Sunday, 12 January 2014

G' Bonus - Singing to Goldfish


At the time it never occurred to either of us that part of G's bonus might have bought a decent dinner service or some rugs, or bed linen. We simply took advantage of the fact that everything was 'issued' from floor-cloths upwards, and were prepared to survive on it all for a while. However, our quiet nuptials, attended by just a handful of family and one good friend (the regiment being otherwise engaged in Egypt) meant few gifts; although the girls at work had sweetly clubbed together and presented me with a green-faced, wooden clock which ticked away noisily for years. Not that any of it mattered and the small cheque, rather reluctantly handed over with a sigh, by Mother, and which I  (ungraciously) almost refused, still sat untouched in our account. Having enjoyed a seven day honeymoon at a small hotel we simply consid­ered ourselves lucky, especially when Mother-in-law kindly donated a lovely silver tea-caddy, as well as an antique china tea-service, both of which had once belonged to G's paternal grandmother.
With so few possessions, our No.1 move was uneventful, but wishing to get it over with, G. hired a car. As our allocated quarter in the Tower was being re-decorated (another bonus), for a few weeks we'd be renting a "Hiring" in, amazingly, Clapham Common. This small furnished flat, one of several privately-owned properties rented by the Military to offset a shortage of army housing, consisted of three rooms in the top of a private house, plus bath. There, our shared hot tubs took on pantomime proportions as we peered at each other through the moist clouds of hot fog belching from the ancient gas geyser. Both guardian angels must have been on extra-special duty as we finally managed to exit without the wretched thing actually exploding. For years I expected to come across the headline 'Vintage Geyser Wrecks London Flat.' Not that anything really mattered. We loved it, and for the first week or so I rose with my bemused husband at six, presenting him with a cooked breakfast, until one morning he said  'Please go back to bed, I'm fine with toast'. Oh joy.
Time passed uneventfully. Having first cleaned through (happily polishing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees to which Mother's answer was 'You quite obviously need a psychiatrist') I'd take off, with a friend, to the launderette or to Brixton Market, where, feeling very grown up, we'd root around for hours. It was then back to the kitchen for supper preparations and (yes!) Mrs Dale's Diary.
One of G's supper favourites (then) was a bacon and onion pudding - a mix of bacon, sliced onions and tomatoes, encased in a suet roll and boiled/steamed for about two hours; a recipe from his Mother and described by mine as 'That bacon house-brick thing.' I soon learned to jazz it up with extra everything, plus a few herbs and lighter pastry, but it didn't appear on our menu often, although I was fast becoming an expert on thrifty meals.

from SINGING TO THE GOLDFISH


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