As part of our 150th celebrations, our contributors have been sharing their thoughts on what the “Friend” means to them.
Short story writer Jessma Carter has a very personal connection with our magazine indeed . . .
My grandmother was black stockinged, with a blaze of red in her greying hair. And she had very decided opinions.
Her name was Jessie. Habit decreed that I should be named after her, but nobody ever called her by her name. They called her ‘grandma’, ‘sister’ or ‘mother’ as the truth of the matter was that Grandma didn’t like her name.
Jessie made her think of Jesse James, an American rogue, a real baddie. And that, as far as Grandma was concerned, was that. What was to happen about naming me who knew nothing about the stooshie that was going on?
Well, Grandma was a great reader. In the afternoons, after the fire was cleaned and laid, she would sit down with her knitting and soon lie, snoring gently, wool dangling over her knees. She would wake and reach for ‘The People’s Friend’, the only magazine she knew that had ‘no harm in it.’
Just after I was born, and here is the magic of Grandma, she came across a story about a girl called Jessma.
So happy birthday, ‘The People’s Friend’, where and who would I be without you?