Having been nurtured on anything that resembled food, mostly that which would be either fattening, unpalatable or poisonous to the system, I feel blessed having the choice of food that is now available in the society in which I now live.
This is where the post was hijacked by blogger
I have just lost an hours work thanks to blogger, I have tried to retrieve it nothing happened, auto saving gone wrong, trying to recap what one has written previously is nigh impossible. No I haven't smashed the place up in anger, screamed or kicked the dog, I am just more than slightly 'Cheesed off'. I shall resume hoping I'll pick up the threads. Saving as I go.
Back into the early 1930s The average person knew little about nutrition, if I am wrong and my parents and foster parents are looking down from above in wonder, my statement is not intended to be hurtful. However, my ideal breakfast now in its simplest form would read 'Banquet' compared to the offerings I had as a toddler, like last Tuesdays bread slapped over with a lashing of mutton dripping or pork if my Jewish grandma wasn't around.
Things changed dramatically when I was fostered out to a family who lived in a little village in the country; far away from the noise and smoke of London where I had acquired most of the ailments a child could pick up including life threatening diphtheria.
Settling down in the country required getting used to bee stings, nettles and living without plumbing or electricity,but the water was clean and pumped from a well and not delivered through lead pipes as was the case in those days in modern housing, however the food was nicer and more plentiful. My first taste of chicken was Christmas 32 where I was offered the 'Parsons nose'.
In those days there were few cars on the road to belch out the leaded exhaust fumes we are still getting today, we had fresh veggies straight from the garden or from storage in winter, ie bottled fruit etc, but we also had a deadly unseen thing lurking in most country houses.
Before myxomatosis came about many years after, the wild rabbit was a source of sustenance for the middle class down to the lower order within the country areas, they were acquired several ways by trapping shooting or bludgeoning at harvest time, the 1st and 3rd method was the most favoured.
Most of the village kitchens were similar to ours, which contained a large black oven and stove fueled by anything combustible,the stove would be cleaned with a black lead polish when cool. it took pride of place in most houses where we would use its warmth for comfort besides the cooking. Most villagers would at some time have a lucky rabbits foot, I could never work that one out as the rabbit had four and was the one going into the pot. I suppose bunny would get his revenge each time he was eaten.
The main culprit in the kitchen was the stove, where fine lead particles would infiltrate cooking utensils, also near where the man of the house would drink his ale from a lead based pewter jug. after a winter shoot the bigwigs of the village would offer rabbits to anyone who were hard up or unwise. Having cooked the bunny in the pot with veggies and miscellaneous other bits and pieces and getting into it, it would be quite common to find a dozen or more pieces of lead shot which would be surreptitiously removed as if nothing more than a small bone.
Through unfortunate circumstances I had to leave this Idyllic place that I loved. My education had suffered, which is hardly surprising having been fed a supplementary diet of lead and I suspect the educators were partially to blame.
During the next eighteen months I was fostered by another family whose ideals were far removed from my previous carers, but my education was given a boost and when I left I was accepted in a nautical preparatory school seven months prior to normal acceptance, but of course that is another story.
It is a pity that I didn't save a bit of that lead for my pencil, so I have been told by my nearest and dearest.
Follows, yet another excerpt from my memoirs.
I truly loved this house; it was a place of comfort to me. The interior of Number 11 started at the panelled front door with its brass letterbox, the letters of which would fall onto the reddish brown tiles of the hall floor and be put on the oak table beneath the carpeted staircase leading to the bedrooms. The pungent odour of wet coats hanging in the hall; or the smell of cooking would occasionally greet you when you opened the front door. The stuffed fox head above a full-length mirror grinned down at you as you entered the hall. On the first landing of the stairs was a portrait of Lord Kitchener with an inscription informing you that he died when the HMS Hampshire sank in 1916.
The bedroom I shared with my brother, Christopher was the first on the left on the top landing. It was a large, beautiful, sunny room with a small window facing the east and a larger one facing south. There was a small hole in the wall plaster, which got larger with our constant picking. Underneath the eaves of the house, the swallows would nest in the summer. Their droppings would fertilize the hollyhocks and the bright array of summer flowers growing below. The wonderful fragrance would waft upwards to our bedroom, hiding the smell from the chamber pot under the bed, which we frequently forgot to empty.
The spacious, eat-in kitchen with blue walls contained a large black cast iron stove and oven that was fuelled by coal or wood and cleaned with ‘Zebo’ brand black lead polish. (Primus kerosene stoves were the other cooking alternative.) Above, on the high mantelpiece, were the candlesticks used to guide our ascent to the bedrooms as well as the jars of silver paper from empty cigarette packets that were saved for charity. Hanging on the walls were the tools to administer the working of the fire and the lucky rabbit’s foot, which had belonged to an unlucky rabbit that was bludgeoned to death by my elder brother and then eaten by the family.
Two kerosene-powered Aladdin lamps with their distinctive white fragile mantles formed the centrepiece of the lounge room. There was also an open-hearth fireplace. Close to a window nearby, our radio, powered by an accumulator and high-tension battery, entertained us with shows, the news, and music from the BBC.
The hallway of Number 11 held great significance for me. It was the spot from where I would leave in torment and later return feeling joyful. Although the reasonably new house was lacking in facilities, it was a place where I would always feel welcome, loved and happy. So far in my travels, there had been nothing to better it.
Sunday, 21 September 2008
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