Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Oldie but a Goodie

My Granny is a lady and she is also a Lady (yup, she married a Sir). She’s always lived in ridiculous houses (in a good way. Like with maid’s quarters and a ballroom, orchards and even a dungeon.) She holds regular charity events in her gardens, prefers a set breakfast, and has a room in her current house which she affectionately calls the Vermeer Room (the walls of which are painted “Vermeer red” and are hung with copies of Vermeer works, painted by none other than the Lady herself. I kid you not.).

As a little tacker (and later, a bigger, back-chatting one) I didn’t think much of the Lady’s pomp and ceremony. I couldn’t see the point sprinkling salt on my dinner with a silver spoon from a silver dish when I could have just used a shaker, and I found the notion of serving a Charcoal Chicken family meal with a gravy boat and porcelain dishes utterly laughable. “Enough of this How Now Brown Cow business”, I thought - “Give me TV, Coco Pops from the box, and fish fingers.” The Lady, I figured, was stuck in a time warp - a time when men liked their women barefoot and pregnant and women preferred the men with bryll cream in their hair.

Nevertheless my twenties have brought about a change of heart. I still wouldn’t bother with the gravy boat but seeing as I’m older and wiser and fish fingers aren’t so appealing these days, I’m coming around to the idea that I’ve got more to learn from the Lady than I realised (after all we’re all doing the time warp again, and a Gen Y-er never misses an opportunity for introspection). I was so busy being narrow-minded 90s girl that I missed the point entirely - it’s the fuss and hooplah of etiquette that makes is so much damn fun. “Sugar? One lump or two? Allow me.” It’s a parade, a farce, a role-play of sorts. It’s considered, cultivated, executed for maximum effect. We all do it. These days perhaps less frequently and with less panache, but we all do it.

There’s also a lovely ‘others focussed’ bent to being awfully well mannered. The other day I called the Lady for a chat and she gave me the rundown of her week – a flower arranging demonstration for her church group, babysitting grandchildren, a visit to some old friends in a local Aged Home and a luncheon at her house for a group of ladies from a local home for the blind. She sits these blind women in her sunroom and describes the rose garden to them. She described one lady’s brooch and they begged her not to stop – no one had thought to do that for them before.

They say out with the old, in with the new. I say mix them up and take the best of both worlds. Snaps to Grannies– the world is a better place because of them.