Pancakes and lightbulbs
16 February 2010
Pancakes were the same as lightbulbs. Both of them were a rigmarole to fix and a source of grumbling family resentment if they didn’t get done at all.
Pancakes needed hours of preparation. They were serious stuff in serious mixing bowls, not to be jeopardised by Mummy, I want to help!. I can’t remember what we did if my dad was out at his society, whether we waited for the next day or whether his absence would simply never have been allowed to happen. There wasn’t proper supper before pancakes, just a sandwich tea, so that we didn’t take in too much stodge. We didn’t toss the pancakes: it would probably have finished my mum off.
My mother changed the lightbulbs too. They needed all the electricity turned off, and a ladder found, and couldn’t be done unless my mother had a spare hour and a half. As I grew up, I wondered why it all had to be such a drama, especially when it meant doing my homework under two anglepoise lamps for three weeks flat. Eventually, I took it into my own hands. The other eighty minutes were for getting the ladder out and putting it away again.
After my mother went back to work, pancakes made for one of the year’s most stressful days. If an emergency was on, or if she was simply too shattered by what she’d seen to cope, we couldn’t have them. We waited for the phone call that always seemed to come during Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the BBC.
My mum had lemon on her pancakes and my dad had jam. I don’t know whether I parsed that into mummies have lemon and daddies have jam. It didn’t stop me asking for the jam.
Proof that my mum’s nature was sour and my dad’s was sweet: tempting, then, but wrong.
Now: quickly, shop-bought, heated, after work, standing up, too fast, too thin, lifting the second one off the glass plate with a fork before the first one’s away.
And I have maple syrup.