This post is somewhat inspired by Shy's.
My Grandma was the youngest of seven by some way she had three elder sisters and three elder brothers. Their house sounds somewhat bohemian. Her sister Kitty was a music hall star in the 1920s and 30s, her brother Wally a poet and four of the seven played concert standard piano. Their mother who sounded like a saint (sorry was a saint) regularly cooked 8 different evening meals for the different members of the household at anything from 6pm to 11.30pm depending on when they deigned to pitch up. She refused to cook anything beyond that though and anyone after that had to make do with whatever was left for them in the aga.
Winnie (my grandma) was 20 years younger than her oldest sister and only 2 years older than her first neice so she remained the baby of the family throughout her time at home until she married Jack (my grandfather), spoilt rotten, something she retained for her entire life.
She had the most rose-tinted view of the world it is possible to imagine, she hated conflict and simply couldn't understand why anyone would ever fall out. It's something that my father had a very hard time with. When my mother was very ill, he had a nervous breakdown and when he finally found the right counsellor they established that the breakdown was less about my mother's illness and more about his relationship with his mother ('typically fucking typical' as he succinctly put it).
There are two stories that I remember my Grandmother for. As she got older, she became increasingly frank about her sex life and I will always remember a particularly excrutiating visit with my dad and my brother, where we spent around 40 minutes explaining exactly what lesbians did, a conversation that spanned everything from double ended dildos to cunnilingus technique.
Anyway, the first was a conversation she had with a neighbour of 6 years. In the garden one afternoon with tea, her neighbour seemed slightly distracted and uncomfortable. My grandmother picked up on this (very unlike her) and asked why she was so uncomfortable and there proceed a ten minute back and fotrth
'no, no, no I'm fine'
'no go on what's wrong'
'it's really nothing, honestly'
'well there obviously is, go on you can tell me'
Finally the neighbour caved in and said 'well I just wanted to ask something really'
'yes what is it'
'Yes, go on you can ask'
'Well it's about you and Jack'
'Are you very happy?'
'Yes we're happy'. My Grandmother was somewhat puzzled by the question 'Why do you ask?'
'Spit it out Maureen'
'Well do you and Jack have errr'
'Have relations...errrr... you know errr... every night'
This somewhat floored my Grandmother. After all this was pre-sexual revolution in Wisteria Lane and their boys were all at the grammar school together, sex wasn't a regular topic of conversation.
'Why would you think that?'
'Well it's just that every night when we're in bed around the same time we hear you'
Already on the floor, my Grandmother had nowhere to go, but to let her jaw drop open. Her neighbour looked highly embarrassed by this point and the tea and cake started to look like the only way they were going to make their way out of this situation. Except the neighbour's trooper-like spirit carried on to her credit.
'Are you always ready Winnie?'
'Well that's what you say'
Grandma was suddenly perplexed.
'What do you mean?'
'Every night, it's what you say'
'Yes, every night we hear 'Jaaaaack. I'm ready''
My grandmother collapsed into uncontrollable giggles. It was the neighbour's turn to look perplexed. 'What have I said Winnie?'
'I should tell you something' she said through stifled laughs 'Every night when I go to bed, I go up around 20 minutes before Jack and get ready for bed. I have a wash, take my make up off and get my nightclothes on. When I'm finished I get into bed and shout down to Jack 'Jaaaaack. I'm ready' at which point he comes up to bed with me, bearing the cup of tea he prepares for me every night'
I don't think the two neighbours ever ventured in to that territory again.
After telling us that story however, she tagged on the information that actually she and Grandad did tend to go at it most days, but actually she was a bit of a morning person really. Apparently he was a very good lover. Thanks Grandma.
The story becomes even funnier in the context of the second tale.
Married in the late 30s and despite her rather bohemian background Grandma came to marriage with no knowledge of sexual relations whatsoever. After a year of a very happy marriage, her sisters started to become a little concerned. Various hints and half conversations had been completed that suggested that Grandma was getting a little frustrated at not getting pregnant. Fair enough concerns after a year, but something about her concerns didn't ring true and the sisters had an inkling what it may be. Dory her next sibling, at 7 years older was despatched to have a chat and they went for a walk in the park. During the walk Dory brought the conversation round to the delicate matter of pregnancy.
'How often are you trying Winnie?'
'Really' said Dory rather startled
'And are you comfortable with it?'
'Absolutely, why wouldn't I be'
'Well a man can often be a little forceful in these situations and I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable.'
'Not that I'm saying Jack is forceful'
'Oh Winnie I'm sorry i didn't mean to...offend'
'What do you mean?'
'What do you mean force himself on me?'
'Well you know, against your will'
'I have no idea what you're talking about'
This left things rather delicately balanced. Dory was caught in a maelstrom of emotion. She may have opened a can of worms. She may have forever offended her sister for suggesting her brother-in-law was a marital rapist.
'We just turn the lights off'
'And that's it'
'Riiiight and you're comfortable with that'
'It's what I've always done Dory. What are you on about?'
'Well it's not what you've always done is it Winnie'
'Yes it is, you know I hate the lights on'
'No, no. You know what I mean'
'No. I really don't'
After a great deal of toing and froing Dory finally established that in a year of marriage the newlyweds were yet to consumate it, which somewhat explained the lack of pregnancy. Dory explained the birds and the bees and after a deal of education my Grandmother exclaimed. 'How frightful'. I'm not sure what would have happened if they'd never had the conversation.
Anyway, the great sexual revolution occured that night by all accounts, however Grandma found the whole thing terribly disappointing. 'Is that it? I thought it went on all night'. Honestly women.
My randy grandma will always live on happily in my memory.