“he knew how to be with children”

Jimmy Mizen

IN 2013, MARGARET MIZEN AND WRITER JUSTIN BUTCHER PUBLISHED JIMMY: A LEGACY OF PEACE. IN THIS SECOND EXCERPT, MARGARET TALKS ABOUT JIMMY’S HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ATTITUDE.

If anything needed to be done at home, Jimmy would do it, from a young age. He was very good at mending things and painting things. He’d fix a broken chair for me and revarnish it, or go round to our elderly next-door neighbour, Kathleen, and cut her grass for her and have a chat, and she’d always offer him money, and he’d always refuse it.

His interests tended to skip from one thing to another. Danny plays rugby for Sidcup, so Jimmy growing up wanted to play as well. Of course he wanted all the gear, the boots and everything, and then he’d lose interest! It was the same with fishing: we’d got him the rod and the fishing tackle, but you couldn’t get him to stick with one thing. He used to have a laugh going fishing with Joanne’s boyfriend, Andy. On one trip, Jimmy sat on a box of maggots in the car and they went everywhere, and within a couple of days Joanne’s car was full of great big bluebottles!

He had an impulsive nature, a happy-go-lucky quality, ambling along and taking an interest in just about everything he came across, but it could be frustrating sometimes. You’d be sitting in the kitchen talking about something, and Jimmy would come in and join in the conversation halfway through – “What’s all that about, then?” and then divert it somewhere else. The next minute you’d be saying, “Oh Jim! I’ve completely lost my train of thought!”

He could talk to anybody. As he got older, he could talk to children; he’d be so kind to them. We have a friend of the family who took many, many years to have a baby, and Jimmy must have been about six or seven when their son was born. Jimmy used to go round there and play with him. He’d play with William all the time, because he knew how to be with young children. But he knew how to be with adults as well. He had great confidence in social situations.

You can buy a copy of Jimmy: A Legacy of Peace from publisher Lion Hudson here.

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