The date has been stuck in my head for a bit now so I thought of no better way to celebrate it than to bang a blog out. Today, November 19th back in 1915 my nan was born in Liverpool. My nan has always had a special place in my heart ever since I was a child. She was always the one I was closest to. A combination of she was the one who lasted longest (My other 3 grandparents were dead by about 1984) and also the fact that she was my mums mum gave that little bit of an extra bond. Little did I know that when I was turning 19 in the September of 1992 that I would move in with her as my mum and dad can now looking back on be what can only be described as abandoning me. I say abandoned but the moved to Clitheroe as my dad was working up in the area and the big plan was to bladder the job up there for a few years and retire back to Liverpool. Sadly my mum never made it near to retirement and what retirement my dad did see wasn’t the best. But enough of the sob story this is a celebration of what would today have been my nan’s 100th birthday. If truth be told me moving in with my nan was one of the best thing that ever happened to me. I had the freedom of my own life free from parents who in their guilt subsidised me well. When nan asked “Why aren’t you at university” after I had woken up at 3pm after a weekend in the 051. I would reply “Another reading week nan or its half term !” But along with the freedom come the comforts of home and knowing that the bank of nan would always be there and I could rob her biscuits. I ended up at my nan’s for just under 10 years entering a young man (Boy really) and leaving a man ready to move in with my future wife and the next paragraph of my life story. I remember going to Leo’s supermarket when I first moved in and asking her what toothpaste she liked. She just smiled and then forced both her upper and lower false teeth out at me ! Eventually after having a bedsit for a few years she let me have the front living room to live in. You know the type of room saved for best that nobody ever went in and looked like a time machine from the 1970’s I think ‘Parlour” was the description used. It was a council house and having lived there for so long she could buy it at a massive discount. Now the hypocrite in me jumps straight out here as I think the policy to sell off council houses is a bad one. But who am I to turn down in my mid 20’s the chance to effectively set myself up for life and so I turned to the dark side of the force and embraced a little bit of Thacherism which still makes me feel guilty to this day. She always moaned when my mates phoned or knocked but we knew really she thrived on the interaction with them and they all used to have a laugh and joke with her. A story I have repeated but one day after I had been going out with my future wife for a bit I asked my mum if she could stay overnight and if she could square it with my nan after all I was in my late 20’s and starting to settle down. Ask your nan on Sunday when we are down said my mum. So sunday came and nervously I asked my nan “Well me and Claire have been gong out of a whilst so errr cough cough can she stay over” the reply was brutal and to the point “Of course she can it will save her sneaking out in the morning” No kidding a late 80 year old woman then eh ! So having moved out nan was invited around once a week to the new house but as she got older she became even more set in her ways and couldn’t be bothered coming down. Come the summer of 2011 and she was still living at home but going downhill quite fast. One August morning I got a phone call of a distressed neighbour Karen (Who done lots for my nan and we can never thank her enough) saying my nan had fallen in the kitchen. I got there before the ambulance and comforted my nan until she was rushed to hospital. A few hours later and she didn’t seem too bad and I was talking to her. The nurse pulled me aside and said she had pneumonia and will most probably only live a couple of days. How could that be she seemed fine but as the doctors have no doubt seen many many times they were in fact correct. The next day she was more confused when I visited her and early in the morning on August 24th I got the call from the hospital with the bad news. My sister (who also done loads for my nan) was away and in a way I was glad it was me who had had to deal with everything at the end. Despite as you can imagine not being the best thing to have to deal with at the time I can now look back on it and think I was there for the last portion of her life. The least I could do after spending ten years with her eating all her penguin biscuits she has hidden from me. On looking back on the pictures below it reminded me that for a period in the 1980’s nan used to come on our family holidays. A cunning plan from my mum and dad as all I can remember is marathon games of card with my nan as she babysat me and she was most probably getting bladdered on home measure whisky’s. No wonder I always won and here was me thinking I was boss at cards. That would be after she had her traditional fall on holiday from being pissed. I remember one year we were in the same room and her snoring was horrendous. That coupled with me being about 12 every time she stopped snoring I thought she had dropped dead !! I was moved into the living room of the apartment ha ha. I also remember helping out at the local playscheme in the early 1980’s. In her late 60’s she was playing rounders and slipped on what was being used for a base. She done her ankle in but sat on a chair in the field to catch. That would have been a few grand claim now and possibly the end of the playscheme.
