Why “Grandad El Paso”?

“El Paso” is not actually Grandad’s real name, I’ve used it here to disguise his true identity.  I hope that’s not too much of a shock.  His real name is Brian*.

The origin of “El Paso” is a little more complicated.  I think it can only be fully explained if

(a) you know what Grandad currently looks like, and

(b) you are familiar with the Old El Paso adverts featuring Danny Trejo as a machete-wielding patriarch (circa 2013).

The short version is, it’s because you (youngest child) used to think Grandad was Danny Trejo’s character in the Old El Paso adverts.

It’s hard to say exactly why you thought Grandad was an angry, intimidating, machete-wielding, Mexican gangsta.  Most people would describe him (physically) as more of a cross between Brian Clough and David Dickinson.   …They might also possibly say he wears Noel Edmund’s tightly-tucked-in blouses, if they were feeling particularly unkind.


I suppose it could have been Grandad’s perma-tan that led you to think he might be Mexican.  He does like to keep his tan level topped up to a “dark creosote” at all times.  He makes David Dickinson and Bob Monkhouse seem “lightly-tanned”.  He maintains it by holidaying regularly and never using any sun protection EVER.

Also, Grandad has incredible luck with the weather.  Wherever he goes the sun follows, which is unusual for a character from the dark side – I mean you’d never see Vader or Voldemort on the beach with a lemon sorbet.  On the other hand I imagine bringing on a drought is right up their street so maybe it does kind of make sense after all.

Bad Temper

As you know Grandad does have a “bit of a temper” as Grandma likes to call it.  Auntie Kate and I usually prefer to stick with something more specific, like “remember when he chased me down the road calling me the C-word?” or any story ending with a waiter saying “Please Mr Brian, you leave now, no more to fight, you be going home to sleep yes?”

Thanks to years of childhood-trauma-induced-static, the air around Grandad does crackle with tension.  Anyone who has lived with someone with anger-management problems will tell you that the hairs on the back of your neck know what’s about to happen before you do. Maybe that played some part in you mistaking him for a machete-wielding gangsta?


You’re right that moustache does look quite Mexican, but the snag with that is, he doesn’t actually have the moustache.  I added that to help disguise him, so on that basis I’d say it’s unlikely to have been the moustache.

Old El Paso Advert

All we know is, whenever the Old El Paso advert came on the TV, you would wander over, point and say “Gang-ga”. 

For a while we thought you were saying “Gangsta” and you might be some kind of child genius but then sure enough on Grandad’s next visit you walked right up to him, poked him in the shin and said “Gang-ga”.  At this point Daddy and I both looked at each other and went “Ahhhhhhhhh, yeah, that makes more sense” and so “Grandad El Paso” was born.

*His name’s not Brian either, obviously, but let’s pretend it is.


Romance – Find A Nice Girl

Now, I think I’ve made it clear throughout your childhood that I’d specifically like you to marry tall blonde girls (emphasis on tall) haven’t I? 

I estimate you will have heard the phrase “we don’t need any more short and dark in this family” roughly 18-20 million times by adulthood.  To clarify, I’ve never meant that in a Hitler-esque way, I’m not hoping you’ll kick-start a new Aryan race.  It’s simply that if my side of the family get any shorter we will disappear, and the only reason I’m suggesting we aim to increase the amount of blonde in our family is because they tend to be less hirsute people.  The phrase “Blondes have more fun” was invented specifically to point out the disparity between the amount of time spent by brunettes on body-hair removal.  Pfft, blondes.

I suppose I should cover my thoughts on personality too, rather than solely on the potentially dodgy area of eugenics…  Find a nice girl. 

Never underestimate the value of nice.  When you’re having a rough day, having someone nice to pick you up and help you through is wonderful.  When you’re having a great day having someone nice to share the joy with is also wonderful.  There is no bad time to have someone nice and kind around you.

“Exciting” is always immediately desirable obviously.  Exciting is by it’s very nature, well, exciting.  If, like me, you are lucky enough to be excited at a nice kind person, then that is fabulous, I can hope for no more.  If not, just bear in mind that when you’ve had a rough day at work, or some terrible news, excitement might be off somewhere else being exciting.

