When I was little, my maternal grandparents, Nanny Elsie and Granpop, came to live in our village. Some days Sylvia, who shared pickups with my Mum, dropped me at Nanny’s little cottage after school.
I loved spending time with Nanny Elsie; I learned to dunk digestive biscuits in tea and we watched television together. Nanny reminisced a lot and at 9 or 10 I loved her stories and old fashioned photos. I didn’t realize how important they were though and I wish that I’d written them down because I can only remember a few. This is one I haven’t forgotten.
Elsie was born in 1903 and she had a younger sister, Ivy. (Later on, they had a much younger brother.) When Nanny was growing up there was a family living next door with two boys around the same age as my grandmother and her sister. They were all great friends and the two sets of parents used to joke that the two boys would marry the two girls.
Nanny told me how devastated her parents, Walter and Edith, were when they learned that their neighbours were emigrating. They obviously loved this family very much because they took Elsie and Ivy down to Southampton to see their neighbours off to their new life.
It was 1912 and Titanic was docked waiting for its maiden voyage. When Nanny’s mum, Edith, saw the other boat, the one their best friends were taking, she cried and said, ‘they’ll never get there on that little thing; why can’t they take the Titanic instead?’
(There’s a fascinating eye witness account from the last Titanic survivor courtesy of the BBC here.)