I had a rare treat the other day; I spent the day with a pensioner. And not any old pensioner – the best pensioner in the world. My grandmother. You may have encountered Beezi the Great before. My brother’s got a real penchant for exploiting her for music videos (case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yAmqvv2Zk8). But if not, imagine Britney Spears on (more) crack. With a Freedom Pass. YouTube sensation aside, the woman is a god; she labels everything, like pencils with ‘pencil’ and leaves us notes saying things like ‘This could be a paperweight?’ on bags of lentils.
What I realised throughout the course of the day, as we hopped from Marks and Spenser’s tights department to John Lewis’ Haberdashery is that old people really do make the world go round. Or at least the economy afloat. You see, as the day went on, my grandmother bought things that I’d never ever considered to purchase – from Eccles Cakes (does anyone actually like cakes so solid with currants they could be used as artillery) to sewing kits to darn her own skirts and, even, get this, a petticoat! My shorts are so short that you can see the pockets of them hanging down, and she’s buying something to stop men getting all hot and horny from the sight of her veiny ankles. I mean really Granny, you’re too much.
I’ve always wondered who keeps all the these old establishments going, Haberdasheries and old-school bakeries, and why Mr Kipling keeps manufacturing Battenberg cakes. And now I know. It’s my granny. It’s your granny. At least someone is appreciating all the pointless hard-labour that goes into making the Battenberg cake so perfectly symmetrical with its pink and yellow squares, it’s dry bland middle and sickly sweet white marzipan finish, the revolting thing.
Another revelation I had with Beezi the Beast is that customer service makes all the difference when you’re old. The little things that I picked up throughout the day; the slightly sneering tone of the woman who told my granny that there is no difference between gold and silver sewing pins it’s just colouring, the woman who found her irritating when she wanted to try the same shoe size in a different pair just in case, the man that didn’t mind when she wanted to deliberate over two pairs of socks for 30 minutes, it made me deeply sad about the state of things. Old people should be respected and revered for all their odd, uncool likes and dislikes, their pointless attention to detail and personal hygiene – but instead people were treating her with a mixture of annoyance and disregard.
I was glad of my being there, so when younger people found her irritating and shop assistants were all sighs and doe-eyes, that I could stand up for her. The elderly’s lack of accessibility to social media streams means that, I suppose, they are somewhat cut off from the feedback loop of consumer response; it’s hardly like my granny could tweet to John Lewis to tell them the woman in Delivery and Ordering was a right bell-end. I’ll do it for you granny: John Lewis, the woman in Delivery and Ordering was a right bell-end.
So next time you’re out and about, and you see an old lady getting all flustered over something seemingly insignificant to you, bear a thought for Beezi the Great who might not understand hashtags and thinks Ben’s Cookies are the height of modernity, but is probably the sole reason Marks and Spencer’s hasn’t gone under. Heck, grannies like her are probably the reason the whole country’s going. So here’s to you Beezi, eat your Battenberg with pride, cos you are a bloody gem.