I remember

The car has barely stopped before I’ve got the door open and I’m sprinting through the gate and bounding up to the front door. With a twist of the big brass door knob I push the it open and announce our arrival with a cheery “Coooeeeee”. I can still remember the smell of the house, that old house smell, a hint of damp mixed with stale cigarettes and boiled vegetables.

The corridor is in to parts, the first takes you to the bottom of the stairs before it dog-legs to the right and continues on towards the back of the house. But before all that I veer right into the front room and head for the sweetie tin. It is where it always is, on the bottom shelf of the side table next to the TV, right under the old servant bell (which still works). I yank open the tin, a celebration from the Jubilee, and delve in. Sometimes Oddfellows, sometimes Eclairs, but always, always sweeties.

By the time I’ve stuffed one in my mouth my parents have made it into the house and I race ahead of them again towards the back of the house, pausing at the end of the corridor to consider the dark scary stairwell down to the basement, before turning right and into the living room.

At the far end of the room, taking up almost the entire wall, stands a huge old wooden sideboard that must’ve been constructed in the room for it certainly didn’t come in through the door nor the window that overlooks the back garden. The back of the house is three levels to accomodate the hill, so we are now on the first floor.

On the far side of the room the fireplace is the dominant feature where my Grandpa sits in his large, leather chair in pride of place facing away from the window towards the fire. A smaller, fabric covered chair opposite him where my Gran would sit. The wall to my right has the dining table, already laid in preparation for dinner and to my left is the entrance to the kitchen. I take the three small steps down and there she is, my Gran, spooning boiled potatoes into a dish already full of mince.

With a hug and a kiss I ask her what’s for dinner, knowing the answer already. Silverside beef, potatoes and veg, with mince and potatoes just for me. I reach up into a cupboard for a glass, choosing the black and white domino cup over the pink and white (ugh, for girls!) and pop open a can of Lilt.

As my Mum and Dad enter the living room all the fuss turns to my baby sister so I leave them to it, heading back out to the corridor and, deciding to brave the darkness I start down to the basement. At the foot of the stairs is the door to the coal cellar, a truly black place to be avoided and I skip past it as quickly as possible, before taking the next door on my right into the snooker room, bedecked with pictures left by my Uncle. Soft focussed, big haired ladies in various states of risque undress (70s style) look down on me as I rack them up.

I can still remember the noises as the balls clacked and clunked their way around the old snooker table, bent as it was through the damp and so allowing easy shots to the bottom right pocket (hit it gently into that area and the balls would veer magically towards the pocket, you really, literally, couldn’t miss).

I can remember the smell down there too, dusty and dank, scary noises imagined in my head.

I can remember the shout from upstairs that dinner was ready and frantic scrabble to get back upstairs. I did love my Grans mince and tatties.

I can remember summers playing in the back garden, lying in the grass making daisy chains or blowing up Action Man figures, racing cars down the sloping path, or battering an inflatable football against the big concrete supports that held the garden in place.

I can remember the cold black and white bathroom, the big cosy bed upstairs and the polystyrene tiles on the ceiling. I can remember the remnants of my Uncle, none of my Mum, that still dotted about upstairs, the model Harrier hanging from the ceiling in the small bedroom.

I can remember exploring every inch of the house, chasing balloons up and down the corridor, the pine needles strewn by the Christmas tree, the ornaments in the front room, and the cigarette burned armchairs.

I remember weekends spent with my Gran, wandering down to the shops, the sneaky ice creams and “don’t tell your Mother” toys. I can remember guessing the colour theme of the shop window merchandise as we turned the corner into her street (“Yellow!”… “Blue!”).

I can remember the digestives and milk, mushed in a cup for breakfast, the corned beef sandwiches, the salt and vinegar square crisps. I can remember the Abba record, and the smell of her hairspray. I can remember a million and one things about that house and my time spent in it, I remember being happy and safe there. Me and my Gran.

And now they are all I have as my dear beloved Gran has passed away. She spent the last few days sleeping and slowly ebbing away towards a soft, gentle end.

There is so much more I could say, but nothing more I can type.

I’ll be back in a few of days.


