Sunday, July 25, 2010

Top and tail

Yesterday, as I sat topping and tailing the gooseberries ready for the next jam making session, I was transported back to Saturdays in the 1950s when my sister and I would sit on the sofa preparing gooseberries and blackberries for my mother to make into pies. She was a wonderful pastry cook and made enough savoury and fruit pies on Saturday to keep us happy for the coming week.

My grandmother always came for tea on Sunday and there would be an apple pie for her to take home to my grandfather, who never visited anyone but enjoyed his share of the tea. Then there was the endless stream of cousins who called in for a cup of tea and a piece of Auntie Winnie's pie. My sisters and brother and I would eye them resentfully as they tucked in to our delights. But somehow there was always enough to last the week.

When any of those cousins came to stay, or we visited them, we used to be packed into beds like sardines - top and tail! That was fine if you shared a bed with a little sister or cousin whose feet didn't reach your pillow. Actually, I recall that pillows were usually confiscated by an irate adult when our noisy pillow fights got too much for them and we were ordered to settle down for the night.

I am fascinated by the way that  a scent, a phrase, a fragment of music or such a simple task as snipping the tops and tails of gooseberries can bring all kinds of buried memories into life.


  1. Mo you didn't have to share with Stanley and his boxing friend Mickey the monkey. Remember?

  2. Maureen, I just now saw your response about the black currants. If you found some, that would be lovely!
    What a delightful memory you shared! It's so true what you said about how small things bring back "buried memories".

  3. John - Veronica could kick like a mule! But I do remember Mickey the monkey. I also remember that you were let off the "girlish" tasks of topping and tailing fruit.

  4. Jodi, I will look out for some next time I go into town. I have a few items here that I have been wanting to send you but I'm afraid I've lost your address. Would you mind emailing it to me again? Many apologies.

  5. These cues for memory are so important, M - they are something we work on frequently in our writing group. And they yield untold riches!

  6. D, I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about writing when your new group starts.


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