Nanny James is one of those quiet, unassuming ladies. She wears no makeup and has always dresses simply but she is a total force of nature. Whatever she turns her hand to she has done to the best of her ability and often becomes an expert. One of eight born, she grew up during the First World War. Her father was a military man so spent many years as a child travelling with her family. After the death of her father, when she was still young and being one of the eldest children, she helped bring up her younger siblings in a bohemian, Birmingham, working class household. Their mother Nan Evans wheeled and dealed on the local market stall selling clothes and rags to bring in what she could. My Nan took to the stage as a contortionist, where she met my grandfather. They married and while he spent time away during the Second World War, brought up three young babies in not much more than a bedsit, she became a wiz at the art of being thrifty, granddads old trousers would make 2 perfect skirts for the girls!
She has experienced life with all its ups and downs. They started a small fishmongers business and through shear hard work and determination grew that business into a very successful and well-known local trade. She was behind the scenes, at the business helm, keeping a tight reign on things. She is non-judgmental, a fantastic listener and has always provided wise practical advice. For me a great ear and support when I was juggling my young family and suffering from postnatal depression. As a life-long committed vegetarian her ethos was always to seek out health food shops and often would take her grand children with her. Her nut roasts and cake baking are legendary. As a keen knitter she was prolific but did not always produce the most wearable or desirable items for a teenager - lemon coloured tank tops are difficult to pull off by any standards. Her interests and skills seem endless…crocheting, jam making, an accomplished painter, sculpture, bee keeping and rearing and farming chickens, grew fruit and vegetables to name a few. If she wanted a cupboard making she went to night school so she could do it herself.
There has been or will be a “cant”, rather a “you just watch me”.
One of the worlds Little Red Hens and my most Inspirational Woman by far.