Favouriteaunt visited recently and was amused at my wodge of old documents torn into four and held together with a clip and used for all types of message and note. “Just like your Granny!” she said.
I spent a lot of time with Granny, particularly in my teens when my parents were abroad and I at school in Kent. She was a remarkable woman and I was delighted to be found to be like her, if only in such a small way.
She came from a privileged background except that there was little money: her mother came from a titled family, but her father was killed in the opening month of the First World War. Granny was the eldest of four. She was presented at court as a teenager, and again on her marriage (as was traditional) which was reported in all the papers. She wore her mother’s wedding dress and her Grandmother hosted (and presumably paid for) the wedding breakfast. Granny met her groom at Oxford where she was studying French, and he the Classics: she became a vicar’s wife, bringing up four children of her own and supporting her husband’s role in their community.
The vicarage always seemed to be full of people, and though Granny would never claim she was a cook she fed everyone, apparently effortlessly. Roast lamb with all the trimmings followed by industrial sized apple meringue with cream is the meal I most associate with her. And Granny Buns: her own particular take on rock cakes; and cupboards full of home-made marmalade and bottled apricots. She knitted, crocheted and sewed (she made her daughters’ wedding and bridesmaid dresses), mending anything and everything. Thrift was her watchword.
Many of our gifts were home-made, and birthday cards were rarely new: she kept the unwritten on parts of all cards she received, and recycled them as necessary. The half cards arrived in envelopes re-addressed and stamped and closed with Sellotape. Her desk drawers also contained wrapping and brown paper for re-use, Christmas cards as present labels, and lengths of ribbon and string retrieved from parcels received.
I didn’t show Favouriteaunt the drawer full of carefully trimmed wrapping paper, nor the drawer full of rewound ribbons, nor yet the box full of Christmas cards waiting to be cut up to make ‘new’ ones. I’m just keeping a bit of thrift of my own.