Ivy wrote letters every day! Her handwriting was tiny and exact with her grace overflowing from the envelopes! She used Basildon Bond blue notepaper and blue biro. The stamps were kept on the little shelf thing behind the electric fire (I know it sounds dangerous but it was ok really!) and there was something always under construction. The telephone was a great luxury and expense in her mind so it was neither used frequently nor at length. (There is a joyous incident with the phone in the book!) She would toddle off to the post office to see her friends, Mr and Mrs King and buy her stationary supplies and receive her old age pension in clean crisp notes and have the pension book stamped.
I had known that writing about Ivy would take all my abilities and mental strength. I just couldn’t work out the structure. I had tried to write a novel about her life and made it to sixty thousand words. It was a fair attempt but still did not do her justice. I had to wait until my mid forties to be able to give it my all. Then it came to me ~ write the book as if it were her voice in her letters to her precious people. It would be structed into four main chapters ~ her youth, China, Mrs, Granny ~ at least they were the working titles of the chapters ~ they improved as time went on and after about fifty million days of edits!
Then all I had to do was work backwards and stick to the plan. I started with the last chapter because that was the easiest place to start. It took months and months to build, like a slow knitter doing one line at time but it did grow. It grew and grew and made my heart sing. When the time came to show it to her only child, my Father, it was a momentous day. It is an odd thing to write about your parent’s parent and I thank God for the chance to do it but also trembled a little. He loved it. That was all that mattered and now I pray that you not only like it, but, love Ivy. I am sure that you will.
Remembering her way of speaking and way of constructing sentences was a joyous challenge. It was more than twenty years since she had died so I had to think carefully about the distinctions between fact, feeling and fiction! Then suddenly one morning some of her phraseology came to mind and I was off! Off like a mad scruffy tomboy Mackem tornado that I used to be when she was at my shabby side! I got up extra early to make sure that voice was still with me and worked before taking my services. She offered me such a sanctuary, so many smiles and such wisdom. Now it was time to let her shine. Now was the time to stand back and be the silent one. Now is her time.