It was late 2008. I had just come out of the theatre and I was late. I was meant to be at my Granny’s house for dinner and I was still late. By the time I got there, Granny was already plating up dinner; I forget what it was, probably meat of some description – beef olives, perhaps? – and vegetables. Tatties, green beans, maybe it was butter beans. It was possibly butter beans.
I was late because I had been at the King’s Theatre to see the Wednesday matinee of Equus, starring Alfie Allen. The theatre was on the other side of the city and rush hour traffic, combined with my own relaxed attitude to timekeeping had made me late. Granny didn’t mind though, she never minded.
My Granny’s house has a hatch between the kitchen and living room, and so, Granny was standing in the kitchen, pot in hand, plates staring up at her, waiting for the meat, tatties and possibly-butter beans and I was standing in the living room, leaning through the hatch.
“Sorry I was late, Granny, I was coming from Tollcross because I was at the theatre…” I began.
“Oh, the King’s Theatre!” She said, “Me and your Grandpa used to go there quite a lot.”
I nodded; I knew that my Grandpa had been a fan of the theatre. In fact, some of my scripts and books, including The Orestia, had come from his collection.
“What did you see?” Granny asked, as she spooned the mysterious meat and possibly-butter beans onto the empty plates.
“I went to see Equus with some friends from uni…” I began.
“Oh yes, Equus. Me and your Grandpa went to see that in the 70s at the King’s Theatre. It must have been the original tour.”
I smiled. I go to see a play at a specific theatre and it turns out that my grandparents saw the original tour of the play in the very same theatre, 30 years previously. What are the odds? I started wondering if maybe we’d sat in the same row, maybe even the same seats, when I heard my Granny say.
“There’s a lot of nudity in Equus isn’t there?”
“Um, yes -” Oh no, I thought, what is she getting at?
“I’ll never forget the nudity when we went to see Equus.” Continued Granny,. She was looking up at me now, her eyes shining with a kind of mischief, or maybe a touch of nostalgia. “I remember the lead actor – I can’t remember his name – he had the smallest penis I’ve ever seen.”
My jaw dropped. My Granny, my dear old Granny, my 87-year-old grandmother, the lovely, kind lady who made fudge and knitted and tutted loudly at the six o’clock news, was talking about cocks. Actual willies. OHGOD.
I felt my skin burning, I was so stunned I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. This was excruciating.
“I mean, it was like a baby’s penis!” She said, exploding with laughter at the memory of this tiny theatrical todger. I stared at the plate, looking at the possibly-butter beans, she went quiet. I felt my body relax and I started picking my jaw off the floor.
“It must have been very cold up there. Was this actor better endowed?*” she asked, with a wonderful wry smile that said, I may be 87, but I’m not as innocent as you may think, my dear.
She put the pot down, story over,dinner ready, granddaughter traumatised.
“I…I wouldn’t know, Granny.” I said, gazing at my feet. my feet were suddenly very interesting, look at them there, on the floor, being feet. Wow, feet are really awesome.
We ate our dinner in Granny’s warm house and chatted about the usual things: uni, work, home. After the meal, I stayed for a cup of tea and everything was as normal, the cheeky glint in her eyes was gone, but a beautiful spark remained. I never looked at her in the same way again, she was loving and caring and full of surprises.
My Granny died last month, aged 95. And because she is gone, her house is cold. The hatch where I watched her cook is empty and the kitchen where she baked is still. This story was a bit risqué for her eulogy, so I thought that the best way to honour her was to share this story online, where it and she, will live on forever.
*Yes, Alfie Allen was very impressive, I can tell you.