Regretful at not asking her grandparents sufficient questions on their childhood, Esther Rantzen is placing down her earliest recollections to move onto her grandchildren in a doc entitled Tales I Might Not Have Time To Inform You. Right here, Esther — plus 5 different main writers and grandmothers — share their treasure troves of reminiscences . . .


Grandmother — generally known as ‘Etta’ — to Benjamin, 9, Alexander and Teddy, six, Florence and Romilly, three.

The excessive spot of grannydom got here for me after I was pompously rebuked by my son for some mischief and I stated I’d attempt to be good in future.

My grandson Teddy, then aged 5, checked out me solemnly, then stated: ‘However we such as you to be humorous, Etta.’ Ah, Teddy, for those who knew how that gladdened this grandmother’s coronary heart.

As Esther Rantzen puts down her earliest recollections to pass onto her grandchildren in a document entitled Stories I May Not Have Time To Tell You, she and five other grandmothers share their treasure troves of memories. Pictured: Esther with, from left, Florence, Teddy, Romilly and Benji

As Esther Rantzen places down her earliest recollections to move onto her grandchildren in a doc entitled Tales I Might Not Have Time To Inform You, she and 5 different grandmothers share their treasure troves of reminiscences. Pictured: Esther with, from left, Florence, Teddy, Romilly and Benji

I suppose after I fall off my perch, my grandchildren will probably be instructed the intense, respectable stuff about me, the stuff my youngsters approve of. However there may be lots they could not move on.

As after I was a horrible teenager and cross at my dad and mom going out with out me. In revenge, I created a vile combination of espresso grounds, Worcester sauce and mustard, watered it down till it appeared like a chocolate drink, poured it right into a cocktail glass, caught a straw in it and left it with a loving word for them to strive on their return.

I’m instructed my mom took an enormous gulp, retched, and stated: ‘Poor Esther, she means effectively, however is a horrible cook dinner.’

Then there have been the embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions as a grown-up, together with sporting my costume again to entrance by mistake at a celebration, plus the Youngsters In Want present the place I interviewed a baby who, watching my enamel, stated: ‘You’ve bought spinach caught in them.’

Esther (pictured) hopes her five grandchildren remember, that since she was born during the Battle of Britain, she owes her life to the courage that saved us during World War II

Esther (pictured) hopes her 5 grandchildren bear in mind, that since she was born throughout the Battle of Britain, she owes her life to the braveness that saved us throughout World Struggle II

What I hope my 5 grandchildren will all the time know is that they fill my coronary heart with pleasure. I like displaying them the place to seek out one of the best blackberries, how one can drink honey from a honeysuckle and sharing why, as I used to be born in 1940, I didn’t eat a banana till I used to be six years outdated.

Most necessary of all, I hope they bear in mind, since I used to be born throughout the Battle of Britain, I owe my life to the braveness that saved us throughout World Struggle II. I hope my grandchildren won’t ever take without any consideration the nice luck of being British, and being born right into a household with love and laughter.


Penny has eight grandchildren, Marlene, 12, Max and Oscar, ten, Emilia, eight, Jonah, seven, Cleo, six, Luna, 4 and Milo, two.

I bear in mind babysitting you as soon as, Marlene, if you have been two or three, and I used to be making an attempt to activate a brand new radio. In desperation, I requested for those who knew how. ‘No, Penny,’ you stated sweetly, ‘I’m solely a baby, .’

The issue is that after I was a baby, not one of the issues we now couldn’t stay with out existed.

You have got good heat homes, showers and duvets. If one thing breaks, you purchase new, and something might be delivered to your door.

Penny Junor, 72, (pictured) recounts in her childhood, the rag and bone man collected the sort of things you would take to a clothes bank today

Penny Junor, 72, (pictured) recounts in her childhood, the rag and bone man collected the form of stuff you would take to a garments financial institution in the present day 

Once I was a baby we did have just a few deliveries — however not the Amazon kind. The milkman dropped off bottles with shiny foil tops. The postman got here a number of occasions a day, and the coal service provider known as, too.

And the rag and bone man, a toothless outdated chap with a horse and cart, collected the form of stuff you would take to a garments financial institution in the present day. Pondering I had outgrown it, my mom handed over my consolation blanket. I by no means may forgive him.

We had no central heating; simply open fires and paraffin heaters. In winter, there was frost on the within of my bed room home windows. My mom would shovel coal into the range and take out the ashes every morning.

Nobody cooked with olive oil. You possibly can solely purchase it on the chemist in tiny bottles. There have been no supermarkets, recycling or motorways.