So thanks to my nan’s children Jean and Ken for helping me with the next bit. I thought I would document a bit about my nan so its here to see for future generations of Roper’s and Fay’s. So Eileen Tierney was born on 19/11/1915. She was one of five kids Mary (Peg), Ron, Bob and William. Great Uncle Ron is one of the soldiers in the famous picture in World War II in Arnhem. Her father James Tierney was killed in France in World War I. She grew up around lodge lane and ended up living there. She got married to George (Harry) Roper in 1942 and first born was Jean in 1943. She had other children Lilian (my mum) and Ken and Eric. During the war whilst everyone was out the house was bombed. She returned to the front of the house and opened the door but there was nothing left of the house when she opened the front door just the front of the house remained and nothing behind the door ! She then lived in Sutherland Street. With four kids and just a two up two down and great uncle Ron living with them the family ended up housed in two separate houses. During the war my nan and her sister Peg moved to Llandudno making aeroplane parts in the Hotpoint factory. Peg ended up staying in Llandudno and I have fond memories of visiting her there as a child. Eventually in 1957/58 my nan was re-housed to a council house in Wingate Road Aigburth. Originally just after World War I the construction company building the new terraced houses in Aigburth Vale ran out of money. The council stepped in and paid for the last few houses to be built and thus the anomaly of council houses in Aigburth Vale. When my nan and grandad (gaga) drove up to to their new house my nan looked at what would have been a luxurious 3 bedroom terraced with indoor toilet and insisted that my gaga had got the wrong road. They drove around Aigburth before realising this was indeed the house that was on offer and the rest as they say is history and nearly 60 years later I am living there. Holidays back in the day were staying in a house in New Brighton for a week which was owned by the owner of the corner shop my nan worked in at the time. Later on it was a chalet in Rhyl, North Wales. December 1973 seen my nan’s mum die on christmas eve. She was known as “Nain” or as we thought “Nein” which I think is welsh for nan. So when my nan became a great grandma we used the term “Nein” So one day maybe my missus will become a great grandma and claim to the the third person to be called “Nein” So as her kids grew up and flew the nest I can remember my nan working in the Liver laundrette in Aigburth Vale and that is still open to this day. Into retirement and my gaga died early in the 1980’s and it was at this point due to cost my nan decided to give up smoking in her early 60’s. As she grew older most of her social clubs stopped because everybody had died !! She was young in mind though often donating stuff for the “old ones” even though she was in her 80’s and deciding even though the pavements were icy she would go down the shop for her morning paper in some slip on shoes ! I think it was her secret to live so long to keep young in the mind. We arranged for her to have a thing around her neck that she could pull or press if she had a fall and it was linked to the phone. Everytime we went to hers it was wrapped up neatly next to the TV “I’m not wearing that, its for old people” said the 90 year old Eileen. From a quick guesstimate she had at least 12 grandchildren and several great grandchildren all who’s name were on her birthday calendar in the front room so she never forgot. Looking back she had a tough old life and lived life in reverse. In the late 40’s and 50’s not having much money and 4 mouths to feed over two properties and then towards the end of her life having too much money in state benefits and retirement pension and spending the spare change on scratch cards and cable TV so she could sit and watch endless repeats of The Bill on UK Gold.
So there is a brief bit about my relationship with my nan and some of her history. A special woman in my life who would have been 100 today and if she had been alive we would have been celebrating with some chips from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale and a chocolate cake. She might of even had a whisky (Her fave tipple) but when asking for some water to put in it she would quickly pull us up and say “Not too much water” A woman born in 1915 when things were tough. Losing her dad at a very young age. Seeing her house bombed in the war and her husband going off to fight in it but thankfully making it back. Just some unimaginable things that people of my age cant even begin to get our head around. I mean if the wifi in the house goes off that is a major drama. I can’t underestimate the effect seeing my mum be ill for nearly 10 years and dying had on her. As ever she carried it all off with a stone like impression of must get on with things but deep down underneath I knew that must have affected her. You don’t expect to bury your children even at a later age. So thanks for everything nan and I will raise a glass to you tonight and buy a special pack of Blue Ribband and rob them off myself. You never got to know about my wife being pregnant with our youngest Holly. Well she has a middle name of Eileen (Poor girl) and she can read this when she is older and learn all about her “Nein” Actually shed a small tear proof reading this today. They years might whizz by but it still sneaks up and gets you sometime !
Some pics below of my nan (Click for larger version)
Fay x x x x x x x