Tizzy – definition: a very excited and mixed-up state of mind.
I can hear my grandmother saying this to me from a very young age. It brings back memories so sharply of visits to my grandparents bungalow in England. The rooms had a mothball scent as did my grandparents although my grandmother’s lily of the valley perfume nearly overwhelmed it. Afternoon naps, or ’40 winks’ as my grandfather called them, spent dozing on his lap in the front room in his wing-backed chair. Tea and biscuits ready when we woke up and a slight rash on my soft cheek where his stubble had brushed it. The kitchen backed onto the rear garden, which was sectioned into flower beds on one side and the vegetable patch on the other. I loved to pick fresh pea pods for supper with my grandmother, although I popped most of my harvest so I could eat the sweetest little peas. I enjoyed this garden so much, running around with my younger brothers and sister playing make believe. A real treat was going into my grandfather’s shed, which was always locked. It had the rich scent of sawdust and potting compost.
The scent of sweet-peas and lily of the valley are forever reminders of my grandmother. Both plants were in her garden, the lily’s delicate blooms I imagined as fairy hats and the glorious colors of the sweet-peas grew through the vegetable patch to brighten it up. I learned later that the sweet-peas attracted bees and ladybirds, which helped pollination and to keep the pests down.
When I was older I realized that my mother’s love of gardening came from her parents. She is the ultimate green thumbed person, making even dry sticks grow! Gardening was her escape from four noisy children, a way to save costs with mountains of vegetables and a passion to grow everything from seed. Alas I am nowhere near as great with gardening, although I can keep indoor plants alive and will ‘potter’ around the flowerbeds quite happily on a warm summer morning.
When my siblings and I got too noisy, my grandmother would shout out ‘That’s enough, you are all in a tizzy, come and sit with a nice glass of milk.’ Or if one of us was the ‘odd’ one out of a game and was throwing a tantrum – “There now, no need to get in a tizzy, come and help me.” Helping grandmother entailed rolling out pieces of surplus pastry and cutting them into shapes. She would bake them and then we could nibble on them or crush them up for the birds. Or if we were at the local playground she would take the upset child and put them onto another piece of play equipment away from the rest.
This photo shows a very similar cupboard to my grandmother’s where we would roll the pastry.
Years later my grandparents came to live with us and we got used to that word all over again in our home. Getting into a tizzy was considered a bad thing and something we had to get over and be quick about it. Different standards for raising children I suppose. There was little pandering going on, I can tell you.