Wedding dresses, William Blake & my Grandad

I’ve felt a bit of writers block this last week- silly I know I’ve only just started blogging and my brain is ceasing up already. However when tidying my house (a rarity I can tell you!) I found this print

Tyger Tyger by Paul Peter Piech

Tyger Tyger by Paul Peter Piech

My Mum & Dad got it me for my birthday this year (well mainly my Mum). My Husband knew how important it was to me and had carefully popped it behind a cupboard so the kids or Archie our enormous Bassett hound didn’t trample over it before we had a chance to frame it.

It’s amazing how simple things can evoke such strong emotions in you- a smell can take you back to specific moment in time and leave you elated or sad. The smell of Lily of The Valley or Old Spice reminds me of my Grandparents on my Mum’s side- I was only little when my Grandfather died but walking past anyone wearing Old Spice stops me in my tracks and I’m right back at 5 years year old sitting on his lap listening to his funny stories and songs.

In the same way I find a piece of music or poetry can do this. My Mum recently dragged me along (I’m not even joking I was being a miserable moo that day) to the V & A Museum to see their wedding dress exhibition. Now if there’s one thing my friends know about me it’s that I am not at all girly. Whilst they were happy to spend hours trying on dresses, table planning, making favours and generally planning their weddings- I was not. Part of this was that I was pregnant, feeling sick and tired but to be fair I’m just not that girl that fantasised about their wedding from a young age. I may be high maintenance in some aspects of my life but when it came to our wedding I was very chilled out! Anyhow I digress- so having been dragged to the V & A I then spent the next few hours really really loving what I saw. The history of the wedding dress was laid out in front of us and seeing the progression through the last few hundred years was fascinating (I apologised to Mum afterwards for being such a misery). My favourite section was upstairs where they showed some celeb dresses including those belonging to Kate Moss, Gwen Stefani and the controversial backless Bruce Oldfield one Lisa Butcher wore to her fated wedding to Marco Pierre White.

After spending an hour or so walking around the exhibition we then went along to the preview of Horst: Photographer of Style. We are both members of the Museum so we could get first a look at the exhibition and we weren’t disappointed. Whilst he is most famous for his Vogue covers I have to say some of my favourite photos were those he took whilst travelling around the Middle East. I studied English & Classical Civilisation at University and seeing the stills of ancient ruins of Persepolis really took my breath away. It is often the unexpected that can be the most beautiful and here we were expecting all fashion photography but there was so much more.

Ruins of the palace at Persepolis 1949, picture from the V&A website

Ruins of the palace at Persepolis 1949, picture from the V&A website

By this point we were running out of time, we wanted to take a good look around Disobedient Objects but it was getting really busy and School pick up time was looming so instead we went straight to the gift shop. I picked up a great mug for my husband that had me in fits of laughter after a recent conversation (I think we’d had a glass of wine or 5!) about what we thought Swan would taste like- chicken, goose or duck- don’t judge us!

The mug that made me laugh out loud!

The mug that made me laugh out loud!

It was whilst looking around the gift shop at the prints on the wall my eyes happened across the aforementioned print. I froze- my eyes flitting across the writing but knowing the words by heart I didn’t really need to read them at all. My Mum looked at me wondering what on earth was going on as I burst into tears in the middle of the crowded gift shop. “Erm my darling are you ok? What’s the matter?” she said concerned. I explained why the print had caused me to sob like a child, which then set my Mum off- we’re quite an emotional family!

Tyger Tyger Print by  Paul Peter Piech.

Tyger Tyger Print by Paul Peter Piech.

When I was younger my Father travelled a fair amount around Europe and to the US on business. Very occasionally my Mum would go with him, never for more than a few days and never more than twice a year. It was then that we would stay with my Grandparents, my Father’s Mum and Dad or Gorge and Read as we affectionately call them (that’s another story!). It was always fun for us- Gorge would make the most delicious fudge that was so gooey it would coat your mouth in all its glorious sugariness and if we were lucky we would go out for a curry at their local Indian restaurant where my Grandfather would delight the owner by speaking to him in Gujarati for hours on end. It was on one of those stays that it so happened to coincide with poetry week at school. Our headmistress loved poetry and every pupil in the school would have to learn a selected poem and recite it to her in front of the rest of their class- nerve wracking but a great lesson in public speaking and I thank her for that. That particular year I was about 8 years old and we had to learn the William Blake poem (so here we get eventually to the crux of my story) ‘The Tyger’. My grandfather loved poetry and instilled a great love for literature in me at a young age. Now he wasn’t a patient man and at times could be utterly terrifying if you did something he thought naughty but he sat there every evening and listened to me recite that poem until I had it word perfect. I must have read it aloud 30 or more times and he didn’t move from that spot every evening until I was happy I had it perfected.

My Granddad the day of my wedding

My Granddad the day of my wedding

All of this had come back to me in that split second I saw the print and emotion overcame me. My Grandad died from cancer a few months before I gave birth to our son Charlie. He made it to our wedding a few months earlier and had tears of joy in his eyes as my Husband announced in his speech we wanted to name our son after him. I know he would have loved to have met my children and see us teaching them the same lessons he instilled in my Father and my Father in me growing up and he would adore the inquisitiveness of his great Grandson and name sake and his great Grandaughter . So this blog is dedicated to you Read, thank you- I know my kids would have loved you the way I did.

Charlie & Millie

Charlie & Millie

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About Jen

Wife of one, Mother of two, business owner, daydreamer, procrastinator & fashion addict (not necessarily in that order!)
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4 Responses to Wedding dresses, William Blake & my Grandad

  1. Rachel P says:

    Oh Jen that is just lovely, I am off to bed in tears!! X x

    Like

  2. Jeyna Grace says:

    Your grandad must have been so proud and happy 🙂

    Like

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