The joy of being a doppel-granny!
The joy of being a doppel-granny! That’s a grandmother who has a granddaughter with looks just like hers… and as this writer can vouch, it makes for a very special bond
From the curve of the mouth to the arch of the dark brows and set of the chin, the likeness between my 21-year-old granddaughter Bonnie and me at the same age is striking.
Children of our time, we differ on the hair and make-up front. I had a Vidal Sassoon straight-cut bob turned a little unruly as the curls took over, while Bonnie has hers fashionably parted near the middle and tames her curls so they lie long and (more-or-less) straight.
But there’s the same straightness of gaze, a fearlessness in the eyes — a willingness to take risks that will serve Bonnie well throughout her life, as it did me.
And will no doubt get her in trouble of the kind that I got into myself (no regrets).
That special something in the genes that tells me I’ll still be somewhere around when I’m gone. And I can think of nowhere I’d rather be alive and thriving than in the spirit of my granddaughter.
The regeneration game: Elisabeth Luard as a young woman (right) and her granddaughter Bonnie at 19 (left)
Recently, Joan Collins (probably the most glamorous granny who ever lived) revelled in the same thrill. She posted a photograph of her 16-year-old granddaughter Ava, remarking on her likeness to herself just a few years older.
In their case, they share the same feline eyes, high cheekbones and full lips.
It’s the magical genes lottery that causes likeness to sometimes skip a generation. We get our genes from both parents in different combinations. Our parents, in turn, from their parents.
The interesting part is that this transmission doesn’t eliminate any genes at any step. Only the combination varies.
Blythe’s spirit: Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter Apple Martin has inherited her gran Blythe Danner’s genes
A hed start: Tippi Hendren passed on her looks through Melanie Griffith to Dakota Johnson
The Pres gang: Actress Riley Keough has the unmistakable cheekbones of her granny, Priscilla Presley
So when your genetic combination resembles that of your grandparents, you end up looking like them, rather than your parents.
That’s why Shirley Bassey’s granddaughter is her mirror image; so too fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, actresses Tippi Hedren and Blythe Danner (Gwyneth’s mum) and their granddaughters.
It’s an easy relationship — grandmothers and granddaughters. It works.
There’s none of the hustle and bustle of parenting, no reason to take things personally when stuff goes wrong in their lives or yours.
There’s a natural compatibility, an us-against-the-world complicity, between the generations on either side of the middle generation — those who feel responsible for our welfare.
If you’re lucky, as I was, the relationship starts right at the beginning, with those times when exhausted parents need someone reliable to babysit who’ll return their precious newborn fed, changed and reasonably untroubled by wind.
I have five London-based grandchildren, no longer babes-in-arms but mid-teenagers and 20-somethings, plus my son’s two New York-based daughters.
I’d never single out one or other as my favourite — I’m far too well aware, as the child of the ‘wrong’ side of a family (father killed in war, mother married again), of where that leads.
Clone Collins: Ava Newley’s likeness was celebrated by her glamourpuss grandmother Joan Collins
Double Reynolds: There’s no mistaking the similarity between actress Billie Lourd and gran Debbie Reynolds
Bonnie is the middle child of my middle daughter, Poppy — the only blonde and blue-eyed child in a family of dark-haired, brown-eyed folk.
Funnily enough she resembles my blond, blue-eyed father more than she does me. But Bonnie’s likeness to me, of course, comes through her mother.
Bonnie and I loved each other from the moment our eyes first met — mine brown, hers blue — 21 years ago almost to the day. She tells me she can see our physical likeness: ‘I’ve always known it, Gran — it makes me happy.’
Despite the similarities, there are differences. In lifestyle mainly. While, aged 21, I was marrying my late husband Nicholas at a big society wedding, Bonnie finds the idea of marrying anyone at her age — or possibly ever — absurd.
Like me, though, she doesn’t recognise her limitations.
If she’s told what she can and can’t do, she just smiles sweetly and does it anyway.
As I remember, Bonnie didn’t bother to speak until she was good and ready. But there was never any doubt she understood every word she heard. It happened very suddenly, as if she’d been storing information for a time of need.
We were queuing together for service in a cafe. Bonnie, a toddler of about 18 months, invisible to anyone standing behind the counter, suddenly delivered a full sentence. ‘I’ll have a croissant, please. With jam.’
Things haven’t changed all that much. Our relationship — while food is not the be-all-and-end-all of what we do together — is firmly seated at the kitchen table. I’m a food writer after all — so where else would it be?
Girlie Bassies: Dame Shirley Bassey passed on her famous lip-curl to granddaughter Tatjana Novak
We have history. I was actually her roomy. When I had nowhere to stay overnight in London on a work trip, she’d open a flip-out couch in her bedroom and we’d talk late as we caught up on her life and mine.
And she’d hop on a train to my old home in Aberystwyth — a five-hour journey from London — for a chance to unwind from school for a weekend, bottle-feeding orphan lambs, gathering blueberries for jam and other things you do in the wilds of Wales.
She was always the first to jump in the river where the cousins all swam beneath overhanging trees when the water was peat-brown and still swollen with snow-melt.
And she was always the one to negotiate in sign language for jelly-snakes and pebble-sweets with the old lady in the kiosk when the family was on holiday in Spain.
I recognise the joy Bonnie feels in defying physical limits. I nearly drowned myself as a six-year-old in the salt-water pool on an ocean liner on the way to my stepfather’s posting to the British embassy in Uruguay.
There, too, I learned that whatever anyone else found delicious, I would as well.
These links between us are far more than skin-deep.
It’s childhood memories shared, or that moment of magic when one of you recognises themselves in the other.
I’m pleased as Punch when people tell us we look alike (give or take the passing years) — but more important is that deeper bond.
And it’s that, in the long run, which makes relationships between grannies and granddaughters as good as it gets.
Source: Read Full Article