Regular readers may recall (or, possibly, may not - but I won’t hold that against them) - that I make a habit of getting together with my siblings for Brothers and Sisters Days. We spend a lot of time eating,
chatting, laughing, sharing childhood reminiscences and interjecting with reminders when one or other of us suffers an inevitable Memory Failure.
Over the many
years since our very first Brothers and Sisters Day, around 1996, Mr B has been a constant supporting act. When it was our turn to host, he would take over the kitchen and turn out fabulous roast dinners, exhorting me to stay and chat to our visitors while
he cooked. It was, if you like, his present to me. When it was our turn to visit, he would inevitably drive us both to our destination so that I could enjoy a convivial glass of wine over our meal. He would sit and listen to our endless chat and, apart from
occasionally commenting that our jaws were in no danger of rusting, never tried to steer the conversation onto topics on which he would feel better qualified to contribute. Like sport, for example.
This weekend I finally had the opportunity to pay him back when his sister came for a weekend visit. It was my avowed intent, as the pilgrim would say, to ensure that she had the very happiest of weekends, full of all the
best that a Brother and Sister Weekend could present.
I did consult Mr B over my meal plans which were based on serving up the most nutritious food I was able,
given that I am not, nor do I have any pretensions to be, the Divine Delia. I particularly didn’t want to be spending all my time in the kitchen so pre-preparation was the Name of the Game. I wanted my culinary efforts to appear effortless which, you
must agree, was a Tall Order. There are, I know, those who like their visitors to be impressed by the sheer effort which has gone into their food, like those contestants on Masterchef who every so often have to indulge in a minor breakdown requiring the kinder
of the judges to take them on one side to wipe their sweaty brow and to urge them to take “time out” if necessary. If you ever watch Masterchef, you will know that it is often the hapless one, on the verge of a complete breakdown, who finishes
triumphant in the end. It all makes for Watchable TV.
I shared my meal plans with granddaughter Hazel Bagel who reassured me that my idea of meat pie on
Saturday and roast lamb on Sunday sounded “delicious.” I had messaged her to find out how she and her brother Jack were getting on at home in the absence of their parents and was pleased to hear that they had looked after each other pretty well.
Moreover, she added: “We’ve managed to keep everything tidy, we haven’t broken anything and we haven’t killed the kittens.” That’s a relief all round.
Mr B’s sister turned out to be exactly what she promised: the Ideal Guest. She slept like a baby in our guest bed which she declared to be super comfortable; she avowed that everything I served up was her absolute favourite food;
she asked what time we went to bed and what time we arose and made sure she fitted in; and she sat without fuss and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the garden on the occasions I was attending to Mr B.
We watched The Eye in the Sky on TV and shivered together at the taut storyline. She and I took a long walk together on Saturday afternoon along the coastal path to the Bluebird Café where she insisted on buying my
coffee and didn’t grumble at all at the length of the queue at the counter. We were going to have another little outing on Sunday morning but she knew without being told that it might be better not to leave Mr B this morning, so cleverly removing any
worry I might have about possibly disappointing her.
Mr B and his sister didn’t grow up together, so they don’t have the shared childhood memories
that keep my brothers and sisters occupied in recounting. They do, however, have something equally precious - the time and the inclination to conjure up pictures of their past to share with each other in a thoughtful way, reflecting on their different childhood
experiences from the perspective of time.
One day, I said, we will have to get together with their brother too. I can imagine the three of them nattering away
and enjoying each other’s company as at every good Brothers and Sisters Day.
I will make meat pie and be, oh, so pleased, to play my part in making the Siblings
Day special as Mr B has so often done for me.