It surprises me really, that after doing this blog for almost a year now; looking back I can find no reference to a lady who despite not being around since 1999, had a great effect on my life.
I’d wander down the green carpeted stairs, running my fingers along the textured wallpaper. It was early, and I would assume I was the only one awake. I’d push open the living room door only to find Grandma, sat on the sofa in her bright pink dressing gown, up before everyone; reading her Bible.
I’d watch her put on her makeup, the best bit was when she’d draw her eyebrows on, Dad said they’d disappeared in an operation and never grown back.
She had curlers in her light brown hair, which was always immaculate, once the curlers were out; I loved placing my hand softly on her head and bouncing it up and down gently, as if I was touching a cloud.
Time for breakfast. The only time we ever had those mini Kelloggs variety packs was round at Grandma’s . The first few days Coco Pops, Frosties and Ricicles would be eaten, then we were left with the strange ones like Corn Pops and those Loopy Loop things.
Sometimes I’d have honey on toast, Grandma would say, “Don’t tell Granfer you’ve eaten his honey!”
“Who’s been eating my honey?” Granfer would shout from the kitchen, to which I would giggle and grin cheekily.
Food was always great in Cwmbran, and the best of all the food was jelly.
It was kept in their special fridge, which wasn’t a normal fridge because it was camouflaged. The fridge was with covered with a wooden door to match the drawers and cupboards. I’d never seen a wooden fridge before then, and never have since.
The jelly was strawberry red and was set in small silver bowls. Often, if I found a moment when no one was around, I’d sneak into the kitchen and open the fridge to see if Grandma had made us jelly this time, I never once remember finding a fridge bereft of wibbly wobbly delight.
One sunny afternoon me and Grandma went round the garden collecting snails. Every one we found we placed on the huge rock which sat on the left side, next to Granfer’s shed. Then we raced them and watched them make silvery trails all over the place.
I also loved the garden because of all the amazing ornaments and models scattered throughout; fisherman gnomes, frogs, squirrels and rabbits.
If it was rainy outside we got to watch a video, the video. A wonderful recorded selection of cartoons from a lost age. Betty Boop, Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor.
The house was full of novelty toys which held an endless fascination for my young mind. I loved playing with a clockwork globe which played music as it slowly rotated.
The ornaments weren’t only in the garden, there were also plenty inside. There was a glass cabinet of crystal animals, which I loved staring at, but wasn’t allowed to touch.
There was a china model of a lady in a yellow dress dancing the flamenco, and my personal favourite; a model of an old grumpy Grandad, ironing his trousers.
She was the only person I’d ever known to have a musical doorbell, which played an assortment of nursery rhyme melodies when pressed.
At Christmas time, the house was sprinkled with cards and tinsel, but no tree. “Our house is too little for a Christmas tree.” She explained.
So they had a model of Father Christmas whose head would move from side to side as his arms flowed to the tune of carols played softly, he held a candle in his right hand that lit up and lit down continually.
December was always my favourite time of year, as it also held my birthday.
She’d plonk the bulky Argos catalogue in my lap and tell me to choose whatever I wanted. Limitless opportunities for imagination sat in those hours, in which I’d wonder what it would be like to have all the things I saw.
One Christmas, all the grandchildren got remote control cars. I being the oldest boy got the biggest and the best one of the bunch. A monster truck with flames painted on its side. It drove faster than anything and knocked down everything that got in its way.
Time to go home
When it was time to go home I could never quite believe it, I always had to stop myself from crying at the disbelief that time had gone so fast.
Before we left, Grandma would reach into her magic pot and pull out a packet of refreshers for me and my brother. This gesture always made the journey a lot easier.
She would give my Mum some pocket money for us. 50 pence a week for every grandchild, which adds up after a while. I just hoped we had enough to buy some more jelly.