I’ve written a column for the New Statesman on the occasion of my Grandpa Ronnie Myers’ 100th birthday celebration. It was out in last week’s issue but is also now online too.
One Hundred Years Of Ronnie
Swimming, war and teaching Bryan Ferry, as more of us see our centenary, one man shares his story
Ronnie’s shaved, dressed and waving as he’s wheeled into the room for his birthday tea.
Houdini was still escaping from straitjackets when Ronnie was born in Spennymoor, County Durham in February 1915. Kafka was proof-reading The Metamorphosis for publication and Asquith was soon to be replaced by Lloyd George as Prime Minister.
Life in Spennymoor wasn’t easy. The ironworks had recently closed and now a number of pits had followed. Less than 10% of houses had indoor toilets; excrement went in with the ashes. By the 1920s the town was deep in depression.
But Ron lived in one of the bigger houses. His father was a tailor so the children were always well-dressed. He was academically gifted too. In the year the SS lead a torch-light parade to mark Hitler becoming German chancellor, Ron went to nearby Durham University. In 1933 Bede College, whose lawns flowed down to the River Wear, was as close to Oxbridge that the coalfields of the north-east gets….