Monday, 1 April 2013

336: Icing and Fairycakes

I don’t think of myself as old, in fact nowhere near.  I’m a good 10 years off middle age even and by the time I get there hopefully it’ll have moved on again.  But in the 40 odd years I’ve lived on this planet, grandmas have definitely got younger.  Not like policemen have or schoolboys, but being a grandma isn't what it used to be.

Take my Nana.  She made her own dresses, a skill learnt in the War.  Teas were high and cold and she toasted crumpets for supper every night at 10pm.  She took a healthy walk every afternoon in all but the worst of weathers and she’d never, ever holidayed abroad.  Nana wore little makeup, just a touch of powder and pinky lipstick if she was visiting someone.  Her hair was tight gunmetal grey curls, permed every few months so it held its style between bath nights.  Most days she smelled clean and of soap but for special occasions she would spritz Coty L’Aimant on her pulse points, just one squirt.

I could be a grandma already at my age.  I’m not, I don’t think.  But the grandmas I know never make their own dresses.  They would order online from Next or Ebay or maybe John Lewis, for next day delivery.  One or two have taken up knitting though and go to those ‘stitch & bitch’ sessions you hear about.  The group in the library was too tame apparently.  Grandmas now have supper at parties, ideally of 10 or more and with any number of available men.  They belong to gyms and hold down powerful jobs, from which they take foreign holidays several times per year.  They have facials and wear Clarins and consider cosmetic surgery.  They have red hair or black hair or golden hair, when grandmas used to think rouge and a purple rinse was decadent.

I would much rather be one of these modern grandmas but have an old-style one.  Nana loved making pink icing.  We used to make cakes just so we could ice them in pink, even though Grandfather prefered chocolate.  We always made too much, so there was enough left over that we could both lick the bowl.  I remember it leaving my fingers all sticky and glossy pink.  Small crusts would dry round my fingernail beds sometimes and I would work them loose with my tongue.  The first one was always for me and the paper case would have tracks of once-molten pink running down the outside.

Grandmas today would probably say frosting and cupcakes and be more likely to buy them in pairs in clear plastic containers from the chiller cabinet.  The icing may still be pink but it won't taste of sharing and of fun and of love.

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