Monday, 16 February 2015


Sometimes it is the simplest things that can trigger hosts of memories. Like yesterday.  We had roast chicken for dinner and it called to mind the fact that, for both the Old Bat and me, chicken was a luxury food in our childhood and was usually eaten only at Christmas.mind you, the OB' family was a step ahead of mine.  They had friends in the country who would send them a capon for Christmas - through the post!  I somehow have difficulty in imagining sending a chicken through the post these days.  But that led me to another memory.

When I was, I think, seven years old I contracted pleurisy.  Just how it got to the stage it did I really don't know but my mother assured me many years later that I was judged to be too weak to be taken to hospital, which is where I really should have been.  Somehow a portable x-ray machine was brought to our house and manouevred upstairs to the bedroom I shared with my brother.

It must have been at about this time of the year as I can remember my mother digging up a crocus and planting it in a pot; it seems I had expressed disappointment that I was missing the early spring.  I remember that as I got better I would look out of the window and count the laburnum trees in full bloom in our and our neighbours' gardens.  Great was my mother's joy on the day I asked for a ham sandwich.  Great was her joy - and also great her consternation.

This was back in, probably, 1951, when people in this country were still having to endure rationing. Rationing of canned and dried fruit, chocolate biscuits, treacle, syrup, jellies and mincemeat had ended only in May 1950 and soap had been rationed until September that year.  Tea would stay rationed until late 1952, sugar until 1953, and meat would not come “off the ration” until 1954.  Ham, when it was available which was rarely, came in tins produced (I think) in Canada.

Neither my mother nor my grandmother, who lived next door, had any ham in the house and there was none to be bought - always assuming that there were any meat coupons left.  None of our neighbours had any ham, but one lady had a chicken which she was generous enough to give to my mother.  So instead of a ham sandwich, I had chicken.

Chicken has been one of my favourte meats ever since.


Jenny Woolf said...

Funny how the little things can trigger memories. How different life was, no ham to be had. Wow.

joeh said...

Tough times, how nice of the neighbor.