Diary of A Modern Gran | Hard To Tell Truth From Fiction

Illustration: Istockphoto © Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

When I worked in a high security male prison a few years ago, certain emergency situations would arise which resulted in “lockdown”. This meant that wherever you were, all internal and external doors would be locked. You’d have to stay where you were until the issue was dealt with – which might take half an hour or all night. This was tricky for me as I was bringing up my youngest teenager on my own and needed to be back for him at the end of the school day.

The reason I mention this is that we have been on a form of lockdown ever since Rose swallowed a bolt. We don’t like to venture too far in case she shows signs of not being well. It’s not that we don’t believe the x-ray which showed there was nothing inside her. It’s more that Rose always tells the truth. Personally, I’m convinced that the bolt is in there somewhere…

To make it worse, she gets a slight temperature four days later. Could this be related to a foreign body? Or is it just the cold virus?

Meanwhile, my husband is taking bets. “I think Rose is having us on,” he insists. “She winked at me when I asked if she’d really swallowed it.”

I’m afraid I don’t believe a word. My husband loves to embellish stories – in fact I keep urging him to write a novel now he’s retired.

During one of my non-granny days this week, I go for a 15 mile walk with a friend. Her own little grandchildren are several miles away and she visits them once a fortnight. We both find it helpful to swap notes.

“You know,” she says when I tell her about our bolt worries, “when I was a child, I lost my shoe when we were walking by a stream. I told my mother that the fairies had taken it. Really it was because I was worried they would tell me off. And even though both my parents are dead now, I still feel bad about it.”

I can remember telling the odd childhood porky too…

Once, when I was about seven, I told my mother that I had ripped a new dress on the door handle. She’d only just finished making it from a woman’s magazine sewing pattern. Indeed, can still see it now with those liquorice pink and black stripes.

What I didn’t admit was that I had actually jumped out of our lower ground floor window – just to see what it was like – and ripped the dress en route. I wasn’t hurt but, one of the neighbours had seen me so I got into a lot of trouble both for the act and the lie.

(Now, I’d like to add, I always tell the truth about everything in real life. In my novels, it’s different. In fact, I’m love to tease my readers with the “unreliable narrator technique!”)

Just as I’m about to return from my walk with my granny friend, I get a text from my daughter.

“GREAT NEWS!!!! We’ve found the bolt. It had slid under the wardrobe!”

“See!” crows my husband triumphantly. “So Rose didn’t swallow it after all.”

He’s pleased because he always likes to be right! We are simply relieved. And yet part of me would like to know a little bit more. “Did you really think you’d swallowed the bolt,” I ask my granddaughter.

“Yes,” she nods solemnly.

I always knew Rose was going to be a writer but now I’m certain!

Meanwhile, George is displaying an on-off relationship with nursery school

When we get there, he makes a beeline for the tractors. But as soon as I’m out of sight, he yells. The staff have been brilliant. But exactly the same happens again as last week and the week before. I get a “maybe you’d better come and get him” phone call, soon after dropping him off.

It’s so happens that this one comes while I’m on the phone to an airline company to arrange holiday wheelchair access for my husband. It’s taken me ages to get through but even so, I put the airline on hold. But by mistake, I cut off the nursery. I ring back and it’s engaged.

So I get into the car and drive. By the time I get there, George has tears streaming down his face. He stops immediately he sees me. So I bring him back to our place.

“Have you sprung, George?” jokes my husband, in reference to my prison past.

Very funny.

But what to do? Keep him at nursery in the hope he settles? Or give in.

“Maybe he’s practising for teenage truancy,” suggests my husband who is on fine form this week.

It’s decided it might be best if George has a break until January. Even though his sister started nursery at this age, all children are different in terms of being left. It means I’ve lost my tennis morning but my grandson is more important.

So we go home and play. We have a great time except – whoops! – he bumps his head on a low table. (At least it’s at their place and not ours so I can’t be told off again for not having a child-proof house!)

A boxer’s bruise immediately emerges. Oh dear. I think about texting my “bosses” but he cheers up within seconds. However, the mark remains, despite the fact I’ve put a cold compress on it.

There’s only one thing to do. Divert him with a unicorn egg. This is an amazing toy which my husband and I bought at a garden centre the other day. You put it in water and wait for it to crack.

I thought the children might be a bit impatient as it doesn’t happen immediately. But they’re both fascinated.

“What will happen when it comes out,” asks my granddaughter after I collect her from nursery (my third trip there and back today.)

“Maybe a baby unicorn will come out,” I say.

She shakes her head at me firmly. “Don’t be silly, Gan Gan. This is only a toy. It’s naughty to lie. Remember?”

Well! That’s me put in my place…

I Looked Away by Jane Corry is published by Penguin Viking. To buy, go to https://amzn.to/2Lq2rew and https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Looked-Away/23635139

Details about Jane's latest book, I Looked Away

Don’t miss an exclusive serial, The Grans’ Club, written by Jane Corry for My Weekly. All instalments are available now.

Read Jane’s other Gran’s columns here

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!