Letters from Nanan

DSCN4119editsmallNanan ‎(plural nanans


  1. (Britain) Affectionate name for a grandmother.

There’s this unwritten rule that, because I live in Spain, my nanan and I have to take it in turns to write to each other. She quickly became aware that I was living vicariously through her tall tales which to this day sound nothing short of a Channel 4 sitcom. Each installment is a 3 to 5 page stream of consciousness, an eruption of sass and attitude in curly handwriting and layered in «bleeped out» expletives that illustrate the extent of her recent capers.

Known to be stubborn and hot-headed, but ultimately warm, caring, lovely and unwittingly hilarious, Nanan is the epitome of the archetypal grandmother. You’re just as likely to find her berating a mother of two for taking up two parking spaces in a Morissons car park as you are to see her coddling people, helping friends in need and making endless cups of tea and homemade scones.

You must realise that, before I start quoting Nanan’s letters, she writes like she speaks. And she speaks like you’d guess any going-on-for 80 year old Yorkshire woman would – peppered with local vernacular, literal glottal stops and an abundance of loves, petals and ducks. But you must also realise that she’s far from your doddery, old member of the blue-rinse brigade. Nanan is young at heart («I can’t bear sitting with them old ones»), tough («I weren’t having any of it, so I teld him straight!») and damn well knows how to have a good time («Make mine a pint of Caffrey’s, love»).


And it’s with alcoholic beverages where we’ll begin – namely with a pint of ale being thrown over a woman’s head «just because she was talking about Hilda – it’s good in here, better than going to the cinema HA HA HA…» You could say that Nanan is a bit of a Queen Bee. Currently residing in a retirement village along with approximately 200 other individuals, I get the feeling she’s one of the characters, one of the residents that the staff are…»aware of». The fact that Nanan is popular and has friends galore does not deviate from the fact that a lot of people annoy her and she makes it as plain as the eye can see. And Ale-gate isn’t the only «incident» of this nature to happen on campus. Just last December Nanan led a tirade against the establishment (the head office) for suspending the poor barman at the village pub after he kept the bar open until 4am on New Year’s Eve. I can imagine them all now, pitchforks burning, stakes sharpened, ready to defend their right to sup until the wee hours. Mid rant about the event in question, she wrote, «We are all going to sign a petition and take it to the Top Man»

As well as petitions, Nanan’s flat is also home to domino trophies, home-baked goodies, embarrassing photos, hoards of hand knitted cot blankets and baby cardigans ready and waiting for her unborn great-grandchildren(!), a questionable number of QVC and JML gadgets, a well stocked alcohol cupboard and personalised stationery -namely cat stickers with her address on- ready and waiting to be stuck onto the next installment to yours truly.

Last week I trawled through dozens of letters that I’ve received over the past few years. Here are some of the best snippets, cited verbatim:

«You go away a lot don’t you, you are never home, like Judith Charmers HA HA HA»

«He is good looking love, reel Hulk»

«Police came to one flat they were here 3 hrs and when they went they took a bag of stuff we think it was stolen stuff what her grandkids took, we can’t find out for sure, it’s killing us because we can’t find out nothing yet but we will»

«I’m going downstairs to give the old ens a game of bingo, oh it’s a nightmare I could knock em one sometimes they get on my nerves, I don’t stand any nonsense from them though HA HA HA»

«it’s nice love isn’t it just sitting in the sun with a drink in your hand, oooh lovely»

«Going downstairs to a party on Friday, hope it is better than the last one. They are still popping off like flys here, I’m glad to open my eyes in the morning HA HA HA»

«I told a bloke off last week at games night because he said I cheated so I right told him to shut his mouth or I will. He’s that mardy when he’s losing he’s like a big kid. He gives me some fresh fruit every week but I don’t eat it because his nose is always running and drips on it»

«Just had my hair done, she has not done it very good this week, too much talking. I will have to tell her»

«One woman fell down dancing on New Year’s Eve, she is milking it though. God she has her husband bring her downstairs in a wheelchair. She says she’s broke a bone in her back but she is a liar, she has never broke her bone. She’s one of those people who likes big attention, she shows off dancing, flinging her arms and legs about showing off. She’ll not be doing that for a few weeks now HA HA HA»

«I don’t like that woman and she doesn’t like me, so I picked some leaves off her new Bay Leaf Plant and put them in my bag :)»

I’ll spare you the two-page long anecdote about a vicious spat involving Lynn and Betty over a «2 bob party hat, the tight bugger» but I definitely need to divulge the following unfortunate mishap with a mobile phone, which may or may not be down to aforementioned curly handwriting.


And, of course, there’s someone else who always gets a mention ever since she went weak at the knees after the most normal of Spanish saludos. After meeting during a trip to Benalmadeeena (Benalmádena) -where she takes it upon herself to drink Peeni Colardis (piña coladas) the size of her head- Nanan sends Gearge (Jorge) an extra set of kisses on the end of each letter. «Look after each other love and say hello to Gorje» (Jorge)

Long live Nanan, and long live snail mail. Give me three pages of continuous prose signed and sealed with a novelty stamp anyday. Remember, life begins at 70. Why not pick up a pen and get writing to your nan, gran, grandma or yaya? You never know what comedy gold (or utterly heartwarming tales) will land in your post box. 

Take care, love.


xxx               xx                 x








British graduate of French & Spanish. Guiri in Valencia. Often angry, dressed in flannel and listening to crappy pop-punk.

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