Z was too polite

I grew up before the days of routine snacks and treats.  We had three square meals a day and that was reckoned to be quite enough, although there was always fruit and, if hungry, we would be welcome to have some cheese or something similar.  My mother discouraged sweets and chocolate and a packet of crisps was a rare pleasure (Smith’s Crisps, with the salt in a twist of blue paper, of course).

Once, however, I caught a bad dose of ‘flu.  Actually, it started when I was sick.  Crossing the hall, I suddenly threw up onto the parquet floor.  And, rough though I felt  – ooh, this blog is going to be a confessional again, I’ve never told anyone this – I was so polite – so polite – that I cleared it up before going to tell my mother, and I didn’t mention that I’d been taken by surprise and let her assume I’d made it to the lavatory.  I was probably about 12 at the time.  I was not afraid of her, she was the soul of loving kindness to me, it was embarrassment at having made an unpleasant mess and a reluctance for someone else to have to clear it up.

Anyway, I was duly tucked up in bed and later, trying to tempt my appetite, my mother brought a trayful of little bowls of snacks.  A few grapes, some crisps, sweets, nuts, all sorts of things. And I have the clearest memory of gazing at them all, treats beyond all my dreams, and not being able to eat any of them.

I was ill for several days, almost delirious that first night, but eventually started eating again of course.  And the frustrating thing was that it didn’t occur to her to produce the goodies again, when I’d have been able to enjoy them.  And, of course, I was far too polite to ask.

9 comments on “Z was too polite

  1. mig

    Oh how what a shame! Virtue had to be its own reward.
    But of course what you need now is chicken broth and er, boiled fish? And beef jelly!

  2. janerowena

    I had a similar upbringing. I think I was quite old – eleven or twelve – before I even realised that sweet shops existed. My mother bought a selection of small penny sweets that she would give us on occasion, maybe one or two each on a Saturday night in the holidays, so to walk into a shop and see huge bars of chocolate and bars of sweets was quite a shock. I can still remember the feeling of almost betrayal, as I learnt that my peers had been eating delights such as milky ways and I hadn’t even known of their existence. Chocolate coins in our stockings, and Easter eggs, were pretty much all we had. My mother said some years ago that it was because she had read that british children’s teeth were the healthiest during the war and after it than they had been for decades, and that was why she kept us so deprived. I also learnt that the ‘no sweets’ rule had most certainly not applied to her. I was reminded of that fact only yesterday, when she emailed me to say that she had just found a recipe for turkish delight cake that I really must try. It should be arriving in the post soon and I am wondering who I can get to make it on my behalf, as I am on a diet and frankly it sounds appalling!

  3. Beryl Ament

    Me too. We were talking about this the other day. We never had Coke or Pepsi (and I brought my kids up the same way). Maybe the occasional glass of Barley water or Tizer.

  4. Z

    I’m afraid I couldn’t touch any of those either, Mig. I’ve given up the eating habit for a while.

    My mother rarely ate sweets and we never had puddings. The result was that I craved sweet things throughout my childhood.

    Funnily enough, she approved of Lucozade, thought it gave you extra energy!


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