Monday, April 14, 2008

Granny Annie

It was only in later life that I realised that Annie was a little potty. As a young child her slightly unconventional ways went over my head and straight to my heart. I loved my grandmother.

She was born in a place called Inner Hope and her family were a 'bunch of theivin' rascals', merchant seamen who made a career of dying early in unchartered waters. Inner Hope lacked any hopeful males so she moved away and married Stanley (whose family were never spoken about) and had four children. My mum was the youngest until Annie embarrassed the whole town by getting pregnant at 49. Maybe the madness set in then.

Apart from the weird hats she used to wear, Annie looked like anyone else's granny (twinset and pearls, two underskirts and a pair of long drawers). It was only when she opened her mouth that you got some inkling of the 40-a-day, card sharp that she was.
I loved staying with her, sleeping in an iron bedstead that hugged me all night and sitting with her on the spin drier to stop it walking around the kitchen by itself. I once helped her liberate some pigs from the field at the end of the garden but I never helped her bury the yappy dog from next door that had strangely died by flinging itself under a plant pot.

Her winter years were an excuse to wear her dressing gown in public and to help herself to mars bars from the shop down the road (my dad paid her chocolate bill every week). There are many stories about my grandmother that make me smile but 'Annie goes missing' is my favourite.
We arrived at her flat to find it empty. We could hear a radio blaring somewhere but she was nowhere to be found. After checking all the local shops in case she was on a thieving expedition we noticed that her bedroom window was open. At 85 she had climbed out onto the flat roof with her deck chair and was happily listening to music.
"The old biddies next door were making a noise so I came out here for some peace".
(It should be noted that the 'old biddies next door' were only in their sixties!)

Granny Annie definitely wore purple - I hope I shall do the same.



Roberta said...

I love this woman. I hope I will be here when I get to be her age, God willing.

Unknown said...

Do it in style and think younger than you are :)

Anonymous said...

Do you still like sitting on the spin drier?Dirty girl:-)

Unknown said...

She was a character, Roberta, and one that I hope I will emulate as well. Grandma Kate, hmmmm.....

I shall be very stylish, Cailleach, I am already collecting hats (no long drawers yet, though).

Best not answered, Monsoon!

Unknown said...

Long drawers-----Minx? Thoughts not answered Minx!

Poetry at mine, albeit not mine!

Leslie Hawes said...

I don't know.
She sounds like a no-nonsense pragmatist to me. Just everyone else was having a hard time keeping up with her...
And anyone with a sense of entitlement to chocolate can't be crazy!

Jon M said...

Sounds like the perfect role model Minx!
It's everyone's duty to be interesting as they get older, save the world from blandness!

Unknown said...

Penis poem, John G? Perhaps you need me long drawers!

Sometimes it is not too difficult to find where we get our influences from, Leslie.

I think it is everyone's duty to be interesting whatever their age, Jon. You can just get away with more when you are past your 'sell by' date.

Reading the Signs said...

Out of all the lovely details, the one about your dad paying the chocolate bill every week is probably my favourite. Looking at the photo, I'd never have guessed any of this.

Laura Jane Williams said...

I hope 'to wear purple' (eat eight piunds of sausages in one go etc. etc.) just like her when I grow up!


Unknown said...

Granny sounds a gas. And tell us more about Inner Hope!

Anonymous said...

My greatest fear in life is to be a boring old person. Working hard not to let THAT happen.

Unknown said...

Annie was a mistress of disguise as well, Signs.

When does this 'growing up' start' GWAM? Just wonderin'.

Annie was a gas in more than one way, V (nice to see you, btw). Hope is made up of Inner and Outer Hope and is tucked away on the south Devon coast just south of Dartmouth.

It won't happen, Kat, just avoid beige and granny sandals.

L.M.Noonan said...

What a marvellous story and how lucky are you.

Anonymous said...

Eccentric grannies are the best, aren't they.
One of mine was quite a card, too. She drank alot of wine & loved to tell stories about growing up on a Goat ranch in New Mexico. My mother said her stories were mostly lies.

The other one prided herself on being proper & always followed us around like we were going to break something.

Unknown said...

Yay, I was lucky, Noony, she was a special lady, nuts, but special. I shall not grow old gracefully either.

You probably were going to break something, HM, it's a kid's job.

Debi said...

A fitting granny for a minx. xxx

soubriquet said...

Given the references, for those who don't know it, here's the poem.
My mother, bless her, at 84, still gets involved making teas for 'the old folks' at her local church, she serves people, oblivious to the irony of them being twenty years younger than her.
Old is in the mind, she says.

Warning, by Jenny Joseph.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Marie said...

She sounds amazing.