It’s a creepy thing about ageing, it creeps up on you without you actually noticing until one day you notice your limbs ache all the time after being seated for seconds, you groan as you bend, your back tells you its age and don’t even mention the dentist.
It’s then, when you’ve also become used to the name “grannie” that you begin to reflect on the way life has changed in those decades. It makes you think back to your own grandmother and what she would have made of Leith and Edinburgh today.
Living her entire married life at 305 Easter Road, most of it was spent in the back kitchen (apart from the walk up to the kirk on a Sunday) with the open range, one gas ring for the kettle and a box bed in the corner. Washing via the scrubbing board and wringer was hung out in the communal back green – on a Monday, for each in the tenement had their days. The front parlour was very posh with its large marble fireplace and ceiling rose, and it was where I spent my first three years with brother and my parents, who slept in another box bed off the parlour. Once we had left it returned to the possession of the occasional visiting “meenister” as Grannie Grahame would say.
One sink and a press for the few bits of crockery, trams running up and down Leith Walk, Clydesdales stabled at the top of Easter Road and the docks full of ships from all the airts with the odd car rumbling on the cobbles was all part of my own early childhood.
Now, apart from the trams, the world has moved up many gears: central heating, remote controls, electric cars, 24-hour telly, the internet, world news by the second, microwaves, plastic everywhere with baking tatties in throwaway boxes and strawberries in December. Oh grannie if you could see it now. If I could fast forward another 70 years from now, what would I see? Would there be a cure for cancer? Dementia? Will we discover life forms elsewhere? Will our seas be so polluted by us that the very fish we eat will fill us with our own recycled detritus? Will the Earth’s temperature have risen so far that the melting icecaps of the poles will threaten our coastal towns? Will wild weather have thrown even more people into drought, floods and fierce storms? Will we have blown ourselves to bits before that? What will the lives of my grandchildren be like? And their children?
Yes there may be progress in the sciences to be welcomed but can you foresee an end to wars? To poverty? To injustices small and large? You know it’s no bad thing to be trapped in your own time. If I could press fast forward, travel Doctor Who-like, peep into the future for us all, for my own kith and kin, would I do it? Not for a nano-second.
Grannie Grahame, daughter of a shepherd, leaving school at 14, working till her marriage as a housemaid, was, like me, a woman of her time. No tea was served at table without a teapot, cups, saucers and doilies. That was her world. Mine a mug, instant coffee and a takeaway in front of the telly. Yes small and large worlds apart.
Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale