When every day was like Sunday

A fragment, of what I’m not quite sure.

Sunday is the pivot of the week, its end and its beginning. These are family memories of some of the 2,500 or so I have lived so far.

In my 1970s childhood, Sundays were quiet and formulaic. At morning mass with my Mum and sister, I would already by thinking profanely about lunch – the roast meats, the heavy puddings (steamed syrup sponge or lemon meringue pie). We would have a drink before lunch (gin or Campari for the parents, Sodastream for the children), and Dad would often decide to hold a quiz during the meal, to occasional visitors’ horror. Afterwards he would take us children for a walk in the beech-clothed Chilterns, while my mother had an unusually self-indulgent snooze.

For much of the 1980s, I was at boarding school. Sundays there also revolved around church and lunch (and cycling off to neighbouring villages to find pubs that served teenagers). But I also remember the periodic visits to midlands hotels with my parents. Big lunch, a bit of booze, then a walk and slightly tearful return to school. I wasn’t that miserable to be honest, so I suspect the tears were part performance and part response to the melancholic timbre of those days – always bleak autumn in my memory.

Lunches together were less frequent in the 1990s and 2000s. I was at university then living in London, so trips to my parents’ house were celebratory occasions, allowing Mum to showcase new dishes and giving Dad the excuse to ‘kill the fatted bottle’ (his phrase), before driving me erratically back to the station.

Then in the 2010s, as my parents weakened, we would be there to drive Mum to mass, to bring and cook a meal, reproducing and revising her repertoire, cutting up her food and wheeling my father through for his still enthusiastic assault on food and wine.

Now Mum is on her own; we bring our own food, as the carer spoons puree into her mouth.

It’s all so fucking swift, so remorseless.

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