My parents’ vast house was designated the most appropriate venue for the 18th and 21st birthday celebrations of my niece and nephew. The first arrivals – a bunch of gorgeous young men in dinner suits who had travelled up from the University of Manchester – walked through the front door and gasped at the massive hall with its antique wood panelling. One commented on the size of the place and wondered out loud just how many rooms there were.
I heard all this from the ‘Queen’s bedroom’. I was busy clearing out a ground floor room where HRH Queen Elizabeth II had genuinely once slept on a visit to my parents. We planned to use it as the cloakroom for the party guests.
Sorting out the room was quite a job. Amongst the junk I found a bag of green and yellow size 3 platform shoes that I remembered my mother wearing in the 1970s, several old record turntables, ornaments, bedding, golf clubs – and my long-dead paternal grandmother. She was as large as life, wearing a headscarf, and ready to talk to anyone who would listen.