My singing teacher listened to me reminding her that diets (she is always on one) have a shelf life, though, sadly, her Co-Op bought cakes never seem to.
'But I have to have cake,' she said. 'It reminds me of my mother's little smile of promise when she went out to the back scullery and would sing a bit of Liza Lehmann, and then come back through with cake or scrambled eggs with cream or, spread on a barm, the lovely congealed ooze with chewy bits in from under the previous Sunday's roast. Always a joy when she went to that back scullery. Well, apart from this one time. Our neighbour's eldest, Susan, seventeen, had been ill for a few months and kept to their parlour. We all knew why, of course. Like sopranos of the nineteenth century having a nine month bout of twisted knee. And one Monday morning Susan called in at our back door, shouting through to us that she was just letting us know she was up and about now, not to trouble. So we didn't. And a bit later my mother - there was the little smile - went through to the scullery. No singing, though, I noticed. And she called through to my sister, "Eva, come here, please. Leave Lesley where she is. Susan's left a still born on the draining board".'