Sunday, 9 October 2011

Age-related benefits

I know that "Age is just a number" sounds like one of those awful motivational phrases touted by colossally dull people. But I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that they may have a point.

Today we celebrated the 93rd birthday of Katie's grandmother. Lunch in a pub was the order of the day and I was placed next to the celebrant in question. She's really quite remarkable.

Maud is not quite what you would expect from someone ploughing relentlessly through their tenth decade. OK, so the body may not be as strong as it once was - she's not so steady on her feet these days - but in all other respects she's as sharp as a die. Unexpectedly so.

Somehow the conversation got round to money and she leant over to tell me how she remembered the Depression. No, not the ersatz one we've been going through since 2007. Not even the one we all shoulder-padded around in the '80s.

The Depression. The one with the capital D.

She told us about the Wall Street Crash of 1929, people losing their savings, jumping off skyscrapers, the whole shebang. It was still a vivid memory to her. (And yes, I'm well aware that there aren't that many skyscrapers in Stourbridge, but we must assume that Pathe News was doing its job at the time.)

And in a Black Country accent you could use to cut Brierley Hill crystal, she commented: "And it was all the fault of the banks. The bastards. You're better off keeping your money down your draws."

The rest of her family are clearly accustomed to Maud's pronouncements. But for me it was very nearly a gravy-out-of-the-nose moment. She returned to her chicken in a cheese sauce.

A few minutes later and the rest of us were talking about something else. Maud announced, apropos of nothing: "You know, it's possible to walk around in my garden in the nude, and no-one would see you."

I have no idea where that came from.

Then, as we were coming to the end of the meal, my mother-in-law ordered coffee. "I should warn you," said Katie's uncle, "the coffee here isn't great." He was right. It was an insipid beige liquid. To misquote Douglas Adams, it was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee.

Or, to accurately quote my grand-mother-in-law: "That looks like a bowl of camel piss."

I know where Katie gets it from.

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