Memories of my lovely Scots gran

Inspiration: Madeleine Shaw

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Some grandparents are definitely up for The Earth Angel award.

With a lot of parents both having to work and Britain having such expensive childcare, Nan and Pops are in even more demand these days.

Or, so you’d think reading this week’s excellent News article ‘Granny and grandad are keeping care in the family’.

But 50 odd years ago I was brought up by my grandparents.

Both my parents had day jobs and then taught in their ballroom and Latin American dance school in the evening.

My RC fire and brimstone Scots gran was orphaned at 12 and brought up her five brothers and sisters.

She came to England in her 20s to get married. I believe her first husband was killed in the First World War.

Then she married my French grandpere (who I adored), set up home in Fratton and brought up six children.

Back in those days (the 1930s), Royal Naval personnel (grandpere was one) went away for one, two or even five-year commissions.

So grandma was left, like many of Pompey’s naval wives with very little money to pay household bills and feed and clothe their kids.

‘Hand me downs’ were the order of the day – you very rarely got new clothes.

But she was an amazing mother and an absolute gem as a grandmother to me.

Well, except for the ‘religion’ of rosary beads, prayers, holy water and visiting nuns. Nightmare.

Writing this article as an adult, I can see how her faith helped her through a very tough life.

She would sit in the back yard and tell me stories whilst shellling peas and making ‘potato men’.

She had the gift of ‘sight’, a great conflict with her Catholic beliefs. And she would try and suppress ‘the gift’ in me.

We brought sunshine to each other’s souls. She with her very old-fashioned moral values, and me with my questions and laughter. The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren can be magical.