Horribly hot and humid again...so on went the fan and out came the scissors and pattern and I spent most of the morning cutting out a simple cotton top. The pattern was free in a magazine and is recommended for beginners...that'd be me.
Sewing patchwork and doing cross stitch is not the same as making clothes...I've tried before and whatever I've made looks decidedly odd when it's finished...there'll be a wonky bit where there ought not to be or the darts don't match...
This top doesn't even have simple darts, so with any luck and a back wind it ought to turn out to be wearable...
Mother sewed everything...from frocks for me and herself to shorts and shirts for my brother...she made tablecloths and decorated them with embroidery and cut up worn out sheets to make tea towels...but she refused to knit. Said it wasn't a skill she wished to grasp.
It was my English grand- parents who knitted constantly...from heavy woollen sweaters for winter to delicate dainty baby shawls and stout socks for wearing with heavy boots...and Granny knitted dolls. Beautiful raggy dolls dressed in tiny cardigans and pretty frocks...they usually had a beret or a bonnet as well and I lusted after them when I was a child but was never given one...Granny was probably wise to the fact that Mother would have put it away in a cupboard...
Granny and Grandpa came to live with us for a while when Grandpa was suffering from senile dementia...I loved Grandpa to bits and found it hard when he couldn't remember my name or where he was living...Grandpa was a gentleman...he spoke in cut glass tones and held himself upright in a regal manner but he was the most gentle and kind man.
Until the dementia took hold...then he began to pee in the flowerbeds in full sight of whoever was around...he pulled all the onions long before they were ripe and took to wandering down the lane outside the farm shouting at any passer-by...
I'd be sent to collect him and he'd usually come back quietly enough but he didn't know who I was and when I told him I was Fred's little girl he couldn't remember he had a son named Fred...we'd walk slowly...arm in arm, as he puzzled over his children and he'd ask endlessly where they all were...
One day at tea time he peed on the floor while we were all sitting round the table and then he laughed and told Mother to take that sour look off her face...enough to turn the milk he said...
He lashed out at Granny when she went to take him to the bathroom to change his trousers and it was the following day that he and Granny were packed off back to Yorkshire.
Children can be incredibly understanding and my little brother and I were not in the least bit fazed when Grandpa behaved much like a naughty toddler...we came home from school to find them gone...the little sitting room, which was theirs, had been stripped of everything in it...the same with their bedroom. It was as though they'd never been with us.
I never saw either of my grand-parents again. Grandpa died in 1960 and Granny lived on for another ten years...she re-married a chap we all called 'Uncle Bert' as a courtesy title I think...
My Grandpa was a fine man...clever and quick-witted and highly skilled in the art of tailoring. He made the ceremonial robes for the King of England and grew cacti as a hobby. He had a succession of dogs...small snappy Jack Russell's who shed copious amounts of fur and he loved the countryside and the moors...he'd eat dripping sandwiches and he drank fine old whisky and smoked a pipe...he always wore a droopy moustache and his hair slightly longer than the fashion for older gentlemen.
Grandpa would sometimes shoot rabbits for Granny to make into stews and he showed me how to skin them and cure the skin with alum...to make into little mittens for the Hungarian refugee children who lived on a nearby airbase.
He taught me and my cousins to play backgammon and chess and gave me the Wind In The Willows to read...he used to pore over the obituary column in the Times newspaper and announce with undisguised glee that old Bunty had finally popped his clogs...remember that bastard from school he'd say...
Dementia took my Grandpa and replaced his sharp brain and gentle sense of humour with someone whom we no longer recognised...
I was a young girl when I knew him...many years ago now...but I can clearly recall his smell of wet tweed jacket and a whiff of tobacco...his voice is clear in my mind, that of an English gentleman...dementia destroyed him but not my memories.