When I was about 7 or 8 me and my brother stayed at our grandparent's up at Africa Cottage.
It was a wee but'n'ben type place up the Kirbister road with no mains electricity and an
outside loo and it was always an adventure to stay there, especially as I slept in a box bed
when I was there. A real princess bed. Anyway, one night we were staying there and I was
in my sleepwalking phase. My Grandad followed me through as I went and stood in front of
the mantelpiece and stared in front of me. He asked me what I was doing. I said nothing. He
suggested I go back to bed and I obviously didn't appreciate that suggestion as I put my arm
out and swiped everything off the mantelpiece in front of me including the clock that they
got years ago (I think it was a wedding present). I then scarpered off to bed. I honestly had no
memory of doing any of this the next morning. Anyway the clock got fixed and from then on it
became known as "Maureen's clock" and Granny promised me that it was mine when she died.
So here it sits on my mantelpiece, ticking away in a comforting way, the sound of my
childhood. The inside of it still smells of Benson and Hedges even though Granny gave up
smoking 3 years ago!
I asked if I could have Granny's old baking tins and funnily enough no one else objected!
Some of the tins (2 bun (cupcake) trays and 2 sandwich tins) are from the wartime (she got
married to my Grandad in 1943) and on their last legs but I'll see how long I can keep them
going. I spent an awful lot of helping Granny to bake and she would have probably got a lot
more buns out of the basic mixture if I hadn't been helping! She spent a lot of time making
nice things that brought a smile to folk's faces and I like to do the same. When my other
Granny died I asked for her knitting needles and sewing box because that's what I remembered
her doing. While an inheritance involving money can be nice and helpful it's not always a
relevant reminder of who it is that you've lost. I find social domesticity inherently interesting
and the passing on of skills, knowledge and love is a better thing to leave behind than anything
The one other thing she left me is who I look like and who I am now. Through her I'm a Velzian,
Spence and a Brown mixed up with Heddle's and Rosie's on the other side. There's a rake o'folk
that look like me and me like them. I was mistaken for my Mum this time I was home because I
look so much like her. We're dark and small and "duggit" (stubborn) as hell.
Thomas Hardy says it best...
I am the family face; Flesh perishes, I live on, Projecting trait and trace Through time to times anon, And leaping from place to place Over oblivion. The years-heired feature that can In curve and voice and eye Despise the human span Of durance -- that is I; The eternal thing in man, That heeds no call to die