‘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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org