I’m sorry to go on about it, but all this sleeping is marvellous. Not only am I sleeping at night but I’ve had two short naps as well today.
I have written about school puddings before but it was over five years ago, so perhaps I’m allowed a revisit. Because they live happily in my memory as one of the best things of all about school and especially the best part of the meals. I knew nothing about puddings from home, as my mother never made them, so the joys of rice pudding with a blob of muscovado sugar or jam in the middle of the bowlful, steamed jam, treacle (golden syrup, that is) or chocolate pudding, the first two with custard and the last with chocolate custard, treacle tart (again golden syrup), fruit crumbles or pies, even the less interesting sago and tapioca pudding, are still with me.
There were long tables with dishes of food on and we lined up, picked up our plates and trooped along, accepting or rejecting each dish as we went – that is, there wasn’t a choice but you didn’t have to take everything. Take it or leave it was the choice. I was not brought up to be fussy, though I had a tiny appetite, I don’t remember how much I ate. The puddings were served in another small room, the bowls set out so that you could help yourself.
I eat school meals regularly now, in fact, partly to show a Good Example, partly to be sociable and friendly to the kitchen staff, partly to be able to say truthfully that I know the quality of the food the canteen dishes up, because I go and sample it. Although we aren’t subject to the nutrition rules now we’re an academy, we still follow them, so the amount of protein, fat, salt etc are fairly carefully judged. There’s always quiche, baked potatoes and salad and the rest of the meals vary, at least a choice of meat or fish dishes and a vegetarian option. Everything is cooked from scratch, including pizza dough. We use proper cutlery and china plates with paper napkins and plastic cups. A two-course meal costs £2.10, I think, or it may be £2.20 – I never eat the pudding nowadays, so pay less than that.
I’ve never been along for breakfast though – I know that bacon sandwiches are served, not sure what else, but some pupils arrive quite early and it’s a help. I have noticed the anxious tiredness, bordering on loss of self-control, in some pupils as break time comes near and, if asked, they say they haven’t eaten anything yet that day. Substantial snacks are sold at break, slices of pizza, sandwiches, that sort of thing. Cakes and biscuits are only allowed if a meal is being bought now, as it was discovered that a few children were spending all their lunch money on cake.
It seems odd to me now that it never occurred to me to try to bypass the lunch queue and head straight for the puddings when I was at school. I was an unimaginative and conventional child for the most part and, when I rebelled, it was so quietly that no one ever noticed and I got away with it.