Saturday, 26 December 2009

All you need is cash!

At that time with little inflation, prices remained static and food seemed much more affordable. Although I had to be careful with money, I would always prepare a good meal for everyone and nothing was wasted. We did not buy a refrigerator until years later, so there was a fast turnover of food. Of course there was no such thing as junk food and frozen meals had yet to make an appearance. While each child was at a toddler stage, a special breakfast cereal would often be served up. It consisted of bread and milk, to which was added a little butter and sugar. I would call out from the kitchen “who wants teddy bears picnic?” and they would tuck into the mixture with great relish. Everything was cooked fresh and I would set aside one day every week for baking. Wednesday was my usual baking day and I would prepare a few dozen cakes to last the week; if I had the ingredients I would bake jam tarts, fruit and meat pies. I am sure it must have been welcome for the children to come in from school and smell of fresh baking. I often hear our family tell their own children about the meals they were expected to eat, but I am sure they ate as healthily as their own off spring do today.

Our children were not offered much choice as to what they would prefer to eat, the meals were placed in front of them, they were good children and always had sufficient appetite to enable them to clear their plates. There was a wide selection of meals which could be made from the basic ingredients available, mince beef, breast of lamb cut into chops and crisped, chicken wings, a meat and vegetable stew and always of course fish on a Friday. The fish would often be the yellow smoked cod, served with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables; this would be followed by a sweet of some sort, usually home made pudding. Sunday was always a special day; the whole family would sit down to a good roast dinner. The table was laid properly and everyone had a little job to do, perhaps laying the table and clearing away after the meal. The children were always given a little job to do around the house, putting out the empty milk bottles, emptying the rubbish bins, drying up, and clearing away the crockery. Those were a few of the jobs and I must say that our children were always helpful and never objected when asked to do those tasks. I’m sure they felt they were contributing and making life easier for the family. Geoff would give the children a small lump sum for pocket money. This was allocated according to age, I’m sure that by the time it reached Fiona the amount would have only been a few pence.

In later years when I took up night work in the Birmingham Maternity, I was obliged to sleep on Sunday mornings and by then both Denis and Susan were old enough to supervise the preparation of Sunday dinner. The atmosphere was always competitive and would often result in many eruptions taking place in the kitchen.

Thinking back over the years, I was always able to provide a roast dinner with a sweet, so we did not do too badly on the housekeeping received from one man’s modest salary.

In the early years Kath and Nanny Mill would visit us every Thursday afternoon and they would bring with them a welcome bagful of groceries and treats for the children. Kath would pay a return visit with Harry on Friday evening, again with treats for the family and comics for the children. Kath was by now working at Cadbury’s Bournville factory and there was always a plentiful supply of chocolates from the factory shop. On these occasions the visitors would always be subjected to a concert of some kind, which had been practiced and rehearsed by the children. Our dear visitors always received those presentations with patients, much applause, and encouragement.

Geoff and Harry would retire to the kitchen for a game of darts. Harry would win most times; he had a natural talent and skill in most games, including billiards, snooker, cribbage and many more.

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