It’s the last session of our English conversation class tomorrow so we are having a party, and as so many of the students have children we thought we would serve the sort of refreshments there might be at a party, particularly a children’s party… so jelly, cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cheese cubes and grapes, cup cakes and fancies, sausage rolls… you know the sort of thing.
I had great fun getting food ready for my children’s parties; I remember once when we were still living in Oldham we had a beach party – even though Oldham is right in the middle of the country! I made blue jellies and covered half of them in crushed biscuits to look like the sea and beach, I put up little cocktail umbrellas and laid a jelly baby to sunbathe underneath. Another time in November we had a barbecue but served tomato soup to keep them warm and plates of chips and jacket potatoes.
When I was a child tea parties were more formal with everyone sitting round a table. There would be sandwiches, maybe jam, maybe cucumber, maybe tinned sardine, or even Marmite, and just plain bread and butter first, which had to be eaten before any cake arrived. I wrote about one particular party in ‘Night Vision’, using a real memory:
“I can remember sitting in the dining room round a long oval table with a very white tablecloth,” Annie told them. “We had bread and butter and jam and spready cheese and jelly. And there were buns and fancies. There was one bun with a really shiny sticky top and I was desperate to have it and so anxious in case someone else took it before the plate was offered to me!”
“And did you get the sticky bun?”
“I don’t know, I don’t remember. I remember my anxiety!” Annie laughed.