We went to Cornwall for summer time holidays and the journey, alongside winding nation roads, took all day.

You have got great lives forward of you, but when there may be one thought I would depart you with, it’s this. Stay as if day-after-day is likely to be your final.

And relationships are extra necessary than anything. Nurture them and, above all, be sort.


Grandmother to Tilda, 15, and Joni, 12

Hilary Boyd, 72 (pictured), said tea each night consisted of buttered white bread, custard creams and Battenberg cake when she was growing up

Hilary Boyd, 72 (pictured), stated tea every night time consisted of buttered white bread, custard lotions and Battenberg cake when she was rising up

My childhood was very totally different from yours, my dearest women. For a begin, we had a grim nanny, known as Mitty, who had what was known as ‘sole cost’, which means that she may do what she appreciated with us.

Tea every night time consisted of buttered white bread, custard lotions and Battenberg cake — not very wholesome! Have you ever ever tried Battenberg? It’s filthy. All pretend pink and yellow colouring, tasting of almonds. If we didn’t eat it, Mitty would say, ‘Consider all of the ravenous youngsters in Africa and be grateful.’

You realize my brother John died when he was 15. He was sick from bone most cancers for years and out and in of hospital. We didn’t speak about emotional issues then, like we do in the present day. I used to be instructed firmly he’d be high quality.

However children know issues, even when grown-ups suppose they don’t. I may see he was actually, actually sick. So skinny and weak and in a lot ache. I knew, and he knew too, that he wasn’t going to get higher. I can nonetheless cry, considering of John.

So I made a decision to develop into a youngsters’s nurse. Possibly I believed I may save another person’s brother. My housemistress at Roedean, nevertheless, was sceptical. ‘Aren’t you too tall, Hilary? Cots for infants are very low.’

What a silly factor to say to a shy, unconfident teenager. I used to be 6ft at age 15 and in these days that peak for a girl was downright bizarre.

I used to be terribly self-conscious. I used to suppose a boy’s peak was all that mattered — though your expensive Grandadz is a few inches shorter than me, and who cares?

If I’ve bought one life lesson for you each, it’s this. Work, cash, success, property, appears to be like, even good well being, all come and go. The love of your loved ones will final for ever. So cherish them.

The Affair by Hilary Boyd (£7.99, Penguin) is out now


Grandmother to Edie, eight.

Jane Gordon, 64, (pictured) said growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s, vegetables were just potatoes and frozen peas

Jane Gordon, 64, (pictured) stated rising up within the late Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, greens have been simply potatoes and frozen peas

My darling Edie, years from now when I’ve ‘gone to the Moon’ (the place the place you suppose your late goldfish and guinea pigs have gone) you would possibly want you had requested me extra about my life earlier than you.

You understand how your mummy makes you eat candy potatoes and quinoa and limits your consumption of something that accommodates sugar or salt?

Once I was rising up within the late Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, sugar and salt have been the mainstay of our food regimen and greens have been simply potatoes and frozen peas. Avocados have been uncommon, and after I first tasted one in a restaurant, age ten, I embarrassed myself by asking for sugar.

In some methods my life as a bit lady was much less pressurised than yours now — I may go to the park with my buddies and not using a grown-up and stroll alone to purchase sweets from the native store. Edie, a refund then was so sophisticated; we had 4 farthings to at least one ‘outdated’ penny and there have been 960 farthings in a pound.

However whereas I had extra freedom, I had many extra restrictions. At my convent college we have been taught by very strict nuns. We have been subjected to humiliating punishments equivalent to being made to remain within the eating corridor till we had eaten all our disgusting lunch, generally all afternoon.

And my uniform was a prickly inexperienced tweed swimsuit, shirt and tie, beneath which we wore an old style suspender belt and beige 60 denier stockings.

How great it’s, all these years later, that women can develop as much as be no matter they need to be.

Edie, it’s such a privilege to be part of your life. And do not forget that if by probability I don’t get to see you grown up, I will probably be watching over you, with a lot love, from the Moon.


Grandmother to Malachi, 11, Scarlet, 9 and Gabriel, eight

Prue Leith, 81, (pictured) said her brother Jamie threw up in front of Sir Winston Churchill in 1949

Prue Leith, 81, (pictured) stated her brother Jamie threw up in entrance of Sir Winston Churchill in 1949

Once I was six my brother Jamie was born in my dad and mom’ bed room in Johannesburg, South Africa, as our physician was lancing an ulcer in my ear on the kitchen desk.

