Wednesday, November 4, 2015

a fawlty assumption


This one didn't work out quite the way I'd hoped but it's enough to give a general idea of the time I went up north (north being the little village of Eastgate in Co. Durham) to visit my grandmother. I'd been in England, living on my own in London, for a couple of months by then and a visit was already overdue. What was I? 18 or 19, perhaps? Goodness knows, I thought I was about as grown up and sophisticated as a girl could be. My grandmother was probably 80 or maybe a bit older by the time I arrived on her doorstep - the first we'd seen of each other since 1958 when my mother and I had spent 3 months traveling the country visiting family. Naturally we'd been in Eastgate a lot. My granddad had died two years before so she was on her own in the two storey cottage they'd shared in retirement.

So there I was back with my grandmother for what I'd imagined would be a relaxing few days of quiet teas, long walks, and early bedtimes that would let me unwind from my busy life in the south country. What happened instead is that I'd hardly got in the door that evening before she put on her fur collar and her sparkly earrings, refreshed her lipstick and perfume, and hustled me out the door and around the corner to the local pub. My grandparents had been publicans among their many occupations over the years and had always been well loved in the area. So, unsurprisingly, just about everybody from the village and roundabout was there waiting for us to arrive, including the village bobby.

Now I never was much of a drinker, but people were buying rounds for my grandmother and me and the only way she was going to get another glass of blackcurrant brandy was when I'd finished what was in my glass. Nanna enjoyed her drink as much as a good joke and there were plenty of both going around the tables that evening. As it got later I comforted myself with the knowledge that soon the landlord would call 'Time!' and everybody would finish their drinks and go home. I'd had a very long train ride and a bus trip to follow so I was tired to say the least. Finally I heard the little bell ring and the landlord's call for last drinks. The policeman left. Five minutes later he was back wearing his comfortable clothes and the party continued for three more hours.

I could tell you some stories about some of my grandmother's exploits but it's late now and I should go to bed. I'm not the woman my nanna was. :)

39 comments:

clairesgarden said...

i think we sometimes forget our ''oldies'' had a life and careers and adventures before we ever came along. your gran sounds like an awesome lady.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
I really love the picture not because of the artwork but because it told me a story. Without reading your script to follow I thought ……………Goodness me! That looks like scene of yesteryear in an English pub, with an older guy from a different era! It reminded me of the English pub scene and sipping a few ales. So there you are!! - A picture tells a thousand words, just as your narrative is as I imagined it to assume you must have had a strong connection.
It also brings back nostalgic memories of past visits to the UK and the ever so friendly village pubs that seems to have survived the modern era.
The picture is actually terrific !!

Best wishes

Andrew R. Scott said...

Ha ha. Although just the words "blackcurrant brandy" made me feel queasy.

Tom said...

This opened a window on your life that I have not peered through before. Thank you for that. (I particularly liked, "The policeman left. Five minutes later he was back wearing his comfortable clothes [i.e. no uniform?] and the party continued for three more hours.)

marja-leena said...

Wonderful story, something to pass on to next generations. I love the other comments. And your drawing is clearly a "Susan"!

Sean Jeating said...

Magnificent sketch (if that's the proper word), and a lovely memory to go with. You made me smile.

susan said...

Absolutely, Claire, as I'm sure you know from stories about your own family.

susan said...

Pictures that already tell stories are still the best, aren't they, Lindsay? Yes, I also have some good memories of times spent laughing, joking and listening (and telling) interesting stories in good company.
I'm delighted to know it sparked some pleasant memories for you too.
All the best

susan said...

I take it you're a single malt man, Andrew.

susan said...

Hi Tom. Yes, early on I I did write (and illustrate) a few stories about the years of my youth that were spent away from Canada. I've always meant to go back and do a few more and this is a result. The bobby did indeed return wearing his street clothes rather than the uniform.

susan said...

I'm happy you liked it, Marja-Leena. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to adding more - there are always more, aren't there? I'm happy with the characters in this one and just a bit sorry I didn't spend more time adding detail.

susan said...

Yep, it's a sketch all right, Sean. I neglected to mention the bit where my grandmother tried to urge me to go home with one of the farmers. He wasn't my type :)

Sean Jeating said...

:)
Was it the year that Churchill had died?

susan said...

Now that you've mentioned it.. yes, but later that year.

Andrew R. Scott said...

Actually more of a blended whisky with soda, cider, real ale, burgundy man (but not all in the same glass or even one after the other). Brandy is ok too, but brandy and blackcurrant? I think not. But then I am a Mana not a Nanna

Sean Jeating said...

