Mar 25, 2024

Granny Vera lived in a little cottage by the sea.

“I do so love the sea,” she was fond of saying. “It makes me feel so young again,” and she would sit happily on her veranda and watch the sea for hours.

Granny Vera was in fact rather old. To prove it she had three children, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She also had a cat called Lloyd-George, who was rather old as well. She and Lloyd-George enjoyed the times when her family came to visit, although they both thought it rather fortunate that they didn’t all come at once.

There were photos of all the family kept in a very special place where she could always see them; under a piece of glass that covered the top of her dressing table. In fact she never put any bottles on her table, in case one of the pictures got covered up. “It’s wonderful to have such a large family,” she would say, and Lloyd-George would nod his head in agreement, for he loved playing with all the great-grandchildren whenever they visited.

In the afternoons, Granny Vera liked to walk slowly into the village to do some shopping. She always bought some bread, milk, eggs and some bacon for her tea. And for Lloyd-George, she would always buy a tub of the shop’s finest cat food.

After her shopping, she would walk slowly into the park and watch the children playing. She enjoyed watching them running and jumping, kicking their footballs and riding their bicycles. Their shouts and their laughs reminded her of when she was a little girl, such a long time ago. “I remember when I used to run round the park, laughing and shouting. What fun I had. What fun!” she would say.

It was the afternoon of the first of January 2000. It was crisp and bright, with little specks of frost sparkling like diamonds in the clear air. Granny Vera was walking through the park, warm and snug in her woollen coat, knitted hat and cosy scarf. “I hope the children aren’t too tired after last night’s celebrations to be out playing,” she thought.

She’d had a quiet Millenium Eve with Lloyd-George. They’d agreed she could have a small glass of sherry while they watched the TV. “After all,” she confided in him, “it isn’t every day you see in a new century, let alone a millennium. Although I’m not sure this one is really where I belong. It’s the young people – it’s their time now.” Sipping her sherry, she found her mind drifting back over the last century, with pictures and events tumbling unbidden in a happy jumble. There she was, running to meet her father back from the war in France, flinging her arms around his neck and him saying how she’d turned into a proper young lady. Archie going off to fight in ’39 – and the picnic she held on the Downs to celebrate his return. The trips to the seaside with the kids… looking after the grand children when they were young…

Granny Vera tickled Lloyd-George behind the ear. “Happy millennium!” she said, as the TV announced the stroke of 12 from Big Ben, and a roar could just be heard from the village square. “Happy Millennium!”

She gasped as there was a sudden loud explosion, and a burst of colour lit up the night sky. “Oh, it’s fireworks,” she told Lloyd-George. “They’re setting them off in the Square.” They settled at the window to watch, ‘ooohing’ and ‘aahing’ together as the bright balls of sparks burst over the next row of houses, lighting them in glorious greens, reds and whites. “It certainly seems that the young people are glad it’s 2000,” she said. “Although I’m sure I never expected to see it. It doesn’t seem right really; not being in the ‘19’s’ anymore.”

The next afternoon the children in the park were all playing as she stood and watched. “Hello, Granny Vera!” they cried. “Hello!” she answered. “Happy millennium!”

They ran around the park, playing games and laughing. “They remind me of my three children when they were young, and my six grandchildren, and my ten great-grandchildren,” she thought. “And of me, when I was a little girl. How lucky I am, to have had such a good life, and such a big family.”

One of the children kicked a football and it landed at Granny Vera’s feet. Slowly, she stooped and picked it up. She looked for the child who had kicked it. He was standing a little way off – a small boy with blond hair and big blue-grey eyes.

She smiled at him and tried to throw back the ball. Much to her surprise, she found that instead of flying back to the boy as she had intended, it simply dropped at her feet.

“Oh dear,” she exclaimed. “I wonder what happened?” The little boy ran forward and picked up the ball. “Don’t worry, Granny Vera,” he said. “I expect it is because you are old.” He ran back to play with the other children. “I expect it is,” she said to herself, as she started to walk back. “I expect it is.”

When she arrived home, she unpacked her shopping and made herself some tea. “It’s a funny thing,” she said to Lloyd-George, “but I really forgot for a moment that I was too old to play with a football. I just picked it up and meant to throw it back!”

Lloyd-George ate his food in silence. He was remembering when he used to play with a ball of wool and make it fly around the room like a fluffy comet with a tail. Those were happy times for him, happy times indeed. Oh, to be a kitten again, with a brand-new ball of wool to play with!

Granny Vera finished her tea and got ready for bed. “I just thought I could throw it back,” she said, as she snuggled down for the night. Lloyd-George lifted himself slowly onto the bed and curled up next to her. “And I bet there’s a little kitten inside you, too, Lloyd-George!” she chuckled, as she switched off the light.

The night grew still and dark. The children had all left the park and gone home to bed. It was quiet in the village and quiet in Granny Vera’s cottage as she lay asleep.

Granny Vera was dreaming. She dreamt that she was in the park in the sunshine and the children were playing football or riding their bicycles. Some were just running around, shouting, laughing and playing.

She was smiling as she watched them. Then she saw the little blond boy. He was running towards her, his big blue-grey eyes bright and shining, kicking his football. He kicked it towards her and she bent to pick it up. As she did so, she felt her chest go very, very tight. It started to hurt so much that she could hardly breathe. “Oh, oh!” she gasped. “What’s happening to me?”

The little blond boy ran up to her. “Don’t worry Granny Vera,” he said. “I expect it is because you are old.”

Then suddenly she found the pain had quite gone. She felt so much better, better than she had done for many years.

“Oh no!” she said, as she bent to pick up the ball. “Not at all!” and she threw the ball. It soared high in the air and flew far across the park. The boy ran after it.

“Wait for me!” she cried happily and scampered off after him. “Wait for me!”