Friday, 12 August 2011

TIMES PAST

Tomorrow, I've been promised, my son will take me back to where I spent the war years, in South London to see how it's changed - again. I last went in 1979, then found an estate agent's advert in 2008 and I wonder how tomorrow will be. When we lived there it was an ordinary working-class road of Victorian houses which, by 1979, had definitely gone downhill. By 2008 it had turned into commuters' paradise with a rejuvenated house at a cost of £324,950 just a bus ride into London.
Then I got thinking about the fruit and veg we used to buy in those days...
Apples and pears often had maggots wriggling in the core, apples could be warty and scabby, split and cracked, plums, Victorias of course, always seemed to have those hard bits of 'jelly' in the middle. Peas had maggots, too, horrid to squash one when I was shucking the pods open and running my thumb down the inside, potatoes sometimes had little black slugs in them and were weighed by the greengrocer (what's that???) dirt and all, then tipped into Mum's American cloth shopping bag (what's that???). Lettuce from the allotment had black slimy bits, too, even though they came from the allotment my Dad had a bike ride away.
But the apples were small and sweet - Beauty of Bath - oranges and bananas almost unheard of, homegrown rhubarb which seemed to go on for ever, tomatoes tasted like tomatoes should and smelt that way, too. A greenhouse full of tomatoes on a hot sunny day, yum! Big brown and white spiders lived in there... exuberant mint to go with the lamb - a roast joint on Sunday, cold meat on Monday washday, mince on Tuesday. Celery, proper celery, not the green stuff we have to have these days but blanched white. If you ask for that now in the supermarket no one knows what you are talking about. Fruit in season when you really appreciated it because it wouldn't last for ever...
Ho hum, ain't memory a wonderful thing???

5 comments:

marigold jam said...

What a trip down memory lane Sylve! Beauty of Bath - you never see or hear of them these days and I began to wonder if I had dreamt them up! By the way I enjoyed your article in Best of British.

Sylve said...

Thank you! And both of us going to London this weekend...

Kath said...

I used to walk past an old green grocers on my way to school. I shall never forget the smell of the freshly cooked beetroots which they would bring out from the back, still steaming and the peculiar cries of "Dave" the grocer "Take 2 bob a pound tomatoes"...
Have a good trip Silve.

Helsie said...

Hello Sylve,
Nice to meet you. I've just discovered an email from you from way back when we were on holiday in England in May. I do apologise for not replying at the time but we had such trouble connecting at the time that I completely missed your message!
Not to worry. I've found you now so I'm off to explore your blog. I see you are off to London. Please take care. We have seen some very disturbing images of the trouble there . Let's hope it has all died down now.
Cheers
Helen

Sylve said...

I'm discovering Comments which haven't shown up on the Internet Explorer connection.
Kath, I remember the earthy smell of beetroots as they come from the pot, my Mum used to cook them in what was called our'scullery', ie, the kitchen.
Helsie, I've just sent you an email with an apology!