….we were constantly having to economize, be careful with money and allow nothing to be wasted.
Lights had to be switched off when you left the room or you we would be greeted with a clip around the head and the words, “What do you think this is? Blackpool f*****g illuminations?”
There was always food in the house and we were always well fed but luxuries were few and far between. Sugar was limited and we had to use sweeteners in tea and coffee. Cereals and tinned foods were bought in large catering packs, never a brand label, they were too expensive. We rarely had biscuits, sweets or chocolates and if we did they were allocated to us, one each.
Wasting food was something that could never be considered and the use of seasonal fruit and vegetables was the norm as was the use of leftovers for another meal. Ingrained within me is an inability to waste food and an ability to make good meals with whatever is available.
To this day I find it almost impossible to leave food on my plate and need to polish it off however full I am, bought about by years of being forced to clear my plate with Sylvie hovering over me with the threat of ‘You’ll bloody well sit there until you’ve finished it!” followed up with, “Or I’ll paste the bleeding living daylights out of you!” or “You’ll eat it cold for your f*****g breakfast!”
I don’t recall any of these threats actually happening, most likely because having the knowledge that she would carry them through, none of us would ever dare to take the risk.
Sylvie could make good meals out of very little and she could talk for hours about how she learned this from her mother. The softer side of Sylvie would emerge at these times and it was these talks with her that seemed to lighten things, take the pressure off for a short time.
I always recall these times with a warm glow and the memories of them conjure up a sense that it was a time of normality, everything was pleasant and I had a feeling of being loved and cared for. It didn’t matter that the talks tended to happen when I’d been ordered to help with laborious task such as washing, cooking, gardening or cleaning. It helped lighten the load, made time pass quicker and a was often a time when Sylvie would actually remain pleasant.