• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 11

Give your granddaughter your vote

On my eighteenth birthday, I tore open an envelope from my grandfather, assuming it would be a cheque, but a folded sheet of A4 paper stared back at me. In my grandfather’s untidy handwriting, it read ‘a ticket to the moon for the brightest of stars.’
I hid my disappointment in a polite smile and set it on the pile of jewellery and clothes, next to my new iPad.
For as long as I could remember, every birthday, every trip and every visit with him, there was something odd.
When I was seven, I stayed in his cottage for a week. He made the best pancakes but spent a chunk of the time printing political manifestos, highlighting them and scribbling small sentences. He helped me cut shapes for shadow puppets and glue them to sticks. In a dark corner of the living room, he performed a sketch with the puppets, often glancing down at the sentences on his notepad. I remember how my belly hurt from laughter.
“So, who would you side with? The witch, the cow, the moon or the frog?” he asked me after the play.
“I like what the witch said. But witches are bad,” I replied.
“Maybe don’t think about that. Think about which promises are most important to you.”
That’s all he said on the matter, but four days later he carried me into a polling station. He pointed to a small piece of paper and words I didn’t recognise.
“Number one is the cow. Number two is the moon. Number three is the frog. Number four is the witch.” He handed me a pencil. “You decide.”
I took the pencil, but I knew this curtained box was only for grown-ups. “Why not you?”
He laughed and said, “I’m an old man, love. You are the future.”
I put my pencil on the paper and my grandfather looked away. I liked the


Give your granddaughter your vote

promises the witch made. I can’t remember what they were, but they made the most sense to me at that time, so I picked her.

At my grandfather’s funeral, three months after my eighteenth birthday, I thought about the strange gifts, like the earplugs ‘to ignore others when you need to listen only to yourself’. It hit me, like a cold hard storm to the heart, what he had given me: skills, to summarise, to analyse, to disconnect, to focus on words and not personalities, to believe in myself, to push my opinions, but in that moment on my eighteenth birthday, when I looked at a sheet of paper that told me I could go to the moon, that I could do anything, that I was the future, I hadn’t really seen it. I hadn’t thanked him.
As his coffin burned, I vowed that, when the time came, I would give my vote to my granddaughter.