The thing that I miss the most about my Grandmother was coming home to her after a long day. When you are a child, routine is everything. You do the same things day in and day out and how tedious school can be sometimes! Those wretched teachers telling you how to do things, the balance of friendships that could merely tip at the whiff of a pongy, erratic emotion and that somehow everything feels enormously profound in the moment. Pain was torture, pleasure was ecstasy but all was grasped, framed and clocked by a very simple timetable.
And so it was, that for 8 years, my Grandmother and I had the same daily plot. It was the way our lives slipped together hand in hand. The memory of coming home to Grandma is a little pleasure that I tap into when I´m feeling sad or particularly miss her. Or especially when I open the front door and still feel a bittersweet tug on my heart when I am greeted by silence. That routine so sweetly represents everything that I hold dear about her and time that we had that was just ours. Unless of course, Jonny was being a dick head and causing trouble.
Day after day, I would make my way home, which unfortunately meant coming face to face with the bog rat kids from Frogmore Comprehensive who would also be on their daily jaunt. They would kick puddles at me, call me ´Yateley scum´ (what is it with school rivalry?) and that schizophrenic maniac, DeeDee Huntroid, would give me grief merely for existing. I would finally pass the Spenny´s Pub and, reaching the pillar-red post box, I would bear right across the grassy knoll upon which a squirrel once threw an acorn terribly hard at my head- I think he was in league with DeeDee. Can squirrels be chavvy bitches, too? Anyhow, I would walk past the little brown sign that read ´Hollybush House, Little Oaks and The Bungalow´ and that was half-obscured by ivy that was winding its way around the old oak tree that it was nailed to.
Clutching a small handful of flowers that I had picked from Darby Green field, I would slip down the side of the house, let myself in the back door and begin our silly game. Clasping the handle with mock fear, I would purse my lips into a small O, push the door gently and call out HULWO? Silence. And then again HULWO-OO? I would be met with the quiet humming of the house and then the faint sound of scurrying footsteps would become louder and closer as Grandma made her way from the other side. More silence. And then a very soft and inquisitive HULWO? I would peer around the corner of the door to find her wide-eyed like a startled deer. We would eyeball one another cautiously and then, breaking into a smile and a flurry, scramble across the kitchen to have a big hug and a kiss on the cheeks, like cats nuzzling.
She would put the crumpled flowers into a small glass of water on the windowsill and I would put the kettle on. Looking at her narrow gold watch, she would announce that it was time for 15 to 1 and swiftly disappear from the kitchen, leaving me to concoct a perfect cup of tea after which I would follow her through to her bedroom and plonk myself on her bed ready for a back to back marathon of 15 to 1, Countdown and Ready Steady Cook. We would both sit there eating cornish wafers (always over the box so that we wouldn´t make pesky bed crumbs), try to answer the conundrum, talk about what we would personally do with Ainsley's ingredients and then I´d trot off to meet Jonny and Lauren in our little tv room to watch Neighbours while she cooked our tea. Ten chicken nuggets for me please, Grandma!
Part one of the Grandma project was a long time ago. It can be read here.