Friday Fictioneers: Searching for Len

Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Mum decided to sort the spare room in time for New Year. There was a pile to go to charity, black bin liners filled with old clothes and what Mum deemed ‘tat’ in the centre of the room.

On a scuffed table were items she wanted me to put in the loft for her. A black and white print lay on the table, an image of a man who died before I was born. ‘What did granddad do again?’

She paused in her sorting. ‘Worked at Heathrow, ran a grocer’s. Did I tell you about the time the police came for him?’


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Let the image inspire you to write a tale. See here to join in.

Reading Rochelle’s story about her grandfather led me to think about my own.

Horace Reuben Ayres was born in the East End of London within the sound of Bow Bells, making him a true Cockney. He was by all accounts a bit of a rogue.

He did run a grocer’s and work at Heathrow Airport later in life, but early on he was somehow involved in the boxing world (he was said to know the Kray twins, but everyone in the East End involved in boxing would have known them, I’m sure) and supposedly with gambling, illegal outside of racecourses in those days.

He went by a couple of different names – most people called him Len, though my mum doesn’t know why. My grandmother said he was born to a Jewish family, though if he was he was lapsed by the time Mum was born.

Despite searching, no one has ever found a birth certificate or a record of his birth, so we don’t know exactly how old he was and yes, the police did come to the house for him one day. He was in a reserved occupation during the war and left without permission which was a criminal offence. He apparently legged it out the back door while the police came in the front.

I wish I’d known him. He skirted the edges of the law but my mother adored him.

38 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: Searching for Len

  1. Dear Lynn,

    Your grandfather sounds like a colorful character by any name. As always I love the details in your story and the last line leaves me wanting to to know more…ever so much more. 😉 Well done.

    Shalom and Happy New Year,



    1. Thank you, Rochelle. There’s an awful lot none of us will ever be certain about concerning Len, but I know my mother still misses him, so he can’t have been all bad. Thank you Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cliffhanger! Now I want to hear the tale of granddad and the police! I love the little details in all your stories. In this one, it’s your mum deeming stuff to be ‘tat’. I can just hear the dismissive tones in which such a designation would be made!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your grandpa sounds a bit of a character, and clearly so loved by the family. Odd, how our grandparents have stories worth the telling, yet so often we do not.


  4. I wondered how you’d fit the menorah into your tale, and following our recent discussion about Jane Eyre I enjoyed these details about your grandfather. A beautifully beguiling tale, succinctly told.


    1. Thank you, Chris. I feel sorry I didn’t meet him, but all I had growing up were grandmothers, step grandmothers, adoptive grandmothers, loads of bossy old ladies and not a single grandad! Thanks so much for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How very true, Linda! Nowt so queer as folk, as they used to say in Northern England. People are definitely an odd bunch. Thanks so much for reading


  5. I learned some interesting things by following your links. Your grandpa sounds like an extremely interesting individual who could have told you so many adventurous stories. I enjoyed your fictional account based on non-fiction as well, Lynn.


  6. That was wonderful and you left us hanging!
    I love the stories that we keep asking about when we are younger and each time a little bit extra gets added in.


    1. Thank you Dale. Yes, we know our grandparents for being a bit doddery, dozing in front of the TV, but we don’t we don’t realise when we’re young, they were young rascals themselves once. Thanks very much for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Its so enjoyable to hear this snippet of your family history. I could imagine being there with you and your mum sorting the tat out, hearing tantalizing fragments about Len.


    1. Thank you so much. To be honest, I’ve learned about Len through snippets over decades, not in one cleaning out stint. But despite never meeting him, he remains and intriguing character in my family. Thanks so much for reading Francine


  8. It looks like your mum has many intriguing stories to tell. Your grandfather must have been an amazing character. Partly frightening, partly endearing, I bet. Lovely story.


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