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: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific