Mother’s Day and remembering mothers

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Ophelia-goldMy mother is no longer with us, but, she still lives on in my memory. Of course, she was not always a mother and she had some fun times despite growing up during the war years. She was an entertaining storyteller and liked to reminisce. I remember her vivid retelling of how when she was a teenager she and a friend secretly went to a call for extras for a film and she was picked. Unfortunately, my grandfather was absolutely furious when he found out and would not allow her to take up the offer. When she was older she enjoyed amateur dramatics and particularly loved dancing. Naturally, as a teenager she liked to dress like the Hollywood stars of the day and people often remarked she reminded them of Rita Hayworth.

MotherThis will be the eighth Mother’s Day when I’ve not been planning a special lunch for her and it only seems like yesterday I was painting a silk scarf for her in her favourite colours. If she was still here today I think she’d like one of these scarves with plenty of old gold, mustard and a hint of chartreuse.

She used to joke she was a blonde in a brunette’s body. She was a spirited, golden girl with amber coloured eyes and one shade or another of blonde hair. Much missed.

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Memory and the World’s Oldest Brand

Earlier this week I heard a fascinating and lively debate on a programme on BBC Radio4.* One thread of the discussion dynamically pursued the idea that everyday objects can be thought precious when imbued with intense personal significance for an individual.  And, they didn’t just mean that crumpled ticket stub from the first date!

Lyle's Golden Syrup
Lyle’s Golden Syrup

It was fascinating to think about how a commonplace item can trigger an emotional response in a similar way that a certain aroma evokes a poignant memory.  I think it doesn’t even have to be a big, powerful memory attached to a commonplace object to momentarily flip you from the present to some other instance when you suddenly find yourself caught by the clarity of the object you have involuntarily brought into focus.

Empty Golden Syrup Tins
Useful as well as beautiful

Recently for me it was a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup. There’s always a tin on my kitchen shelf and several empty tins floating around my home filled with pens or paintbrushes or random office bits and bobs.  The green and gold of the tin, the Victorian design and the Biblical quote together forming this remarkable brand that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1880s.  And according to the Guinness Book of Records is the world’s oldest brand.

Nanna 1935
Nanna out for a Sunday walk with my father in 1935.

But for me it means homemade treacle tart, very short, crumbly pastry and my exceedingly precise Nanna who was the queen of pastry making in our family.

*The broadcast I’ve mentioned is available online for a year at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s46g5

Treacle tart
Treacle tart made with Lyle’s Golden Syrup 2013.