As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, especially with my very dear Granny Joan. Overnight stays and sick days off school were always brightened by cuddling up together on the sofa with a hot water bottle, duvet, bag of aniseed twists and humbugs, and a musical film. She introduced me to all the classics, sharing her love of music and her huge romantic heart. As she pottered she’d hum, lost in her own little world, with some ‘Easter Parade‘ here and ‘Singin’ in the rain‘ there. Above all these, however, one song will forever be ‘our song’: Vespers, as sung by (now Dame) Vera Lynn (pictured), better know perhaps as ‘the Christopher Robin song’.
Every night she’d tucked me into bed and then, kneeling down beside, holding my hands in gently in hers, sing, ‘hush, hush, whisper who dares’ whilst I closed my eyes and curled up small and pretended that nobody would know I was there at all. Then she’d kiss my eyelids, turn off the light, say ‘God Bless’ and that was that. Everything comes back to me when I think of those bed times. The bed linen and curtains. The paper on the wall. The Shake ‘n Vac’d carpet. The dolls-house that now sits in my Mum’s home for my children, nephews and nieces to enjoy. The creak of the floorboards as she walked down the corridor and stairs. And my Grandpa loudly (over noise of the tele) offering ‘Sherry dear?’ as she returned to the living room to take up her knitting needles in front of Corrie.
When my grandmother (pictured right in red between my Mum and I) passed away years later, I remember curling up in my bed at her house with tears streaming into the pillow as I sang Vespers to myself (what I wouldn’t have given to hear her sing it again). And years later still, those tears returned when, for the first time, I heard from the hallway my own Mum (now Nana) singing Vespers to my baby daughter. For both my daughter and her younger brother, Vespers has solidly become the number one bedtime song (followed by Brahms’ lullaby, Hushabye Mountain and Stay Awake – the love of musical film continues…) and for that I will always be truly thankful to the wonderful A.A. Milne.
Without doubt, the bear of very little brain has also a very special place in our hearts and minds. We’ve loved the Winnie-the-Pooh books and Disney films; and have also enjoyed their songs to get us going in the morning – with our ‘rumbly in my tumbly‘s, and ‘up,down, and touch the ground‘s putting us in the mood for breakfast and tigger-style bouncing, but that’s a blog post for another day.
A.A. Milne, rest on in peace (having passed away 61 years ago tomorrow), with gratitude and love. And granny, ‘god bless you’.