No wonder the Right and Left sides of my brain are constantly at war. I like to think they are personified by my two grandfathers. My mother's father Frank Gillam (above) was a dandy, gambler, a raffish character by all accounts. He was a good artist too and I have some marvellous characatures he did of army officers in World War I. Born in India, he spent most of his life in South Africa, doing what I have know idea, but he owned a Bugatti and was, my mama hastened to tell me, a 'gentleman' jockey. He's reading 'Sporting Sketches' in this picture. He survived the war but died young and I would love to have met him.
By contrast, this is Philip Childs JP channelling Van Gogh. He wasn't an artist, he was a provincial solicitor, magistrate and HM Coroner for Portsmouth and he was probably on holiday here. (I hope so!) His father was a pharmacist and his grandfather a 'tide-watcher' (port customs officer). My grandmother, Mabel (not in the picture) would take her four sons and one daughter to the Isle of Wight and set up camp for the summer, hiring Pickfords removals to take all the canvas and kit by water and then horse and cart to Compton Bay. Coming from a non-Conformist religious tradition, Grandfather was a teetotaller, but full of fun and occasional mischief. He was judicious and kind and never took himself too seriously. The story goes that he was late back from the office for lunch one day. Granny went out into the road and saw the coalman's cart approaching with her husband sitting up alongside the driver, a client of his.
I suppose another way I always sum up the difference between these two men is that in The English Civil War, Philip Childs would have been a Roundhead and Frank Gillam a Cavalier. Definitely. Meanwhile I permanently feel conflicted between these two opposing inherited strands of my character. Creative tension, I guess.