Great Women: a personal list #2

Last year, the family said goodbye to my wonderful grandmother, Peg, whose birthday was Christmas Day. Though I also associate her with Shrove Tuesday, as it was during one catastrophic pancake flip that she taught me how to swear like a sailor. How can a blog post do justice to her? It can’t, but it might drive you to clutch your own relatives tight, record their voices, take photos. One day they will be all you have.

The last time I saw Peg, she wasn’t quite herself. She’d had a stroke, and was anxious about a lot of things that didn’t matter. But she was still funny, and still liked to join in a joke. She was also sharp enough to find the typo in a fresh-off-the-press children’s book by my cousin, Phoebe. ‘You are the reason the creative industry is on its knees in this country,’ said to her, to which she chortled and jabbed me in the tummy.

She was extremely reliable when it came to this blog: within a day of posting anything, I’d get an email asking if I really meant to say that. Usually I hadn’t.

Some people had a nazi grandma; I had a grammar nazi grandma. But behind any criticism was a lot of love: she saw the potential in people, and she helped them get closer to realising it. If I ever doubted myself, Peg never doubted me.

In this series of blogs about women who’ve made my life substantially better, Peg was inevitably going to make an appearance. Why? Because she taught me:

* Follow your own lights

* Growing up is optional

* Never apostrophise a plural

* Never flip an undercooked pancake in the presence of a child


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