wouldn't be without either. My mother, Granny Blake, is a Summa and Compendium of English Catholic traditions that must go undisturbed right back through penal times to the medieval ages beyond.
All my children have liked learning the bedtime prayer: "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed that I lie on ..." It has a timeless ring about it.
Then she is full of stories of the saints not "foreign ones", God help me, much as I love and
admire a lot of them, but true bred English ones of the type of Becket of Canterbury and the Lady Richeldis of Walsingham and Hilda and Cacdmon. Cuthbert and that delightful hermit Godric who had a mutual admiration society with snakes.
It's always been easy when the children were young to get them off to bed with the promise of an Anglo-Saxon saint story from Granny Blake.
Granny Bowman is different. She has a strong sense of duty and is quite determined that her temptation to spoil her son's
children must never lead her into allowing them to get away with what is wrong.
Thank God she accepted me with all my ignorances as her daughter-in-law, and gave me the secret of all her recipes so that George could never say: "This Christmas pudding isn't as good as the one my mother makes."
She didn't have a college education, but as an intelligent student in the University of Life, with three girls and two boys to her credit, all at "A" level I'd say, she is a mine of common sense and Christian philosophy.
She caught me looking pensive on Simon's seventh birthday. "He's a grown man now," I said a bit despondently. "It was hitting me that he would be my last baby. Some mothers are always waiting for their baby to crawl, then toddle, then walk and it can't be quick enough before they're astride a motor bike.
But there's something very special about the real, tiny helpless baby this was what God became in order to teach us, and I've learnt a lot about the Incarnation when I've held Tom or Susan or Clare or Simon in my a Now there won't be Granny Bowm.,-, said with a touch of severity: "So what? You laughed with joy when a manchild came to you, because a man was born into the world or a woman for that matter. You've had the joys that come with the privilege of watching over them and seeing what your love means to them.
"You've been sensible with the first three because there was always a younger one to take your care and attention. Now just stop being silly and leave Simon to grow up properly and away from a nanny-mother who wants to keep him young and dependent.
"And don't go trying to foist a priestly vocation on him so that you'll never have to share him with another woman. I had to let go of George and let him marry you -and it's been an enrichment for me. Don't he a possessive mother and warn me if I show symptoms of being a possessive grandmother.
Well, there it is. Thank God for grandmothers both of them.