Family life: Dad cooking the Christmas fry-up; Hit the Road, Jack by Ray Charles; Grandmama’s boozy truffles | Life and elegance


Snapshot: My dad cooking the Christmas fry-up

This reveals my dad, Sydney Staplehurst, cooking breakfast on Christmas Day 1974. He had a newspaper pitch and Christmas was the one day he had off, so he insisted on making ready the normal Christmas fry-up.

The picture screams the 1970s. Senior Service, smoking jacket, sideburns and SodaStream. What you’ll be able to’t see or hear are the jets of flame roaring from the grill or the sound of my mum, Peggy, cursing Dad from the entrance room over Noddy screaming “It’s Christmas!” on the music centre because the kitchen crammed with smoke.

The image invokes so many reminiscences of a legendary festive period that took in communal pub classes from 12-2pm, Christmas Top of the Pops, ignoring the Queen, ingesting advocaat snowballs, loud night breathing adults sleeping it off till Eric and Ernie and the inevitable paper chains and balloons dropping from the ceiling on to your head come Boxing Day.

Dad was an enormous character and the funniest individual I’ve ever recognized. He labored the stall for 40 years and was a lot beloved by everybody he served or helped in Pimlico, London, the place we nonetheless dwell.

I keep in mind us having so many Christmas playing cards that the entrance room would look shockingly desolate after they needed to come down after New Year. He died in 1988 and we nonetheless miss him. I’ve tried to keep up the festive fry-up custom, however someway it by no means tastes nearly as good. Maybe it’s lacking a touch of fag ash!

Colin Staplehurst

Playlist: How Ray Charles gave me the elbow

Watch the video for Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles

Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles

“Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more”

Christmas go away was only some weeks off and I used to be on my method to meet my beautiful new girlfriend. Life, I believed, couldn’t get a lot better. It was December 1961, I had spent the earlier 18 months on a destroyer, and was very a lot Jolly Jack Tar, a Jack the lad, as my shipmates would say.

As the practice carried me to Portsmouth, I mirrored on my luck: 19 years previous and the world was my oyster. I had met – let’s name her Kate – only some weeks beforehand within the Naafi membership in Portsmouth. We all referred to as it the “Ponderosa”, such was its resemblance, we fancied, to the ranch in Bonanza, a well-liked TV sequence of that point. I don’t know who was accountable for Ponderosa’s location, nevertheless it was a stroke of genius – instantly reverse the Duchess of Kent barracks, residence to the Wrens of Portsmouth. Where there are Wrens, matelots is not going to be far behind. The place was buzzing.

When I first noticed Kate, I couldn’t imagine my eyes. Here was a beautiful Wren, in that cool uniform, however carrying the cap badge of a Royal Marine. A “bootneck” Wren! I’d by no means heard of such a factor.

We appeared to hit it off, despite my mates’ hilarity on the scenario. “Still knocking about with that ‘bootneck’, then?” they’d ask, earlier than falling about helplessly. (“Bootneck”, by the best way, is a nickname for a Royal Marine, deriving, they are saying, from their behavior of slicing the leather-based from their boot tops and wrapping it round their necks to keep away from having their throats reduce on crusing ships within the previous days). Nice.

Kate met me on the Ponderosa with an elfish smile on her face. No kiss, no hug.

“I’ve got a surprise,” she grinned. “There’s a record on the jukebox especially for you.”

On cue, Ray Charles was belting out “Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more / Hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back no more.”

I obtained the message – I’d been dumped, stylishly however irrevocably. She waved as she left.

We by no means met once more, however each time I hear Ray Charles I can see her, nonetheless 19, blue eyes nonetheless smiling beneath that “bootneck” cap badge.

Keith Giles

We like to eat: Grandmama’s rum truffles

Chocolate truffles

Chocolate truffles. Photograph: Rawdon Wyatt/Alamy


Plain chocolate
Double cream
Chocolate shavings
Lashings of Captain Morgan darkish rum

Melt the chocolate, stir within the butter, rum and cream, then go away to sit back for an hour. Melt the chocolate shavings a tad, and roll small, completely shaped truffles in them.

Well, the place do I start? In the early 1970s as my youthful brother and I had been rising up, we had been shipped to my grandmama’s every Christmas Eve, decamping there till after the New Year. My mom and father would profit from this a lot anticipated interval of peace and goodwill to lease a cottage within the New Forest, stroll among the many ponies and play Scrabble in entrance of an open fireplace.

Grandmama was not a believer in heating of any type, not to mention central heating, and my brother and I’d freeze for greater than every week, cuddling one another within the double mattress through which my grandpapa had died, and questioning if the sheets had been modified since.

The solely spotlight was Grandmama’s rum truffles. She was terribly myopic and beneficiant along with her measures. She would make her well-known truffles late on Christmas Eve, and serve them on the aspect with the presents our dad and mom had dropped off. My mom had been commonly fed with truffles as she was rising up. And so on Christmas morning my youthful brother, neither of us but 10, would get an increasing number of smashed as we consumed 4 or 5, possibly six, 40% proof spirit-laced truffles.

Needless to say, we struggled hopelessly with the Spirograph and the Etch A Sketch and we started to seek out every part extraordinarily humorous; even the odor of cat urine that pervaded the home, as Grandmama performed foster father or mother to any feline fortunate or unfortunate sufficient to seek out its method to her again door.

After lunch, we had been quickly loud night breathing like sailors within the large drawing-room armchairs, as Grandmama hooted with laughter on the repeats of The Goon Show on Radio 4.

On the drive residence, round 2 January, I’d see my mom wink at my father as she casually inquired of us: “How was the Boxing Day hangover, boys?”

Richard Hayton

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