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. :)