• Wendy Percival

Long hair & lugs - memories of my gran

My paternal grandmother, Edith Alice Diggory, was born 123 years ago this week. Happy Birthday, Gran!

Edith’s mother was a Roberts – the family I’m currently researching as my #toodifficultlist challenge (see The Nightmare of the Too Difficult List) – and was the youngest of 6 children, 10 years separating her and her eldest sibling, Mary Ann known as “Annie”.

Gran in front with her doll, eldest sister Annie standing at the back with her hand on her mother's shoulder

Her father worked as a groom, coachman and gardener at a large house called Park Hall, near Wolverhampton, now a hotel, and the family lived in The Lodge, where my grandmother was born. A few years later the family moved to Tettenhall, where Gran went to school, afterwards training as a seamstress before she married my grandfather in 1921.

Brushing out the lugs

I listed some of my personal recollections of Gran in my post Five Minute Memories. As a child, I was fascinated by her hair as it was very different in style to most women of the time. She wore it long, tied back in a bun at the nape of her neck.

It was light grey with a wide darker grey streak down the middle. For a while in the 1950s she had it short with a perm, but obviously decided the “modern” style wasn’t for her and grew it long again. She used to plait it at night for sleeping - brushing it 100 times before bedtime to get rid of any tangles, or “lugs” to use Gran’s word.

The house where my grandparents lived had a rainwater collection tank on the roof of the kitchen (or scullery, as Gran called it) with a tap on the outside wall. When she washed her hair, she’d draw off a jug of rainwater to for the final rinse.

Gran had a formidable character but while she was strict, I don’t remember her being crochety – on the contrary she was always cheerful and laughed often.

Gran in trouble

However, there was one occasion when her usual composure was severely tested and I was the cause! At the imminent arrival of my little sister, I had been dispatched to spend a few days with my grandparents. Mum had given strict instructions that Gran was only to bring me back when it was time for me to come home, concerned that, as a 4-year-old, I might think I’d been “replaced” by the new baby.

But Gran’s keenness to see her new granddaughter was clearly too much for her to resist. As soon as Mum came home from hospital, she hot-footed it over to my parents’ house with me in tow. When we’d paid our respects to the new arrival and it was time to leave, I – not unsurprisingly – didn’t want to go and burst into tears.

Gran was outraged at me “making a fuss”, and not being my usual “sensible self”, especially as she’d fully explained what was to happen. I was marched away down the road, wailing my displeasure all the way, while my mum looked on in despair, furious with Gran for going against her wishes!


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