|Grandma and Mum, enjoying a picnic in the early 1960's. Notice the tea pot!|
When I was in my early twenties I inherited Grandma's car. It was perfect in every way but for two things: the driver's headrest was sticky with hairspray (no amount of scrubbing ever really removed it) and there was a cigarette burn in the back seat from a time when she'd once tried to flick her cigarette butt out of the window but it blew back in.
She would apply lipstick and adjust her scarf before leaving the house and took tremendous pride in her appearance. Her dressing table (a huge, three mirrored affair) was a source of endless fascination to me as a child, as was the drawer containing what seemed to be hundreds and hundreds of bottles of nail varnish. She had her hair done weekly in immovable curls (think more like The Queen than a blue rinse). She kept a small can of Elnett hairspray in the glove compartment of her car, for emergencies. As a young woman she belonged to the Women's League of Healthy and Beauty and had one of those fabulous 1950's figures, all pointed boobs and tiny waist.
She smoked, the only person in my family who did so. She blamed her addiction on the war; she grew up in London and was sixteen when war broke out. She said everyone started to smoke during the blitz, it was just what you did. She was very fond of a gin and tonic, it was her tipple of choice. Her fridge always smelt of lemon as she kept cut wedges in the fridge at all times, ready for a drink. If I keep a cut lemon in the fridge, when I open the door, that smell takes me straight back to her kitchen.
We often went to my Grandparent's house for Sunday lunch or to stay the night. Their home was large and full of Narnia wardrobes and excellent hiding places. She loathed cooking, but loved having us round. There is a particular smell I can recall with total clarity, a mixture of roast dinner, perfume and cigarettes that would envelop me with her hug when she opened the front door, saying "Darlings!" Lunch would always be followed by a walk, straight out of the gate at the bottom of their garden into the fields, then back to their house for a Sunday tea of sandwiches and ginger cake with the Antiques Roadshow on the television in the background. My sisters and I used to giggle over what we called her "Duchess voice" - she was very well spoken but would always put on a more exaggerated tone when she answered the phone or spoke to others outside the family.
She, and my Grandpa, had such abundant and indulgent love for my sisters and I, their only grandchildren. We felt cherished and special with them. They were cherished and special to us.
|Matching Knitwear: My Grandparents and me as a baby.|