Meet the Grandees

‘Grandee’ is my collective noun for the fleet of wonderful older people who I have met and who have helped me with my research. Depending on your point of view, it’s oral history or a good natter.

Why Grandee? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a grandee as someone of high rank or eminence. Which is exactly what I think these folk are to family, to society and definitely to me and my work. (It’s also a nod to the fact that they are of grandparenting age.)

War-babies, most of them. The youngest are probably mid-50s and they go right on up to being in their 90s. I have met Grandees at events right across the country – from Newcastle to Esher, Bury St Edmunds to Liverpool. They listen to me explain what I am writing about, we choose a few topics and then it is over to them. For the next couple of hours they talk and I, well, referee whilst taking copious notes.

The Esher Grandees

The Grandees reminisce and share their memories of things they used to do growing up; and maybe also of some of the things they then passed down to their own kids. One person’s story triggers a memory in someone else and it becomes a communal and focussed trip down memory lane. I really think and hope that they get something out of it beyond the madeira loaf and choc nut cookies that I invariably bake and take along. As I say to them, it’s meant to be fun not a memory test.

Many of the events have been at Age UK ‘Friendship Centres’. Others at community clubs. Sometimes it’s a one-on-one chat with someone who has a lifetime of stories to share. Whatever the format, I never cease to be amazed at how generous the Grandees are with their time and their memories. So much of my work would not happen without them and I am grateful to each and every one.

I’m always keen to meet more Grandees – if you are interested please get in touch with me on 07946 352124, leave a message on this site or email me at angela@thingsyourmotherwouldhavetoldyou.com

The Liverpool Grandees

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Angela,
    I’ve just started writing stories from my life at my 34 year old daughter’s request and its been an absolute delight.
    I’ve remembered things I hadn’t thought of for years and every chapter generates 5 more chapter headings.
    Its very much for the family but actually is of social significance as things have changed so much since my childhood. Just as I found myself becoming my mum, now Ellie sees herself becoming me. She’s a very competent professional woman living in London now but still texts me for recipes etc and I must say I love that!
    I’ll get her your book for her Christmas stocking.
    Love, Dee.
    (from Oldham)

    • How great to hear from you, Dee.

      It is just fascinating to see patterns through generations, especially when – as you say – some aspects of the outside world are always changing and evolving so much. Some things are constants (like a good recipe!) but for those things that aren’t, keeping an account is absolutely invaluable before things get lost or forgotten.

      It’s what I am trying to do in a broader way with this book, and what it sounds like you are doing very specifically for your family. I’m sure that the writing you are doing now is going to be treasured not just by your daughter but by so many future generations of your family. They are lucky indeed to have it.

      And your experiences doing it chime so much with what happens when I talk with my Grandees – each thought or memory brings on a handful more. That is a huge part of what I love so much about doing this.

      If you’d consider sharing some of your memories with me for ‘Things Your Mother Would Have Told You’ that would be just great, so please let me know.

      Angela x

  2. What a lovely introduction to the reason for the book and the people you have met researching for it, and a brilliant letter from Dee. Can’t wait for your book to come out – not only for the recipes but for the treasure-trove of memories and tips. I love my old Gran who seems to have more skills and be more resourceful than anyone else I’ve ever met so a book combining collective Grandee wisdom will be invaluable for us all. Thank you!

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