Sunday, September 17, 2006

Calling My Grandparents

My grandparents and their neighbours last week

I knew when this week started I was long overdue on calling my maternal grandparents back in England and that I would have to pick up the phone this weekend. I knew I would have to steel myself for much shouting down the line and complaints about the quality of the transatlantic phone cable (poor hearing having been discounted at the other end as the reason for our too-quiet conversations that lead to clipped yelling; we sound like characters in an early talkie when we get going). I do love talking to both my Nan and Granddad despite their peculiar politics ("I 'ate the bloomin' Queen AND I 'ate bloomin' foreigners" © 'Ghengis' Nan, 2006) and their propensity to repeat stories; if you can't be slightly fascist and repetitious when you are in Shakespeare's sixth and seventh stages of man, when can you?

Then a freak tornado hit the town they had retired to and call home. Tornadoes are extemely rare in Britain. And this one also brought the added bonus of a month's rain in half an hour.

"Bugger" I thought, "This is going to be a long call".

My reasoning was sound. When the washing machine hose had parted and flooded the space behind the sink earlier this summer, my grandparents' telling of the events on the phone rivalled the Mahabharata in terms of epic length. If the mere severing of a laundry hose provoked such a detailed and intricately woven tale of disaster, woe, setback, then ultimate triumph* I couldn't imagine what a close brush with a tornado would bring forth.

It turns out I needn't have worried. Enough time had passed between the event and the call for my Grandparents to have moved from British Reaction Stage One (slightly ineffective dithering) to British Reaction Stage Two (stiff-upper-lip, "We Can Take it Herr Hitler", must downplay the seriousness of the event). British Reaction Stage Three (waxing nostalgic for how we all rallied during the disaster to face down nature or evil and still had time battle unthinking bureaucracy) had not yet set in. Total tornado conversation time was about 10 minutes. Then it was onto the safe ground of how famed English cookery writer Deliah Smith can't make proper bread pudding and really how the bread isn't the same today with all the foreign wheat and whatnot so nobody can really make a proper bread pudding and why don't restaurants cook carrots enough these days I mean who likes a crunchy carrot?

I love my grandparents.

*"The first shop didn't have the hose, and then the second shop didn't have the hose, and neither did the third, and the water was still off and I couldn't do a wash, and then the bloke at the fourth shop said that they didn't make our model of machine anymore, and Granddad said thet's the trouble today nothing is made to last and so we almost gave up but almost by magic we found just what we were looking for at a Sue Ryder shop in Harehills but then the battery on the car died and the AA man said well they don't make them for 24 year old Nissan Sunny's anymore and we should get a new car but we hardly drive anywhere except Tescos..." and so on.

Oh, and don't miss my debt payment to Bill Norris, below. I owe him appropriate coverage.


Weasel's little bruva said...

Soya flour is to blame...

weasel said...

Apparently you and I are getting a master class in how to make bread pudding next time I'm over (your schedule apparently is supposed to automatically conform to mine). Be prepared to measure her palm so we can get a scientific quantity for "a handful".

Mondale said...

Bread pudding was my grandfather's favourite desert (sorry, 'Afters').
I'm hiding here because I think Tillerman is after me. It's like the Spanish inquisition over there.

weasel's Cuzzen Jim said...

Alas no - I think they were just a bit worn out after subjecting me to a full hour of exhaustive data download earlier in the day. Best soundbite was Granddad saying "Your Uncle Les knew about it because he read about in on eBay". Bless.

A belated Germany/San Marino comment too - am just back from a week in Berlin (Cold War and Nazism valedictory tour, except with more booze), and am delighted to say I watched the game surrounded by mulleted Ossis in a bar on Oranienberger Strasse. Disappointingly little in the way of gleeful hollering at the almighty ass-whupping and more of the benign nodding at the unfairly matched nature of the game from the Teutonic spectators I was with. I was hoping for more of a Barclay End versus the Tractor Boys mood and left feeling a tad cheated...

weasel said...

Hey! I was just thinking about you today. Nice work, taking one for the team there, Cuz. Sorry things didn't kick off for you in Berlin; maybe you can make it back over to Germany for the return leg?