Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!
Ah, yes, it's Good Friday. Except that Mr B and I - in common, I suspect, with most of the population
- have been eating hot cross buns since at least Christmas. Indeed I'm not prepared to wager that we haven't been eating them all year round. It's just not the same as in the Olden Days when I was a littl'un and hot cross buns were a delicacy to be enjoyed
on just one special day in the year.
My dear Dad, when I was a child and just knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper, used to work as a baker's roundsman. In those days, if a loaf of bread, say, didn't sell
on the day of its baking, it could not be sold the following day. Not a single bread roll, cake or bun could be trotted out as fresh to an unsuspecting customer if it wasn't, oh, dear me, no. It was my Dad's job - ace salesman that he was - to do his utmost
to sell every single jam doughnut, every single iced bun, every single white sliced or uncut wholemeal on his van. If anything was left, then he was allowed to bring it home to his Ever Hungry Family as otherwise it would only be thrown away.
Good Friday, therefore, was a Day Full Of Promise. Bun-wise, that is. My sister Maggie and I would wait, excitement knowing no bounds, for our Dad to finish work - it was always an early lunch-time finish on Good Friday - and
arrive home with all the hot cross buns he hadn't managed to sell. It was, almost always, a Hot Cross Feast.
Friday night was, in any case, Surprise Night in our house. Every Friday, Dad would come home from
work and announce that it was Surprise Night, producing with a flourish a Tiny Tears magazine for me and Chick's Own for Maggie. It was the same every Friday but we still welcomed our "surprise" with exclamations of delighted - and quite unfeigned - surprise.
It is my most abiding memory of my father, his way of making even the smallest treat into Something Special. I like to hope, as I plan Easter activities for the five grandchildren who will be visiting us on Sunday, that a little bit of his magic has rubbed
off on me.
This morning in the Co-op one of the staff was dressed up as the Easter Bunny. I kid you not. With a little lass whom I presumed to be her daughter, she was running activities to raise money for
the British Red Cross. If I had been a littl'un, I would have been able to take part in an Easter Treasure Hunt around the store. As it was I had to satisfy my competitive instincts with drawing three raffle tickets from a basket to see if I could win a an
Easter egg. You will be sorry, I'm sure, to hear that I was unsuccessful but, hey, it's the taking part that matters.
The Easter Bunny told me that last year our store came third in the whole region in terms
of money raised for charity - this year she was aiming for the top place. I told her I thought she deserved it, dressed up as she was in a fetching bunny onesie, with ears and bobtail and all. Apparently she has drawn the line at wearing it to work which is
a pity as it would have made a change to see the Easter Bunny behind the till, packing up my groceries and asking for my membership card.
At two o'clock, I meet up with my new friend Kathy at Church for the
Good Friday service. It's a quiet, contemplative service and we are exhorted to leave in silence at the end of the service with none of the customary chatting. Outside in the sunshine Kathy and I make up for our self-imposed silence, sharing our thoughts about
Good Fridays we have known and hot cross buns we have eaten.
There's something quite special about making a new friend, don't you think? There's so much to find out about them, so much to share of yourself, such
a lot to learn as you move towards - perhaps if we are lucky - becoming kindred spirits.
True friends, I have found, celebrate my happy times with genuine pleasure in my joy. They comfort me in occasional
difficulties, laugh with me, cry with me, introduce me to new books, enjoy cups of coffee with me, set the world to rights with me. Each one, in his or her own unique way, is so very special to me.
I am, indeed,
incredibly fortunate in my many friends and - like hot cross buns - there's always room for one more...