After my grandmother died in May, I posted a brief excerpt from her "memoirs." I'm leaving tomorrow for London, for various memorial events this weekend (no new posts until Tuesday, BTW, unless I slip something in tomorrow), and I had to write some kind of a toast for this tea party thing on Sunday. I started reading through the letters and cards she'd sent me over the past few years--all since she moved into an old-folks'-home-type place--and came up with some pretty funny things to put into the toast. She was such a good & real person, with a perceptive and sharp and humorous and self-deprecating voice that came through just as strongly in her writing as when you were actually with her. She was a great novel-reader, aside from everything else, as you will see below....
Granny on a musical entertainment:
We had a Xmas Carol concert with brownies (you know part of Girl Guides) last night—it was fairly awful as they giggled on & off. The pianist was a butch* lady—beefy & hung about with key chains & mobile phones. Not much of a player. It was rounded off with white wine & mincepies just before our supper of soup etc. Took the edge off our appetites!
Granny on another musical entertainment:
[Unfortunately the first part of this is unprintably insulting about the host for the evening, who with her “henchwomen” led the other old ladies “from A to B . . . like a school girls party”--don't want to type it up here and risk offending anybody] The actual concert was rather a trial. It began with three trumpets full blast and continued with odd items—singer who blasted out One Enchanted Evening mixed with Toreodor’s song. A party of very exuberant adults with children from a school on percussion. Not really your normal run of programmes. It was about a million degrees of heat & I was like a boiled beetroot, they kept offering me chairs! Not used to the sight.
Granny on photography:
All quiet here after the excitement of the wedding [of my cousin Nick]. I still can’t quite believe it is real. From the few photos they took with me in them I look as if I was viewing it all with horror. Really it was fun & I enjoyed it. They say the camera does not lie but it had a good go on me.
Granny on literature, culture and knitting, writing in this instance on a card with a very sentimental nineteenth-century picture of a child with a St. Bernard dog holding an umbrella in its mouth:
My dearest Jenny, I am sending you this utterly inappropriate card for the 14th with all my love and many thanks for the box of books that arrived yesterday morning. I could have chosen two white ducks but it was smaller and not much room to write. . . . I have been reading this book that is the rage in the U.S. the ‘Leonardo Plot’—(know that’s wrong) too abstruse & clever for me all these tantalising hints for the people to think out. I had a busy day yesterday, went up to town to take my new & expensive hearing aid back. It was giving off sounds like the morse code. It’s no better today so am sending it back again—awful waste of money on mini-cabs but a nice ride, sunny day & not much traffic. . . . Have been involved in knitting a blanket for the future Rathbone [the first great-grand-child, born last year]. Just finished the knitting, now for the sewing a more tricky proceeding. As I hadn’t knitted since Patrick [another cousin] was born I hoped I would be able to. It’s like riding a bike—you don’t forget.
*There is a chance that word "butch" is "Dutch," I spent some time mulling it over, but am 98% sure it's the former...