Saturday, 23 January 2016

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 50 ............. remembering breakfast

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Now I know it had to happen but even so I was not prepared for the day when one of the staples of our breakfast tasted nothing like I remembered them from my childhood.

On a whim I had bought a packet of Sugar Puffs and while there was nothing wrong with the product my taste buds refused to recognise them.

Of course there is nothing surprising in that, we will all have had to accept that with the passage of time the food we ate as kids is different.

At which point I won’t fall back on the obvious comment about the size of Wagon Wheels, the failure to find Jublies in the shops or the first time I drank Tizer.

Instead I am reflecting on what I ate for breakfast back in the 1950s and more importantly how it had been influenced by my parents.

Again there is nothing very surprising about that.  As a kid you pretty much ate what you were given, influenced to a degree about by the advertising hypes that came with the television age.

So the attraction of Sugar Puffs was the little products that came with the cereal.  They ranged from tiny plastic racing cars to divers who were supposed to bubble in the fish tank and on one occasion a Sherlock Holmes set of mini detective gadgets.

But even given all that for me breakfast was and is a very personal thing and a meal much influenced by dad.

Long ago he had rejected the habit of eating porridge which as he added salt instead of sugar seemed a pretty sensible thing to leave behind.

Instead it was toast which was left to go cold and hard and eaten with butter or butter and ginger marmalade.

And now sixty or so years after I first ate it like that it’s just how I have my toast which of course raises that bigger point of what we inherit from our parents.

The physical ones are just the luck of the draw but what fascinates me are the habits, mannerisms and cultural outlooks which we absorb.

So from mum I got my politics which had been formed for her in the grim years of the 1930s and grew out of that desperate time of the Means Test, mass unemployment and making do on a pittance.

Along with the politics came a restlessness which expressed its self outlandish projects like the time she decided to breed rabbits and the fish pond she built on her own in the back garden of Lausanne Road.

All of these I have written about in the past and continue to shape who I am.

She too loved writing and had published a series of one and three act plays aimed particularly at women’s groups.

What made mum’s plays just that bit different was that the nature of the groups meant that there had to be few parts for men which added a greater challenge to the plot lines and the writing.

And now like many of my age I have come to reflect on what I have absorbed from mum and dad and conclude that it was far more than I had ever thought.

So breakfast will be toast and ginger marmalade and a day of writing about the past.

As for the Sugar Puffs, they now go under the name of Honey Monster Puffs and the little railway engine pulling its carriages has gone from the packet replaced by a Honey Monster.

There is still the promise of a gift but sadly they no longer taste the same but that will be me.

Location; Peckham, London

Pictures; products from the 1950s, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

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