Friday, 17 February 2012

Nan and why ladies shouldn't wear trousers: part 1

When growing up I never saw my Nan in trousers (or slacks as she would probably call them).  She thought women had a duty to be feminine at all times and complained whenever I wore trousers. But it was her insistence on 'bringing me out of my shell' that saw me wedded to jeans throughout my teenage years; the only place I regularly wore a skirt was at school where pleated, grey sacks of a certain length were de rigueur - but at least I was safe from Nan there.
Until I got wise to her, and went into permanent denim, a typical scenario has the two of us walking through Oxford - it is daytime, she is sober, I am fourteen - skinny and self-conscious.  She would then address random men: 'This is my granddaughter - doesn't she have fabulous legs?  Have you ever seen such good ankles?' This would be followed by a simper (from her, not me - I would be pretending I didn't know her)  'She gets her bone structure from me, of course.' (When I finally saw Taxi Driver  I felt a certain kinship with Iris.)

Mortified I would remonstrate with her, but this seemed to increase her need to embarrass me. Nan seemed to think she was doing me a favour, always saying things like 'Don't hide your light under a bushel'.
The apotheosis of my humiliation came when she tried this trick on a group of German language students.  They gamely (and politely) agreed,  saying such things as 'sehr gutt' and 'Nette Knöchel'.  Thanks guys, I appreciated your efforts at international good will, but it really didn't help and I'm not sure your national aesthetic is to be trusted given the popularity of The Hoff in Deutschland.

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