Ageless Ties: Janet & Olivia
Welcome to the very first interview in the series of ‘Ageless Ties’. A place where we get to discover more about just why inter-generational relationships are so special.
This interview was the very first I did, and I think it’ll be forever a favorite of mine, already!
I went along to Liv’s house, to meet a very special woman in her life, Janet, her nana.
As soon as I walk in, Janet is sat on the stairs looking tired out because Liv has put her to work on clearing out her wardrobe. You might think, ’oh poor Janet!’ but Janet loves to be busy, loves to get stuck in and absolutely loves to clean. She often asks Liv if she can come over to clean or tidy, or just to help with anything. If she were my nana, I’d be putting her to work too!
The three of us sit down with some browines that Liv’s dad Darrell has baked (the dream) and a cup of tea.
Let’s start with Liv. For those of you that don’t know Liv, well, she’s a force. She’s one of the most creative, kind and warm people I have ever met. To give you a little bit of history on lovely Liv, I ask her a few things.
Little Liv started life in South London. She talks about school through the years very fondly, but that’s only because she had a really tight knit group of friends, friends that are still as much in her life now as they were then. She met her best friend Gemma at high school, and you only need to catch them dancing in the kitchen on Instagram stories, a lot, to realise that they’re one in the same. Liv reflects on high school with a tentative tone. She went to an all girls’ school and recalls feeling as though the environment was really intense; lots of girls, hormones and arguments!
Liv left 6th form and headed off to Liverpool University. She dropped out after 3 months because it soon became very clear that this was not the right path for her. Liv tells me about how difficult the process of making that decision was, how she didn’t want to let her parents down and questioned whether it truly was the right thing to leave. Luckily for Liv, her parents Sarah and Darrell were nothing but supportive about the whole thing and prompted her to do whatever made her happy.
Next up, Liv found herself in various retail roles at places like Topshop, Whistles, and interned alongside her jobs working on things like fashion cupboards. Throughout this time, the only constant thing in her work life was writing her blog, ‘What Olivia Did’. Over a period of very organic events, Liv moved into writing her blog on a full-time basis, and is one of the first women of our generation to have done so. Liv now also co-hosts a Podcast called ‘The Fringe of it” with her friend and colleague Charlotte. The pair tackle everyday issues, invite interesting guests on and generally uplift the days of all that listen in! In addition to this, yes there’s more!, Liv has recently launched an incredible platform on Instagram called ‘The insecure Girl’s Club’ which is a place for like-minded women to unite, and to talk about those things that really can get to us in a bid to make everyone feel less alone in it all. So far, so amazing.
Talking romance now, Liv met Joe, her boyfriend, when she was 15. On MySpace in fact! Liv knew Joe’s sister, so she assures me it wasn’t as strange as you might think. They were in a relationship for a couple of months and Liv recalls it was all very awkward- we all know the feeling of teenage relationships! Joe then called it off for about a month, because he didn’t know if he was ready for a girlfriend and naturally Liv was heartbroken. A couple of months later Liv describes the way she picked him back up, which made me laugh. And guess what, they’re getting married next summer! I must add in here that I played a part in the proposal because it’s my favorite story. Joe, very sheepishly asked to speak to me in private at Liv’s birthday party last year and I remember thinking, “oh no is he okay!?” it was then he asked me to safely escort Liv’s engagement ring back from America (a trip I was preparing to go on soon) and safely deliver it to him. I had to be SO COOL after speaking to him so I didn’t give anything away. It’s a miracle I kept it a surprise!
Let’s move on now to Liv’s nana, Janet.
Janet talks me through what her life has been like, and trust me when I say, she’s been through it, not under or over it, but through, and has come out the other side. Janet starts by telling me first and foremost that now, is the best time of her life and then she takes me back.
I ask Janet about any difficult relationships she has had to navigate over the years and the first thing she says (and believe me, I feel this one) is that when she was growing up, she fell in love too easily and too quickly, but assures me it wasn’t about sex for her, regardless of the men trying to get their hands up her skirt! (the three of us all fall about laughing.) She says she felt such a pressure to settle down and was married at 17 years old and that was partly owing to that fact that there wasn’t enough room at home for her. Janet’s mum organised the entire wedding, right down to the 6 bridesmaids she had in tow on the day. Janet feels she let her mum control her and that she was weak, but the three of us talked more about how she was only 17, and how at 17, we’re still growing into the people we are today. Liv and I both jump in to say we were both total push-overs at the age of 17, and we don’t think that’s uncommon thing at all.
If we fast-forward a little, Janet starts to talk about happier times, once she had left her then husband. She found herself a job, and for the first time in a while, she felt proud of herself and a sense of independence she’d never had before. It wasn’t long until a man named Graham asked her out to lunch at work, and she said she remembers feeling quite nervous, but at the same time relaxed because at this point, she’d been through it all. As it turned out, Graham was in the same headspace, and they clicked straight away. Janet and Graham have been happily married for 37 years.
