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Monday, January 22, 2007


"So joor da notorious grand-daughter den?" remarked the nonagenarian as she greeted me at the door in her velvet-toned Hungarian (with a hint of German) voice. "Vee've heard all arbout ju here."

"Good things, I hope?" I stammered, hoping that her sight-impediment would prevent her noticing my cheeks flush with embarassment.

"Of course!" she replied, ushering me in to the flat. "Joor de sex-writer, aren't ju? Joor famousse here - everyone vants to read joor book!"

I looked over at my grandma who had a smile on her face. I was grateful that she too had poor eyesight, and thus was unable to see the expression of worry that was etched onto my features. "Oh really, it's nothing, just boring stuff about my life. Anyone for a cup of tea? I'll put the kettle on.."

My grandma's friend wasn't going to let it go so easily. "From vart I heard, it's radda racy - if it vasn't for the fact dat I am blind, I'd have read it myself. Udder people here have und I'd like to know vat I'm missing out on!"

"It's nothing you wouldn't know about already, I'm sure," I answered, hoping that would nip the conversation in the bud.

"Don't be so sure," she replied, wagging her finger at me. "Ju youngsters do und say things vee just don't understand. I'm sure ju could teach me a thing or two."

"Well," I said, hesitantly. "You know what they say: 'Young people think they invented sex and that they are the only people to have it...'"

"Joor right, of course vee also had sex, but life vas different back den: vee didn't talk about it. So I vish I could read joor book!" She cackled, and my grandma joined her in laughing.

I moved over to the couch and sat down next to my grandma's friend so I could be in her field of limited vision. "Whilst I wish you still had your sight, I'm also glad you can't read my book, because it's very personal, and I'd really prefer my family and friends not to go through it."

She reached over to me and took my hand in hers. "Darlink, you ave narding to be ashamed of. Vee are proud of ju und joor success and vee vant de best for ju, don't vee?" She smiled at me sweetly and my grandma nodded. Suddenly I was filled with warmth for them: two women in their nineties from a different generation, a different time, even a different country. I wanted to tell her how touched I was by what she said; that her - and my grandma's - acceptance of me and what I might represent to them - youth, modernity, change - was unbelievably honourable. I felt humbled in the dignity and respect they had for me; and I felt ashamed at how my generation treats its older people - as if they are worthless, and their lives, and history, meaningless. Tears quickly made their way to the edges of my eyes and I stood up abruptly to busy myself in the kitchen.

A few minutes later I heard my name being called and I wandered back into the living room, teapot, cups and saucers in hand.

"She wants to know some modern swear words," my grandma said, gesturing towards her friend. "I thought you might be able to suggest something."

Stifling my laughter and not wanting to offend either of them, I asked what they considered rude. When they stated that 'Bloody Hell' was very offensive to them, I decided not to recommend any of the terminology I make use of on a regular basis... Later, when the tea was finished, they both owned up to "using the 'F-word'" as my grandma put it, but admittedly that was only done privately, or under their breath. Given that, I thought it best not to suggest
the usage of 'Prick', 'Wanker', or 'Arsehole' to my grandma's friend.

As I was leaving she pulled me to one side and made me promise I would teach her how to swear "properly". I agreed I would, if only to hear her delectable accent mouth the words, "Fark ju, ju vanker!" I won't be recommending she learn 'Cocksucker' though: some things are best left to the unsavourary mouths of the young I think.

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