I’m pretty late posting my annual goodbye x hello y post and I’m not going to apologise, I haven’t felt much like writing. I think I’ve been avoiding this one because this last week has been horrendous, and in writing this I feel like I’m making things more real, you know? I’ve beasted through a pile of marking in order to avoid doing this, but I can’t concentrate on chapter edits, and I need to do something. I have to write this, in order to pick up and get some semblance of normality as soon as I can.
Last week, my Nan, my mum’s mum, passed away.
Nan. Nannan. Never Gran, never Granny or Grandma or Grandmother… Nan. Nannan when I was younger, Nan when I got older. Maybe Nana if I couldn’t find a nice birthday or Christmas card with Nan on it. Constance. Connie. Nan.
I’m absolutely devastated. I have lost one of the most important people in my life. This is literally one of my worst fears made real.
We were incredibly close – my sister and I spent massive amounts of time with her growing up. Every school holiday, every Friday night for years and years… I’d visit her over lunch breaks when I was at school or call in on my way home from college, from university, from work. She’d try and feed anyone who crossed the threshold, pouring tea and toasting fresh baked breadcakes. Bacon sandwich? Poached egg? A bun, I’ve made some buns but I won’t eat them… I’ll make you some chips. Yorkshire Nan through and through. My mum’s the same, and I try and emulate this as much as I can. Nan instilled a love of baking into me, and I think of her literally every time I bake.
My mum, me and Nan at my Sheffield wedding reception – the large wine is Nan’s.
She taught me to knit, though my hands just don’t understand it like hers did, I’m so much slower… I knit with a needle tucked under one arm, because that’s the way she always did. My sister and I had dozens upon dozens of home knit matching cardigans growing up, and I used to love it when I’d get to choose fancy/cute buttons in Rotherham market. I loved weekly shopping trips with her, walking down to the post office to collect her pension, going round the markets and the charity shops… so many memories of Saturday morning television, playing 21 (blackjack!) or draughts or messing around in the garden. Dad going apeshit swearing that I was in the park with teen boyfriends when in reality we’d be watching Beavis & Butthead and drinking tea at Nan’s. Sorry dad, I’m just not that rock and roll – never have been. Reading all the time, both of us… That ice cream tub full of wax crayons with that distinctive smell. Imperial Leather and 4711. Colouring mum’s hair and insulting her greys and whites. Fringe trims. Turkey dinosaurs and The Simpsons on BBC 2. Staying up late to watch that horrible cartoon, aka South Park. The best Yorkshire puddings on earth, with lamb gravy. Smash Hits. Then Mizz. Then J17. Then Kerrang. All of them comics as far as she was concerned.
She was wise and full of stories – and I’m sure secrets – and gossip and sneaky truths. Sharp and funny. Curtain twitching and knowing everything that was going on on her street. Nothing would get past her – she’d spot a tattoo or a piercing a mile off, in spite of deteriorating eyesight. By the way, tattoos are for sailors and criminals. She hated cats, possibly related to the cat she dressed up as a baby and wheeled around in a pram when she was a kid? That was because her brother Derek smashed the heads off her dolls with a coal shovel. Her two brothers had already passed away – she was the oldest, and the last of the three. She loved kids. She loved New Year’s Eve – Scottish family ties and all that – and she loved a good drink. Sherry. Snowballs. Glenfiddich.
With me & Dan outside the Wick. She called him “Muscle Man” and genuinely liked him, even if he does have long hair. I would have known about it otherwise.
She was 91 – she always said to me she never wanted to be 80, let alone 90, let alone 91. Her health had deteriorated a lot over the past few years, though there was no specific “cause” if you like. No cancer, no illness as such… The funeral is next week. I don’t think I’m going to hold it together very well at all. I’ve taken about a million breaks from trying to write this post. The sadness keeps coming in huge crashing waves, and I’m never entirely sure how or why. I love you Nan.
I love you, you know I do.
Aside from the obvious, 2015 was good. Gaming, baking, blogging, spending time with friends and family… gigs, shows, making and doing… conferences, workshops… slower than I would have liked for my work, but better than either of us could have dreamed for Dan’s work. Not enough travel though. My PhD is still ticking away, and hopefully I’ll be submitting in summer/early autumn. All being well. Some very specific stresses there at the moment, and I’m waiting to see how they play out. As a result I think it’s going to be a little quieter around here, as my thesis has to be my main focus for the year. Once that’s handed in, who knows? I’m not doing resolutions – fuck that noise. I am holding a single word close to me this year that covers all bases for me. I might write more on this soon, I might not.
Happy new year loves – I hope it’s everything you are dreaming of.