Mama didn’t need to ship me to the hospital as, busy giving delivery, she couldn’t include me. So, the doc handled me, whereas the midwife supervised my brother’s arrival.

After we went to England for 3 years, we went on a Union Fortress steamship, being spoilt by the crew and enjoying deck quoits.

Meals in 1946 was nonetheless rationed. I bear in mind strolling with my mom down a highway in London clutching the household’s candy ration, for per week, about 4 ounces of toffees. We handed a gang of German POWs digging a ditch. ‘Give the poor males a toffee’ stated my mum. The primary snatched the lot. Mum gave me blazes for wailing.

In 1949, we sailed residence on the Windsor Fortress. Jamie and I have been about the one passengers not seasick within the Bay of Biscay. We have been within the empty eating room when Sir Winston Churchill walked in. Seeing nobody besides two young children, he joined us.

Prue wants her grandchildren to know that she didn't have a clue about what she wanted to do with her life as a teenager. Pictured: Prue, Gabriel, Scarlet and Malachi

Prue needs her grandchildren to know that she did not have a clue about what she needed to do together with her life as an adolescent. Pictured: Prue, Gabriel, Scarlet and Malachi

Sadly, I don’t bear in mind the breakfast dialog, however was mortified when Jamie out of the blue stood up, stated ‘Excuse me, Sir’ and threw up right into a potted palm.

I’d like my grandchildren to know that concerning the appalling injustice of South Africa below apartheid, equivalent to our beloved black nanny, Emma, having to take a seat in the back of the bus whereas we white children sat on the entrance.

And you may not be a carry operator (sure, in these days lifts had an operator) for those who have been black. That job and many extra have been, outrageously, reserved for whites.

When my grandchildren are youngsters and may’t resolve what to do with their lives, I’d like them to know that I hadn’t a clue both.

I wasn’t all the time as positive of myself as I appear in the present day. I had a bash at drama college, artwork college, structure, a bachelor of arts in philosophy, and a diploma in French civilisation. I stop all of them earlier than I stumble on meals and cooking.

It’s regular to be misplaced between the ages of 17 and 21.


Grandmother to Ava, 9, and Sacha, six

Maureen Lipman, 75, (pictured) said she never knew her grandparents really, as her dad's mother didn't approve of her mother and her mother's mother died before she knew her

Maureen Lipman, 75, (pictured) stated she by no means knew her grandparents actually, as her dad’s mom did not approve of her mom and her mom’s mom died earlier than she knew her 

Yesterday, I stood on the street, crying tears of empathy with you Ava, as a result of your dad needed to let you know your kitten, Tennessee, had been killed in a hit-and-run accident.

You might be such a form lady and you’ll be taught to stay with this loss like I’ve with Grandpa Jack and my late associate Guido. And if any of your mates need to take care of grief, you’d know simply what to say when others averted speaking to them.

What I do know is that it was a privilege that you simply rang to inform me. And that makes me really feel relieved and happy that I’m doing my job correctly as a grandma.

I want I noticed you day-after-day and also you ran out and in of my backyard displaying me the beetles and flowers that you simply love and hanging your work on my partitions.

I by no means knew my grandparents actually. My dad’s mom was fairly fierce and by no means authorised of my mom so I used to be not her favorite.

My mom’s mom died earlier than I knew her. Her husband, my grandpa Philip, was a continuing in my early years. A candy man.

Maureen said she wants her grandchildren to remember her as someone they could come to for comfort and made her laugh. Pictured: Maureen with Ava and Sacha

Maureen stated she needs her grandchildren to recollect her as somebody they might come to for consolation and made her chortle. Pictured: Maureen with Ava and Sacha

I came upon lately my grandmother Eva, after courting him for 3 months, sued him for breach of promise — altering your thoughts about desirous to marry — and he needed to give her a yr’s wage and marry her. What a begin, eh?

Not too long ago, I went to Poland, from the place my great-grandfather set out for Hull and refugee standing in 1882. He was a cobbler and his granddaughter was my mom Zelma, who would have adored you each, Sacha and Ava.

I don’t ever need to upset you by telling you an excessive amount of about our historical past however I hope that your individual sorrows will someday make you sturdy and resilient when issues don’t go your method.

Will probably be thrilling for those who develop up remembering me as somebody you may come to for consolation, who made you chortle and fed you rooster dinosaurs. And bear in mind, as your nice grandfather, a gentleman’s clothing store, stated: ‘I like you with a love that’s double-breasted with buttons up the again.’