Tuesday, 12 January 2010

My First Cookery Book

I can still vividly remember being bought this book. I was ten years old and, probably due to my gender, had been allowed to accompany my mother and our neighbour Sheila on a shopping trip to SavaCentre. It was like being taken to another country as far as I was concerned, I mean we had to drive there! It was an epic journey out of Faversham and towards London, I think somewhere in my little head I thought we actually were going to London. But, in reality, it was thirty miles down the road to Gillingham.

Sheila lived down the road from us, she was one of those rare people who are almost angelic, you naturally felt happy and safe around her, she was just a very kind and happy soul. I remember that she was always smiling. My brothers and I loved to go and see her, we would ride our bikes down to her house and she would tell us stories, make us ice-cream sodas and feed us Wagon Wheels and Milky Bars. She loved children and would have been a wonderful mother, but life had denied her that wish. Even in my childish naivety I could sense a deeply buried sadness within her.

One day we went to see her. Her husband told us she had gone away on holiday and not to worry. All of the adults who lived in our road started to speak in whispers, we knew that we shouldn't ask.

Sheila had been suffering from cancer for a long time and, one day, simply didn't have the strength to smile anymore.

Sheila bought this book for me, that evening at the supermarket. I saw it on the shelf and must have taken it down to have a look. Sheila took it from me and winked. I'm sure that mum must have protested as mothers do, but that book was mine, I treasured it, reading it over and over, imagining what the food would taste like. It is quite amazing that it has travelled these thirty years with me and I still haven't cooked anything out of it!

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