  1. Anna said:

    Oh Gordon – I’m so sorry. I hope these recollections of such love will be part of helping you and your family through this time and this loss. My heart goes out to you.

    February 24, 2009
  2. K said:

    Such lovely memories. I’m so very sorry Gordon. Thinking of you and your family.

    February 24, 2009
  3. There is never a right thing to say at a time like this, and everything comes across as platitudes. Nevertheless, I am so sorry for your loss, but I hope to continue to treasure and remember your grandmother through these powerfully evocative memories. Take care.

    February 24, 2009
  4. Blue Witch said:

    What a wonderful tribute. Your love for your Gran is so evident.

    I’m sorry she’s gone, but I know she will live on in your heart and memories forever.

    Thinking of you all.

    February 24, 2009
  5. Lyle said:

    Sorry to hear the news.
    Thoughts are with you, and hear/read from you soon.

    February 24, 2009
  6. mike said:

    Sincere condolences, Gordon. Thoughts are also with you.

    February 24, 2009
  7. Hg said:

    Sorry to hear your news, Gordon. It’s nearly ten years since my last remaining grandparent passed away, but they recur in my thoughts and conversations on a regular basis. That initial, enormous sense of loss has faded and sometimes it doesn’t feel like they’re “gone” at all, just… elsewhere. I wish you a similar experience, in time.

    February 24, 2009
  8. Jen said:

    Oh, Gordon. I’m so sorry. Sending love and strength.


    February 24, 2009
  9. Daisy said:

    I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss Gordon. She’s been such a familiar figure to us over the years, your writing means that her memory stays with us too.

    February 24, 2009
  10. David Farbey said:

    So sorry to hear your sad news. I hope the beautiful memories you have of your Gran will be a source of strength and comfort to you at your family at this difficult time.

    February 24, 2009
  11. Ian's Mum said:

    Sorry to hear about your loss, Gordon. What lovely memories you have.

    February 24, 2009
  12. lucy p said:

    what a beautiful post to dedicate to your Gran.
    kisses from me. xxx

    February 24, 2009
  13. Cliff said:

    Best wishes Gordon. Look after each other. My best to you.

    February 24, 2009
  14. Elle said:

    My deepest sympathies, Gordon. xxx

    February 24, 2009
  15. Lesley said:

    Lovely post Gordon. My best to you and your parents.

    February 24, 2009
  16. Peggy said:

    I am so sorry to hear your Grandma has died. You obviously loved each other very much. It is so hard to say goodbye to that.

    I’ll say a little prayer for you, your gran and your family tonight.

    Your pal,


    February 24, 2009
  17. maria said:

    I’m sorry to hear it, Gordon. Lovely post. All our best to you.

    February 24, 2009
  18. Jane said:

    A soft gentle end is a wonderful way to go. My heart goes out to you and your family, I hope that these good memories help you all through the sharp pain and grief.

    February 24, 2009
  19. Adrian said:

    Sorry to hear that. What a touching post.

    My thoughts and wishes with you and your family.

    February 24, 2009
  20. mum said:

    Thank you all for your thoughts and good wishes. What a caring lot you are. Gordon’s mum and dad xx

    February 24, 2009
  21. Ian D said:

    Sorry to hear about your loss and my thoughts are with you and your family. A really touching post.

    February 24, 2009
  22. asta said:

    A beautiful tribute. It’s the remembering that keeps them close. I am sorry Gordon, for both you and your family.

    February 25, 2009
  23. Kathy said:

    Lovely tribute to your gran, sorry for your sad loss

    February 26, 2009
  24. Gail B said:


    Your Gran would be proud of you, keep her memories close and she will never leave you.
    Love to your family, from your old friend Gail xx

    February 26, 2009
  25. bigrab said:

    It’s all been said Gordon but sympathy from me too.

    February 28, 2009
  26. […] more poignantly, One Man Blogs remembers his Grandmother. A Beautiful post. We are all sorry for your […]

    March 2, 2009
  27. Hamish said:

    I remember the snooker room and the garden from our visits to see your gandparents. They were great guys. The comments bring back memories of them both. Your Gran was such a lady, always so well dressed, always with a comment to make on any subject. It was so good to have known her.

    March 15, 2009

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