Courtesy of a very kind friend and her voucher for a meal at Brown’s Restaurant, Nottingham, I became a lady who lunches, or rather, a woman who absolutely stuffs herself with sweet treats, then goes home, feeling sleepy and ever-so-slightly sick…
Beginning with tiny savoury brioche filled with (from the right) turkey and cranberry, egg mayo, Devon crab and smoked salmon and cream cheese on some sort of biscuity thingy, we then munched our way through scones (not a patch on mine) , mousse that was some sort of berry, carrot cake and mini mince pies, all washed down with lashings of rather watery tea.
I enjoyed myself massively, having a good natter and nice food that I didn’t have to prepare or wash up after. That being said, I find myself reflecting on how it often seems to be the case for me that anticipation is so much more enjoyable than realisation, as I sit here, chewing on a Rennie.
And then I remember the Five Boys Chocolate bars of my childhood, the face of Desperation followed by Pacification, Expectation, Acclamation and finally, Realisation, licking its lips. Even then I often felt that the best moments were carefully opening the wrapper, sliding my nail along the silver paper to reveal the squares to be nibbled one at a time, and made to last. I’d make little boats out of the wrappers, and line them up in size order, a skill I taught my children too. Memories surface unbidden, rooted in your senses – the taste of Fry’s chocolate, smell of toast by the fire, a coal fire’s heat on your cheek, the creak of the back door, which was never locked, Mum’s voice, with vibrato, as she sang in the kitchen .
There is pleasure in all these five stages, even in Desperation when some hope emerges; but the stage that I am often most preoccupied by, is the absent sixth stage, Reflection. For me as a writer, it is the stage that emerges from memory and often takes me to places I had forgotten or suppressed, or perhaps simply never explored, rather like this blog, I find. Will I reflect on today in a different way tomorrow? Perhaps I’ll write about the people watching I did, or the fading afternoon when we emerged from this greedy cocoon. Maybe it too will become a quasi-Proustian trigger…
So I thought I’d share this poem which I wrote quite some time ago , which seems to fit with everything I’ve been saying today. I hope it stirs something up for you too.
In the narrow kitchen Mam worked her wonders,
hair clipped back, sleeves rolled over sharp elbows.
She heaved grey cauldrons of bloodied beetroot
to ooze and dribble pink froth on the stove,
stretched the Sunday joint, made peppery cawl,
mutton-rich, with golden nuggets of swede,
slippery leeks, the last good potatoes.
Witch fingers rubbed butter in flour, sizzled
welsh cakes, fat with raisins, on the bakestone,
slicked trembling custard slices with icing,
whipped up cloud-high sponges and bara brith.
Sometimes she’d let me in to pull the stalks off purple wimberries
or pop plump peas into a china bowl,
roll pastry scraps to grey, a dwt in her shadow.
dwt- small, a small person.