Shush, everyone. Pull up a chair, and pour yourself a nice cup of English tea. I’m going to bring you in on a family conversation.
Ready? See those five pictures on the shelf over there … on the left is Sarah Anne Shaw. Doesn’t she look grand in her posh hat and fine coat? That’s the way they dressed for studio photographs in 1860. She handed them back after the shot.
Next to her is Nellie, her daughter, with less finery but her one and only coat and shoes. They were hand me downs from her sisters. This snap was shortly before the First World War.
And then there’s Edna, Nellie’s daughter. See there’s a touch of colour added to her picture. The Second World War began soon after this was taken.
Just look at Edna’s daughter Diane. See the resemblance? Apart from the hot pants and painted face of course. A true child of the 60’s.
And the last one, Caitlin. Now she has Great, Great Gran Sarah’s laughing eyes, Great Gran Nellie’s elfin chin, Gran Edna’s thick golden locks and Mum Diane’s leggy pins. Is there anything original about her?
I don’t think so!
Does she think so? … She thinks she knows all there is to know … thinks the world owes her a living!
Listen to her …
“Mum, I need to book a facial before this weekend, and a pedicure. I’ve got a hen night Friday. I’ll bring the kids to stay over.” Diane’s eyes roll,
“Again! Those three won’t know who their mother is, working all week, playing all weekend, and …”
“MUM! … CHILL! You had a husband to share the load with!”
“Eventually!” chips in Edna. “Not before she’d had two kids to different fathers.”
“Aw get over it Mum!” sighs Diane. “It was half a lifetime ago. The dawning of the Age of Aquarius ... free love and all that. The pill! Remember?”
“Sounds like she forgot to take it then,” chimes in Nellie. “I would never have disgraced my family so. With child? Out of wedlock? Tch! They put girls in the Paupers Lunatic Asylum for that in my days. No-one saw them again ...or their offspring.”
“It was the workhouse when I was young,” mused Sarah Anne. “But not many of them grew up. And what’s a facial Nellie?”
“Don’t know Ma. What’s a facial Edna? Hope it’s not rude.”
“No Mum, it’s not.”
“How would you know?” asks Diane. “You scrubbed your face with carbolic soap and your teeth with soot and salt”
“Eeeeeeek!” Squeals Caitlin. “What a set of nutters!”
“Oi young lady,” chunters Edna. “If it hadn’t been for our lads giving their lives in the last war you’d be living in very different circumstances. Never mind yer face ache and pedal cures!”
“GRAN! … I’m only off on a hen night!”
“We kept hens,” chuckles Sarah, “Pa pulled their necks and you helped to pluck them Nellie.”
“And rabbits Mum. My job was to feed them bran and tea leaves before I walked two miles to school.”
“We sold eggs to the Marketing Board during the war.” adds Edna.
Caitlin looks stunned.
“Mum, did Great Gran Nellie just say that she WALKED two miles to school? No wheels?
And what’s with this hen neck wringing thing? Wouldn’t that kill them?”
“That was the general idea Cait. It was a luxury during the war years. And one would have to make do for all ten of us.”
“And we’d make a lovely tasty broth from boiling the carcass up,” laughs Sarah Anne. “For another day. Remember Nellie?”
“Certainly do,and the whopping dumplings you dropped in the set pot Ma.”
Caitlin looks bereft.
“Ermmm … you’re saying you actually ATE the hens Gran Nellie?”
“Aaaargh. Mum! Make them STOP!”
“Youngsters today have it too easy,” mumbles Sarah Anne. “They want for nothing!”
“Well, Gran Sarah. I don’t care what you say. I would never, ever kill and eat a defenceless animal. It’s barbaric. How could you do that? I can’t believe I belong to this sick family!
C’mon kids. Who’s up for a McDonalds?”
To a chorus of, “MeMeMeee,” Caitlin picks up the cell phone.
“One Bacon and Egg McMuffin, one Big Mac and Fries, one Sausage and Egg Bagel and Chicken McNuggets please.”
Now Sarah Anne looks perplexed,
“What’s that girl talking about now Diane?” Cait glances over her shoulder,
“Food, Gran Sarah. The real thing.
None of yer freaky Carnivorism for us!”
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