My not so ‘Victorian’ Grandmother.
Posted by Big John on August 31, 2006
In a recent post I told of how my ‘Victorian’ grandfather relied on my grandmother for just about everything, so for those of you who have not read about her in my previous blog here is a chance to learn a little about that very remarkable mother of ten children…..
Her name was Constance Emma Mariah known to all as ‘Con’. She was born in Lambeth (London) in the year of 1883, and is listed in the 1901 census as a ‘laundress general’. Her father was a hansom cab driver and her family had a ‘cook shop’ near the famous Lambeth Walk.
She was a tiny little woman, but was ‘as tough as old boots’. It is rumoured that as a young girl she wore a man’s flat cap, complete with hat pin, and smoked a clay pipe. In old age traces of a tattoo were still visible on her arm. She swore ‘like a trooper’ and was well known to the ‘bookie’s runner’ on the street corner.
When I was a child she told me that I had Spanish blood in my veins because her grandfather had been a soldier serving in Spain who had married a young Spanish girl. She certainly looked very Spanish as you can see from the photograph, which was taken when she was about seventy.
During the war years she managed to feed her family despite rationing, and I well remember when we kids would enter her kitchen she always had a slice of cake or a jam tart for us, for she knew her way around ‘the black market’ and it was thought that she ‘had something’ on the local butcher.
My favourite story about her is that during the ‘London Blitz’ she discovered a large hole in the road outside her house one morning, and being the neat and tidy lady that she was, she started sweeping the surrounding rubble into the hole, only to be dragged away by a squad of soldiers, for an unexploded bomb still lay at the bottom of the hole. If the Germans had ever invaded England I would have hated to be in the stormtrooper’s jackboots who left mud on her clean doorstep.
Despite her rough and ready ways she had a ‘heart of gold’ and was greatly loved……
……… They sure don’t make ’em like her any more.