My grandmother believed in pixies and banshees and divine retribution. She never killed spiders and she rescued birds with broken wings. She was a 16-year-old runaway, a kitchen maid, a chorus girl, and a dress designer. She cooked amazing Sunday roasts always followed by a pudding she invented called Satisfaction Tart. She told tales of parties three days long in London during the war, of going to fancy bars where she bought one drink to last all night and filled up on free bar snacks to save money. She could make anything out of anything – don’t like that jumper? Well, unravel it and knit something else. Don’t throw those trousers away – make them into a skirt! Why buy elastic bands when you can make your own out of old kitchen gloves? My grandpa fell in love with her at first sight, not least because she was the best-dressed girl in the room. She loved fancy underwear, eau de cologne on her sheets and biscuits in bed for breakfast. She loved her ramshackle house and digging up the garden surrounded by her ducks.
When she was in her seventies she taught me how to glaze a window, hang wallpaper and lay a patio of concrete slabs. She not only showed me that you could be anything you wanted, but also that you could be as many different things as you wanted: that the only limit to your life is your own imagination.
Check back tomorrow to learn about a heroine who taught America how to cook.