The new cool grannies
The days of little old grey-haired grandmas are long gone. Janet Ellis celebrates a new generation of grandmothers with attitude
I can’t knit. I haven’t got a fireside to read stories next to and the only stick I use is the memory one I put in my laptop. If you add in no (ahem, visible) grey hair, a tendency towards skinny jeans and ankle boots rather than a shawl and woolly hat, and an appetite for life, not Werther’s Originals, you might think that I’m supremely unqualified to be a grandmother.
If you believe the majority of children’s books and tv ads – who’ve been slow to keep up – the cliché grandmother is a little behind the times too. she’s a lot about dozing in a big, old armchair and has a genuine rosy glow on her cheeks rather than a swift brush of orgasm by nars (the best blusher out there, trust me). time to get real! Just as the granny emoji doesn’t suit me (who is that greyhaired, bun-wearing woman?), neither does any outdated stereotype. these days, your average granny is hip, hep and fit in every way. she also doesn’t mind being told “hip” and “hep” went out with the ark – she’s relaxed about these things, thanks to a combination of maturity and mindfulness.
If you’re ever tempted to put us grandmas in the uncool box, may
I refer you, m’lud, to bianca Jagger. or Jo Wood. or lulu. not to mention vivienne Westwood, twiggy and Prue leith. Women who would give you short shrift if you tried to label them as anything. and we’d all raise our orange neon-nailed hands (my colour this week) if you asked “Who’s cool?” except we’d be too busy face-painting, video-gaming or even wall-climbing with our grandchildren to answer.
one of the many joys about being a grandparent these days is that we’re healthier and livelier in our dotage than any generation previously. We can keep up with things and get down with the kids too. We’ve got all the attributes of days gone by, but subtly upgraded. It’s great to be thought of as wise, for example, but no one need know you googled the answer to a question. Don’t assume Grandma doesn’t know anything, by the way – our generation are at the top of the chart for continuing our education long after we left school.
you can’t make assumptions based on looks any more, either. statistically, women are having babies later than ever. I defy you to play “spot the grandma” in the playground. For some grandmothers, that’s exactly how it should be. When my eldest daughter sophie had her first baby (that was 14 years ago, there’s another three now – and another on the way), my girlfriends divided neatly into either the “you lucky thing” or “omG, get them to call you Janet and noboDy WIll knoW” camp. For the record, I baggsied Grandma pretty early on, I didn’t want anyone to think these were just some kids I was hanging out with. I understand my chums’ reluctance, though. I think it’s largely maths-based. you have to be pretty good at numbers to lie about your age with absolute proof positive of how old you are tugging at your sleeve and asking for your computer password. yes, it used to be a liquorice stick the kiddies wanted, but you can’t play Fortnite with that.
your grandchildren will think you’re funny, kind and beautiful because they adore you. you’ll be a soft touch, a safe pair of hands and the person who disco-dances to the Paw Patrol theme because you worship them. Whatever you do to your hair or hemline, they’ll think you’re old. It goes with the job. you’ll stay cool – but love is hotter. w&h
“if you’re ever tempted to put us grandmas in the uncool box, may i refer you, m’lud, to Bianca Jagger. or Jo wood. or lulu”
At 78, Prue Leith’s colourful style and statement glasses are inspiring Dame Vivienne Westwood, 77, struts the catwalk with granddaughter Cora Corré Bianca Jagger, 73, with daughter Jade and her granddaughters
Jo Wood, 63, is a hands-on grandma Proud nan Lulu, 70, spends time with her granddaughter