Grandma Great

“I’d like a table for twelve for two”.

“Yes, that’s right, a table for two, for twelve”.

“Yes, o’clock.”

“Yes, people.”

“Well usually my sister-in-law Rosemary books it but this is Audrey with my Grandson, Mark.”

“Yes.”

“That’s right, twelve. For the carvery.”

“Goodbye.”

That’s Grandma Great, on the phone to the local pub, unintentionally booking a table for twelve people for two in the afternoon, rather than a table for two people for midday, which was supposed to be for three people but she’d forgotten one of us. Mark’s actually my Dad’s name. But, close enough.

I rolled my eyes as Grandma Great attempted to replace the handset back onto the wall by clicking it onto the wall mounted holster over and over until it finally stayed. She then dropped her diary onto the kitchen floor; distributing tea stained scraps of paper with phone numbers on all over the place. Bending down to gather the papers together, I looked up at Grandma Great and said,

“Love you, Grandma.” to which she smiled and said,

“I love you too Jamie. Well, at least that’s lunch booked.”

I had my doubts. "Dad would find this impossibly annoying", I thought to myself with a smirk.

We arrived at the pretty little pub just a few hundred yards along the road, twenty minutes earlier than we needed to be there. We parked the car up, got Grandma Great out of the passenger door and made our way over to the entrance of the pub along with a growing team of impatient looking elderly people with walking sticks.

Every-so-often they would nod at one another without daring to break the silence, each one edging slightly closer to the door until it became uncomfortably cramped. Grandma Great is keen on being really early for everything, and then eventually rushing whatever it is she’s been early for as quickly as possible. It applies to everything she does; trips to the supermarket, cinema, whist club. While we waited, Lyall sat on the wall, playing on Hungry Shark on my phone while I made polite chit chat with Grandma Great about the tennis. There are two things that Grandma and I like to talk about, TV's Pointless, and tennis because she enthusiastically remembers all of the player’s names and the latest scores; quite an achievement for a forgetful eighty-six year old.

Eventually the doors opened to a big rumble of relief followed by superfluous commotion from the now twenty strong crowd of independent white-haired pensioners as they all simultaneously tried to squeeze through the double doors into the pub. I moved aside, turned to Lyall and asked him to pop the phone away. When I turned back I realised that Grandma Great was already inside the pub, right across the other side of the room, loitering impatiently around a tiny table for two. “There are three of us, Grandma,” I said, rolling my eyes again. Luckily, Lyall, as resourceful as ever was making his way over with a chair that he’d pinched from a suspicious looking table set for twelve people on the other side of the room. I giggled and sat down.

“Have whatever you want.” said Grandma Great. Lyall and I looked through the ten-page-strong menu while Grandma Great rushed over to the bar to order some drinks. I sent Lyall over to help. Moments later Lyall returned, slowly wobbling towards me with a heavy looking tray containing a pint of Stella shandy (a marvellous choice, Grandma), a large glass bottle of mineral water and two ice filled glasses. I jumped up to relieve Lyall of the precarious tray, tutted and sat back down. Lyall leaned in and whispered “Grandma’s in a rush isn’t she Daddy?”.

No more than a minute later, Grandma Great returned to the table with a small children’s plate, piled impossibly high with steaming roast beef, vegetables and all manner of Sunday trimmings. She sat down and tucked in.

“Have you ordered your food yet, Jamie?” she asked. I picked up the menu and got up to make my way over to the bar. As I walked behind her chair, Grandma Great turned around, took hold of my hand and put a small wad of ten pound notes firmly into my palm. “That’s for your lunch and your fuel to get home, Jamie.”

I leaned down, gave her a kiss on the cheek and put an arm around her shoulders.

“Thank you, Grandma. I Love you.”

Me and Grandma, c. 2000Me and Grandma, October 2000