After yesterday’s mini breakdown I went to bed wondering whether I’d ever be able to get up again. When I woke up this morning therefore with no need for an alarm and feeling fairly fine I was a little surprised but pleasantly so. Today you see is my Grandmother’s birthday and though crying on one’s own birthday is fairly acceptable I would be a bit of a spoilsport if I was to cry on hers.
Had I been in more of a rush, her and I would have been born on the same day, I was delivered at 1am on May 13. There are rumours my father passed my mother a message from my grandma, at home looking after my two sisters, to try to hurry up but they are unconfirmed as yet.
One of my earliest memories of my grandma is baking cakes with her in the kitchen. She won prizes for her baking when she was a member of the Women’s Institute and still today she makes wonderful cakes and puddings much to the sweet toothed giants delight. I had always been allowed to lick the spoon but on this particular day there had been a health warning issued about the dangers of salmonella and my grandma was not taking any risks. She put the spoon on the side ready to be washed but as she turned around to put the cakes in the oven I reached up and snatching the spoon from the side ran upstairs to hide behind the wardrobe where I triumphantly licked off the remains of the mixture.
During the war my grandma lived in Coventry where she worked in a factory. She had three children, Margaret, Gilbert and Ian. When my father met my mother he told her his name was Paul. He was rumbled however when my mother rang his house to speak with him and was told by my grandma that there was a Gil but no Paul living there.
Until a few years ago she was still driving and did not only cut her own lawn but her neighbours lawn too. Though she struggles with arthritis she continues to knit blankets for anyone we know who is expecting a baby and crochets the sweetest little mats and crosses which are perfect for bookmarks even though she tells my mum they are to be distributed at her funeral.
We have taken her away to ski in the past and though she was not on the slopes she feels the cold as badly as me and bought herself an all in one red ski suit which clashed brilliantly with her white hair and meant we could always see her from the top of the lift. She is as big a cheat when it comes to board games as I am and while playing Scrabble on the skiing holiday she attempted to cheat a number of times including one occasion when she insisted gitesex was a word. She had put down git herself which had left us all in hysterics.
On her 80 birthday we brought her to The Grand in Brighton and though my parents had been planning to take her away for her 90 in the end she preferred to go out for lunch with us all. We took her out to The Three Swans in Harborough today and she wore a beautiful blue pussy bow blouse. As well as following the football I can still speak politics with her and she is great company. The other day I had to turn down a 90-year-old man who wanted me to do a write up about his wife’s birthday. I felt dreadful because we do not cover 90 birthdays any more. I think my grandma would enjoy seeing her name in print so the next time I see her I am going to give her a mini interview so I can tell her story through her own eyes rather than mine.
I know her as my grandma. As the woman who rocked me back and forth in a washing basket, who made us all jumpers with our initials on and who would bake us jam tarts and a chocolate coated cake with buttons. I know her as the woman who once chased off some bullies on bikes who were being mean to me and the one who basted butter on my forehead when I bumped it whilst running around with my sisters. She would give us toffees and cakes while my parents were looking the other way and still repairs cardigans and sows on buttons for all of us. I do not want her story to be of only these things, I also want to know her and write her as a worker, a mother and a woman.
- Today’s dress is from the mysterious dress donor, they arrived last week with a new cryptic message included addressed to an even stranger name. The donor asked whether I would mind putting on a bit more weight as it is difficult to find dresses in my size. This one is originally from Next and feels lovely. I felt it was dressy enough for The Three Swans but was annoyed because my epilator is yet to arrive still and so I had to wear horrid tights.
Last night when having dinner with friends we got on to the topic of the boy to discuss my boyfriend, who was also at the meal. I have never been a fan of the term partner, it just seems a little too grown up and ambiguous. Alternatively to refer to him as my boyfriend feels too personal for me and he has said from the start he does not want me using his name for similar reasons. And so I settled on the boy when I started the blog because to me at least it sounded cute and similar to “the one” which if I believed in all that rubbish, I might say he was but I don’t so it just sounds cute and nice.
