Sunday, 6 May 2012

Chrysanthemum wallpaper and marrowfat peas

During my teens I had many arguments with my mum. I was fiery and stroppy and felt misunderstood.

When I was 16 and at sixth form college, I used to camp out in my granny's spare bedroom. Having left school, I really did think of myself as grown up, someone who knew everything. Staying with my granny a couple of nights a week sort of felt like I had left home and was independent.

My granny's spare room was fascinating to me. The 70s style garish yellow, orange and brown chrysanthemum wallpaper wasn't like anything I had seen before. My mum's walls at home were all white, my granny's were psychedelic.

She would give me an electric blanket, an ancient heavy feather eiderdown and a hot water bottle in a stripy pillowcase. She was quite tight with her Economy 7 heating, so wanted to make sure I didn't freeze.

I remember trying to write an essay about the Cold War sitting on this bed, staring blankly at the wallpaper, and counting all the petals on the chrysanthemums. I became distracted by all of my dad's old rock climbing and photography books, and the little pots he had made in his youth, which all sat on a shelf at the end of the bed. My essay was due in the next day, and it was a poor effort. I don't think I even finished it.

My granny would make me a corned beef and tomato sandwich on white sliced bread for my tea. This was all such a novelty to me. I wasn't allowed white sliced bread at home, my mum said it was like eating cotton wool. And as for corned beef, I hadn't even known it existed until my little visits to her house. Sometimes she would feed me marrowfat processed peas.

There was a very distinct smell in my granny's house, similar to how marrowfat peas smell before they have been heated up.

I loved the fact that when my granny caught me hanging out of the bedroom window smoking an Embassy No 1, she calmly handed me a mug of cocoa and said: 'If you're going to do that, just come down to the kitchen and do it in comfort'. I didn't ever do it again. It no longer felt rebellious.

Although I loved my little escapades to my granny's house, I would never stay for more than two consecutive nights. This was mainly because she wouldn't let me use her phone to ring my friends, and in the days without mobile phones and the internet, this was a big deal.

So I would go back home, give my mum a hard time about not having any 'cotton wool' bread or Frey Bentos pies in the house, slam a few doors, and run up a huge phone bill.


Expat mum said...

Oh weren't we such lovely kids back then? It's a wonder my mother didn't eat me as a newborn!

Claire Toplis said...

My mother didn't let me have white bread either !

Louise said...

It has suddenly occurred to me that we may have met... or at least passed each other in the corridor! I went to sixth form college and I suspect it may have been the same one that you went to. What years were you there???? (You may have told me this before so apologies if you have!)

Lorraine The Party Times said...

memories....ahhhhhhhhh...those were the days!!

Mandy said...

When I was younger I would spend the whole day at my grannys house, every single week without fail! I used to love hearing old stories about what my mother got up to when she was younger! I used to love listening to her running commentary about all the latest dramas on television. And best of all, I would love all the baking we did and the meals she cooked! They were without a doubt, the most delicious home cook meals I have eaten!
I always remember thinking that her house looked a little peculiar - with ornaments filling every available empty space, and the flower power theme that seemed to run all through the house!

Saving Mummys Money

Metropolitan Mum said...

Beautiful memories and beautifully written. Is your Grandma still alive? My Grandma died in March, and I just can't get myself to write about it. I think I am still in denial...

Unknown said...

Hi MM, I am so sorry to hear that. my granny died in 1997, so a good few years ago now x

Becky said...

Love that, makes me think of all my happy memories of visiting my grandparents as a child.

Thank you! x