Saturdays with Evil Nanna Freda

I have never been much of a fan of Christmas, with the exception being the year I received a canary yellow bike and the subsequent year when my Sydney cousins and I dumped open cans of soft drink into the neighbour’s pool.

Mostly I did not like Christmas because it generally involved Nanna Freda. She would start her reign of terror a few days before Christmas where she would girdle me up and use me as child labour.

She just never let up on this Protestant working ethic thing where us kids were washing dishes, serving the adults, putting washing out, scrubbing spuds and sweeping up crap, even on Christmas Day.

I swear she was a 19th century coal mine owner because she was all for getting us kids to work, with our birthday cards saying things like this: “Dear SawHole, Nine is a good age and you need to start helping your Mum with the baby (SawHole sibling junior) and around the house yadda fucking yadda.”

When I was about 19, I can recall lying on the lounge hungover about some sprightly celebrations at the Lithgow Hotel. My brother was feeling the same pain lying on the floor. Nanna lobbed in wearing her 70 year old shorts from Fletcher Jones and demanded we get up to clear the table.

I finally said no, with my mother rushing to the room to calm things, as Mum always ran the gauntlet between Freda and I. I can’t remember what the end result of the clash was, no doubt I lost, but I do remember my mother.

My Mum had a very hard life, losing both parents at 15 and then marrying a certain person, who shall remain anonymous. She loved Christmas and would dress up in a festive shirt and badge on the day, while slaving over the stove to bring us every kind of meat possible. Out would come the gold cutlery set and we would sit down to a meal, where we would emulate the freakiest family in town.

There was my sainted grandfather Bill, who also had a hard life because he made a very bad decision in 1945 – the decision? Marrying Freda. Then there was Bill and Freda’s son, whose only emotional connection is to birds. Oh and me, the feisty, angry one.

Poor Mum would be saying: “Oooh quiet SawHole” throughout the meal, while Nanna Freda made some awful comment about Catholics. Peace on Earth, Freda. After the meal, I would be sent to serve adults tea. Why me? Because I was a girl and needed to know these things. Get your own fucking tea bag, Freda.

I remember one Christmas Day stinker when Nanna offered to teach me how to crochet. I was seven had obviously been listening to some feminist teachers at school because I said: “I am going to become a journalist, I don’t need to know how to do that, it’s old fashioned.” I was right but I heard about that comment for years. Mum again had to act as a peacemaker.

My poor Mum, you deserved better in life. Let’s hope you get what you deserve in heaven.

Mrs SawHole, December 13, 2001. RIP

Ovarian cancer is a shit and it took my Mum’s life. Early detection will ensure that other little girls like Miss Charisma get to meet their Nannas, nice Nannas, not Freda-like ones.

Unprofessional Agony Aunt
Sidekick of Mrs Woog

Not Mrs Woog

PS Napoleon Perdis is now contributing the net proceeds of every Auto Pilot Lip Service sold at a Napoleon Perdis concept store to Ovarian Cancer Australia. So each time a customer purchases the lip balm in Original, Hush or Cherry, they’re contributing to an extremely worthy cause. And a great stocking filler for Christmas.