Sunday, 23 June 2013

Table Talk

Many of my favourite movie scenes, it turns out, involve people sitting round a table eating. Think of that bit in Jaws where Chief Brody’s youngest son copies his hand movements and facial expressions; or the near identical scene in Close Encounters; the hilarity of The Odd Couple’s Oscar offering his poker buddies “green sandwiches or brown sandwiches” in which the green is either very new cheese or very old meat; or the syncopated dance routine that gets the Bande a Part trio up from their Parisian café table.

In short, life without a table is pretty dull. Amazingly we’ve somehow survived a whole year without a proper kitchen table. When we relocated to Musselburgh from Nairn we had to leave behind a whole heap of solid, substantial furniture, including a handsome and rather large dining table. For the five and a bit years we were in Nairn the table was pretty fundamental to what we did, not just for breakfast and dinner but for throwing parties and having people round. I remember one year we had a Tom Weir themed shindig in which everyone came dressed in bobble hats, woolly jumpers and with their trousers tucked into their socks. The table was laden with Scotch pies and a massive cake in the shape of a bobble hat.

Another time it was a 70s party and we used every inch of the table for every possible confection of the era: Butterscotch Angel Delight, Babycham, Findus Crispy Pancakes, cubes of cheddar on cocktail sticks and Black Forest Gateaux. Barf out.
Butterscotch Angel Delight makes an ideal table decoration

As a temporary measure upon arrival at Musselburgh I picked up a second-hand kitchen table. It was small and circular and OK for me, Wife-features and the Bairn to sit at for most meals. But at long last it’s been replaced by a charity shop find. Many thanks to the big lad from the “Deaf Dugs” for helping me lug it home. (The Honest Toun’s most amazing charity shop is the Tardis-like Hearing Dogs for the Deaf emporium, accessed via an unassuming door next to Superdrug. It gets called Deaf Dugs for short. Classy.) This table’s rectangular and you could easily get six folk round it. I’m blogging at it right now and it doesn’t feel precarious.

We often hear how family meal time is the totemic societal issue of the modern age. There’s bound to have been a Daily Mail article linking Broken Britain with the demise of shared dinners. To be fair, when I think back to my teenage years (I was the eldest of four kids) I would increasingly take my tea in my own room, usually while watching the news. A bit depressing really. But there was a golden age when all four of us, plus mum and dad, would eat at the same table. And sometimes the telly wouldn’t be on. We would talk to each other about stuff. For years it was my job to set the table and then put away the placemats and give the table a wipe and polish.

It’s great to have a point in the day when the hurly burly pauses for everyone so conversation, food and unwinding can happen. Already I find myself asking the Bairn what she did at nursery even though she’s only there for a couple of hours and quite a bit of it involves playing with toys and other kids in the sort of unstructured way that would horrify a Tory government minister. I never ask “how was nursery?” but always ask what she did, so there‘s no chance of the one word response “fine.”

I hope this routine (and table) lasts, and no I don’t plan to make the Bairn polish the table after every meal. We’ve got a wipe-clean tablecloth.

1 comment:

  1. Just have to hope the bairn never asks 'how was work Green dad"

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