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Bill’s Jumpers: Golding as Grandfather

Roger Carver is William Golding’s youngest grandchild and shares here some wonderful memories of his grandfather. All Golding’s grandchildren called him Bill.

Golding in greyish-white jumper with Roger's older brothers: Nick and Laurie.
Golding in greyish-white jumper with Roger’s older brothers: Nick and Laurie.

My memories of Bill, without exception, are of him wearing one of two woollen jumpers: one greyish-white, and one a mustard yellow.

The first jumper is not controversial. It can be seen in a number of photographs we have, and I can see it clearly. I remember it being more white, but the photographs say that it was more greyish, tired and duller. It is this jumper that I remember Bill wearing when he pulled me out of the pit in the garden at Tullimaar when I was three; his great big hands enveloping me from the suffocating darkness. I also picture him wearing it when I helped him load the Aga with coal at a time before the rest of the house were up.

When I was a child the jumper was huge. Bill and his billowing jumper would fill a room. Those inside would ride whatever wave that was created as a result. These childish memories of Bill are blurred and exaggerated. My emotions and the colours meld to form an interrupted reel of impression. Included in this should obviously be the touch and the smell of the jumper. However, these are absent.

The dining room portrait at Tullimaar, Golding in mustard yellow jumper.

 

The second jumper is not clear cut. I have bizarre memories of waking Bill up in the middle of the night, with his tired face looking down at me in judgment on the landing at Tullimaar. The look Bill gave me was not dissimilar to that in the painting that is still in the dining room. Growing up I had a prime view of this painting from my seat next to Bill (a place given to me as I thought as a treat, but no doubt designed to keep me on the straight and narrow). Bill’s face looked stern against the grassy green of the landing. By contrast the dark yellow jumper is glowing with heat and warmth. Bill’s grey beard is short and interspersed with patches. Despite the obvious annoyance I had caused Bill, the memory is comforting. In my mind’s eye, the jumper and Bill’s face share precedence.

Despite the above, I cannot remember the touch or smell of Bill’s jumpers. While I may try and convince myself otherwise, I don’t remember getting that close to him physically to allow it to occur. Bill’s touch was something that happened sparingly, so it seems.

After Bill died I remember asking my mum when the painting was done. Mum said that it was around 1965, twenty years before Grandma and Bill bought Tullimaar, and eighteen years before I was born. That was when the memory of Bill as my grandfather began to travel towards the horizon.

Roger Carver