Tag Archives: Mum

Keys to the Past

I’ve had a lot of change in my life in the last ten years. Tried one career, failed, and tried another (it seems to be sticking). Tried one relationship, really really failed, then tried another (that one seems to be sticking too). Moved house four times, from a shared house to a shared flat to a flat on my own to my own flat and now to the house I live in in the suburbs. Got married. Lost my Mum. Had my little boy…


It’s funny how all that change led to small pockets of resistance within me. I still have items about me that are no longer in use by me, but which I retain nevertheless.  An example of this is my set of keys. I have on it the old house key to my family of origin’s house, a key for a lock that isn’t there any more. Same goes for the key into the kitchen. It was where you’d find my Mum, and the family jack russell, both usually the ones I’d be missing the most. There would be something in the fridge or in a biscuit tin or in the oven to eat. And there would be a chat, a welcome, something that would remind you you’re home.

That door isn’t even there any more. They renovated the place long after I moved out, and I found some element of sentimentality kept it on my key ring. The same instinct applies to most of the keys on it, for some reason I’ve kept keys that don’t exist any more, have no where to go. I couldn’t use this key now if I tried, there’s no door there to let me in.


I’m going to get rid of all of these old, unwanted keys. I’m going to walk around a little lighter, without all these keys to remind me of places I can no longer go.

Except for that kitchen key. That one I’m keeping.


I grew up with a Mum who thought all meals come with dessert. In face, the quality of her table was amazing. And one of my most treasured possessions is the Good Housekeeping cookbook of hers that I have. It is full of the type of elementary information that so many of us wouldn’t know how to ask, these days; from how to skin the chicken to how to melt the suet, and so on. It has these ornate colour plate photos in them, beautifully stylised, showing the most perfect and unrealistic food for a woman with six uncultured hungry kids. Fish chowders. Souffles.

Any way, one other thing she did was collect and gather recipe leaflets, those Bord Bia or whatever people that gave out recipes for yule logs or turkeys or what have you. One of them was a Cadbury’s Bourville leaflet, that gave out chocolate recipes, that I loved. I was never able to find it after she died, but I remember Saturday afternoons making something called a ‘Hot Milk Chocolate Cake’. The description of it was really evocative, and conveyed a tone from the writer like something from the Ascendancy; “I first recall making this cake on an old wooden stove in Kenya. Its richness defies description”.

I’d love to have that leaflet again, just to remind myself of the boring Saturday afternoons of my teenage life that I tried to fill up with stuff, having to get the kitchen cleaned before dinner would start and my sisters would want to watch Blind Date. I even contacted Cadbury’s, asking them about it, but they couldn’t locate it.  Ah well. All good things.