Grandad for example (did you see this coming?)  Grandad loves to bring excitement to his relationships, particularly to his romantic relationships.  Whether it be expensive flowers and a trip to Paris as a surprise date early in a relationship, or the surprise of turning up at the door menacingly after he’s been firmly dumped for terrible behaviour.  Either way, he loves to surprise.


Exciting people love a grand gesture.  If I asked Grandad to prove his paternal love for me by robbing a bank he would (or so he regularly assures me).  If I wanted a hand moving house, or fixing a leak, I can promise you that you wouldn’t see him for dust (or around 3 months until he was sure the danger had passed).  Life isn’t full of trips to Paris, it’s full of moving house and leaks and everyday nonsense.  People who can deal with everyday nonsense are the best, if you find them, grab one and never, ever, let go. 

What’s Wrong With Grandad?

You’re right, you don’t even need to ask which Grandad, because one of them’s a “normal”, and the other very clearly isn’t.

Whenever I have talked about blaming my “parents” for the way I am, I did of course mean one of them, VERY MUCH more so than the other.  I mean Grandma’s nuts but we like her.  Everyone has one good parent and one we’d rather we could go back in time in a Dolorian to ensure our mother never met.  My Dad, your Grandad, is two parts Travis Bickle, to one part Alan Partridge.  He’s an unusual mix of psychotic and hilariously awkward.

I’m going to start with a positive example of this because in all honestly, on this blog I intend to slag him off a LOT.  One of the best things Grandad ever did for me, aside from figuratively burning an example-based manual on “How Not To Behave” into my psyche, is he gave me true inner self-confidence.

Grandad gave me inner self-confidence, not by spending quality-time with me (obviously you’ve met him – or the side of his head whilst he’s on his mobile anyway) but by always making sure I knew I was loved.

Now “ordinary” parents might do this by being available, asking about your day, or as we do, monitoring your every move as though you were made of porcelain.  Not Grandad, oh no, this is an example of one of the conversations we’d regularly have about how much he loved me:-


To My Eldest Child

“Not Werewolves Just Hairy” was my response to your first ever question, and it still stands, we are not werewolves, we’re just hairy.  You were seven when you asked, and I’ll never forget your disappointment at the answer.

Certainly, I do get a little cranky around a full moon and I can blunt a bic lady-shave with just a glance but I can say with some authority that is the extent of the similarity.  I’m not saying we’re not magical or mythical creatures of ANY kind, but until that Ancestry DNA test comes through we can’t know for sure exactly what percentage of us is Yeti.

I’m just going to repeat something here for clarity, it was your first EVER question, and you were SEVEN.  You skipped the early intense questioning phase most children go through, (“why is the sky blue?” “what are legs for?”) preferring instead your own special brand of “I already know EVERYTHING” spoken with an exasperated eye-roll.

At the time I was so proud of you for being independent and self-sufficient. A few short years later and we’re preparing for your SATS with me trying to cram 10 whole years’ worth of general knowledge into your reluctant little head in a few short weeks and frankly I regret not taking a more Victorian approach to parenting in your early years.

The truth though, is that not everyone goes through life in the same way, at the same time or with the same results, and I thought what if you go through the questioning phase MUCH later?  Like in your forties.  So this blog is to hopefully answer all the questions you might have when your curiosity finally surpasses the stage where you can be left in a locked room with a box marked “secret” and yet never open it.  (Seriously, how do you do that?!  I can spend four hours Googling one thing!)

This blog is for you, and for my more curious, and infinitely more dangerous, youngest child, and for anyone else who has similar questions they need answers to (non-legally-binding, casual, often random, answers) or for anyone who wants to share their own family quirks, questions and answers.

My first piece of advice is, ask MORE questions.  To clarify, that’s not the same as “question everything” (no-one likes that guy) but question often and thoughtfully, sometimes silently, but DO question, it’s important.