22 July 2010

Cold Toast and Cringing

Yesterday I made myself two slices of toast. Up popped the toaster. I ignored it, busying myself with being a mother. I waited until the toast was cold. I took it out and cut each slice in half diagonally. On my four triangles of cold toast I spread real butter. The knife scraped along the slices, depositing a thin smear of yellow butter on each one. I stood in the kitchen, while the boys watched Mister Maker (I love him in spite of the gurning), and ate my toast. It was chewy and tasted of butter. It was wonderful.

I can't remember the last time I made my toast like this, but I can remember the first time.

I am eight years old. We're staying at Uncle Dave and Aunty Maggie's house. They're Mum and Dad's friends. They keep moving to different bungalows. Aunty Maggie has a bad back. She tried to lift me out of the bath, but it hurt. She had to go and lay down. I think she cried.

Uncle Dave shakes. His cigar shakes in his hand as he holds it. I can hear the ice cubes clinking in his drink. They don't have children, but they do have a dog. Her name is Mandy and she is a black terrier. She likes to fetch balls if you throw them for her. She is quite slobbery.

Mum says she can't understand why they got cream carpets when they have a dog. The carpets smell new. They are springy under my bare feet. It's mostly boring round Uncle Dave and Aunty Maggie's. They talk to Mum and Dad and we have to sit and listen. I can't get a word in edgeways. Each time I look at Mum, pleading at her with my eyes to let me speak, she holds up her hand. This means grown ups are talking. By the time she asks me what I wanted to say, the conversation has moved on. It's too late. It doesn't matter.

In the morning we sit at the table for breakfast. It is already 10 o'clock, but we're just having breakfast. The table is smoky black glass and the wicker on the chair scratches my legs. Mum and Dad and Uncle Dave and Aunty Maggie are still talking. I drink my orange juice. It has bits in it, I spit them back in the glass. My brother Peter sees me and does the same with his orange juice. We take slice after slice of cold toast and slowly, carefully spread it with the curls of butter in the dish. I feel grown up. This must be how grown ups eat their toast.

Later, I put my hands in Mandy's woolly coat. I wish we could have a puppy. I throw the ball for her and shout 'fetch it, Goldie!'. I realise what I have done. I've called her by the name of the Blue Peter dog. Goldie is Simon Groom's dog and she goes with him to his parent's farm in Dethick. Everyone laughs at me. I can feel my cheeks burning, I am going bright red. They keep laughing. I want to go home and not come back.

This post has been written as part of the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop.  This week I chose prompt no.4 Share a powerful memory, or memories, from your childhood.

There was another prompt asking about the last time you cried. That was just now. I was looking for a photograph of a particular moth caterpillar that my friends and I found in someone's garden one summer. We collected them in our hands and placed them in our gardens. Poor things, they probably starved after we moved them away from their food source. They were quite distinctive, two inches long, fat and green, with red heads and spiked tails. As I searched through the vividly clear photographs I realised that I have a bit of a caterpillar phobia. I clicked away from Flikr with tears in my eyes. I never did find what I was looking for and  in the end I wrote about something else.




  1. A lovely, powerful memory Sandy..I love my toast that way too.

    I also did this writing workshop.

  2. You are a very talented woman I think. Really evocative post - like there's stuff left unsaid...

  3. Really lovely writing. You've written it just like a child would speak and think. And I agree with Gappy - what's left unsaid, what's going on underneath, is what jumps out at me - and it doesn't matter that I don't know exactly what it is. Great.

  4. Oh gosh, you made me laugh at the spitting out the bits bit, I did that too.
    I also went through umpteen times of these, mother's frown..shhh.
    Lovely post, I lived it just as you did.

  5. Gaelikaa, thank you. It's a good way to have your toast, if you're patient enough to wait!

    Gappy, thank you. Yes, I tried to write it as my eight year old self. So there would be gaps.

    Deer Baby, thank you, that's what I was aiming for :-)

    Mari, thank you. It's hard being eight! :-)

    Capital Mom, thank you, that means a lot :-)


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