Family life: Against the odds, True Blue and tuna fish pie
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Snapshot: Together against the odds
This picture of my parents was taken in 1963, a year before they got married. It intrigues me, in the circumstances, that they managed to pose for a studio photograph like some confident, conventional, middle-class couple.
Mum was very shy – though she ended up as an infant school deputy headteacher – and her background could hardly have been less middle-class. Her own mother slept 10-in-a-bed growing up in Southwark, south London, and had no shoes. She and my grandpa, who was homeless for a spell and illiterate all his life, met after he found her drunken father spread-eagled on the street one night and carried him home to her in a wheelbarrow.
As for Dad, he was a recent West Indian immigrant – a well-connected government official back in St Kitts & Nevis, who danced with Princess Margaret once during a royal visit and whose brother Weston would go on to serve as deputy governor general of the islands. But that did not count for much on my grandparents’ council housing estate.
Dad found work and rose through the ranks at the Inner London Education Authority, at County Hall (now overlooking the London Eye). In fact, this is where he and Mum, who briefly worked there too, met, doing tea runs for their colleagues.
The picture was taken during a period of intense family rancour that almost split them up. Not long before, my grandpa had found the address of Dad’s bedsit in Ladbroke Grove and paid a threatening visit, taking a burly son-in-law. Mum was told she would be disowned if she even considered marriage.
But I don’t see signs of strain in their eyes, which convey dignity and hope to me. Ultimately, my grandparents – principled and loving as they were, despite their ignorance and the hardships of their own lives – did not cut themselves off from their daughter. After my brother was born, they learned gradually to leave their prejudices and fears behind.
My beloved mum died, aged 51, in 1992. Dad continues to meet up for regular drinks with his old County Hall cronies. He still looks great at 76 and women still fall in love with him from time to time.
Playlist: Girls just want to have fun
True Blue by Madonna
“True love / You’re the one I’m dreaming of / Your heart fits me like a glove / And I’m gonna be true blue baby I love you”
As a 32-year-old mother, my life is pretty serious. I find that as I get older I laugh less and worry more. One Sunday afternoon, while my three sons watched television, I took a few minutes on my own in the kitchen and was listening to the radio when True Blue came on.
I was transported back to 1986, standing on my mother’s foot stool, blasting out the song using my hair brush as a microphone: I didn’t have a care in the world. I was happy and contented and never worried what people thought. I was just having fun.
Back in the real world, I found that I had been singing so loudly that the boys had come in and were laughing at me. I turned the radio up, grabbed my hair brush and jumped on to a chair. The boys’ faces lit up. They didn’t know the song, but they were going to dance with their silly mum anyway. Just for those moments, I was ready for fun and not to worry about a thing.
We love to eat: Tuna fish and choux paste pie
50g plain flour
125ml cold water
50g cheese cut into small squares
150g tuna fish
For the choux paste, bring the water and butter to the boil. Put in the sieved flour quickly and beat well, off the heat, till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Leave for five minutes, then add the eggs one at a time beating well. Cover with a plate and leave until cold. Add the cheese.
For the tuna mixture, put the milk, butter and flour in a pan and beat, bringing to the boil, then add the remaining ingredients. Heat oven to 400F/200C/Gas mark 6. Put choux paste all around the outside of the dish and fill the centre with the tuna mixture. Cover with a few breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes until it looks ready.
As a special treat, I went to Granny Ray’s house after school for tea once every two months or so. I was always starving and she was a fantastic cook. She served many tasty dishes that my mum – her daughter-in-law – never cooked and tuna fish and choux paste pie was one such meal. The crispy, light pastry edges, cheesy topping and creamy tuna mixture was for me the perfect combination and triggered a love of fish dishes that has stayed with me for 40 years. I took the photograph, above, after making it recently.
My granny was warm and loving, attentive and agile, even at 85. Her soft, powdered, wrinkled face, which I loved to kiss when I rushed in from school, is clear to me now. I find it very odd to see my own once smooth face starting to head that way with the onset of lines and creases. Her pie still tastes as good, but it doesn’t confer any magic powers, unfortunately.
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via Art and design: Photography | guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/25/against-odds-true-blue-tuna-pie Thanks for reading Jay
Posted on May 25, 2013, in Photography News and tagged Art and design: Photography | guardian.co.uk, arts, guardian, IFTTT, info, information, journal, news, newspaper, photo, photography. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.