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13 April 2012 @ 06:11 pm
Radio Programme #1: Woman's Hour on Grandparents  
Programme: Woman's Hour
Station: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: Mon 9th April 2012, 10.00am
Available Until: Monday 16th 2012
Website: Woman's Hour 9/4/12

I used to listen to Woman's Hour a lot back when I was a student/unemployed, but alas now that I have to work for a living I rarely catch it due to the time it broadcasts.  For those not in the know, it's a fairly intellectual, vaguely feminist magazine show based loosely on things woman-related.  It's subtitle "Celebrating, informing and entertaining women" gives you some idea how broad its remit is!

Anyway, since Monday was a bank holiday I managed to catch this episode devoted entirely to the subject of grandparents, and it was lovely.  There was this particularly wonderful story from Virginia Ironside:

One day I had one of my grandsons to stay when he was small.  At about five in the morning he puttered downstairs saying it was time to wake up.

"Granny, Granny!" he said. "Wake up I've got a great idea! Let's get up and play - you go down to the end of the garden and be a monster, and I'll be a knight with my sword and I'll come and kill you."

A little while later as I stood waiting behind a tree, shivering in my dressing gown in the cool dawn light, at the start of a long, long day, making monster noises, I realised I was very happy.  Isn't it great being a granny?

And also this poignant email from one man:

My grandparents have been hugely important to me all my life.  Their love and support has been especially important at times when I've felt quite lost and lonley.  When I was at boarding school, leave weekends with Granny and Grandpa felt like times of refuge.  Their home was a place of sanctuary and security.  Little things - electric blankets, apple pie and ice cream, breakfast in bed - told me that I was loved and that the world could be a good place.  I would really love to be able to say 'thank you' to my Granny on Easter Monday.

The programme got me thinking about my own paternal grandparents, who have always lived near us and who I have spent a lot of time with my whole life.  I have particularly fond memories of days I spent with them as a preschooler when they devoted their time utterly to me.  I used to make pastry with Grandma, for cheese flan or chicken pie, and then we'd chase Grandad with the rolling pin!  (He was quite a good sport - I also remember we tied him to a dining room chair.)  Grandma is quite musical and she taught me lots of songs (or fragments of songs) and taught me to waltz with her singing as the only accompaniment ('Who's taking you home tonight?' by Vera Lynn).  When my mum came to pick me up she's often be treated to a performance of 'The Dying Swan' by the two of us, complete with Grandma lala-ing Swan Lake as we danced!

They were both very touchy-feely people, and there's a lovely picture of the two of them from about ten years ago with their arms round each other, squeezing tight and looking so happy.  I remember that even when I was quite old we would have huge three way hugs!

Grandad was a man who was really interested in things.  Even though he wasn't an educated man (he left school at 14, like most people of his generation) he read voraciously on a huge range of subjects.  He's the only person I know to have read A Brief History of Time all the way through, and he read bhuddist philosophy and taught himself to meditate in his 70s!  He painted and drew beautifully too, and again that was all self-taught.  It wasn't all high minded intellectualism though - tell him a fart joke and he'd laugh til he cried!

It feels good to remember times past with the two of them, especially since Grandad is no longer with us and Grandma (who has advanced Parkinson's) isn't really the person I knew as a child (and much as we love her, caring for her isn't always easy and can cause a fair amount of family friction).

Well done if you read all that!  I don't think my future entries will be this long - the subject rather ran away with me.

Feel free to comment with anything that this post sparks off in your mind - you don't have to have heard the programme.  Oh, and I should probably say - BBC radio (unlike the TV) can be listened to even if you aren't in the UK. :)
JDjunkshop_disco on April 13th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
I've never listened to Woman's Hour, but my bf loves it.

Those are such great stories :D.
katyhasclogs: :Dkatyhasclogs on April 15th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
LOL. The bf has taste. ;)

Those are such great stories :D

I'm very lucky, and it felt good to remember. :D
(Deleted comment)
katyhasclogs: Thoughtfulkatyhasclogs on April 15th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
I don't think I realise how lucky I've been a lot of the time - reliving those memories has reminded me a bit though I think.
shimotsuki: booksshimotsuki on April 14th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
That does sound like an interesting program. Perfect for driving or doing housework -- food for actual thought.

Those are lovely memories of your grandparents, too.
katyhasclogs: Lute Girlkatyhasclogs on April 15th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
That does sound like an interesting program. Perfect for driving or doing housework -- food for actual thought.

Absolutely! That said, I've missed a lot of turnings because I've been listening to the radio and not the sat nav... ;)
gilpin25: Polka dot shoesgilpin25 on April 15th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
My mum loved Woman's Hour when I was a small child, and I remember Sundays in the kitchen with her while she listened to Sue MacGregor and a cake recipe or something, and I waited impatiently for Sue to shut up so I could lick the bowl out. Many years later, like you I went through a phase of listening to it regularly, and now it's only occasionally when I spot something I don't want to miss, but it still brings back a wave of nostalgia and I always enjoy Jane Garvey presenting it.

Really lovely memories of your grandparents there, especially the three way hugs and the chair tying! :) Have you got any of your grandfather's paintings?
katyhasclogs: Sunflowerskatyhasclogs on April 19th, 2012 12:22 pm (UTC)
I waited impatiently for Sue to shut up so I could lick the bowl out

Hee! Those are such lovely memories. :) I don't think small children 'get' radio 4 at all - I remember my mum would put it on in the holidays as she was doing jobs around the house and I'd wonder why on earth anyone would want to listen to it!

I like Jane Garvey too. Interestingly, my dad cannot bear Jenni Murray and moans no end whenever she's presenting!

Have you got any of your grandfather's paintings?

I have a coloured pencil drawing he made, which I must find a frame for and put up. There's lots of his pictures up in my grandma's house (which is now just sitting empty) though, so maybe one day I'll have a few more.