This weekend Easter Memories came flooding back to me unexpectedly. And they stopped me dead in my tracks. Disturbed me. Then, made me smile.
Easter Memories – Anniversary
Easter was a turbulent time of year for my family when I was a child. My parents had married on 29th March – on the same day as the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Grand National and the Football Cup Final. So there were lots of uneasy-making reminders for my otherwise oblivious father.
I well remember being sent out on an emergency mission to buy “flowers for your Mother’s Wedding Anniversary”.
Fortunately she thought it was funny – and she always loved the flowers. That stinging smell of daffodils always reminds me of her laughing.
Easter Memories – Infant Sensitivities
And I wasn’t all joy. As a Sensitive Child the Easter story really got to me. I was sorry for everybody involved, including, St Peter denying his friend three times, poor treacherous Judas, Pontius Pilate, trying to do the right thing, and people in the crowd who would look back in horror on their behaviour that day. By the time I came home from primary school on the day we had the Easter Story Assembly, I’d be in floods at the drop of a hat.
Easter eggs were an offence after that. Indeed, Indeed, I was only reconciled to them in 2012 when some genius commissioned a truly spectacular collection of dragon-sized eggs to be hunted down in London. I think I managed to visit and photograph about half.
Easter Memories – Resident Visitors
And Easter was fraught with relatives, too. My mother, the soul of hospitality, would open her house to guests and brace herself. For these included my father’s three closest female relatives, every one of them of a dictatorial turn of mind and laying claim to be a plain country woman who spoke her mind. Quite.
But then one bright morning, with all of us sitting round the table, home-made marmalade produced and battle simmering, I did NOT say that I hated marmalade – which at the time I did. While my mother held her breath, I allowed my grandmother to put a little marmalade on tiny squares of toast and feed them to me when I went “cheep”. Two cheeps were “thank you”. I can still remember the sunshine. The laughter. The sense of harmony.
And so these days I make marmalade with a great big smile on my face.
April Fools’ Day
To be honest, April Fools’ Day makes me feel the way Dame Isadora feels about Trick or Treating at Halloween. I meant to write something pithy and fun this week but, well…
When I thought about it, I’ve never cared much for jokes that make people look – and, worse, feel themselves to be – stupid.
They make me want to wince and look away. Over-sensitivity again!
Of course, sometimes they backfire on the joker. That is really quite pleasing. In 1957, BBC TV’s Panorama showed a programme about the Swiss spaghetti harvest, narrated by Richard Dimbleby, weightiest broadcaster of the day. Indeed, he became the founder of a dynasty of Serious Chaps.
One imagines the jollity in the Newsroom. (Ho, ho, this one will catch out all those poor saps of the underclass who think that spaghetti is some sort of worm or bean that gets put into tins of tomato sauce by Heinz.) What a hoot, they must all have thought.
Who’s an April Fool then?
Well, they caused a lot of domestic arguments, especially among the sections of the population who had never heard of Elizabeth David.
Apparently, they caught out the boss too. Almost never a top move, though this one happened to be generous. What is called a Good Sport. One can think of a couple of his successors who might well have ended the careers of a couple of the smart arses on the spot.
The Director General, Sir Ian Jacob, had been driven to the Encyclopaedia Britannica – and disclosed to the programme makers that there was no entry for spaghetti at all.
But the big news was that the BBC Telephone Exchange was overwhelmed with calls, many of them from keen gardeners who wanted to know where to buy a spaghetti plant. Nobody in the BBC of the day seems to have heard of marrow spaghetti back then. Or, indeed, the spaghetti squash.
Ho, ho. And they thought they were so sophisticated! April Fools!
Easter Memories – Conclusions
This is an edgy, possibly even dangerous, time of year. Spring yes, and all the excitement and delight that goes with new growth and the days getting longer and lighter. But the Darkness is out there and the season will turn again.
Yet also, sometimes, out of nowhere, comes a moment of pure pleasure, unexpected, kindly and golden. May you have that sort of Easter!