Tuesday, June 17, 2008


My grandmother dreamed of a sailor at the bottom of her bed - he never spoke. She looked forward to his beaming smile during the long sleepless nights, alone in a city centre flat - a daughter for every day of the week to ration sleeping pills and Codeine. She sang about sin and spat at Ian Paisley on TV.

Her grave is a mile from my bed, but she won’t leave me alone. I hear her singing in our spare room flinging up cold cotton sheets, calling for drains to be bleached, complaining about the men on my walls. 'Valentino!’ she’d sigh. ’Now, there was a man.’ She wore black and red to his funeral.  

Religion was an extension of her old age pension. Nuns followed her home. She begged from priests, and charmed local bobbies in the middle of the night, wrapped up tight in flannelette and tweed wandering Glasgow Cross, searching for a sister lost in time.

When she died, my mother found money taped to the wall behind the Pope, enough for a hundred fish-suppers in front of Late Call and a blazing gas fire to tartan her shins.

My grandmother is a frail fairytale, missing from my mirror. I didn’t know her face would disappear - I was young, couldn’t see past my own fifteen years. I remember her buttery hair, tidy, with natural oils, scraped back, pony-tailed. How will I know who I am? There are no pictures, only vague memories, fleeting.


Sarah Hilary said...

Irene, I really enjoyed reading that, thank you. My great-grandmother used to shake her fist at the wrestling on television, declaring Mick MacManus "the son of the devil".

ireneintheworld said...

sarah i remember mick mcmanus, and he was always the one you loved to hate. i loved les kellot (something like that) he was so funny. and my mother always shouted and talked to the telly, especially the baddies, she'd say, 'oh he's going to get kildie-wildie!' x