We are living in a post apocalyptic state, something akin to the Hunger Games, in a house with no heating. Yesterday, with a rather sore head and sides, I spent more time than usual in an arm chair, next to the coal and wood fire, burning the old piano rather like Billy Elliott's dad had to during their apocalypse (AKA the Thatcher years).
Last night the girls slept in the same bed with one electric radiator keeping their room warm. I slept with the electric clothes airer. Which is a line usually only found in those rather cheap Sunday papers. This 1970s style of life has been inflicted upon us by the chilly northern wind of late, and serves me right for being smug and not turning the heating on earlier, as we may have then found out it was broken before we needed it. We do have something called an immersion heater, I had no idea we did but apparently in 2004 when our gas system was cranked up the plumber suggested it was a good idea. I now agree with him. Immersion heaters are somehow a object of the past, known in my world only in how they belong to my parents and mother in law, and back in the day, my granny. She has a great airing cupboard in her flat, with a really interesting shaped lock opening thingy (clasp?). She used to 'put the immersion on' and I had no idea what that involved. Still don't.
My granny's flat was great for playing hide and seek with my brother and cousins. We used to hide on the balcony (which was maybe a couple of feet wide and 6 feet long. A challenge to hide on. My cousin tried to hide my brother in the oven. There was a food cupboard for hiding, a big bath, the airing cupboard, her bedroom wardrobe (don't lock it!) two big double beds in the spare room, and a cot (it was like a dormitory in there - my cousins' whole family could sleep in there and there were 6 of them - and a dog. And in the big lounge, a kind of put you up bed you could hide behind, plus arm chairs and sofas to hide behind. It was a modest 2 bedroom council flat but the way I describe it you probably have IKEA in mind.
Other good things about my granny were: in no particular order:
her generosity with sugar in tea
her generosity with cake, all Mr Kipling's finest
her generosity with time, life and fun
her child centredness, always happy to play
her sense of humour and of joining in
her complete love for all 6 of her grandchildren
her card games and horse betting
Tomorrow is her birthday. She would have been 114 so probably best she left this earth a while back as the world gets too full if everyone lives to 114. She would have been 100 when H was born. H today is the age that she was when she was living and working in a big house in London, as a betweensmaid I believe. That was 1915, in London, a 14 year old girl from Lingfield near Haywards Heath, living and working in Egerton Gardens. A couple of years back H and I went and found the house. Which is now converted to flats. But seeing that door and that stone step which she scrubbed was powerful and meaningful. We didn't need to go inside.
The possibilities and opportunities available to my daughter, born 100 years on, are inconceivably vast compared to those open to a country girl born in 1901 into a large working class family. The freedoms H has to choose her own way of life and to be able to achieve are so much greater. We are not there yet. Still some way to go to reach equality of freedom and opportunity for women, but we keep chipping away.
My mum has virtually the same qualities as my granny, as a granny to my girls. She only has 5 grandchildren, mind. I hope I have grandchildren and that list lives on for them too. It is a good list of noble qualities, especially the generosity of cake. I am not so good at that yet. Will work on it. I think I am doing ok on the other things.
Happy birthday. A Mr Kipling cake is well deserved and best shared.
In other news, interested today to hear the amazing news from Sep Blatter (is that really his name) that he has seen the devil and the angels singing, and that the angels singing won over the devil, so far as I can make out, and he came back to this earth after this near death experience. I believe in angels ( and Abba) and I guess I believe in the spirit of evil, not sure he is personified with red eyes and a pitchfork, and not entirely sure he pops up along with the angels singing in some kind of karaoke contest, but who am I to argue with something about which I know nothing? OK, OK, doesn't usually stop me. So top marks to Sep or whatever he is called for detracting from people nosing around in his bank account by distracting with talk of angels and demons. Top job, he should be in marketing!
Good to be back for you Barrs, tell your friends I am still here, the original blogger since 2006.