Today would have been my Dads 92nd Birthday. For many people, including myself, he was the easier person in my parents marriage to get along with. His genetic gifts to me have been reliable, useful and enabled me to see the world and my place in it easily. My mothers character, skills and temperament was more skittish and impulsive. She divided a room, he could bring a room together.Their combined talents have given me a skittish core with a practical, sensible overcoat Sometimes I bore myself, other times I wonder what an earth I am going to get up to next. As their only child I was a puzzlement to them both. Neither could see their characteristics reflected in me because their two strong personalities masked any obvious inherited characteristics reflected in me.I was their conundrum. My skittishness was measured and my steadiness unreliable.
Marmalade is the perfect illustration. My Dad loved it and my mother hated it. There were often five or more varieties in our larder at home, experimental flavours tried once and then left to gather a dome of mould, a source of constant irritation to my mother who, once the mould level threatened good housekeeping, would throw them away with a flourish of delighted satisfaction or sometimes more fiercely, the mouldy marmalade standing in for someone or something that had really pissed her off. If my dad pissed her off she would throw away his absolute favourite, Rose’s Lime Marmalade, whether it had mould or not.
In a perfect reflection of my genetic make-up, I love marmalade. Until recently there was only ever one Marmalade for me. Frank Coopers, Thick Cut, Oxford Marmalade. From shared student homes to home ownership and settled domestic home maker, Frank Cooper has been my bitter preserve companion. More recently one of the Bobbers, Gill, has been sharing, with me,her short season Seville Orange, home -made marmalade. Gill is up there with Frank. A mass produced God and a small batch Goddess. They share the marmalade shelf now, Frank there all year, reliable. Gill fleetingly, only in season, both bitter to their core, both adored.
Wherever my parents are, and they may not have chosen,or been sent to the same other realm destination, both would be satisfied over my adult marmalade development.
My dad , thrilled that I love marmalade. My mother, grateful that it is only ever one flavour, at worst, two jars- no mould.