My father was in his fifties when I was born. We were separated in age by half a century and the gulf only seemed to grow wider. Our placings in the world and our relationship to where we found ourselves were contrary and apart.
Born in 1888, he was the seventh in a family of fourteen. The joke went that Grandmother Rowbotham was running out of names for the boys by the time he came along. From sober Charles and Tommy she began to branch out into Lancelot, Clifford and Randal. Combined with Rowbotham, these lofty names became somewhat absurd and Lancelot was reduced to ‘our Lance’.
Grandfather Rowbotham had a small farm in a village called Aston, near Sheffield. He had worked in the mines, checking the wooden props and beams to make sure they were safe. The money he earned had been used to build up the farm. It was assumed that all the children would work on the farm; it was unthrifty to employ labour. Children worked for their keep.