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

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence