I am reading my Book Club book 'My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle' again. It is magical and I want to enjoy it all over again. Each chapter makes me want to recall an episode in my own life - so today's post from me is about Grandpas and Grandmas. Marcel Pagnol in his book speaks of his Grandpa - of his being 'small, broad-shouldered and sturdy with long white locks and a curly beard' - and 'black eyes that glowed like ripe olives' . Can't you just picture him from that description?
My maternal grandma died long before I was born (my parents were in their forties when I was born and to say my birth was a surprise is an understatement)but I remember my maternal Grandpa very well indeed. He lived to a ripe old age. William Everton was a tall, handsome man with a shock of grey hair and a 'fashionable' moustache. He lived with his youngest son in a beautiful house which belonged to his daughter in law ( my uncle married a spinster 'with money') and he really had a grand old time. He always kept a bag of mint imperials in his jacket pocket because he could suck one to disguise the fact that he had been in the pub and 'consumed liquor'. My aunt looked after his money and doled it out in small amounts - just enough each day for him to have a modest drink. Enough for William - all he needed was what he called 'a sneck-lifter' for he could easily be persuaded to sing for the price of another pint. His favourite song was 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' and after a few he could also be persuaded to dance on the table while he sang it. I adored him and his stories - usually about the poaching he had done as a young man and how he had always managed to avoid being caught. We went to tea every other Su nday (delicious teas all home made by Auntie Jessie) - I would go round the garden with Grandpa and on fine evenings we would sit under a huge Bramley apple tree and he would tell his stories. My parents would be stuck inside playing tiddley winks (my aunts favourite game) and finally singing hymns round the piano played by my uncle who never mastered the skill of playing both hands at the same time so the bass always came a split second after the treble.
My paternal grand parents home could not have been more different. My grandfather had woken up one morning to hear his wife pulling up the blind and had asked her why she was doing so when it was still dark - she had replied that the sun was shining and he realised that overnight he had gone blind. He never saw again but lived quite a few years. On the Sunday we didn't go to my 'mint imperial' grandpa, where I could slip my hand in his pocket for a sweet when ever I wanted we went to see Grandpa Smith son. He had been a methodist lay preacher all his life. I had to sit quietly on his knee and read to him from a book 'Childrens' Stories from the Bible' - he checked my reading progress and, as he knew all the stories off by heart I had to read every word. Then he would question me on it -the only thing that kept me going was the delicious tea I knew would be available at the end of the ordeal. My grandmother ruled the household. She had been born in the 1880's and still wore long skirts and blouses - they always seemed to be tan and white striped ones. She had a chatelaine at her waist and was 'in charge'. They had four spinster daughters (we are speaking of twenty years after the first world war - many young women never married after that) and they all gave her their wages (2 tailoresses, 1 milliner and 1 who stayed at home and did all the housework (I adored her). Aunty Pat (yes I was called after her and also after my grandmother who was called Martha - but Patty was a diminutive) had done all the cooking for the tea and it was carefully scrutinised (and criticised by Grandma before we sat down to eat it).
Such a long time ago - but memories last. In fact the older I get the more I remember about those times long ago. I hope you have enjoyed my journey into the far distant past.