She lived a few miles away, so a few days before Christmas we used to travel to her house to stay most of the day and deliver our presents to her.
"Arrrr me hearties," she would say welcoming us, "bring y'ar selves on board. Park y'ar backside on a barrel near the fire!"
As you may have guessed, she was a pirate. Although the eye patch she always wore may have been a quick give-away had you been there. She actually was a pirate in years gone by in a film they made in a small film studio nearby. She liked it so much that she decided to remain a pirate albeit she had never ever been to sea on account that she was terrified of the underneath of ships. She was worried in case the captain ever asked her to swim under the ship and remove the barnacles stuck there.
Another thing ... because she was a devout vegetarian she did not have a parrot on her shoulder like pirates do. She had a carrot instead.
She used to sit by the fire smoking her pipe and opening our presents; mostly chocolate coins covered in gold or silver paper to make them look authentic. She used to count them and say, "pieces of eight ... pieces of eight ..."
To be honest, I was more intrigued rather than frightened of this elderly pretend Nan pretending to be a pirate. One year, as we drove back home, I questioned my parents about the sanity of this woman whom we visit as a family once a year. I had by then grown up enough to reason in my mind why she would do that and to enquire of my parents as to her motivation.
"Oh ... she doesn't do that all the time!" said my father, "only at Christmas. The rest of the time, for instance I visited her once in the summer," he continued, "and she believed she was a Bishop!"
She wore some clerical vestments made from old blankets and table cloths and walked sideways just like bishops do on a chess board. She also insisted in speaking in Latin only; which made conversations with anyone rather short.
Apart from that, she was completely sane ... apparently.
In fact, she was a professor at the local college lecturing in graffiti and bad behaviour.
Nan Melba ... wherever you are ... may you bring joy to all around you!