Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nursery food

The occasion was a family summit, a summit to discuss my grandmother's fast progressing Alzheimer's. There had been a meeting in Henley, where she then lived. While the adults talked, the four cousins window-shopped in town.

After the serious business, whatever it was, had been transacted, the adults and children regrouped and headed to my uncle and aunt's house - Hereward Cottage in Chalfont-St-Giles - for lunch. My aunt Lynda was not there but had left us a large and delicious lasagna to eat.

It was some words of Alex as he served us that have stuck in my mind: "Apologies", he said, "that it's nursery food." No one, of course, accepted the apology (a chorus of "Nonsense" etc) and I don't think anyone was merely being polite. After all, what could have been more comforting and warming than a plate of lasagna after (for the adults) a rather gloomy morning of seriousness?

But something else occurs to me many years later, probably at about the age Alex was then. His comment was certainly not meant to make the children present feel more childish. Instead, Alex was, probably entirely subconsciously, reminding himself and his sisters that once upon a time they had all been used to eating "nursery food", in a nursery, in Henley, cooked by their mother, my grandmother.

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