Every picture tells a story

My grandmother was on her knees cleaning the ash of yesterday's coal fire from the grate, a task she performed every day of my childhood.  As she slowly rose up onto her feet, she clutched her bent back, smiled ruefully and said with feeling, "talk about every picture tells a story."

My sister and I had long given up trying to make sense of some of grandmother's observations that seemed to lack a logical thread, and we exchanged knowing smiles with each other at the random absurdity of it.

My Aunt Jean, her daughter, saw us do this and remarked, "You think she's daft, don't you?"

We had to admit that yes, it did seem a little daft, so we nodded our agreement.

Aunt Jean then enlightened us.  It seems that in the 1930s there had been a famous advertisement in newspapers and maybe posters that had depicted an elderly woman clutching her bent back in a similar pose, and with the caption, "Every picture tells a story."

The advert had apparently been for some pain-killing medication recommended by its makers for treating the pains of rheumatism.  Now here, nearly 20 years later, my grandmother, rising unsteadily and clutching her back, had made the connection.  No, she wasn't totally daft.