|A Winter Night's Tale (1867) Daniel Maclise|
To Grandma's left are the parents of the children, looking anxious. One child sleeps on the mother's lap, one child hides under his father's legs, being traumatised. No-one will be getting any sleep again. I remember when I saw the public information films on the danger of farms, as a child. I didn't sleep for about a week for fear that somehow I would wake up drowning in slurry. What a way to go. I'm sure Grandma's story isn't about slurry, or falling underneath a tractor, as tractors hadn't been invented at this point. It's hard to work out the exact time period: Mum's hat looks Tudor, but a couple of the girls' dresses look Stuart, so it's hard to pin it down to a period of history, but that really isn't the point. The subject is timeless, and could be anywhen from Cavemen to now. My Grandma told some cracking stories, my favourite being one about how she had to wallop 'Fat Olive' who had stretched out her new Princess hat with sawdust and wood shavings in the factory where they both worked in the 1920s and 30s.
Another reason I like this picture is that I remember being a child and I loved my Grandmother coming to stay as she was fascinating, mad as a hatter and full of funny stories about her life and things she had seen and done (she had some stories about when she went out to America to see Auntie Nora who married a GI that were full of splendid misbehaving). I find it very sad watching the current crop of Christmas adverts for supermarkets and the suchlike where the arrival of 'Gran' is a burden, a side issue, and all she requires is to be sat in an armchair and fed the occasional mince pie, hopefully not bothering anyone. That's awful, who wants to end up like that in your old age? I want to have gathered a battery of stories with which to entertain my grandchildren, like my Nan did for me. She didn't have an adventurous life, but it was filled with fun and naughtiness and she made it all sound great. I hope I'll do her proud when it's my turn.
See you tomorrow.