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.