One of the nicest memories I have of growing up is the long talks that we would have at mealtimes, especially weekend breakfasts.
I’ve never liked to go out on an empty stomach and mum always made sure that my sister and I ate breakfast before we went to school but there wasn’t a lot of time to chat. We’d eat our cereal, toast, boiled eggs or porridge drink a cup of tea and off we went. Weekends were different though, we weren’t as rushed. We could dawdle over breakfast and dawdle we did.
Mum didn’t approve of staying in bed too late, she liked breakfast on the table by nine on weekends. We usually had eggs for breakfast, it was not considered a crime to eat fried bacon and eggs then and on Sundays that’s what we usually had. But it wasn’t just about the food, it was about having time to talk. Those were often the times when mum would tell us about her life, there would be stories about what it was like to be part of an army family living overseas, the things she and her sisters got up to and the pets they had. I was always fascinated by these stories as it was all so foreign. Mum remembered the names of the servants who helped my grandmother run their household, the children that she played with and the dolls she had. She’d tell us about the bazaars in Cairo and the jungle they lived near in India.
After a while we’d put the kettle back on the stove and brew another pot of tea while she told us more.
Mum was a great animal lover and she needed little prompting to tell us about the dogs and cats the family had owned. She remembered the names of every one of them, the things they did and what happened to them in the end. On other days she might talk about what it was like to come back to England, the different places the family lived, the jobs she had and the war. Mum was not quite eighteen when the war started so her stories were as much about the funny things that happened as the serious side of life.
Many times we said that she should talk into a tape recorder and tell all these stories but sadly we never got around to doing it. I wish we had because my memory is not as good as hers and as I get older I forget some of the details. I’m going to try to write a few of the things I do remember in this blog so at least they will be there for me to read again in the future and maybe other people will enjoy them as much as I did.
Of course we didn’t only talk about the past. Sometimes we talked about the future, how “When our ship came in” we would do this or that. The places we wanted to go, the home we would have and so on. It was building castles in the air I suppose but we didn’t care. It was nearly as pleasant to imagine it as to have it.
Eventually, sometimes after a third pot of tea had been made and consumed, mum would look at the clock and discover we’d been sitting at the table for two hours and that she had to put the Sunday roast in the oven and do other jobs or she would be “thrown back” so we’d break up the party. Of course we talked at other times too but those breakfast talks are the ones that I remember with the most pleasure.