My two great aunts, Marge (Marjorie) and Lal (Charlotte), and my maternal grandmother, Moo (Muriel), gossiped terribly when they were together. But if two of them were present, then they gossiped about the one who wasn't.
Here are a couple of things I recall them saying when I was a kiddie. I always liked to listen to adult conversations and was admonished more than once for listening in.
Moo: I ran into your sister at the fishmongers in Portman Street last Friday. She was wearing slacks.
Marge: Slacks? Lal was wearing slacks?
Moo: She was. Made her looked skinnier than ever. Some cheap synthetic fabric. (I actually recall the slacks. They were crimpilene? with a horizontal bands down the length of them.)
Marge: You don't think she is trying to look modern to get another bloke do you Moo? Think she would have had enough of men after the no good rotter of hers Jimmy drank himself to death.
Moo: I wouldn't put it past her. Slacks at her age indeed.
Marge: Here she is. A taxi! She is just around the corner and there she riding around in taxi cabs. Where does she get the money?
So it sounds like they were aligned against Auntie Lal. Not so. They were aligned against whoever wasn't there.
Moo: Marge's Studebaker is looking old.
Lal: Expect they will buy a Fairlane next. Moo, those people who pick you up and take you church in their Mercedes, is that a nice car?
Moo: Too small. It is hard to get in and out of. Your sister is such a skite. Lucky she married Bobby with all that money.
Lal: And a show off. Have you seen her fancy old reproduction telephone? The handpiece must weigh a ton.
Moo: Bobby P has let her get away with everything. She was spoilt as a child and has been ever since.
Lal: Your Bertie did ok. You have a nice house. Not like me on a War Widows pension.
Enter Auntie Marge from the Studebaker just pulled up in the driveway.
Marge: Moo, your blinds (Roman festoons) are rotting away. I can see it from the outside. And your stove Moo, does it actually work? (it did, but barely) For goodness sake Moo, spend some money on yourself. Fix things up.
Moo: Bertie says we have to be careful with our money.
Marge: You two are impossible. We are in the nineteen sixties. You need to be more modern.
Lal: I know what it like to lose a husband. Your Bobby is looking very thin. You spending money like a woman with no arms must worry him.
Moo makes supportive noises.
Marge: Moo, this is such a lovely cup, but it needs a good scrub. And Moo, can't you see all the runs down your kitchen cupboards? Honestly Moo, you have always been hopeless. Ah well, your magnolia looks very nice. Do you get a man in to mow?
Lal: So how is Beverly (Marge's daughter) going now she is divorced?
This is a kind of a compilation of various conversations I overheard. My grandmother, Moo, is long dead. Lal died a couple of years ago, after a period of dementia. Marge is still going and in her nineties in her own place in Berwick. I am not sure if anyone would have told Auntie Marge about my step father dying, but she, like many of her age, reads the death notices in the newspaper meticulously and so it won't surprise me to see her at the funeral later today.