The Grey Girl
written & illustrated by Grandad


Julia was a very normal girl, went to school, lived with her nanny, but was different to other girls, as she was the grey girl, because no one really saw her. She was a really good pupil at school and the rest of the time she helped her nanny. You see her nanny was losing her sight and Julia was her eyes. This meant she had no time to do all the things a girl did normally, she didn't mind because she loved her nanny.

The other girls teased her that she never went to parties, had an old phone, her clothes were not the latest fashion, but for Julia that was not important. You see Julia was her nanny's carer and she really loved caring for her nanny.



The only friend Julia had was Barney, to you and I, if we saw Barney, he would look like a normal dog running around, but with Julia, he was a very different dog. With Julia he stood up and spoke to her, this made him, her special and dear friend. He lived with a grandad who had problems with his eyes too and his grandson who cared for him, with his mum and dad. She loved the grandad, he had a great sense of humour and never let things get him down and was always playing tricks on his grandson.

The grandson was a whizz on computers and great at finding out stuff. So when Julia was struggling to help nanny, the grandson, the grandad and of course Barney came to her aid.



Barney was full of great practical advice and helped Julia to look after her nanny. Barney was also full of fun and loved to laugh, whatever kind of day Julia was having, she looked forward to seeing Barney. The grandson and grandad were the only other people who knew the real Barney and took Barney for walks, where they would often meet Julia. She loved meeting with them, she never had to explain anything and the grandson understood what it was to be a child and a carer. When she was with them, she felt she was full of colour and did not feel grey.



Her Nanny loved to knit, but she was having trouble with seeing properly, Julia so wanted to help her Nanny, so went to see Barney and asked for his help. Barney told her about grandad, he loved to paint small model soldiers, but he had the same problem, not being able to see them properly and ended up painting them in the wrong colours. One day he even painted some pink and when his grandson told him, he roared with laughter and said they were lady soldiers.

So the grandson went on the internet and found this lamp, which gave out a brilliant light, so grandad could continue to paint his soldiers. Grandad was delighted but teased them by saying he was sad that he had no excuse to paint them pink any more. When Nanny got her lamp she was so happy she could continue to knit and read.



Nanny was struggling to read the time on her old clock, it was so old, but Nanny loved it to bits and so did Julia. When things like this happened Julia, felt guilty, she wanted to make everything right for Nanny, but sometimes didn't know how and this was another period in her life when she felt grey. Lucky for Julia and Nanny, Barney always knew when something was up and used to appear at the door barking.

Julia would let him in, Barney would look around to make sure no one was looking, stand up and say "not really into this barking lark, much prefer to speak English." Which made Julia laugh, relaxed her and then Barney would say "tell me Julia, what is the problem" and then Julia knew everything would be okay.



Julia's friends teased her so much, because in their words, she was spending too much time with old people. She had learned from Barney that grandad had stopped doing the activities he once loved to do and used to just sit in the house. So, his family encouraged him to continue to do them and adjust how he did them. Which he did and his quality of life improved. So, Julia goes everywhere with Nanny when she can and has a great time.

When they are out with Barney, Julia loves to watch Nanny laugh, when no one is about, Barney walks beside her chatting away, the moment he sees someone down he goes on all fours, barking away. Once Nanny threw a ball for him and he never moved, waited for the people to disappear and then said "did you expect me to bring that back, do you think i am a dog?" Julia never heard Nanny laugh so much and they all fell about laughing.



Nanny struggles to recognise people's faces, so not to make a big thing of it, Julia whispers in nanny's ear who it is. They do still laugh about the times nanny has waved at total strangers and thought she recognised them. Grandad was the naughty one when he came to this, he loved mixing people up, even when he recognised them. He did also understand how upsetting it was and sat with nanny and told her it's okay to feel what she felt.



Grandad and Nanny became very good friends and were a great support to one another. They both had a wicked sense of humour and Grandad was forever playing tricks on Nanny. To you and I it may seem unkind, but they had both accepted their poor vision and used to make fun of it regularly. One lunchtime Nanny was having some soup, just for a moment she looked out of the window, when she turned round there was a penguin on the sofa with her. The penguin said " is that fish soup, mmmm I so love fish soup.

