The endless hours spent on domestic chores; washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning and such had equipped me perfectly for the subject of Home Economics (as it was known at that time). It was the days when girls were given lessons at school on how to properly iron a shirt, to cook, how to properly polish the furniture and to clean the home.
Producing the pastry to make a pie was second nature to me, and the ironing of a shirt was something I could have done with my eyes closed. The daily task of generating a meal for anything from eight to twelve of us was something I had been having to do for years.
I’m sure it is a subject I could easily have obtained a one hundred per cent grade at ‘O’ level, had I continued it as one of my options, but the years I did have to participate in the lessons were something that was to cause me a constant headache.
Every week we were given a list of ingredients to bring along for the next week’s lesson, to cook up the chosen recipe ourselves. Every week I would return home with the list, ever hopeful of a positive response but Sylvie’s replies were always the same; “You needn’t think I’m shelling out for that bleeding lot!” or, “They’re having bleeding laugh aren’t they, I could feed us all bloody week for what that lot costs, tell them to get lost! Who the f**k do they think I am, bleeding Rockerfeller!”
Every week I would have to make up some excuse, “Sorry I forgot, or sorry, my mum forgot to go shopping, and sorry, I left my cookery bag at home.” Only on rare occasions when it was something simple like a rice pudding or and egg custard would Sylvie grudgingly agree, and would I be able to pilfer the ingredients from the pantry at home.
At the first opportunity, when choosing our ‘O’ level options, I dropped the subject, with an enormous sense of relief. I used to watch the girls who continued the subject, turning up at school with their pretty little cooking baskets, ingredients weighed out in Tupperware tubs, cooking up that weeks’ dish with enormous concentration, struggling to get it right, knowing I could have done the same things easily with one hand tied behind my back.