Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Brenda: Part 1

My Nana Brenda had her 80th birthday party at the weekend. Born August 1928 she was a teenager in Lancashire during the War and, as we periodically do in my family, we all neatly hit the zeroes at the same time, me 30 this year, my sister Clare 20, and my Dad and Auntie Dee both 50. The whole family is in attendance plus a gang of Nana’s amazing friends, most of whom I’d never met. About seven women but just the one man (being in their eighties the men are thin on the ground nowadays). Turned out to be great fun and quite an emotional day. My Nana is a well-loved lady and deservedly so, as my Uncle David’s speech rightly said, she is “one of life’s givers”.

My parents bought her a beautiful silver frame with a photograph of Nana aged seven taken with her Dad who was 38 at the time and has the same stern brow that my Dad now has. Nana shed a tear or two, as did we all when one of her lovely friends, with the broadest Leicester twang you’ve ever heard, got up and sang Connie Francis’ ‘My Thanks To You’ in the most beautiful soprano. “These foolish words of mine could never say how slow the hands of time when you’re away …” Sniff.

Isabelle, the eldest of the lot and just back from a cruise, recited from memory a poem about grizzly bears and wolves that she was taught at school several lifetimes ago which I’ve found on the internet and is called ‘W-o-o-o-o-o-ww!’ by Nancy M. Hayes. Then, once Nana’s devout Baptist friend (“she never married”) had left, Isabelle was up again turning the air blue with a mucky verse about impotence in elderly men, told not without some insight I’m sure. I was astonished she could recall word for word these poems she’d first heard decades ago. As Edna pointed out, “We’ve forgotten more than you lot have ever known!” The final turn was a brilliant re-write of ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music which I’ve also found online and which I will leave you with:

All Bran and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings.
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat packs and hot meals they bring.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinning.
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinning,
and we wont mention our short shrunken frames
when we remember our favourite things.

Cardigans and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Steradent and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, gophers and porches with swings.
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, when the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad.

When the joints ache, when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

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