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Open Features: A Quiet Magic

Sonia Noble tells of her beloved Grandma.

My Grandma died prematurely, three months before I was married. She was always my friend, not just my Grandma, and losing her was devastating.

As a little girl, I was thrilled when she came to our house for tea, even though she lived just a mile or so away. It was heaven coming home from school to find her there. I best enjoyed our time alone together on walks around Drub and Mazebrook when she reminisced about her time as a child living in Drub Lane. We saw the tree on which she had carved her name when she was young. Of course the name was not visible some fifty years on.

We used to walk to her old school friend who still lived in Drub Lane, just a hundred yards up from where my Grandma lived. I loved going to visit her with Grandma. Entering her house was like going back in time. No modern come-day go-day fashion accessories. It felt homely, welcoming and lived in. There was a tab rug and unmatching careworn furniture.

She always had a smile on her ruddy face under a head of pure white hair, and she seemed as thrilled to see us as we were to see her. Grandma discreetly told me on the way home one day that her friend's husband had been a womaniser.

While returning from one of those visits to Grandma's friend we came across a cow giving birth in the field. A circle of cows was crowding round, quietly watching, all obviously understanding, a reverent and mute congregation. In my mind's eye I can still vividly see the event.

Grandma told me of the long distances they had to walk when she was young. A walk of miles would be as natural as it would be now for us to catch a bus into town.

As a rare treat my sister and I slept over at Grandma and Grandad's. They didn't have a television and their furniture was of an earlier time. 'Brown wood' is what they now call it. I loved every nook and cranny of their home. I fiddled with the wooden motif of a flower which spun round on a cupboard door. Whether it should have done that I don't know, but it drew my little fingers like a magnet.

Their front room was dark and cosy. You could hear the clock ticking, a clock which chimed on the hour. The quietness was part of the magic. I suppose the settee could have been made of horse hair. I recall sitting on it with my sister, and Grandma sitting in an armchair while we all played cards, setting them down on a glass-topped green tray. Then it was time for bed. The bed was huge, and difficult to get into. When you were up there in it the eiderdown towered over you with a comforting heaviness which filled me with delight and a sense of security.

The bed was nothing like our own bed at home. Somehow it felt regal, with its dark solid wood. Beneath it there was a white chamber pot. In a glass cabinet were small china items, handed down from Grandma's mother. I have the richly decorated brown glaze teapot which was displayed in that cabinet.

When Grandma died I cried almost every day for a year when I thought of her. Grandad, having survived her, moved to live in a small flat. He kept a few of the things from the house, but many of Grandma's things were dispersed. About a year ago, while visiting my Auntie, I saw a familiar milk jug.

I have a shelf in a lovely wooden cabinet which contains three or four pieces of pottry which Mum saved for me from Grandma's things.

When my time comes to depart this Earth, in keeping with the Spiritualist theory that a loved one comes back to take you over to the other side, I hope to see Grandma again.


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