I could barely understand mi Grandma, she was a farmer’s daughter, lived all her life in semi-rural Wakefield outskirts, around Netherton I think. Granny, which was her real name, spoke too quick, her accent was strange to me and she’d constantly chuck out little, set, gem expressions that summed up complex situation in less than 20 words – sadly she died before I even thought of trying to log them.
‘Hell’s bells’ and Batley buses,’ was her version of an expletive that remains with me cos mi Mum will still occasionally say it.
I always thought it w mi Dad that I got the gift of the gab from but Granny couldn’t ’alf talk. She had a hard life that I touch on in Coming Out As A Bowie Fan In Leeds, Yorkshire, England:
Granny’s experience of being a sudden, homeless, single mother of three in the unforgiving ‘40s. My mother riding to school, through the snow on a huge white Shire horse seems romantic but it will have affected her, and subsequently me, differently to my kids riding to school in a fifteen-year-old Mini Metro with a heater and a tape player that sometimes work. I’m scarring my children in a twenty-first-century kind of way, the shame of the eleven year old if he‘s seen by his mates. When they spot us, they sing 'Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang', loudly; I’m a bad father who had a good mother.
I hate to think of the reaction my mum and grandma must have got in the ’40s. Gran went to her brother for help. He loaned her money to get a house and had to charge her more interest than the bank would have, had they loaned money to penniless, homeless women with three kids and no job, which they didn’t. It mattered not what kind of income a woman had, they were not responsible or intelligent enough to have something as complex as a mortgage in them days. It was a man’s world back then as my grandfather, who I never met, proved.
Anyway, when Granny died we were all invited over to her house to take a small keepsake to remember her by. I moved from room to room searching but nothing caught my eye, nothing encapsulated her, no object 'was' her. I was getting a bit sad and panicky, feeling like I dint know her at all. All the little knick-knacks must've meant something to he