Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Every two weeks, the blogosphere comes alive with something called a Blog Off. A Blog Off is an event where bloggers of every stripe weigh in on the same topic on the same day. The topic for this round of the Blog Off is "My grandmother always said...."

I never actually met either of my grandmothers but I do remember "helping" my grandad to wash the dishes and his saying, "Lady to the house" if I dropped a spoon and "Gentleman to the house" if I dropped a fork.  I lived in hourly expectation of these visits and, as my parents ran a newsagent's and sweet shop in Bristol, UK, people were always dropping in anyway so I was able to nod sagely upon their arrival and puzzle them with the information that "Grandad told me so."

My mother, like many of her generation, instilled in her daughter the necessity of always wearing clean underwear "in case you get run over" and, having grown up in an era when some of her classmates did not have shoes, used to angrily declare that there was "no such thing as the good old days" whenever her contemporaries became sentimental about those times.

My mother - front row on the right - at school in Pencoed, South Wales, UK

From my great aunt Mabel I learned that "This, too, will pass" and that there were few troubles that could not be assuaged by getting your nose into a good book.

My father also taught me to love books and that, as Helen Keller said, "The highest result of education is tolerance."  He deemed it important to have what is termed in one of our favourite films, The Philadelphia Story, "some regard for human frailty".  "There but for the grace of God go I", he would say of the misfortunes of others, much more often than he would utter the words, "Serve him right."

Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in High Society

[I couldn't find the scene where Dexter talks about "regard for human frailty" in The Philadelphia Story so here is the next best thing!]

Dad believed that people should be themselves and he had no time for pretension. If the neighbours disapproved of him, he declared, "They could all move out."  This may be why his daughter, today, can say that those whom she calls the "Sicilian dust police" - women who judge another woman according to her housewifely skills - need not come to her house if it is not to their liking.  Her Sicilian friends find it hard to believe that she really does not care but it is true.

Then there was the uncle who told me that if I ate too many bananas I'd get to look like a banana;  this made me cautious about eating these fruits for years. 

What wisdom will I pass on?  Even though I'll be 62 in a couple of weeks, I'm not sure I've acquired any but I am learning some "new old wisdom" from Sicilian proverbs.  Here are three of my favourites:

"Pi fari beni l'amuri ci voli 'a forza rê picciuotti e 'u pitittu rê viecci" - "To make love you need the strength of the young and the desire of the old."

" 'U Signuri runa 'i viscotta a cu' nun avi rienti" - "God gives biscuits to those with no teeth."

And one for our times.  I wish I'd learned it long ago! 

" 'Cu accatta cosi 'nùtili, prestu vinni 'u bisugnèvuli" - "He who buys useless things will soon have to sell the things he needs."

I think I'll leave you with the advice I offered my female readers on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday, as I am still convinced that it could save generations of women to come from a lifetime of misery:

"Only weigh when you're thin!"

Below is the full list of blogs participating in this theme:


Rosaria Williams said...

Ah, only weigh when you are thin is the best advice I ever heard,

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I recommend it, Rosaria!

Jenny Woolf said...

Some good pearls of wisdom here! I wonder what it was about being run over and having clean underwear. So many people used to say it.

A wise saying I remember was "many a true word spoken in jest" which I definitely think is true.

Jenny Woolf said...

And "what goes around comes around"
Oh yes, they're all bubbling up in my mind now!


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