“Took Mormor back to London – usual mass confusion” / “Nig came round”
This entry made me smile a little.
My Danish grandmother (Mormor) was not blessed with high levels of intelligence. Added to which she suffered long spells of abject eccentricity during which she would make my Mum – all of us – very exasperated indeed.
I suspect today in 1975 was such a time.
I can’t remember the details of this particular journey but I know in all the times we ever collected or returned Mormor to London for the train to Harwich (for her onward boat-train-boat-train journey back to Copenhagen) there was rarely a dull moment.
Whenever she arrived to stay with us she hardly ever brought money with her, always expecting my Dad to pay her way. (Conversely, whenever we stayed with her she would expect my Dad to pay for meals out etc., because she was putting us all up). When I say no money I mean NO money. Not even Danish money – which meant that when she went back Dad would often have to find a bank and change Pounds into Danish money to give to her, just so she’d have some for food and drinks on the overnight ferry and the trains through Europe. Maybe today in 1975 was one such day?
She also refused to use the underground train in London meaning Dad always had to fork out for an expensive taxi from Waterloo station to Liverpool St.
I think her finest moment of crazy eccentricity came much later in her life though, the final time she ever made it over the Channel to – as was invariably the case – spend a few weeks arguing with my Mum. She had found someone who flew his private little 4-seater plane to England once or twice a year and had persuaded him to take her as a passenger to Bournemouth airport. This was around 1993, only a few years before she died and when she was in her late eighties.
So, she had told us she was coming. However, what she hadn’t told us was any details about the plane, or the date, or the expected arrival time. Nothing. All we had to go on was a rough ‘window’, spread over a time span of two weekends.
On the Sunday of the second weekend we get a call from the pilot saying it had taken him forever to contact us. He was calling from Bournmouth airport. He had finally coaxed enough details out of Mormor to get our number via directory enquiries. They had landed late the night before. Mormor had not brought our phone number or any contact details with her so he was not able to call us any earlier. Regardless, it was felt he should book her into a hotel near the little airport… the only problem being she didn’t have any money or payment method with her, meaning the pilot had to pay for her. Dad took down all the details and we rushed down to Bournemouth to pick her up. She had travelled not only with no money, but no suitcase and no clothes. All she had with her was a shoulder bag with some toiletries in. Dad found the pilot and thanked and paid him back for the hotel and we headed back home in the car. On the journey back she and my Mum started having a BLAZING argument in the back seat because Mormor had asked “why we hadn’t been there to collect her at the airport the day before?“. I am not making this up.
Mormor and Mum spent the next couple of weeks arguing almost all the time. None of Mum’s clothes fitted Mormor, and Mormor thought all the ‘cheap and cheerful’ clothes we were trying to buy her were…. well just too ‘cheap and cheerful’. At one point she demanded better quality clothes saying she didn’t want to look like a vagrant. The irony was not lost on any of us and more arguments ensued. It was like we were all playing out a ridiculous West End farce.
It got worse however. When we had to take her back to Bournemouth airport a couple weeks later we discovered that she’d flown over withOUT her passport. She’d somehow managed to bypass immigration on the way in but we all knew this was not going to be so easy on the way out. Hours were spent trying to get someone to understand the situation and finally find a sympathetic official who would agree to let her board the plane to leave. Hours that this poor pilot had to wait around for, his plans undermined by my Mormor’s thoughtlessness.
The drama was not over just yet. Mormor never bothered to call us to say she’d got back home safely – in fact we later found out she’d turned her phone off at home so she ‘wouldn’t be disturbed’ – and so we were frantically calling Copenhagen airport and all the small regional ones to find out if the plane had landed etc. When we finally DID discover she’d got home safely – 48 hours later – the first thing she did was verbally rip my Dad’s head off for NOT paying the pilot the contribution for fuel he was expecting for the two flights.
She really was a mad old bat. Regardless I loved her as only a grandson could.