I am surprised I admit by the amount of male backlash to the term, girls seem to understand it is used affectionately, but male friends and readers, whether seriously or just to play the devils advocate, TE you know who you are, suggest they view it as a derogatory label and one reader even suggested he gave up on the posts because one of them “went all feminist”. A lot of them have a problem with the term because they think it suggests I see him as below me as being under the thumb. They also support their argument with historical about to times gone by when slaves were called boy by the masters in the plantations of the American deep south, which upsets me as I have studied the history and literature of the time and it is a rather upsetting comparison. I had never considered any of these issues so I guess I wanted to know whether any of you my lovely readers have an opinion on whether the boy should be no more. I have come up with several other terms including: The Drummer, GP, Mi-guy, C-dawg (his not mine I assure you) but am open to suggestions and your thoughts. Until I get any particularly strong reaction however I will be sticking with the boy, as both myself and my guy are happy with that and as everyone knows there are only two people who ever know what really goes on in a relationship so if those two are happy it really has no bearing whatever anyone else thinks, unless you are in an open relationship or have a lot of threesome of course.
The dress I am wearing today is from John Rocha, my mother got it for me last year in the Debenham’s sale, and though I first put it to the back of my wardrobe with little thought I have really warmed to it. I wore it to death during my journalism course in Manchester as in a city where rain is the natural forecast it is lovely and bright and the burnt oranges mean you can get away with wearing it in winter and throughout the year. It is one of those dresses which makes one feel feminine and free simultaneously. The colours on it and the pattern is fabulous and the unusual length makes it rather lady-like whilst preventing it getting covered in the tar which coats the jeans and hemlines of every pedestrian in the city. Usually I love wearing it with flip-flops in the summer and patterned black tights and ankle boots in the winter, today though I had only slouchy boots, green shoes or pink tights so I spent most of the day looking like I had an unfortunate affair with the easter bunny and telly tubbies combined.
My greatest memory of wearing this dress was one wonderful day in March last year, which I think will always rate highly in my top hundred memories of all time. Myself and some of my closest friends from my NCTJ course had decided to take a trip to the countryside bringing with us every newspaper on the stand, a couple of blankets and wearing ridiculously unsuitable gear. We took my little red lupo Freddie which was a fabulous car which could usually zip past a Porsche in seconds but with the weight of five people and the press struggled to make the speed limit. Freddie, named so because he looked like a little frog with his cute eyes and ribbit mouth was my first car and though I was devestated when my brother sold it late last year I would not have been here writing this now had I crashed whilst driving the little red one. He may have been zippy but he was nowhere near as boxy as Foxy and could well have crumpled by the third spin.
We went to Lyme Park on the outskirts of Manchester and spent the day walking, frolicking and lazing in the grass reading the papers. One of my friends had a camera and the photos from the day are spectacular and really show how well we were feeling. it was at the beginning of the course and we all felt so full of possibility and delight at finally following our dreams and having met such good friends along the way. We were also joined by one of the girl’s boyfriends; they were in the first flushes of love and I think myself, the other girl and the other guy took pleasure in watching them together as they were so cute and couldn’t keep their hands off each other – play-fighting and cuddling all the day.
The best part of our day was when whilst walking we came across a lake, or possibly it was a reservoir hidden from view by a strong stone wall and some tricky looking barbed wire. Me and my friends climbed over, stripped down to our underwear and went for what was the shortest swim of my life. The water was gorgeous, so clear and ice-cold. It was the kind of experience which shocks all of your senses into acknowledging the beauty and splendour of the world in which we live; even if we had to leave the city to remind ourselves of the beauty of our county. Heading back to the car after I wrapped the dress round me and pulled on a warm cashmere polo-neck thankful to be alive and to have such fantastic friends but shivering nevertheless.