Julian Barnes- Nothing to be frightened of

I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him. That’s what I say when the question is
put.  I asked  my  brother,  who  has  taught  philosophy  at  Oxford,  Geneva,  and  the
Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own.
He replied with a single word: “ Soppy.”
The person to begin with is my maternal grandmother, Nellie Louisa Scoltock,
née Machin. She was a teacher in Shropshire until she married my grandfather, Bert
Scoltock. Not Bertram, not Albert, just Bert: so christened, so called, so cremated. He
was a headmaster with a certain mechanical  dash to him:  a motorcycle-and-sidecar
man,  then owner of a Lanchester,  then,  in retirement,  driver of a rather pompously
sporty Triumph Roadster,  with a three-person bench seat  in front,  and two bucket
seats when the top was down. By the time I knew them, my grandparents had come
south  to  be near  their  only  child.  Grandma went  to  the Women’s  Institute;  she
pickled and bottled;  she plucked and roasted the chickens  and geese that  Grandpa
raised. She was petite, outwardly unopinionated, and had the thickened knuckles of
old age; she needed soap to get her wedding ring off. Their wardrobe was full of home-
knitted cardigans, Grandpa’s tending to feature more masculine cable stitch. They had
regular appointments  with the chiropodist,  and were of that  generation advised by
dentists to have all their teeth out in one go. This was a normal rite of passage then:
from being rickety-gnashered to fully porcelained in one leap, to all that buccal sliding
and clacking, to social embarrassment and the foaming glass on the bedside table.

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