Granny B


I am writing this late on Easter Monday’s afternoon – struggling to make sense of my emotions. The weekend got off to a hell of a bad start; on Good Friday my mum phoned to tell me that Granny had passed away peacefully, loosing her battle with Dementia.

The end months were not graceful for Granny B – she was such a proud woman and it was sad to see her laid so low with an illness. She had been battling dementia for a number of years; what a sad, cruel illness.

If it had not been for Granny, I do not think I would have pursued an academic bent towards Zoology & Botany. I studied Wildlife Conservation at Plymouth Uni with the hope of working with the Big 5 in Africa – however, my health intervened on that one. We used to walk miles, despite her age, to see the Canadian Geese that used to stop off on the farm in Norfolk. She was over the moon when I told her I had managed to get a job at Newby Hall as a gardener – she confided in me that she had often thought about dropping out of Nursing and becoming a gardener herself.

However, she was a very good Nurse – a Gold Standard nurse and a Sister, I believe.

I will always remember the time when Granny, the beaming matriarch, took me and my brother and sister down to London to the Natural History Museum – this is what spurred my enthusiasm for wildlife – even if the reason for going down there was to see the Dinosaurs. I managed to sneak through an open door and see some of the private collection – I was so thrilled. I believe she takes her recipe for Seville Casserole (beef and orange hotpot) with her but she leaves a legacy that the greater Leamington area can be grateful for; she worked tirelessly for the regions health cause’s and was eventually awarded an MBE for her services to Health & The Elderly.

When I was told of her passing I did not have mixed emotions – I burst in to floods of tears. But, now the raw grief and shock has gone, I can see that it was her time to go. She is no longer suffering – but there is a granny shaped hole in my psyche.

Below is a photograph of my Grandparents – only Granny Dornoch (on the left) is surviving. Grandpa passed away 1st July 2016 and now Granny B joins him – she will be making sure everything is in order wherever she is.

Dementia really is a cruel illness – Granny was such a proud lady in life, before the illness crept over her. She was the beaming matriarch who would deal out the Chocolate Fudge Pudding to the Children’s table first. She ruled the family with a rod of iron but, ultimately, she was very fair. She had a massive influence on all three of us (me, my brother and my sister) and I do not think we would have got where we are without her encouragement.

In life she was a lion of a woman – age reduced her stature and I have to admit it was not pleasant to see. However, I now need to be there for the rest of the family – God knows what Dad and his three brothers are going through (having lost both their parents in less than a year). All I can do is offer a shoulder of support and bear witness to the great life that Granny Backhouse led.

A Quiet Joy


Today I woke up late, even by my standards – 14:00. I had been working on a few reviews for my other site, Sigil Of Brass, late in to the small hours so it was mid afternoon until I came and collected the post. There was a cream envelope marked with the crest of the Army addressed to me.

I admit it, my heart skipped a beat – what had I done? What do they want? These questions and more were rushing through my mind. I carried the envelope up to my flat and, smiling a bit, peeled oped the letter.

It was a letter, on Army headed paper, and an invite to dinner. The letter, addressed to me, explained I had been selected to attend a reception at Rudding Park with Brigadier Stokes MBE, commander of the Army in my region.

You may be wondering why I have been invited – Indeed, I was wondering why I had been invited. The aim of the dinner was to give a greater understanding of what the Army does.

I really was in a pickle – do I ditch my pacifist principles and side with force for a free, delicious meal. Or do I take a stand?

Then I realised: I am not really taking a stand – I am just an angry voice. Full of aggression channeled in an anti-authoritarian direction. My life did not mean anything as I was defined by my paltry actions as opposed to actually standing for something. I was standing against authority, not standing for anything. I realised I need to do something to define my life. But, quite what that was eluded me.

Then I felt a quiet joy.

No, not a presence. No, not a parting of the clouds. No divine epiphany whatsoever. Just a quiet joy. I suddenly knew my place.

Over the past two decades, I have experimented with Yoga, meditation & even Reiki. But there was one place I felt relaxed. Friends Meeting House. It is the calmest collection of like minded pacifists and gentle folk you could shake a bayonet at. In the moment of quiet calm I realised I belonged amongst that group of peaceful people who are trying to make the world a better place through action.

I often joked to friends that I was an unofficial Friend – following the principles of the Society of Friends without the mumbo-jumbo. But it dawned on me; there is no mumbo-jumbo with The Religious Society Of Friends. I am as much of a Friend anyone who has stepped inside the Meeting House already. Fair enough, at present, I do not attend the Meetings – but I would not need to shoehorn myself in to another man’s set of beliefs. I already am a Quaker and the quiet joy was the realisation that I had a home and something to stand for in these dark days.