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Articles By Mike Rooth

One's Paternal Ancestor

Its undoubtedly true that one can choose one's friends, but not ones relations.(Enough of this Charlespeak). But I think my Grandfather I would have chosen as both, had I ever known him.Grandmother was usually described as "a saint",which sounds rather boring,although the story that she spent a number of years sewing a patchwork quilt in the company of an ex Major of hussars,I find difficult to swallow.Although I suppose you *can* just about sew such a thing whilst underneath it.Suffice it to say that granmother lived,I am told,just long enough to see me at a few days old,then died.Make of that what you will.

Granfather,on the other hand was a rake,sportsman,and drunkard,so I feel justifiably proud that I come from a long line of hooligans.Its in the blood,byes!Eh. The old soak originally wanted to be a vet,but in Edwardian England,gentlemen did *not* indulge in gainful employment,so the Family apparently gave him a farm.This was on the assumption that if he wanted to muck about with animals,this was the only gentlemanly way to do so.

They could well afford it at the time,money was no object, and they quite probably owned the farm anyway,along with a good many others,and most of the City of Nottingham,if legend is to be beleived.By the time Old Gramps had done Nottingham was owned by more responsible individuals and money was still no object.There simply wasnt any.
But I still think I would have liked him.He never bought anything singly,always in pairs.Fishing rods,his Purdeys, horses,even,it is said,a pair of Manton duelling pistols. He was a sniper.That is to say,bored with popping off snipe with a twelve bore,success rate 100%,he switched to shooting them with a rifle.Success rate 90%,but *much* more fun! Me,I cant hit a barn door.And that's *inside* the barn! The basis of his problem was he really *did* want to be a vet,but by the time he got control of the money,it was too late to learn.I can sympathise.I spent all my youth wanting to fly naval aircraft,ignoring the fact that I really needed glasses.By the time I found out,it was rather too late.Which is why I'm in this silly business.

Granfather absolutely *abhorred* work.Except when it suited him,which wasnt often.One occasion when it did,was when he discovered that the village kids were releiving his orchard of rather too many apples.The farm was in Kent,and the orchard was walled all round,but one of the trees overhung the wall. The kids jumped for the overhanging branches,got over the wall and dropped down inside.Eventually,the grass where they landed gave the game away.Oh,he tried telling the parents,all to no avail. So he found a spade and carefully removed the turf where they landed.Then,he dug a large pit,removing the soil in a wheelbarrow. Apparently,my father,aunt and uncle watched this in considerable awe,since Gramps had never been seen doing *anything* strenuous before,in living memory.now at the time,mains sewage had not been invented,and the cesspit was nice and full of real ripe,crusty stuff.By the time the old fellow had finished,some of the crusty was in the pit in the orchard.The pit was then covered with thin branches,and the turf replaced.Did it work?Of *course* it did! A line of indignant parents accompanied by horribly smelly kids was greeted by the invitation to "bugger off",and to stop stinking up his nice clean yard.As they say,shit happens.

On another occasion,years later Gramps was strolling through Nottingham,probably waiting for the pubs to open,when he was asked by a passer by directions to the nearest Underground Station.Now Nottingham doesnt *have* an Underground,but what this particular part of it *did* have was some underground toilets in the centre of Victoria Square,where he happened to be.So he directed this poor fool to the toilets,but not the Gents,oh no,no fun that, the Ladies no less then hid round the corner to watch.*You* try explaining to a cynical copper that you thought it was a railway station!Especially when it says "Ladies" on a large notice clipped to the railings.
Gramps was active in other ways,too.At one time Father was the proud possessor of a Talbot Ninety.This was the Roesch engine car from the late twenties,and he had a spare car for its bits.It was his habit to replace the engine in the runner overnight,then to run it in by taking his brother,wife,and offspring,my cousin George,notable only for his extremely large sticky out ears,to the seaside for the day,while he slept on the beach.George,ears and all,as kids will,got into conversation with another kid on the beach.It went like this.
"Whats your name?"

"George"

"Yeh,but what's your *other* name?"

"Rooth"

"Hey,that's *my* name,too!"

"George,come here,we're going".

Well,there *arent* any Rooths in that part of the country,but Gramps was a great one for buying cattle on behalf of his friends..... wherever they happened to be.

In the end the old boy drank himself to death,having spent a literal fortune on bringing unwinnable court cases(and paying costs).
No matter what anyone says,Ben John Rooth,I would have liked you!

   
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