My grandmother was fantastically generous: not only with money, or accomodation ('Ve do not know him but he is sveet boy, seventy-nine, brother of poor Pubi from Budapest, he stay for two veeks only, is no trouble I sleep on floor'), or food but also in other, more complicated, ways. She went nowhere without multi-purpose presents: handkerchiefs; glasses-cases; individually-wrapped packets of tights and gloves; ‘sveeties’; small Czech crystal animals; marzipan fruits. ‘I just give little necklet for vife’ she would say of the window-cleaner, the garage-man; she would insist that all my teachers were presented with brooches or bracelets at parents' evening every year and, when she came with us on holiday, always left something ‘for chambermaid’ beside every hotel bed.
After she died we found a vast supply of alarming dolls in Hungarian national costume, leatherette notebooks, photograph frames, fake pearls and brooches in the shape of robins and ladybirds and maple leaves, still waiting to be distributed. We also discovered stolen ashtrays, crockery from restaurants she liked and, best of all hundreds of biros from neighbouring banks, some with their weighted pen-holder still chained to them.