Friday, 16 January 2015

Letters to and from my Granny




One of the main characters in 'Funnily Enough', indeed in my life, was Granny Joy. She rang us up every single day, two or three times. This could be maddening as she had nothing to say, but sometimes she had us shrieking with laughter.

First there was the break-in scenario when she woke up to find a young man in her bedroom.
'I don't think you are meant to be here,' she said and threw a massive pot of cold cream at him.

Then she had an admirer.
'Oh, Granny! That's jolly.'
'He's past being jolly.'


Joy Dodson

Granny had been a great beauty, married in Arusha a few days before her 21st Birthday to Doddy Dodson, an officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers, seconded to the King's African Rifles in Tanganyika who had met her father on the ship out to Dar es Salaam.


Lt Col H.M. Dodson

I guessed that she married to escape from her own parents.
'Where you in love with Guga when you married him.'
'No, but it was a very good marriage,' she assured me. He was a sweet man.


Mrs Maxtone Mailer riding with Joy at Bulwa in Tanzania

Granny understood why I wanted to fly to Africa for my health. She had loved it out there. Her father gave her no money but he did buy her a horse, a roan called Strawberry, which enabled her to ride off and visit the neighbours. She made a bit of money painting watercolours, mainly landscapes, which capture the unspoiled beauty of northern Tanzania.


Joy in Tanganyika in the early 1930s

She despaired of her father's addiction to Big Game hunting but did join him on a bird shoot. She was quite proud of this duck. Her nephew told me that they did need to shoot for the pot. There where no shops.


Granny was a great letter writer. Here is the one she sent me about her intruder.


It saddens me to think that she missed going to my parents' for Christmas because she was worried about leaving her house. And she didn't like putting the empty milk bottles outside the front door.


I loved her letters and wrote back, sending postcards as often as I could, two or three times a week in the end. When my aunt and I finally went to clear her room at the nursing home that was Dalmock Castle I found she had kept everyone. It was like looking through my whole life in reverse.

I wish that I had kept her love letters. She was still receiving them aged 86. And they were scorchers.