We move on to talk about her relationship with lovely Liv, her granddaughter, and Janet’s face literally lights up.
When Liv arrived in the world, Janet describes every minute of every day as wonderful. She feels she got a second chance at parenting in some way.
Liv used to go to stay with Janet from 6 months old, Janet says she absolutely loved it, and talks about how she used to put Liv into a highchair and give her some breakfast, and then put her to bed for a morning nap where she would sleep until lunchtime. Janet remembers that Liv would wake up with the biggest smile, rosy red cheeks and generally just be an absolute joy. As Liv got older, Janet describes a time when Liv would go through all of Janets fashion magazines, and realises that this was when Liv’s love of fashion first started. Janet would buy the most amazing outfits for Liv, from a French shop nearby and would love dressing her up. Janet reckons she was the best-dressed child around (and still is!).
We chat a little bit about the time in their lives where Janet would take Liv to and from school, and then she suddenly remembers some mean girls who would pull Liv’s hair out! Janet told them all off, and then the mum’s made it known that they didn’t like Janet all that much after that. I say good on Janet for telling the little buggers off! Janet says that she realises she had grown up and become braver because she would never let anyone harm Liv, or take liberties, she would put them in their place.
Liv tells us that she remembers always being at Janets house when she was growing up, and how close they’ve always been. Liv has so many memories of her nana’s house, playing in the garden to, poppy the dog. Listening to Bjork (I give Liv a look of surprise but not shock at this information)
Which is her favorite and Janet says she still had the CD to this day. At this point Liv bursts into song….
Liv remembers when she used to put on a show for Janet and her granddad but nearly always, her granddad would have to play the part of the prince.
Another game they can both remember fondly is when Liv would lay on the sofa, pretend to be a dead princess, Snow White, essentially, and granddad would come in from work, pretend to be her horse and wake her up! A theme develops as there’s yet another Disney princess game to unfold in the form of Beauty and the Beast, where obviously, Liv was Belle, and would dress up, have a basket over her arm and skip up and down the dining room with books. Liv remembers the books she would use always felt like ‘proper grown up books’ because they were heavy and hard-back.
Liv talks about how lucky she feels to have such a close relationship with her grandparents and parents, and that we all agree, whilst it’s normal for us, it’s really not that common at all. Liv feels so lucky to still be just at close, if not closer to her nana now, than she’s ever been, especially as a woman and to have such a strong female presence and someone she can open up to. It hit Liv when Janet become ill a while ago, that she wouldn’t know who to talk to about her shared love of fashion, among absolutely everything else! Janet says that something she needs to remember is that there is a generation gap, not in a way that she’s trying to be young but in another way where she feels she is playful and can be quite child-like and silly. Both Liv and I agree it’s just that Janet is good fun and had an amazing energy and lots of spirit.
We discuss that as you get older, if you slow down your body tends to do the same. Janet’s outlook is not to nap if you feel tired, but to find something to keep you busy instead, for fear of her body slowing down. And that’s all relative to what Janet has been through- she never wants to slow down and always feels there is something worse out there that what is happening to her.
I ask Liv and Janet what they feel it is they have learnt from each other over the years and Janet doesn’t even take a breath before she says “love, deep love”. Liv sings something about deep deep love and we all have a laugh again. Liv explains that she feels like they learn so much from each other and that it’s all owing to the generations that separate them. Liv can talk to Janet about everything and feels Janet always offers Liv a perspective she won’t get from anyone else which she admires so much. Liv adds that actually she’s not sure what Janet learns from her, and Janet quickly jumps in to let her know. Janet tells Liv that she thinks she is amazing, and that what she has achieved with her business and building her brand has made her incredibly proud. She remembers when Liv was unhappy at University, and made the big decision to leave to pursue her love of fashion and blogging. Janet tells Liv that she has always thought that was a very brave thing to do, and that taught Janet to take more leaps, too.
Janet goes on to say that what she admires about Liv is the way she carries herself, and how articulate she is. And tells Liv never ever to doubt herself. Janet says she wishes someone had told her how lovely she was when she was growing up.
I ask Janet whether she uses Instagram, and she says she does, but only to follow family really. And then we look at her following list and she’s following The White Company, but swears to god they must have done that for her and again, we all fall about laughing. We find out she also follows ‘@brunchforbetches’ and she also cannot understand how that’s gotten there either. To be frank, she just doesn’t care about Instagram and what a refreshing thought that is.
Janet has some words of wisdom for a younger person, and now I love her even more: “Embrace your age, embrace what you’ve got and just love yourself. Have confidence in yourself and it’ll all come together. Do not criticise yourself. Keep positive people around you, and let things that don’t matter, go.”
I can't thank this pair more for chatting to me, what a gorgeous time I had interviewing them both. Stay tuned for the next interview in two weeks time. xx