Thursday, 13 December 2018

My Nana - Day 14

Friday 14th December 2017

14 variations on an original theme - is the construction of Edward Elgar's much-loved
orchestral work, The Enigma Variations, composed between 1898 and 1899.
It was commenced in a spirit of humour but became a serious project in which
the composer sketches his friends and family.
Today I have set off at crack of dawn to visit our Birmingham office. I am looking forward to spending some time with the team and then, after work, I am travelling on to Durham to collect my youngest son back from university. Let the holidays begin...

Today's post is a celebration of a family member, written with much love by Annette Hill. Annette is one of those people who makes the world a better place. She works as the Director of Workforce Development for Hospiscare in Exeter, UK. She is unfailingly supportive of members of the HR and wider social media community. You can follow Annette on Twitter, her handle is @familyhrguruShe is active off-line too, she represents HR for the South West region of the UK on the national HR leads forum which is based in the South West of England. Annette cares deeply about others; she chairs a drugs and alcohol charity in Bristol and is one of the CIPD's Steps Ahead mentors. She writes an interesting blog, simply entitled Annette's Blog that covers a wide range of topics as they occur to her. 


Heartaches, Hopes and High Fives. I wasn’t very inspired at first. I have 2 or 3 unfinished blogs on the go and just can’t quite express what I want to.
Then the oddest thing has inspired me. As part of coming through another challenging few months, I have been slightly reinventing myself. Part of this is, big gulp, letting my natural grey hair come through! A big step as many women of my age may attest. 

I love it! It’s empowering and, unexpectedly, I am so happy to see in the steel grey coming through at the sides, colouring just like my Nana’s. 

I am one of those lucky people who had all 4 grandparents, at least for the first 11 years of my life, and who had a really close bond to one in particular, Nana Coging, my dad’s mum. I’ve been thinking about her and my grandpa a lot, and about childhood Christmases spent with them.

My Nana’s House
A very modest rented mid terrace in Carlton, Nottingham
The front door was never locked.
We would arrive and my dad would open the door with a loud ‘Yoo hoo!’
We would enter a dark hallway,
Draughts held at bay
By a heavy velvet curtain, blue I think, half way down.

The ‘Front Room’ was to the left – for high days and holidays
Then into the heart of the house
A snug living and dining room with a real fire
Over the years, I would never tire
Of watching the flames, seeing pictures, inventing stories
Full of hopes for the future.

At the back, Nana’s homely kitchen, which had an Aladdin’s cave
Actually, a walk-in pantry down a couple of steps, tucked under the stairs.
On a shelf sat Grandpa’s bottle of Camp coffee.

Never far away from a barley sugar or a toffee.
I loved that place so much.

The only thing I didn’t like was the outside loo
A bit cold and scary, would I meet spiders in there?
Overnight, a chamber pot under the bed
About that, urgh! No more to be said.

Except, my poor parents, coping with us all in one room
Sleeping over on Christmas Eve.

I remember so many tiny details;
Delicate china cups and saucers, copies of The People’s Friend,
The Evening Post, helping with Spot the Ball…

The TV was tiny, black and white, in a box
Controlled by a dial on the wall, it took ages to warm up
But we still looked forward to what was
The obligatory Christmas film, the Wizard of Oz.

Until he became poorly with lung cancer, he kept well hidden
Grandpa pre-booked Christmas lunch in January
In a posh hotel for the following Christmas Day
Nana cooked the turkey for his last one
A few days later he would be gone
We didn’t know, but the clue was his untouched meal.

At home we had warm air gas central heating and a ‘feature gas fire’,
Impossible for Santa to use!
We didn’t even have a chimney, just a gas vent.
So when the Christmas lists we made were sent
We made sure he knew where to find us
At 16 Park Road, Carlton, Nottingham, England, the World.

‘Has he been yet?’ ‘No, go back to sleep!’
But eventually, we were allowed down the steep stairs
To the front room, where miraculously, overnight gifts had appeared
My brother and I need never have feared.
There on the shiny, faux leather chairs
A pillowcase each full of gifts.

In my quilted dressing gown I opened
Felt tip packs, to be arranged over and over according to the rainbow.
Colouring books, outfits for my Sindy doll,
Selection boxes, and some bigger, more costly gifts I’m sure.
But those are not the memories that endure,
What mattered was the warmth and love.

Today, we may say it was a time of hopes, heartaches and high fives!
The latter an ‘Americanism’, we never used back then
We were happy, sad when Grandpa died, and always so pleased to see each other.
Nana lived in that house for a few more years,
I used to stay with her sometimes, holding back the tears
When I had to come home leaving her all alone.

In my primary school autograph book Nana wrote
‘Smile, and the World smiles with you, Cry and you cry alone.’
Looking back, I wonder if that is exactly how she had to live.
In poor health, never a taker, always preferring to give
My Nana was one of the wisest people I have ever known.
I still miss her.

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