The world was a very different place when I was a child. Expressed in tones of sepia, and black and white B movies, young people then seemed even older than I am now. It was a world of small horizons, tinned soup and a dearth of choice.
For ‘every day’ there was soup, courtesy of the maker of 57 varieties. That always seemed to the ‘child me’ rather strange; I knew only of two varieties, tomato and oxtail. The oxtail had probably never seen an ox but it didn’t matter that much because neither had I. It did mean, though, that my world was usually brightened by their fluorescent orange-red offering - made even more wholesome by my mother, with the addition of milk and butter.
If the truth were to be known she made the addition so the soup would be more likely to satisfy six of us. Poor mothers, with large families to feed, were – daily! – appreciative of, and amazed by, the wizardry and wonderment of the Son of Man. There was always plenty of bread in our house although my mother’s budget rarely ran to fish (unless you counted fish fingers, which we had for tea as an occasional treat).
Of course, today my mother would be classified as a wicked degenerate. You see, she smoked: ‘Golden Virginia’, no less. Cigarettes staved off her hunger and that stretched the available food, allowing it to be spread even further amongst her children.
On very special days (such as recovering from a serious illness, or coming out of hospital) my mother demonstrated her love for me by serving ‘it makes double the quantity’ chicken soup. The soup was usually followed by a small square of vanilla ice-cream (Neapolitan was far too exciting, and too costly, for the poverty-stricken in the Sixties).
Maybe, it was the promise of ice-cream that made the soup so sumptuous even though, in appearance, it resembled a glutinous mass of pseudo-vomit. Despite its looks, it’s thick, salty globules slipped down throats as easily as an oyster might today.
Sometimes you have to look back in order to understand more clearly why you are where you are now. And where am I? Well, you did say you loved me, didn’t you? Shall we do the chicken soup before or during the foreplay? Makes such a warming, welcome change from all that chocolate and ice-cube love routine, don’t you think…
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