I would like, if you’ll indulge me, to tell you about someone a very bit special.
I’ve just decorated the living room for Hallowe’en and I've been thinking. I always think of one of my most inspiring people today as it would have been her birthday.
This is my Little Nanna.
She didn't like seeing pictures
of herself older and this is my favourite.
We used to walk round to her house every Hallowe’en and trick or treat her (she always dressed in a black shawl and pointy hat – standard Hallowe’en garb you say – yes, but she actually was one and she wore it well) and my Grandad (always a tramp – he had a fake beard and a plastic rat of course). Then we’d go in and tell spooky stories and play games with my cousins. Apple bobbing, donuts on string, and a weird blindfold game where you had to touch gross stuff that was supposed to be a dead body – cold spaghetti guts and half an orange where the eye behind an eye patch was supposed to be. I think they said it was Lord Nelson! That was all long before it was fashionable to partake in such things here in the UK to such a degree.
Hallowe’en was fun (and I try and make it so for my kids) and Christmas Eve was always spent at their house as well. In fact my cousins, brother and I (along with parents, aunt and uncles and many many many dogs) carried on having fun times at Nan’s house right into adulthood. I don’t think she ever really grew up. Or at least I don’t think she wanted to. On occasion she would watch children’s TV programmes. Things like Rosie and Jim and the Tellytubbies. Plus she was a marvellous storyteller. She told them and wrote them. When I was about 28 I told her I was doing an Open University writing course. She said she’d always known I’d be a writer – I wish she’d told me sooner. I do hope it happens one day. After she died my mum gave me a story I’d written for her when I was 10. So you never know…
I have lots of fond memories of Nanna, even of her mouth which her gentle, powdery face couldn’t soften when she’d narrow and turn down her lips when she was disgusted at something. Underlying all of them though is her belief in magic. All kinds of magic.
The ghostly kind - of séances and creepy stories.
The bookish kind – of Harry Potter and Russian folktales.
The animal kind – of birds and rabbits.
The hippy kind – of gardens and tree hugging.
The childish kind – of just wanting to play knights and horses with her great-grandson (she never met my other child but she would have adored her – she has inherited her grumpy mouth and a mix of creativity and naughtiness she would have been charmed by).
She is a big part of how I think and I know she’d be proud of where I’m heading right now. In an artistic kind of way – not a ‘to the shops’ kind of way.
Basically, I’m trying to say – magic is important. Ok.