Diary of A Modern Gran | The Jelly Jubilee!

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“What’s a jubilee?” asks my six-year-old granddaughter. I don’t ask how she heard the word because it’s everywhere at the moment. So exciting!

“It’s a celebration,” I say

“What’s a celebration?”

“It means we say thank you for something.”

“Like we say thank you for tea?”

“Exactly,” I say, eyeing the jelly they’ve helped me make. (It’s one of the few dishes I’m any good at.)

“This week,” I continue, “we’re celebrating the Queen’s Platinum jubilee.”

“What’s patinum?” asks George.

“It’s ‘platinum,’” I say, “with an ‘l’ in it.”

“You don’t say ‘l’ like that,” sighs Rose. “It’s ‘l’.”

Franky, I can’t tell the difference but she’s probably right. I can’t get the hang of phonics! In my day we just recognised words by their shapes. Or at least I did.

“Does the Queen get platinum for a present?” asks George.

I’m impressed by his question. Even if we could afford such a magnanimous gift, I suspect Her Majesty has got enough precious metals, not to mention jewels, in her crown alone.

“No. It means that she’s been on the throne for seventy years.”

“But what’s that got to do with platinum?” demands Rose.

I’m struggling here. “It means it’s very special.”

Rose and George seem happy enough with this at this moment mainly because they are tucking into their jelly which – by the way – I’ve made in a pretty glass mould that belonged to my grandmother.

My sister and I had to call her by her first name because she said any other title made her feel old. I remember feeling a bit upset by that when I was younger as everyone else had a “granny”.  But as I grew older, I rather admired her style.

Given that Doris died 27 years ago aged 92, there’s a good chance that the jelly mould might have been used to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. What a wonderful thought!

Then I remember that post-war life was still very tough for many. Of course it’s tough now too, especially after the virus. But the jelly mould has survived all the way through. It makes me feel quite emotional.

“Would you like this jelly mould when you’re bigger,” I ask my grandchildren.

Rose’s little nose wrinkles. “Is it mouldy?” she asks.

I resist the temptation to laugh.

“No. It’s just the name for the dish.”

“OK,” she says. Then she remembers her manners. “Thank you.”

I hope she or George will use this pretty jelly mould when they have their own homes one day. I’ve a feeling that it will still be in date!

Meanwhile, please excuse me. I’m going to get check on a cake I’m making for the jubilee. Oh dear. I think I smell burning…

“That doesn’t look very good, Gan Gan,” says George when I take it out of the oven.

He’s right. It doesn’t.

“Don’t worry,” he says sweetly. “Mummy’s going to make one for our street party.”

My daughter is the queen of cakes. She’s inherited this skill from my mother and sister. In fact, I recall them making one for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. (Unfortunately the good cook gene passed me by.)

I remember watching the ceremony on television, just after graduation, with my first fiancé whom I didn’t in fact marry. (There’s a story there which I might share with my grandchildren when they’re older.)

Still, I’d never have guessed that, years to come, I’d have three children and two grandchildren. It’s clear too that the Queen takes her role as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother very seriously. I also suspect that there’s plenty of laughter as well.

Family is something to be celebrated! Whether we’re royal or not.

Perhaps I’ll make another jelly. After all, at times like this, you can never have enough!

Agony Gran

“My daughter-in-law is going back to work after the virus. She has asked me to look after our two-year-old grandson but my husband isn’t keen. He says that at our age, we need to be free to do what we want. I am torn between the two.” Name withheld

Jane says:

“This is a very common dilemma amongst grandparents. I’ve seen it cause several arguments between couples and also create tension and upset in families.

“If it was me, I’d suggest you all get together and talk through your feelings in a calm manner. Explain to your son and daughter-in-law that you’re at an age where you need free time after working so hard but that you’d like to help, if possible. Find out exactly what it would involve. Talk about what would happen if you were ill one day and couldn’t provide childcare. Back-up is essential. It might also allow you to go away so you can have those breaks which your husband wants.

“Can you share with one of the other grandparents in the family (if there are any)?  Or maybe do a granny-share like two of my friends do. (Each helps the other if something comes up. They socialise regularly with the grandchildren so each set knows each other.) Is there any way you could get your husband more involved with regular childcare so he can see what a joy it is to help look after grandchildren?

“On the other hand, he does have a point. You both need some time as a couple while you’re healthy enough to enjoy it. It’s a fine balancing line which many of us are treading. Good luck.”

The funny things they say

Thanks to Angela from Bedfordshire who emailed us with this amusing story.

I am helping my three-year-old grandson to recognise the sounds and shapes of letters. The other day, I asked him to think of things that began with ‘F’.

“Fish,” he said brightly.

“Well done,” I said.

Then he jumped up and down with excitement.

“I’ve got another. Firsty!”

He actually meant ‘thirsty’…

Pet suggestion

Two weeks ago, I asked if you had any pet suggestions for grandchildren. Thank you for all your replies! Here are a couple.

“A goldfish. It teaches children how to clear out the bowl regularly. And it doesn’t need walking!” Sandra

“We’ve had hamsters for years. My grandchildren have loved them but I’ve always been there when they’ve held them. Once, one ran out of the room but I caught it immediately. We usually have more than one because they only live between two and three years. This is a hard lesson for children to dealt with but at the same time, it is a fact of life.” Name withheld

Grandparent of the Week – Linda

This week’s grandparent of the week is Linda.

How many grandchildren do you have?

My one and only grandchild is 19 months old and is called Meadow. She lives 10 minutes’ drive from my home in the north west, but I have to say that I much prefer walking between the two homes with Meadow chattering away in the pram. Every person, tree, dog etc gets a friendly and inquisitive wave from her little hand!

Linda with her granddaughterDo you read with her?

We have been enjoying books together for over 12 months now and it’s quite amazing how much one so young can enjoy this simple activity. Every page of the board books is examined and pointed at as Meadow’s little face turns to mine, waiting for the necessary explanations and sound effects required. I never imagined that I could get so much enjoyment from another little person.

Do you go on outings together?

We recently had a day at Chester Zoo with Meadow and her parents (my son and daughter-in-law). The sheer joy and excitement on Meadow’s face at the penguin enclosure was something so special. So was her absolute amazement as they swam past her under water behind the glass screen. She laughed and pointed with glee as they whizzed past her at speed. The elephants and lions only resulted in a passing glance but those penguins stole the show as far as Meadow was concerned!

What do you love about being a grandparent?

Never did I think as a parent, rushing through my life, during those years bringing up my own children, that the time devoted to a grandchild is given without limit or measure.

Free Bookmark!

I am giving away free bookmarks to celebrate my new novel ‘WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS’ (published by Penguin on June 23). My story is about two women who are staying in a Cornish house. One is running. One is hiding. Both are lying. Then there is Harold, the elderly owner of the house, whose secrets go back to the Second World War.

If you would like a bookmark, please email moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

You can buy my novel from bookshops, supermarkets and online at https://linktr.ee/janecorry.

Janes new book and QR code to order