Granny in the Doorway

Jonathan Raban looks back

We were an inseparable couple, my mother and I. Our address was: The White House, Hempton Green, nr Fakenham, Norfolk. Here we stove in the shells of our breakfast eggs with teaspoons to prevent witches from using them as boats (the eggs came from Mrs Atherton, who helped my mother in the house and kept chickens at her nearby cottage). Here we listened to the News on the wireless twice and sometimes three times a day. My father was a distant rumour. He was away in the war, and my mother believed that she might hear something of him if she listened closely enough to the News. ‘Hush! It’s time for the News’ punctuated our days as reliably as a chiming clock.

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