In 1996, I visited Zimbabwe to do the research for my Honours dissertation, When “Back Home” isn’t England: making visible the memories, lives and experiences of some white women in Rhodesia. One of the women I interviewed was my Aunt Doris, my father’s brother’s wife. She told me this story about my grandmother and grandfather (my father’s parents).
My aunt told me about when she and Uncle Peter got married (in 1941). They invited Mama and Papa for Christmas dinner. Aunt said, “I was very nervous and wanted everything to be just right.” So she laid the table and lit candles. When Papa arrived he said, “Aren’t the lights working?” and flicked the switch. When the lights came on he said, “Well, Good Luck!” and blew out the candles. Aunt said she was so mortified she didn’t have lit candles on the dinner table for the next 25 years! She said, “Papa related candles with poverty”.
I sometimes wonder what my grandmother had to say about it. Probably not very much as she was not a great talker. My aunt admired her hugely, as did most people. Aunt said, “Mama was … she was a great philosopher. She was wonderful. She was very wise. The time I loved her most was, she never gave advice. She never pushed herself on you. She was lovely. She was quiet and she was wise. And she worked very hard.
Many, but not all, of the stories from the research made it into my dissertation. So there’s a possibility for more blog vignettes.