" Nanny replied "no it's tomato soup my favourite." Nanny heard a roar of laughter and from behind the sofa, out popped Grandad and picked up the plastic penguin. Humour for them is the best medicine and it makes their lives happier.



Nanny was getting upset when she had a shower because she couldn't recognise any longer between her shampoo and conditioner. Julia asked Barney if he had any ideas, she was amazed at his response as he burst out laughing and rolled all over the floor. He then went on to say "grandad had the same problem and in the end we put an elastic band around his shampoo, so he was very happy." Julia said "that's wonderful, but why did that make you laugh so much?"

Barney replied "you know grandad, well others in the house kept using his shampoo, so one day he changed it for tomato ketchup and you should have heard the screams from the bathroom." With that both Julia and Barney started to giggle.



Barney told her, for grandad they painted all the walls and ceilings white, so it reflects the light back in the room and as British racing green is grandad's favourite colour, they painted all the window and door frames that colour. It makes it easier for grandad to see them, although he is always pulling their legs by saying "this door is a bit small" as he opens a window. "We use the same idea in the kitchen" said Barney. "Grandad loves to cook, so he uses different coloured chopping boards for different food, mind you he says things like hey there are 6 carrots here, only started with 5."

Which made Julia giggle and Barney went onto say, "we also use white crockery, with a green tablecloth and use different colour tape on the handles of his kitchen equipment. His favourite toy is his talking timer, often he sets it and when it goes off he says "that's coffee time, where is my coffee." lol




Like grandad, Julia's nanny is very independent, she has to take a lot of medication, so Julia bought her a pill box, which had a different colour for each day and she placed it on a white cloth on a small table, so nanny could see it. She also has a big button phone, which she loves to bits. Her nanny loves her soaps on TV, but seeing the screen was becoming a problem. Again, Barney came up with a great idea, turn her chair so that her better eye could see the screen.

He also said the grandson closes the curtains for his grandad to reduce the glare and took the lamp away from the TV. Grandad loved to keep hold of the remote control, but he could no longer see the buttons, so his family bought him a large button one. He used his model paint, to put a colour on some of the buttons and he has control again of the remote and yes he used the colour pink.



Nanny was always a smart dresser, one day when Julia got up, Nanny was dressed in clothes that didn't match, but never said anything. When Nanny caught sight of herself in the mirror, she was very sad and told Julia she has to tell her when she does such things. As it was a Saturday, Julia went to see Barney and Grandad, she told them what happened and they immediately came to see Nanny. Barney and Grandad sat with nanny and Grandad told her how he became a rainbow dresser, pink and blue socks and so many funny combinations.

So now he, with his family's help, pegs his clothes together which are colour co-ordinated and the colour is identified by the shape of the button. He admitted he missed being a rainbow and whispered into Nanny's ear "we can still be rainbows," which made Nanny giggle so much.



Nanny saw the effect her friends were having on Julia, so one afternoon she sat her down and said, "Don't try to be perfect or follow the crowd, just be yourself, you are the most caring and kindest girl I know." Something magical then happened, the colour began to return to Julia, she no longer felt grey, she was finally full of colour.



Nanny then asked Julia to invite her school friends next Saturday, Julia asked nanny why and when nanny told her she giggled and said "okay I will." That Saturday they laid on a wonderful tea and when her school friends turned up they were excited. Then nanny produced some blindfolds and said "put these on for me", they looked confused but they did. She then asked to spin round three times, which they did. "Now enjoy your tea", they started to take their blindfolds off "no keep them on."

The six girls found it very difficult to find the table and once they did, found it impossible to see what was on the table. After 5 minutes nanny said "okay take them off." They all realised at that moment, what is was like to be Julia's nanny and all them went to Julia and said sorry to her and how they had misjudged her.



Nanny sat on the sofa and they all sat around listening to her. "Don't you think my granddaughter wants to go out with you, go shopping with you, I feel guilty that she doesn't." Nanny went on to explain that Julia helps her with everything, from reading labels and instructions, reading her letters, cooking and cleaning and taking her out. "Nanny we feel so guilty now, we thought she was just being standoffish," they replied.

From that day the girls were regular visitors at nanny's and became immediate good friends with Julia. They helped her with the housework and enjoyed taking nanny out and of course meeting Barney. The magic part was, from that day Julia was never grey again.