Peter Devenney Shields (1932 - 2011)

On Friday the 3rd June, my father's father, my grandfather, Peter Devenney Shields passed away.  He was 79 years old, having been born on the 4th April 1932

I had thought long and hard about what I wanted to write as a post here but I found it hard to come up with the right words that would honour the man in his life in the correct way.  Not because I couldn't think of them, but I just couldn't grasp what an important man he had been in my life, and in my family. I decided that I would write what I felt, what I remembered.

There is one thing though that strikes me as incredible about the man, and that is his life.  Being born in 1932, he lived before the second world war, living through the war as a child, and then having to live through the terrible slum conditions of Glasgow that was left in wake of the bombings and war effort.  He later worked as an electrician for the great Glaswegian business empire of Shipbuilding - something that I am extremely proud to have had family connections in.  He once, when I was very young, took me on an open day to a ship that had recently been built on the Clyde.  I remember vague, blurred, clouded memories of finding the ship small, tight, and grey, but there's a memory there.

I also have memories of going to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery with him, going to see a movie in the ABC cinema with him as a child, and also the attempt to go and see Armageddon at the old Muirend Cinema and getting to the trailers before the projector broke.  I remember his old car, a Ford Orion, and his later car, a Nissan Bluebird.  I am not sure if he had beaded seat covers, but I remember and link them to his car.

I remember the black drink he used gulp down at Christmases - it was in a black can, and then a red can.  The two drinks were Guiness and McEwan's Export, two drinks that for the rest of my life will always make me smile as I think of the man who drank them for as long as I can remember there being a drink called beer.

In recent years though, a strange thing had happened - at the age of 79, he was active on the Internet.  When he grew up, in 1932, the BBC television channel didn't exist.  It came into being in 1936, when he was aged 4.  At his death, I could have video chatted with him on the other side of the world (indeed, if I had been in space, we could've video chatted from low earth orbit).  He had a Facebook page, replied to emails (albeit putting full messages in the subject) and played online computer games with his friends.  He had made a remarkable attempt to keep up to date and despite he inexplicably breaking his Windows computer almost on a monthly basis, he was tech-savvy.  And it amazes me.

He grew up during the telehone becoming household, the TV becoming the world medium, colour TV, the Cold War, the advent of the Hippy Movement.  He lived through the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Punk, Prog Rock, Metal, and later, Hip Hop.  He grew up in the most incredibly tumultuous century our civilsation has ever known, and lived over into another century.  He lived such an incredible life during such an incredible time.

But that's not the most important thing; not by a long shot.  The man, from a large family, met a woman, Marion Kavanagh, from a similarly big family, and they fell in love.  They married, in 1958 and gave birth to my father in 1959.  He raised my father in the way that he knew, and my father later fell in love with a woman, my mother, and later, in 1985, I appeared, his first grandson.  In 2010, his two eldest grandchildren would move away to America and Germany after one of them graduating from University, the other in the middle of her studies, and he would remark to my father that he couldn't believe that was possible.  An electrician by trade, later a taxi driver, who had been born in Anderston and later grew up in Yoker, was a rich man in love and life.  Under his Glaswegian brogue and stern opinions, he was a romantic: in an incredible moment, my father and my uncle uncovered cards from his 50th Wedding Anniversary in the most interesting of places -  in The Briefcase, where he kept everything important to him: bank details, shares, financial details.  And my gran had no idea they were there.

My children will know about my grandfather, and that's the most important thing I can give him.