Friday 4 December 2009

She was loaded with bright angels.......

As briefly mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my paternal grandmother (dead, evangelical) would often speak in tongues to the family dog. (Sometimes the dog was the family, in fact, holding us together, giving us a point of reference, a distraction, a subject matter with which to fill the air – we heap a lot on these poor creatures, don’t we?) This caused delight and revulsion in unequal measure.

The revulsion (and unease) came flowing quite freely from the stunned into silence majority, whilst the delight, fair to say, was all mine. But what’s not to like? It was A Spectacle. I like spectacles. (Although I don’t like to see couples argue in the street. No.)

The dog, of course, remained thinking “biscuit?” throughout – or did she, who knows? She may have been thinking "at last" (blimey) – and we may only guess as to her true feelings regarding these edge of the seat and there goes Christmas communications. And my dad (not dead, atheist), far easier to read, would sit or stand, bathed in a Pale Ale sweat, with a bitterly unfunny paper hat on his head and stare with an open, frozen hatred. Quick, get the camera.

This loathing realised its fullest expression, perhaps, when he finally got round to stealing her life-savings and leaving her to die in (an approximation of) poverty - one of his less stylish thefts, that. And but for the intervention of my mum, I suppose, she may very well have died in this poverty, too. She (my mum, that is - still going strong, agnostic, virgin) helped her out in various ways, gently guiding her towards whichever exasperated god she was bothering at the time and easing her off to the dead space. My mum, of course, is a good person, whereas my dad, it seems fair to say, is not. (Help me, but I surely sound like George Bush, simplifying the enemy, making everything seem black and white? Deary me. “Ma fellow Murkans, Daddy al Quaeda is a tourist, he threatens our way of life, us folks is just gonna have to untie in the face of him…...”)

Ah, but he could be devastatingly funny, my dad, an unusually dangerous gift. In the wild, angry hysteria that preceded a visit either to or from his mum, he would lay us to waste with his venom, topping every transcendental rant with an “oh, how I hate her”. You can’t say that about your mum, we protested, perfectly smithereened, but he could and he did. And if we continued to protest (and by “we”, I suppose, I mainly mean my mum), he would just keep driving round the roundabout until we were pressed to the windows in nauseated delight, a catastrophe of limbs, begging for mercy and accepting that yes, in fact, he could say such things and please let’s just get to Dundee. Where oh where were the police?

But this stuff is a bit hard to resist as a child, isn’t it, which is a shame, really, because I’ve a feeling it jaundiced our view of this particular granny (and I’m sure my sisters would agree).

Somehow, and this seems to happen a lot, I’ve ended up with a whole heap of her belongings (but no cash!) and the tightly wrapped silence that dead people's doo-dahs bring with them. Quite why the belongings of dead people should keep landing in my lap is as yet a bit unclear. It may be that the deads expressly asked in their wills that I look after their stuff in the meantime, or it may just be that I’m a dithering tosser who stares for too long in these particularly morbid games of pass-the-parcel. I digress. Or maybe it’s a regression, in fact, as I dip my spade in the past? (Oh. Unfortunately, I just made myself smile. Cardinal sin.) Either way, I don’t really mind.

(And talking of regression, I have all of her cassettes in which she is to be heard being led through her fact, never mind. Excruciating.)

Fair enough, she was maybe a rather difficult person in many ways, it just seems a bit cruel to outline the reasons for this, however, as she no longer has the right of reply. She was certainly very strong, that's for sure – and not just in the head, either, but physically, too. If she tackled you at football, for example, you stayed down. If you stayed down too long, though, crying into the mud for a mummy or a juice, she’d gazelle straight back and tackle you some more. (She’d have made an elegantly ruthless central defender in Serie A, I fancy.)

Anyhoo, if looking at pictures of the dead granny of a perfect stranger is your thing, well, you're in luck. Here she is, from beyond the grave and from one of her many, many photograph albums, looking impossibly glamorous. Beautiful, you must agree? She’s become an absolute joy to have around the house, all of a magical sudden, and I’m no longer sure what I’d do without her - or what I ever once did, come to think of it.

(Plus, bargains galore, hurry while stocks last, deletions imminent she is:
As a young girl, with her mother and father.
Languidly ignoring a child with an impossibly large head (could be my dad, it would make sense - although it could also be his brother).
Posing for the old tourist/waiter shot with a conveniently frumpy friend.
Posing outrageously on the beach (but such glorious legs – is it okay to say that? Must be. Is it?)
Paying a visit to The Family Home in the seventies.)

Who am I talking to? This is starting to feel something or other.

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