I loved Carole’s list, number ten in particular was beautiful. Here are the ten things that my mother taught me:
1. To cook. One of my earliest memories is standing on a stool stirring gravy, so on Sunday, when this happened, I was overcome with emotion at my life coming full circle.
2. To iron. I started out with Dad’s handkerchiefs, pillowcases and the flat cotton things, ironically the hottest setting required, but then progressed through to pleated skirts (it was the 80s, and hence why I will never buy a pleated skirt again), blouses, shirts etc. I can still iron a shirt quicker than most people think possible, and find it one of the most relaxing things going. Yes I am that odd, but I put on a DVD and just plough through it all on a Sunday night.
3. To appreciate spoonerisms and malapropos. Given the amount that mum makes, it wasn’t hard. Ord board cardinary box, instead of an ordinary cardboard box? Lemon turd. Spaghetti bollock-naked instead of Bolognese. The list is endless, and they’re still one of my favourite things to laugh at. The Two Ronnie sketch for pismonunciation where you have trouble with your worms has firmly entered the families vernacular, even Peanut says worms instead of words now when he’s struggling to find the one he wants to use!
4. A love of the theatre. Aside from being taken to the local pantomime (He’s behind you!) most years for my birthday, going to the theatre together was one of our greatest pleasures. We saw a huge amount of musicals in the West End, lots of repertory theatre in one of the three theatres in my home town, we became friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre and saw lots of shows that were being tested before being transferred to the West End. We met lots of actors at the Stage Door doing the groupie thing, we were actually thanking them for their hard work. Robert Powell and Colin Baker doing Kind Hearts and Coronets as a two-hander is one of the highlights of my life. They were also two of the most gracious sweetest men we met – Robert Powell anecdote coming up at the end.
5. A love of cinema. We’d also go to the movies together a lot too. When she came out to visit earlier this year we went to watch Saving Mr Banks, our normal ice creams augmented with a can of G&T, as we’re all class.
6. A love of Agatha Christie and Jane Austen. She carefully wrapped up the complete Jane Austen books that her mum had given her when she was studying her A-Levels and gave them to me this year. I still adore Agatha Christie now, and am working my way through Poirot with glee.
7. How to make pastry. Mainly because she’s hopeless at it, I ended up making it for the family, along with biscuits, bread and cakes, when we used to bake instead of buy. And before a coeliac diagnosis. At school a Home Economics teacher suggested that I could become a pastry chef as I had such a lightness of touch. Then I looked up the hours they worked…
8. Responsibility for my actions. When we were swimming, my brother and I had to pack and unpack our swimming bags, if we missed including something in the bag for a gala, tough. She had enough to do, so we went without what we wanted or needed, or we went swimming training with a soggy towel and a damp cossie. Funnily enough, one damp trip home on a cold winters’ night, you don’t tend to forget a clean, dry, fluffy towel again in a hurry.
9. Cross-stitch and knitting. I don’t do enough of either, but love both.
10. To love unconditionally. I have been a rat-bag, an awful person and not the nicest daughter in the world, but her love shone through. When we found out we were pregnant, I tentatively opened the closed door of communication again, and now our relationship is stronger than ever. I owe her the world, certainly the moon on a stick. She is a wonderful person, and I’m proud to be able to call her Mum, Peanut adores her too, hearing him say ‘It’s a Granny’ the morning after she arrived to stay with us, again is a moment to treasure.
And now for the Robert Powell anecdote. This isn’t mine, I heard it on This Morning years and years ago, but it is lovely so I’m sharing it with you. Robert Powell famously portrayed Jesus Christ in Jesus of Nazareth. Making another film in the midst of Europe a few years later, the director gave everyone a day off. Some of the crew went off to visit a local village, others went to the beach. The crew came back giggling as after visiting the church in the village, the picture in the church of Jesus, was of Robert Powell playing Jesus. He also was so smitten with his now wife Babs that he couldn’t talk to her, so took the whole of Pans People out on their first date. Must have worked, they’ve been married for nearly forty years.