We've all been to my gran's 85th birthday party today. Granny Grace is a feisty, funny woman - Scottish and sarky. She's had a tough couple of years healthwise and is getting increasingly thin and frail, but her tough Scottish spirit shines through it all. She spent her early childhood in Malta, grew up in Greenock in Scotland, worked in a munitions factory during the war and moved to Yorkshire in the 1940s. I love her stories of the war years - the tough Glaswegian women she worked with, her dad scraping her illicit nail varnish off with a penknife and her shameless flirting with the GIs...
Gran is the kind of gran that everyone should have. She taught me and my sister to gamble using pennies and cards - Newmarket and Acey Rummy being the best. We also used to play with a strange spinning brass bottle on a Heineken tray. The thrum of the bottle as it spun and the excitement as it gradually wound down is still so vivid even though it's probably 20 years since we last played. We'd throw our money in and then depending on how the bottle landed, won or lost our money. Gran is a terrible woman for cheating and we always had to watch her like hawks in case she knocked the tray or pinched an extra coin or two.
I was a real bookworm as a little girl and Gran was always the one who bought my comics. Now she buys the comics for O - no more Buntys, but Spiderman and Mega Metropolis Gogos. He loves her to bits, and they have a ball together, especially when she plays shadow boxing with him and teaches him all sorts of odd Scottish words, bahookie (bottom) and stank (drain) being his favourites. O and Gran play like she's a little girl and the dynamic between them is magical to watch. They've got a special game that only the two of them can play and as far as I can make out, it's O being really unkind to two dollies that belong to Gran and making her pretend cry. The dollies go to jail, get sat upon, squashed under cushions and flung though the air like missiles. It seems utterly bizarre and without any sense to it, but the two of them laugh like stanks when they're playing it and the 80 years between them just melt away.
Happy birthday, Gran. Me and O love you loads. xx