Wednesday, 10 October 2007


My Grandparents were complete opposites in socio-economic terms.
When my parents married in 1963, their wedding cost £4,000.
My Mum left a very run down,condemned council flat on the morning of her wedding and moved into the wing of my Dad's family home.
As a child it was quite novel to have such different grandparents. At one house we'd fight with our cousins for the battered biscuit tin, not wanting to be left with the crumbs. Tea was had in mugs and we'd always have chips for dinner.
At the other house we'd be served tea, while sitting very quietly in the lounge. Tea was poured from the tea pot into bone china cups and saucers, one never had biscuits with tea, let alone dream of dunking.
Both my grandmothers like being called Nanny, both extremely lovely, always knew what we liked and didn't and always had great gardens. One garden was very formal, perfectly manicured, the flowers were used for arrangements in Church and at WI. The other was packed with strawberries, cucumbers and runner beans (brilliant for hiding in).
I only had one Grandfather, he drove a Bentley and smoked fat cigars, he was a terrific Grandfather. In his office, he would let us twirl round and round in his huge leather chair and kept one of the drawers of his desk full of sweets and chocolate for when we called in to see him.
My Dad told us a story about his parents having a huge row on the doorstep of their enormous house when he was a little boy. My grandmother was stood in the doorway shouting at my grandfather and he was shouting back. My Dad, the youngest and smallest was hiding behind his mother with his two sisters. The row got more heated, the children joined in, one of them had the bright idea to throw the shoes in the hall at their father. My Dad said for years he had no idea what he'd done, but the row stopped fairly soon after that.
My Dad had been throwing shoes as hard as he could over his mothers' head at his father. There were plenty of shoes, with five of them in the house and he kept at it until the shouting stopped. Apparently he was too small to throw very high and each shoe hit my grandmother on the back of her head.
My father always hated his sisters, there would be wild fury in his eyes when ever their names were mentioned. When fairly small they dressed him in a pink tutu and hung him upside down out the upstairs window.
I think these things truly had an effect on his mercurial character later in life, in fact his sister said only a few weeks ago, that their mother had often commented that it might have been better to have dropped him after all...


Pig in the Kitchen said...

Some bittersweet memories, but lovely to have grandparents that you enjoyed...

Potty Mummy said...

What a wonderful image: your grandmother trying very hard to win an argument and being hit repeatedly on the back of her head with shoes...

Iota said...

Have you ever read Cold Comfort Farm? I think your husband's family would have fitted in well there.