Monica Briscoe

Monica was my Grandma. And living only two miles away from us as I grew up she had a great deal of influence on me. Especially because I used to go to their house every Wednesday night after school and stay for dinner. Without fail it would be gammon, chips and peas, which was great. I think this was an attempt at supplying me with some ‘proper meat’ to supplement the deprived, mostly vegetarian diet I had at home. On these Wednesday nights, from the age of 7, Monica would give me piano lessons. This was my introduction to the world of music. So Monica was the one that had to go through my first tuneless plonks on the keyboard, and listen to endless simple tunes. But I’ve been told that when she taught at Campsea Ashe (?) music teaching was her specialism, which goes a little way towards explaining how she had the patience to keep me going week after week until, many years later, she finally handed me over to a music teacher who would take me on to grades and other more disciplined times. But this is a part of Monica that I will always have with me. Because from those first lessons she gave me I have developed a love of music that I think I will always have. I now can’t wait for the day when I live in a house big enough to fit in my own piano. And I will still think back to us sitting side by side at the piano at Mill Place as she took me though all those pieces.

It’s funny really that I never thought that much about how much I shared with my Grandma until now. Another thing I will remember of her was her love of her garden --- another thing that I share. In recent years when I came back from Uni to visit she would take me round her garden telling me all the names of her plants, and we would appreciate together the wonderful display she had achieved with her care and determination to have it ‘just so’. And since I’ve had my own place I’ve loved to tell her how my plants are getting on. How the roses are doing, and which shrubs are flowering. And I am so thrilled that her and Paul came round and saw my house. I could be a little bit proud when Monica saw what I’d achieved with my own garden; I did like to make her proud. And it wasn’t that hard really. Although sometimes her obsession with knowing every detail of every exam I was sitting at Uni could become a little tiring, it always gave a little extra boost every time I did well to know that she would be so pleased. She did care so much for her family; about their lives, how they were doing and what their plans were. And she had so many reasons to be proud. It made her so happy to see her children and grandchildren excel at school, go to University, and become doctors too, whether PhDs or MDs, of which they’ll hopefully be three of us soon, and maybe more to come.

The thing that I am most thrilled that Monica knew about, but also that I will be most sad she will not be there for, is my wedding to Jane. I didn’t even know when we planned to have the wedding in Parham church that that was where Paul and Monica were married over 50 years ago. But Monica and I have talked about it a fair amount in the last few months. I told her all about our plans, which she seemed thrilled at. And I think she was very happy that we’re having the reception at Home Farm, as they also did, but as usual she was worrying plenty on my behalf as to whether it would be too much work, or if we’d get everything done. I’m sure I’ll be thinking of her all the time as I make the endless lists that are necessary for the preparation. I know that I will be thinking of her lots that day too, and a part of her will be with me. As always. I will always remember her fondly, and try not to miss her, too much.