My Gran

My Gran was very much a lady and would often try to teach me manners and etiquette.  I remember being taught to walk across the room with books on my head in the hope I would walk upright and straight.  I do not think this worked.  There were lessons on how to hold a cup properly and how to lay a table, all done with love and laughter.  As young as I was, I remember her saying “canna afford to send you to some posh finishing school, but my Granddaughter will know how to behave”.  My Gran although rather posh had some quirky phrases that she would use.  Here are a few: 

If I told her I could not do something she would say:

‘you munna say dunna it inna polite, you munna say canna for that inna right’. 

This was often repeated by my own mum as my sister and I grew up. 

If I asked what was for tea: 

'She would say ‘bees an nees and spiders elbows’.   

Other sayings: 

‘Do not let your eyes grow on your forehead’. (Which means do not look down on others). 

My Gran was also wise.  One of her favourite tricks would be to make sure the table was laid before my granddad came home from work.  She would say, “Put the tablecloth on, lay the mats and put the cutlery out, that way if the dinner isn’t ready at least your granddad will know he is going to be fed”. 

I have very vivid memories of my Gran’s kitchen.  She had a stone sink with a cold-water tap; you had to watch you did not graze your arm as it was chipped and ragged around the edges.  The clothes were washed in that tiny sink by hand and then fed through a mangle.  On a nice day the mangle was carried outside by my aunties.  The sheets were white heavy cotton twill and I am sure I remember that on washday my aunties also used to help with taking them out of the sink and feeding them through the mangle.  The water dribbled out into a tin bath and was then used to water the garden. With the sheets it took great effort and often family team work to lift them from the sink to the mangle, on wash days I remember my gran and aunties singing the following song.


She who washes Monday has all the week to dry.

She who washes Tuesday is not so far awry.

She who washes Wednesday is not too much to blame.

She who washes Thursday wash for the shame.

She who washes Friday wash for the need.

But she who washes Saturday is a dirty slut indeed.


I remember the laughter when they finished singing and me begging them to sing the song again.  It would take a whole day to wash, line dry, fold and air the clothes.  When it rained then Gran had a pulley attached to the ceiling in the kitchen which she brought down.  The pulley was fixed to the ceiling by chains and had a cord which was wound around a large hook fixed to the kitchen wall. It was about three feet long and had three or four wooden slats to hang the washing over.  Then my gran would pull it back up secure the cord and leave the washing to dry overnight.  

The ironing was always done the next day, this was called a flat iron placed on top of the oven heat and I think I remember her having two irons, one to heat and one to use.  They were small compared with today’s iron but quite heavy and of course they cooled off very quickly.  If she wanted to use steam, she would simply spit on the flat iron surface.

When I was incredibly young the kitchen was lit by gas lamp which.  I remember the excitement when my Gran had electricity installed.  Her first electric iron was plugged into the light switch and as she was ironing the light cord and the iron cord used to swing across the room.  With hindsight now that was frighteningly dangerous.  My gran would still have to use the gas lamp because of the iron being plugged into the light socket and the shadows from the gas lamp and the motion of the cord swinging across the room created spooky, swirling shadows across the ceiling. 

Gran and Grandad

My Gran lived at Lloyd Street for over 43 years unfortunately she never owned the house and eventually a new landlord took over.  He wanted to modernise the house and after a lifetime of happy memories and some tragedies she had to move into a small flat at 2 Swan Lane.  I passionately believe that she never recovered from this move.  My Gran died on the 12th June 1975 at Oswestry and District Hospital aged 93.  When her son-in-law Arthur registered her death, she was described as the Widow of Frederick William Francis.  So, the name ‘Fred’ was with her to the very end. 

My Nan and Granddad had four children three daughters and one son, but my Mum was brought up as her daughter and I will explain this soon.


My Grandad early 50's in their beloved garden