Often I feel like the Princess in the story of the Princess and the Pea. On those occasions I seem to become more aware of everything that occurs around me … and it affects me more, making me feel small and trivial, silly and mundane, inadequate and confuggled. So I panic and cry, snap and shrug too much. And I become fixated on things which do matter and should matter, but I make them matter far too much. And this happens all too often in my little world.
However, other times I feel as though I don’t have a care in the world. It’s rare. But it happens.
It isn’t happening at the moment.
In fact, all that’s really happening at the moment is that my wisdom tooth is having its regualr annual occurrance of ouch-must-hurt-elsabeth-horrifically-for-a-few-days-whilst-i-try-to-push-through-the-gum. Grrr.
Warning … The following is lovingly entitled My Foolish Nana [and subtitled My Gosh, If That One Hadn’t Died And The Other One Had Gone to Switzerland Where Would I Be Now?] … It’s probably yawnifyingly boredom inducing for most of you … I apologise profusely … Forgive me.
I’m being contacted left, right and centre by people who are, or think they are, related to me. For months I hear nothing and suddenly everybody wants a piece of the [cunning] action. Sometimes it annoys me. I do all this work, researching online, to find my ancestors [and their occupations and where they lived and who their siblings were] and then someone pops up and like the fool I am I let them view my tree and they take all the names I’ve searched so painstakingly for. *Growls* – I’m selfish, I know.
This man is my grandfather. I never knew him. He was born in 1874 and died when The Man Who Is Father was thirteen  …
My nana, Gladys, never loved him. Or maybe she did. She let Father think that she didn’t. But then she is the one who told him many times that she was going to stick her head in the oven. Her first husband died in 1936. He was the love of her life, the man of her dreams, her knight in shining armour. Father has it in his head that my Grandfather wasn’t really his father. Gladys and Fred married in September 1941. Gladys was four months pregnant. She had grown up with, and gone to school with, many of Fred’s children from his first marriage. At least three of them were older than her. One was Jim. Father has it in his head that Jim is his father. Jim was the only “brother” who bought him presents and was kind to him. The other “siblings” were distant, they turned against my nana and her son, my Father, because Fred was well off. He owned houses in Hackney and was able to pay for his bungalow in Essex with cash. Unusual in the 1940s. His career had something to do with furniture. The Father is convinced that there’s a Swiss bank account somewhere [Switzerland probably? *grin*] because Fred was about to go to Switzerland when war broke out. They [his many children] thought she wanted the money. She probably simply wanted the security. She had two small children and she was pregnant … not the best position for a woman during the war.
Mumsy says The Father is stupid [her words]. He hasn’t got a clue, claims she. I’m inclined to agree. This is the man who refused to go to his own [half-]sisters funeral when it so easily could have been a time to build bridges and rectify all the wrongs.
He clings to the belief that his “brother” is his father simply because his real father was far too Victorian; too stern and unable to show emotion. It messed him up, his head. Neither of my grandparents will have helped. Both will have contributed to it. And it worries me that I take after him, that my head is messed up because of him, because of them …
And the money? Following my Grandfathers death my nana decided that rather than continue taking rent and having an income in that respect it would be better to sell all the houses he owned in the Hackney area. So she sold them all for a pittance. Quick sales. Guaranteed to make the step-children hate her even more.
She was a fool. But she was also my nana. My nana-with-the-long-garden, who started smoking when she was in her seventies/eighties because she was getting old so it didn’t matter, who let me fidget in bed, who played the Lap-Game [the boing boing boing, fall down game?] with me and took me to Trafalgar Square and St Paul’s Cathedral just days after Di married Chaz. She let me drink orange squash out of an old and very large brown medicine bottle, and when she came to look after us when Mumsy went into hospital there was mouldy bread in the cupboard and baked beans and peas for tea every day, all congealed together and freezing because she’d cooked it three hours before we got home from school.
My nana, whose hair went white when she was my age. My nana, who gave birth to her first baby, Betty, and lost her shortly afterwards. My nana, who lost the love of her life to meningitus after a few short years of happiness.
My nana …
Gladys Lilian [1904-1996] Mad, Somewhat Dopey – But Lovely.
And just because I can post pictures here’s another golden oldie … Gladys’s mother Rose [my great-grandmother], sister Violet and nephew Arthur [who was killed in action during WWII] taken at the seaside in about 1914.
Awww, dressing up in lacy collars and tights for a trip to the sea … how very quaint.
please God bless the nana-with-the-long-garden xxx Elsabeth