Rat Bags and Easter

Feeling a little homesick now, which is very rare – I left my ‘home town’ 20 years ago, and London is truly ‘home’ now and has been for pretty much all of that time, but sometimes there’s a trigger that makes my heart ache a little and miss the place where I grew up. My paternal grandmother turned 87 today (well, my grandmothers are the same age, my maternal one’s birthday is in six months from now) and I just spoke to her. It’s easy to see where my father got his quick wit and sense of humour from – spent most part of our ten-minute conversation giggling.

She hasn’t changed. Not one bit. Still lives in her flat and is independent, spends her days going out shopping or for walks or seeing friends. Her voice is a little tremulous, due to the condition I also have (via Dad, who also has it) – Essential Tremor – and physically she does shake, but aside from being part of the Shaky Crew, you’d never guess she’s 87. She’s sharp as a dagger and her jokes are all but PC, another reason why I bloody adore this woman – she always makes me laugh and it’s funnier when un-PC jokes come from a little old lady. And I don’t just mean laugh as in oh-that’s-cute and giggle a little, but as in hearty, side-splitting laughter.

My maternal grandmother is the same – not as inclined to make dirty jokes perhaps (well, not at all actually), but every bit as likely to leave me smiling any time I speak to her. True reflections of my parents I guess – Dad all loud, witty and gregarious, Mum gentle and sweet, their mothers just like them. What I can say, in any case, is that I am fiercely proud of my grandmothers, both amazing women.

So are they all turning up to celebrate you?” I asked.

Oh yes, they’ll be here for 5.30, and just the idea of O [Dad] is exhausting, he’s so hectic, I already feel like scolding him,” she giggled, “I told them not to bother with an old crone but they have nothing better to do.

Don’t be daft, enjoy it!

I’ll try to get rid of them quickly so I can have some peace. Perhaps I’ll go out on the town, what do you think? I haven’t been on a proper date since September 1947.

Grandma! That’s not right! Don’t say things like that!” I shrieked, and was met with a hearty cackle of her signature laughter.

Well what would you do, going sideways around the flat all day? I’m bored!

Sideways? Eh?

More hearty cackle.

Then on to this person who has knocked me one peg further down the pecking order from when Monkey came along and I had to assume a second place, now firmly I’m in third behind Monkey and B. Or Bengan, rather.

How’s Bengan?” she asked, using B’s Swedish nickname partly because his name is hard for the older generations who aren’t so great at English to pronounce, “I’m so glad it all worked out so well, he seems like a good’un.

Yep, all good, he’s away, but everything’s great, he’s working hard to learn Swedish.

You can tell he’s kind,” my grandmother said, with her usual humour for once subdued and now being serious, “I’m very happy and I know he was worth waiting for. O keeps telling me you found the right one in the end so I sleep well at night now, after all you went through. Bengan seems very calm and nice.

Damn straight.

Don’t swear, you rat bag!” she exclaimed, then the cackling laugh again, “just like your Dad! Need a good hiding!

Hopefully we can engineer a little Sweden trip over Easter.


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