Please don’t try and teach grandma to suck eggs.


It’s been one of those weeks – wondering if it’s worth the effort to take the chestnuts, that were bad and quite obviously past their sell by date, back to the greengrocer. Or to bother to complain that the water bill has doubled since last year (we simply haven’t had 300 extra showers!)  Or to insist my partner takes the giant mop and new bucket back to Asda. Who did he buy them for?  It’s not my birthday! And anyway I do the floor with a cloth on my hands and knees, it’s quicker. DSC03804-001

All this domestic tedium made me wonder how, after emerging from the bra-burning 60s there is still so much domestic trivia. Although I confess I was  far too refined (or was it poor) to set fire to my own lingerie in the ‘burn your bra’ feminist movement! But I was however one of the first to teach ‘Assertiveness – not aggression’ in an Adult education Institute which was considered quite revolutionary at the time.

As young mums, many husbands were not willing to babysit while we went to an adult education class, let alone out for an evening with the girls.  It seems laughable now but I started a ‘Cabbage Club’ where young mums were invited to talk about anything other than nappies and teething!   It was one of the forerunners of the National Housewives Register which, despite it’s name, was considered pioneering. It followed that later many of us would get involved with the playgroup movement, argue for creches in the work place etc. Unfortunately divorce with or without maintenance was often on the cards too.DSC03807

Scrambling for part-time jobs came next and for a few if  lucky, finding a Teachers Training course with hours to fit in with collecting children from school.

The most significant breakthrough in our fortunes for many  was the chance to study with the Open University. I remember it  necessitated waking up at 4 am to listen to relevant broadcasts. There were noDSC03805 I-Players and catch up services, so following an attempt to stay awake and take notes, the children would be falling out of bed demanding cuddles  and breakfast  before the school run and for me my new job as a teacher.

Yes, of course things moved on and my daughters-in-law have had some of the benefits of many more opportunities for woman at a younger age.

But now perhaps  ‘ladies in later life’ (woman tend to outlive men) should be encouraged to burn their comfy under garments for a few more causes.  This time to draw attention to the state of the NHS? The need for enlightened affordable care?  It would be good too if we were not marginalised in terms of the arts, that we are not patronised by organisations etc.

‘Please don’t try and teach grandma to suck eggs.’ my mother used to say smiling, when I had the cheek to underestimate her! She had  survived the war as a young mother, worked in munitions, looked after people, in peace time she started new  businesses (one producing fireproof nightwear having read about a child burned to death) Later she wrote scripts, worked in entertainment,  cared for her parents, held down more than one responsible job in later life.DSC03795 - Copy

You couldn’t live to my mother’s age or indeed mine now, without knowing a thing or two. But there is another saying  ‘what goes around comes around’ so please ‘Please don’t try and teach grandma to suck eggs.’ 

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‘Please don’t try and each grandma to such eggs ‘

Meaning – Don’t offer advice to someone who has more experience than oneself.

Origin – These days this proverbial saying has little impact as few people have any direct experience of sucking eggs – grandmothers included. It is quite an old phrase and is included in John Stevens’ translation of Quevedo’s Comical Works, 1707:


This entry was posted in Ann's memoir, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up, Finding my feet in Brighton, Photography, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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