Most of the meals I remember from growing up…
Actually I don’t remember most of the meals from my childhood. Most of the time eating isn’t that memorable.
Unless you’re in the mafia apparently. They seem to eat all the time according to television and film and it’s always interesting,
I digress on a tangent.
So I grew up a young white man in a middle class black family. I kid, I kid.
Not about being middle class though. My mum screamed me out once when I said I was working class.
So anyway the day in question I was sixteen or seventeen I think – it was definitely a bit before A-levels and going to university. I was grown but not mature so to speak. Growing up it was just me and mum for a whole host of reasons. Her fault, his fault. Took a long time to realise it wasn’t my fault.
I got along with mum from birth until the age of 10 when she admitted for the first time she could be wrong about something and I stopped worshipping her as the house deity.
From 10 till 31 (21 in adjusted age J ) we didnt really get along.
So by the age of sixteen going on seventeen I was in the middle of a Perfect Emotional Storm. Miserable, Angry, Lonely. Screamed out and nagged at home and bullied at school (or worse just ignored).
In 20/20 hindsight Mum was probably even more miserable than I was but I couldn’t see past my own problems.
Teens are dicks most of the time. They’re miserable, self obsessed and think Ayn Rand makes sense.
And then mum fell in love, for a while anyway. But there was love and she was happy and I was happy that she was happy and it all seemed.
His name was Derek. He worked on the Buses. Mum was a nurse. I don’t know how they met. They were both pulled up by their bootstraps Jamaicans. He was smart well-read, well spoken, well presented. A stand up black man. In an alternative reality he and mum got married and lived happily ever after.
We got along like a house on fire. He was up to date on history and politics – and this was before the internet became pre eminent and all this kind of stuff was two clicks away from everyone.
It wasn’t that long ago that being well read and opinionated actually required being reading books and developing your opinion.
Anyway I remember this meal because it felt – right.
It was a Sunday. Derek and I sat on the sofa talking. Like actually talking. You know I wasn’t just sat in a corner with a small animated raincloud over my head I was actually holding a conversation. About politics, about the world. We were watching the politics programmes. The two of us side be side drinking coffee talking about this and that.
As per the happy family stereotype Mum was in the kitchen cooking the Sunday roast.
I know this sounds a bit flippant but to this day we have the idea of a perfect family upbringing. Mum. Dad. Child or Children. Possibly a pet. The Happy Family.
It sticks in my mind because that Sunday was the closest thing I had growing up to ticking all the boxes of a perfect family.
It was a perfect Sunday family meal. The chicken was perfect, the vegetables were prefect. We chatted, we smiled, we were all happy. Mum was happy.
That was the most significant thing. Mum was happy. For the first time in the longest time. She looked and acted as if she had everything she wanted. On top of that I was going to University soon after. Mum could have the life she never got to have because of me and I could move on without feeling guilty about leaving her behind.
Best Family Meal Ever.
Of course things didn’t work out that way. Soon after things fell apart. But for one day. Happy Families.