Interview with my Grandma part 1

My Grandma is quite possibly my favourite person in the world. She taught me to read, she introduced me to the wonders of history and culture, she inspired me to teach and I've always desired nothing more than a life as happy and wonderful as the one she had with my Grandad. She is also a big fan of my blog, and reads it all the time so hello Grandma! 

I've featured Grandma on my blog several times in the past, and she always gets a great reception from commenters, so I thought it would be lovely to sit down with her and talk about her life, the lessons she has learned and her advice for future generations. It was a fascinating couple of hours. I learned so much that I didn't already know, and I laughed a lot too! Turns out, despite the 50+ year age gap, my life is very similar to Grandma's so far.

As I was writing this post, it became apparent that it was going to be very, very long, so I've split it into two parts. This part will cover her childhood and life up until marriage, and tomorrow I will post the rest of her life and advice for the future. 

Grandma and her younger brother were born in working class London, but when she was 4, and her brother 2, they were evacuated due to the Blitz. As they were siblings, they had to be placed together but nobody wanted to take on two children, so they were the last to be picked. Despite this disruptive start to her life, Grandma learned to be self-sufficient and adaptable: "I was washing my own knickers when I was five".

They ended up in a village with a school that allowed the evacuees to attend on a rotating morning/afternoon session basis. Although not everyone was her best friend, she did make friends but couldn't get too close to anyone since people moved so often in the war: "We learned early on that nothing was forever"

When Grandma returned to London after the war, she benefitted hugely from the Education Act 1944 and was offered a scholarship at the prestigious Grey Coat School in Westminster. Unfortunately, it was a long distance on the bus and Grandma's mother was worried about the journey. However, she did attend the esteemed Clapham County Grammar School, where she was always near the top of the class. 

As it was a fee-paying school, Grandma found it difficult being surrounded by wealthy girls and wanted what they have but used this as motivation to succeed: "All I knew was that, if I continued to do the best I could, I could get these things". At the time, it was hard for her but, as she said, "you don't know you do, but you learn a lot from it". 

After school
Grandma wanted to go to university, but unfortunately her parents couldn't afford it, so she went to work in Charters Bank on South Embankment translating French but had to leave after she got married as married women weren't allowed to work in banks.

Love life
It turns out, Grandma was a bit of a rebel! If she missed her 11pm curfew, her father would be standing on the doorstep waiting for her. She used to go across the road to her friend Mary's house, then sneak to the dance hall without telling her parents where she was going. In 1953, when she was 18, her cadet officer boyfriend turned up at her house on a motorbike! Her father was so furious that he ordered the boyfriend off the premises, and he had to leave his bike in the garden. Instead, they had to travel the long bus journey to the ballroom in Purley with the boyfriend refusing to talk to her!  

Shortly after, Grandma's best friend from school and Charters Bank, Jennifer, had a party for her 18th birthday. Her older brother in the airforce brought a friend along- the man who would become my Grandad. He once said "I knew I was going to marry Jean the day I met her", although Grandma "wasn't certain at all". After the party, Grandad called to ask her out, but a couple of days later, she had a call from the motorbike-riding cadet officer! Luckily for Grandad- and for me!- she turned the officer down. 

In 1955, Grandma and Grandad married. Her hair was done two days before the wedding, and "we always had hair like our mothers". She was very happy, but a bit scared since she was only 20 and didn't know what to expect from marriage. This was a normal age to marry then, "because you couldn't have sex before you were married in those days". 

In fact, she had a cousin Iris who was a nanny and would walk with the children outside Buckingham Palace. She met a guardsman there and eventually became engaged to him, before he was posted abroad. One day, Grandma came home to find her Auntie Nellie crying in the front room. Iris had announced that she was pregnant, but her fiancé was away so they couldn't marry. Luckily Bob, the guardsman, managed to come back on compassionate leave and they married 3 months before the baby was born. They ended up having a lovely life, with Bob owning a successful building business and a marriage lasting 60 years. 


This seems like a good place to take a rest. Tomorrow I will post the rest of the interview, in which we talked about her married life, her life as a teacher and her advice for young people today. 


  1. Lovely post Becky :) Your grandma sounds like a great lady, really interesting life and I love her top/dress and pearls in the photo! It's making me think I should do something like this with my grandparents - I have a tape somewhere of an interview I did with my mum's parents when I was at primary school and now my grandad's no longer with us it's lovely to have something that keeps his story alive in a way. Looking forward to part 2!

  2. Yay, Grandma! That wedding cake looks phenomenal! I hope you have something similar planned :) xx

  3. This is one of the best posts I have ever read. Thank you for sharing x

  4. Oh I love reading about elderly people's lives, they were just so different back when they were young and it's a time that really fascinate me :) Looking forward to the next edition!
    Megan x | MeganRoisinn

  5. LOVED this. I'm such a sap and history nerd so really love stuff like this.Your grandma is gorgeous, look forward to the next part!

    Sophie x

  6. What an incredible idea for a post! Family love! <3 Your grandma sounds like a truly amazing woman. Isn't it great to see how differently they had it growing up compared to how we have it present-day?

    Can't wait to read the next part!!! Thanks for posting!

  7. I love posts like this! Hearing our grandparents' stories is wonderful. It reminds me how similar we are and how people really weren't much different back then. Your grandma sounds like a fascinating woman!

  8. Such a fantastic idea. I wish I could write about my grandma in the same way but when you have a refugee family with destroyed documents and no way of knowing how old they are, it's difficult. I love the wedding photo and the portrait, I always want to see old photos. Can't imagine setting my hair and hoping it will last for 2 days!

  9. Awww, your Grandma is awesome! It's really interesting to hear about people's lives (I think that why we are all bloggers and blog readers secretly!). I wish I had the chance to hear all about my Dad's life, but I got to hear it all at the funeral, not my proudest moment as I knew none of it but it was still nice to hear.

  10. Aww your Gran sounds like such a cutie! I love reading about other peoples lives, I can't wait to hear more.
    Kloe xx

  11. This was such a lovely post to read, your grandma sounds wonderful! x

    Lola and Behold

  12. Oh this is lovely! to read. I lost my last Grandparent last year, and at his funeral I found out so many interesting things about his life from my Uncle's eulogy. I just wish I'd have done something like this and asked about his life more! Looking forward to the next part!

  13. Lovely photos! This is such an interesting post to read, grandparents have some wonderful stories to share :)

    Jess xo


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