DJ Taylor: Mrs Gillespie is a very disgruntled gran

 

Share

Mrs Gillespie walked down the aisle with her husband Keith some time in the early 1960s – long enough ago, at any rate, for her friends to be able to say, with no irony whatsoever, that she had "married beneath herself".

In strict demographic terms this was true, for Mr Gillespie was a property developer who had worked his way up from the building trade's brick-strewn lower rung, while his wife was the daughter of the former Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. Despite these social divisions the marriage prospered, and when Mr Gillespie died in his early seventies – having made a mint out of the Lawson property boom – he left the mother of his three strapping sons an estate valued at very nearly two million pounds.

Ten years later, her offspring all married and gone away, "comfortably off" even by the standards of her cronies at the bridge club, Mrs Gillespie is a very unhappy woman. Why is this? The problem, alas, is the children. It is not that they don't love and esteem her. It is not that they don't come regularly to see her, or send her affectionate cards on the anniversary of Mr Gillespie's passing. It is merely that when the two lines of family tradition came together, the building site won out. None of them, for example, could be persuaded to attend a university. The business ventures they are engaged upon tend to involve freezer showrooms and hot-tub franchises. Mrs Gillespie wouldn't dream of criticising the "very nice girls" they married, or the lurid ostentation of their homes. It is just that…

The worst of it is the grandchildren. There are seven of them now. The boys have names like Ryan and Brandon. One of the girls was christened (Mrs Gillespie insisted on the christening) Luanne. Their grandmother loves them dearly, but she does wish that they had been called Peter, Harry and Catherine and sent to schools that would teach them not to say "you know" three times in every sentence.

It is not overstating the case to say that the junior Gillespies' defiance of their heritage is the great tragedy of their mother's life. Certainly, on the Christmas Day some years ago when her youngest son instructed his daughter, on leaving the house, to "say goodbye to your Nan", it is a fact that she went up to her bedroom and there, beneath the photographs of her husband and the Lord Lieutenant at his gate, quietly wept.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower