An email from Granny is always exciting. As much as I wish we communicated by beautifully rendered cards and letters (as we used to!) it is not always feasible and I am all mouth no trousers when it comes to keeping up my end of the bargain. So emails work well. They are low-effort and low-guilt, plus it is an absolute delight to see “sent from my ipad” in amongst the text of each one as she has accidentally redirected the beginning of her sentence.
I remember when we as a family gave her the ipad for her 80th birthday with great chattering pride and ceremony and she could not have been less enthusiastic. Her expression was one of benign disinterest, as though, having established “this rectangle does not apply to me” she could safely resume thinking about something better. The same face I imagine I have when someone bores me with The Offside Rule or their description of The School Run. She took it home anyway and tried her best with it. After a short period of acute suspicion at this home intruder with its erratic and controlling behavior “IPad won’t let me say [insert old fashioned word] how I want to Bossy thing“ she eventually got to grips with it and now whips off unpunctuated emails left right and centre, scrolls through galleries of uploaded family photographs to remind herself what her grandchildren look like and checks the weather forecast nightly.
The weather is a major thing for Granny and she begins or ends most emails with a flash bulletin of The Weather Down Here. Being Hampshire, it is usually a variation on “cold”, “wet + windy” or “blustery walk”. I love to imagine my Grandmother in a rural idyll, promenading through paddocks and orchards and the vegetable patch, scattering rabbits straight from a Beatrix Potter story, which is how I remember my school holiday visits to her house. Sometimes she doesn’t disappoint, eg “Hyacinths in full bloom today” or “Just been all round the estate lots of daffys out & birds singing & wood peckers drumming away”. Unfortunately, more often than not, the weather is king and her reports turn into scenes from #drunkfurniture; “Very wild here today just blown all the plastic chairs & table all over the place”
When I write to Granny I tend to stick to favourite subjects whilst trying not to be too formulaic. If you want to email your own Grandmother (or mine – and I heartily recommend it) then I offer the following topics that have gone down well in the past;
Obviously begin at the beginning and be sure to give a good sense of how the weather is Where You Are. I include my own personalized weather reports from South London, largely spells of pearlescent grey like living inside a Tupperware box with occasional interruptions from improbably named “storms” or “heatwaves” which whip local white 40+ men into flag-waving, topless frenzies.
Next, it never does any harm to lay on a pet-based anecdote. If you have experienced any encounter at all in the last 6 months with an animal of any sort, then, please, tell her about it. Dog stories are preferred of course, but any 4-legged drama will do. It doesn’t even need to be dramatic. I once bought a postcard with a picture of a gondolier on and a European stamp just so that I could let Granny know that I had seen a dog lying on the floor in Venice that had its legs straight out in front and straight out behind as though it were posing as a bearskin rug.
If you see a boat or a plane, find out what it was and report back. She may not care a hoot but in my case it is a small connection I have with my naval and air officer Grandfather who is no longer with us and I feel she will kindly take messages for him.
Granny is also catching up on the rugger on his behalf. If you know there is a rugby match on, actually, just leave it. You can’t possibly say anything interesting or accurate enough to do with rugby as you are a dunce and, in all honesty, she would rather be watching the rugby than having to respond to all these blasted emails anyway.
The best thing about emailing Granny is that she writes “lol granny” at the end of each one with absolutely no preceding punctuation, which makes it sound like she’s taking the piss. Of COURSE she means ‘lots of love’ in the David Cameron way but her grandchildren (these 3 at least) can never unhear the casual shade being thrown. You can practically see the sneery Vs being flicked as you read:
“Sun’s out today but forecast not too good lol granny”
“Hope the MRI results are good lol granny”
“Happy birthday and best wishes for the coming year lol granny”