Granddaughter Elle says that textiles lessons never really grabbed her imagination at school. She is as honest as the day itself and not about to pretend otherwise. She is, however, excited at the prospect of our "holiday
project" - to produce two strings of bunting for The Twinkles' bedroom in their new home. This is Textiles With A Purpose, we agree.
I tell her how I never enjoyed needlework lessons when I was at school.
This was mostly because the only garment I remember making was a ghastly dirndl skirt in hideous yellow flowered material which my dear Mum picked up at a bargain price from Romford Market. The chances of me ever wearing the skirt when finished were precisely
Yet how strange, we agree, that I must have learnt enough from my needlework lessons to be able to run up most of my Foursome's clothes until they were of an age to stage a mutiny, declaring that never
again would they don a garment of my making. Similarly, while Elle is prepared to assert that she didn't learn a single thing in textile lessons, somehow she remembers not only how to wind the bobbin and thread the needle on my sewing machine but also manages
to fix a faulty foot on the machine which has come adrift. She tackles these tasks expertly as if to the manner born. We conclude that you never know what you are actually learning - and how you will one day use what you have learnt - even from the direst
Elle is the very best of company, not least on account of the conversations in which she engages me. She was the same as a four year old when she used to come to stay for a few days every Christmas
and summer holidays while her mother (the Eldest of the Darling Daughters) was at work. Nowadays, however, the conversations are much more grown up.
We watch the Olympics and Elle, who studies P.E. (both theory
and practice) explains the various factors which make for a gold medal performance. Who'd have thought it? I watch the winners and the losers with far greater insight into what makes an athlete tick, thanks to Elle's commentary.
We talk about her amazing work experience at a local doctor's surgery including a visit to a nursing home where she met several very frail elderly people. Did it upset her, seeing people very close to death? Elle gives my question the consideration
she obviously feels it deserves before replying thoughtfully: "No - it just made me want to help them." No wonder the surgery has offered her more work experience once she has turned seventeen and can sit in on patient consultations.
We talk about my idea that every elderly person in a hospital bed, care home or nursing home should have on their bedside table a photograph of themselves as a young, active man or woman in the prime of life so those who care for them,
and those who visit, can see the way they were, the way they still are despite their frailty. Elle thinks she would like to find a way to make that happen. I wouldn't put it past her.
We go shopping for her
belated birthday present. We are trying to find a dress suitable for the Sixth Form which she will enter in September. It's much harder than you might think due to the strict dress code at her school. No sleeveless dresses or tops, for example. We think we
have found the perfect dress in the first shop we visit but Elle thinks it might be a tad see through. At least I know the style we are looking for. Every shop we enter, Elle says: "I have a really good vibe about this shop..."
We are running out of shops before we find the "perfect" dress. "I'm SO happy!" cries Elle ecstatically as she twists and turns in front of the full length mirror in Dotty Ps. So, it must be said, am I.
pack so much into our short time together. We visit the putting green where Elle would have almost beaten the highest score of the week had she not blown it completely on the eighteenth hole. I'm sure the experience could have been explained away through application
of her PE theory lessons. We take photographs of each other sitting in "Sunny Worthing" deckchairs, enjoy ice creams on the pier and check out how the plants in the Waterwise Garden on the seafront have flourished since our last visit. We spend a happy evening
out with her Grandad at Shafique's restaurant, venue for so many happy family meals over the years. "It's tradition!" carols Elle. At every opportunity.
On our final day, before I drive her home, we
start to run out of time. We decide to do our baking at Elle's house which means we just have the bunting to finish. Elle makes me promise to FaceTime her so that she can watch her auntie, mother of The Twinkles, when she opens her surprise.
Today, a week since we said our goodbyes, a lovely thank you card arrives. "I loved spending time with both of you and I will always want to come and stay with you, no matter how
old I get," she writes.
"Don't forget that I love you!" I always tell my grandchildren when they have to leave. Last week four year old Morgan, on his way out of the front door, responded sweetly but emphatically:
"I always remember that!" making me both laugh and cry. Elle obviously heard him for in closing she has written:
"And remember, as Morgan would say, I will always remember that..."