Grumpy old ladies.jpg

Grumpy old ladies

By JENNY GRAINER [email protected]

Jenny Grainer arrived in the Algarve to live, work and raise a family in 1968. She is a freelance writer and her book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then’ has sold more than 2,000 copies

Now that we’ve had a smidgeon of rain and the temperature has dropped a notch or two, we can don something heavier than a T-shirt and remind feet that they may require covering up for a little while.

I suppose it’s time to get into Christmas mode, break out the baubles and spangles of festive cheer and start posting the annual cards to remind people we are still around. Shops are already playing their versions of festive music, irritatingly jolly instead of the dignified solemnity of a choir – and Father Christmas will soon be starting to climb ladders up walls all over the Algarve towards non-existent chimneys – and I may be joining him.

Am I sounding like a grumpy old lady?

I was watching them on TV the other night and found myself agreeing with everything they said – now is that scary!

I can’t help it, so much of what they were saying I’ve been muttering to myself for a long time. How did I get that way?

Once upon a time called the 60s, there lived a generation of strange women who thought they could free themselves from the yoke of male slavery and claim freedom. Imagine.

Some hurled their bosom shields into the ocean of liberty, lowered the hem of their skirts, discarded their roll-ons along with suspenders and stockings then pulled on their marching tights and flat shoes in order to change their lives. No workplace was sacred from their insistent demands. “Equal pay for equal jobs” they shrieked. “No more wars, no more bombs–we shall camp outside your nuclear bases and bring our children up in peace and love with flowers in our hair and Harry Krishna as our saviour along with a hubble–bubble pipe.”

They were mostly intellectuals who ‘dropped out’ of university and ‘dropped in’ to more important thinking. Many are alive and well, today looking a little strange with long grey hair and weather beaten faces.

There was another variety of quite demented females who screamed at the long-haired males twanging electric guitars that they followed around in large groups; they giggled through endless parties, drinking, smoking and baking ‘special’ cakes while throwing away their virginity and gaining freedom for themselves and their daughters.

Was I one of them? Not on your sweet, backcombed, lacquered beehive!

I was too busy tightening my skirt, lifting its hem and cramming my feet into stiletto heels with very pointed toes while flashing my double sets of false eyelashes at my many suitors. In my view, then there was more than one way to get out from under.

In any case, working in the theatre I already had a lot of freedom. Women on the stage had already shown they were independent and won more equality than many and I was very much into the glamour of Hollywood.

My social life began when the curtain went down on the show and the nightclubs beckoned and I don’t mean tacky strip clubs with pole and lap dancers. I mean swish places like Danny La Rou when Ronny Corbett was his straight man or Beyond the Fringe watching newcomers like Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.

I saw stars like Lena Horne and Eartha Kit while dining at The Talk of the Town in Leicester Square and it was all exciting and I loved it.

Whatever faction you belonged to, we certainly changed things but I don’t think any of us imagined it would all end up where we are today.

Whatever happened to freedom? I look around me today in dismay. Women work harder now than my grandmother did.

Soon they will be scurrying around in between their full time jobs not only delivering and picking up their children from nursery’s and schools, dancing, riding and music classes while food shopping, paying the bills, cooking, cleaning, bathing and putting to bed their offspring but also squirreling away gifts for the family to receive on Christmas Day.

It would seem sisters that the more labour saving devices you work to buy the more you, or someone, finds to occupy your free time.

Of course we live in a moment in time, which is far more material. In a ‘must have now’ society, no couple can manage to pay for it all without both of them working. What I don’t understand is when they have the time to enjoy it?

Luckily, I still live in a time warp where my husband opens doors for me, carries my shopping and even washes up without a machine. We never buy anything we can’t afford so do without a lot we really don’t need anyway.

Wars are still raging, bombs still being made, history teaches nothing and women still get grumpy.

Oh well, I’d better just get on with being Nana Jenny and try to find something, that my granddaughters don’t already have, to give them for Christmas – an impossible task I dread more every year.