June 1912

One hundred years ago today my grandmother was born.  She never seemed like an old lady to me.  She was a good friend who used to take me to watch cricket and to play crown green bowls.  Regular treats came in the shape of fresh cream cakes from Marks and Spencer’s in Worksop.  She smoked rather a lot and liked her Marmite spread very heavily on her toast in the morning.  She used to write to me at school and had the most extraordinary handwriting, legible only to very few.  I had to learn to read it when I was eleven, homesick and hungry, but gran’s letters were always a welcome distraction from the daily routine of Cornwallis House in particular and the Royal Hospital School in general.

Gran brought up four children on her own, following the death of my grandfather in northern France in 1940.  She was intelligent and strong.  Had she been born fifty or sixty years later she’d probably have enjoyed a proper education and wouldn’t have ended up in service.  We recently discovered that she had a fifth child – her first – who was taken away at birth.  Having recently become a father for the first time I cannot imagine how she lived without her daughter.  Gran was a very open and modern mother (insofar as I understand the term), but she never spoke of her first child.

Gran died in 1986, back home in Sunningdale.  I should have gone to see her the week before she died, but we were travelling to Kent each week and decided not to go.  I regret not going to say goodbye, but I’m glad that I remember her in (relatively) good health.

I still miss her.

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