Well, so by a hair we would have met. :)
Around Easter I was in London for three weeks.
Little Sean would not have drunk blackcurrant brandy at that time, though. :)
But like you I do have many memories.

Andrew R. Scott said...

Going home with one of the farmers is rarely a good idea I reckon (although to be fair I have never tried it).

Andrew R. Scott said...

And little Andrew was 9, and yet to taste much of what life has to offer.

Sean Jeating said...

Blended?! With soda?!?! Andrew, Andrew, ts, ts, ts . . .

Sean Jeating said...

Blended Whisky with soda and real ale, eh? LoL.
Before moving to my last dwelling I'd like to spend a wee time with you.

By the way, my friend. What about re-opening your comment-box?

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say that you need a change,
a pint of plain is your only man.

Should Fish More said...

I remember as a beardless boy listening with my cousins in the evenings as our dads and uncles discussed life on the porch, passing around a jar of amber liquid. Learned a lot, and now identifying with those geezers of long ago.
Great story, Susan.
Cheers,
Mike

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

My son is the malt man. He has bottles worth hundreds of pounds. I am cut from rougher cloth (although he has said he will crack open a fine bottle of old malt with me at Winter Solstice time).

(Oh, just noticed I am back to Andrew Mac-Scott now. Never mind. I'll be Don QuiScottie next, perhaps :)

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

I think my comment box will remain shut, dear Sean; but if I ever make it to your part of the world again my wallet will open for us in a tavern. QuiScottie and Seanso in the Tavern... it could start a new book.

Sean Jeating said...

Ha! Don QuiScottie and Seanso in the Tavern. Now, that would be an excellent start for a book; perhaps even for two – Don QuiScottie's version and Seanso Pansa`s. And now imagine us sitting in a Tavern that once has been a windmill . . .

Sean Jeating said...

The colon was a typo, obviously.

I remember the masculine fruit of your looms working either in CERN or somewhere below Italy. We should really allow him to invite us, and not only at Winter Solstice.

"I am cut from rougher cloth". An idiom, obviously. And one I never heard. Would you, please, explain?

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Well a suit of clothing can be cut (ie made) from rough cheap cloth or fine, expensive and refined cloth. I, as a metaphorical suit of clothes, have been cut from rougher cloth than my son, even though he is the fruit of my loins, metaphorically, but then the fair Lady Dulcinia QuiScottie must have contributed some of her finer genes, or cloth, or fruit, to him... I am getting in a metaphorical muddle now. I need a drink. My son did indeed work under a mountain in Italy doing research in particle physics but currenty he has found employment on technical things in Cheltenham, England (Hmm?)... and if we could persuade him to open up his large whisky safe for us - yes he has a whisky safe - I am sure we would have a very fine evening (or you and I would have, but him less so, perhaps obviously). Cheers.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

:))

Sean Jeating said...

Thank you for explaining the idiom, Andrew.
And for your politeness, for not writing: It's about loins, not looms, stupid. :)
Now all we need is the key for that safe.
Cheltenham?! GHCQ?
Nah. Not the son of DonQuiScottie. Obviously.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Actually nothing is quite as obvious as it may seem, but all things are connected, obviously. The three of us can discuss it all over his expensive whisky. (With apologies to our host for taking over her blog with our speakings in circuitous code).

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

And it is not a key, it is a number, and I know the number, and you know me... Let us meet up in Cheltenham then. It is an interesting place. Goodnight.

Sean Jeating said...

Optimist that I (sometimes) am, I am convinced, Lady S. (and her grandmother!) would not mind us being a tiny bit loquacious. The more in case she an Crow got invited to join the very discussion. Which herewith is done.

Sean Jeating said...

The peace of the night.

susan said...

No trouble at all in hosting a conversation. In fact, it reminded me of being at the pub :) I'm sure my friend Crow will be most delighted to partake of a single malt whisky collection. Is he to bring his special fruitcake with the marzipan and royal icing?

susan said...

Will you tell jokes? Here's one: 'I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again.'

susan said...

Yep, being a good listener provided more information that questions ever did. Glad you liked it, Mike. Welcome back!

Andrew R. Scott said...

I think I am the big fruitcake but he could bring another one. (Will I now have to explain the fruitcake idiom to Sean?)

Andrew R. Scott said...

Ha ha.

Jokes and drinks and friends in the tavern. Nothing better.

susan said...

The thing I like most about fruitcake is continual surprise - and you never know when you might get the silver prize.

L'Adelaide said...

Nanna sounds like a lovely woman, much like you, but perhaps a bit more gregarious. ;)