you're reading...

Out of the mouths of babes and grandmas



My mother was 93 on Wednesday. She still lives on her own, does the Telegraph crossword without breaking sweat and makes a raspberry pie that reduces a noisy family dinner to silent, absorbed wonderment.

She is 5ft 2 ins, with piercing blue eyes, and not all the dark has gone from her hair. In 1939, aged 19, she was called up by the Army, where she became a truck driver and the best mechanic in her platoon. Later, as a mem sahib in colonial Malaya, during the Emergency when British ex pats were being murdered by desperate rebels, she was once asked what she would do if a gang attacked her house while my dad, a civil engineer, was up country. She replied, ‘I’d take David’s service revolver and lock myself in the bathroom with the boys (my brothers, then toddlers) and shoot the first person who came through the door.’

So, there she is, 60 or so years later, in her flat, with me and my daughter Rose, aged 16, playing Scrabble. She is winning, of course.


Rose discovers she hasn’t got quite the right set of letters for the word she wants, and says, ‘Bugger.’

My mother looks at her in shock. ‘Rose! That’s a terrible word to use. I don’t like to hear young girls swearing, Or anybody swearing for that matter. It’s not nice. It’s really not nice. Don’t let me hear you say that again.’

Rose looks down at her tiles. ‘Sorry, grandma.’

I look in amazement at my mother. For once, I have to speak up. ‘How can you possibly complain about Rose saying “bugger”, when you told me just now you could put “wank” on the triple word?’
My mother looks at me with a mixture of shock, confusion and embarrassment. ‘That’s quite different,’ she says at last, recovering her hauteur. ‘I would have got a very good score with wank.’

One last thing. Please don’t tell her I’ve written this. She may never make me raspberry pie ever again.


About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


15 thoughts on “Out of the mouths of babes and grandmas

  1. Great post! My mom turned 90 last month and she’s still “sharp as a tack.” She lives on her own and even still drives a bit, but she is surrounded by family, which gives me comfort since I’m several states away. Your mom sounds both precious and a force to be reckoned with 🙂

    Posted by 1WriteWay | November 18, 2013, 1:51 am
    • yes, that’s a pretty good description! She gives the best hugs, but you wouldn’t want to get told off by her. It’s the way she looks at you, really, when you’ve misbehaved. Withering is not the word for it.

      Posted by elainecanham | November 18, 2013, 9:46 am
  2. Just bloomin’ wonderful !

    Posted by davidprosser | November 17, 2013, 12:09 pm
  3. Moms are ALWAYS right, even when they’re NOT LOL 😀

    Posted by The Story Reading ApeChris Graham | November 17, 2013, 10:52 am
  4. Reblogged this on Seumas Gallacher and commented:
    ..LUV THIS post by Elaine Canham… enjoy, as I did :))

    Posted by Seumas Gallacher | November 17, 2013, 10:41 am
  5. I love this. My Mom and I play scrabble, and I have never, I repeat never beaten her. She pulls these amazing words out of the air and puts them on triple word squares and hooks them to other words and ends getting 100 points for one word. I just stare in awe. Congrats on the sunshine award. I would have given it to you since your blog makes me smile, but assumed you already had it.

    Posted by geanieroake | November 12, 2013, 5:41 pm
  6. ha ha, Lady Bracknell, I presume. I thought it was a verb

    Posted by elainecanham | October 31, 2013, 11:29 pm
  7. I think wank is a most improper noun.

    Posted by Jools | October 31, 2013, 8:35 pm
  8. Loved it! I sent this one to family members. My dad is about the same age as your mom, shares the Crossword talent, and plays to win at Scrabble. What a blessing to have them with us.

    Posted by MikeW | October 31, 2013, 5:35 pm
  9. Terrific! I LOLLed like crazy when I read it. However, I would note that in the pic at the top, all the words are proper nouns and therefore illegal. If you were to try that stuff on me, I’d give you a sharp rebuke.

    Posted by penjedi | October 31, 2013, 3:37 pm
  10. That did make me laugh. I do love a high scoring word in scrabble, although I force myself not to use some words, even if I’m just playing the computer (which cheats!) and am sorely tempted.

    Posted by Loretta Livingstone | October 31, 2013, 11:38 am


  1. Pingback: Happy birthday, mum | Writer's notebook - October 23, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow on Bloglovin

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: