Despite his fountain of knowledge and great storytelling, Granddad wasn’t perfect. Grandma was forever having to tidy up after him, he’d tread dirt from the garden into the kitchen, he’d make the sink dirty when washing his hands and he was forever losing stuff. Like the time when driving down the mall he saw a pair of waterproof trousers blowing down the road. He stopped the car to pick them up only to realise that they were his waterproof trousers! They must have fallen out of his golf bag the day before.
Grandad was the most talented person I knew, He could draw, he could play the piano, he could name the stars and constellations, he could explain the orbit of the moon and tides, how the seasons come and go, how long it takes the light from the sun to reach us. As Granddad would say “Of course you all know it’s about 8 minutes as it travels at 186 thousand miles a second.” He knew how light is photosynthesised by plants, the latin names of those plants… He could grow beautiful sweet-peas, grow a peach tree from a stone, explain pollination by bees, discuss genetics and evolution. It’s amazing how all this knowledge could fit one man’s brain!
These days if you want to find something out you can look it up on the internet. Before the internet was invented we had Granddad.
He could fix things and make things, like furniture from bits of drift wood he picked up from Compton beach. He could repair anything electrical or mechanical, Mums says when she was young they lived in the only house on Carisbrooke Road that permenantly had the back of the television set removed, as Granddad would be in the process of fixing it, this was a constant worry to Grandma. Nothing would be wasted or thrown away – “it might be useful for something” you can hear him say. When it came to the contents of his shed, he would say “If it can’t be found in there then it doesn’t exist.”
I’d like to say thank you and well done to lovely Grandma for looking after Granddad over the last few years. I know it’s been hard work for you at times. I’m so proud to have had grandparents that have loved each other and looked after each other for over 60 years.
I’ll end with a joke Grandad told me more than once. Two chaps are playing golf. One is about to take his shot and notices a funeral procession drive past the course. The player stops, removes his hat and waits for the procession to past. The other player says to him. “That was a really nice sign of respect for you to do that.” He replies “It’s the least I could do I was to married to her for 30 years.”
Like I said right at the start, Grandad was a remarkable man and we will miss him and cherish these memories.