Tomorrow would have been my Gran’s 89th birthday. I always have the feeling that my grandparents all died too young, even though they all lived to be between 74 and 83. And I guess that nowadays, those are not such great ages, even though when they were born that was around the average life expectancy.
Gran really was your stereotypical English grandmother – overweight, permed hair, always thrilled to see you. She was always the grandparent that you wanted to see if you were ill, or had had an accident. I remember her rushing to visit when I broke my arm (see here), even though she couldn’t drive (she failed her test three times, the last one for ‘passing too close to a stationary vehicle) and had to come by train, and despite having to make sure that she left enough frozen plated meals for Grandad before she did so.
Gran was very much a woman of routine. After breakfast – which for her was never anything more than a cup of tea and a read of The Sun – she would wash up and prepare the vegetables for lunch. Then she would amble to the local shops for whatever provisions she needed that day. On returning, she would sit down for a cup of coffee and exactly two biscuits, whilst doing the crossword. Then it would be back into the kitchen to prepare lunch, a proper cooked meal that had to be on the table – cooked or not – for 1pm when Grandad came home from work.
After lunch there was time for another cup of tea before Grandad went back to work and she got on with whatever other chores needed doing that day. She would stop for a cup of tea around 3.30pm but tea would always be ready for 5pm.
The routine rarely varied for six days of the week. There was a slight difference on a Saturday, because Grandad wouldn’t go back to work after lunch, and tea usually had something warm with it, maybe sausages or fish fingers.
This has had two knock on effects upon my life. The first is that, for many years, I couldn’t drink coffee in the afternoon. It just didn’t taste right. And the second is that I don’t mind going shopping for food every day, even if I rarely get to sit down with a cup of milky coffee and two biscuits afterwards.