I remember my first school dinner. We had to sit still as a massive Sunday dinner was dished up in front of us. Meat, vegetables, roasted tatties, Yorkies. I couldn’t believe it, It was only Monday.
We had to shut our eyes for Grace which took ages. I heard a commotion during Grace and when I opened my eyes I saw my plate was just an untidy pile of cabbage, no meat or Yorkies. My poor 5 year old heart sank. I could see where my food had gone, kids either side had loads of meat, roasted tatties and Yorkies.
The table was a mess and some kids were still thieving from each other. Handfuls of meat and Yorkies grabbed from the plate to their right while the kid to their left was dumping handfuls of unwanted cabbage onto their plates. Chaos and such a disappointment.
I managed to grab some boiled tatties off the table, I love cabbage and was very hungry so was still happy after a fashion. Then I put loads of what I thought was salad cream onto my plate of cabbage and lumps of boiled tattie except it wasn’t salad cream, it was from a dish full of Horse Radish which was untouched in the middle of the table . That was the first and only time I ever made that mistake.
Next day I kept my eyes open during Grace and put the plate on my lap. Kids learn fast when food and survival are threatened, well I did. The teachers all had their eyes shut I noticed. School dinners were the best thing about school for me. That and needlework. I didn’t like any of the rest of it.
Years later, In the 1970’s, I watched a frantic game of Mah-jong being played by professional gamblers and was taken right back to that first ever School meal in the Infants. That game of Mah-Jong took place in the bowls of a ships Chinese laundry in 1976. The players all seemed to be playing at once, there was no stopping to study the tiles or even waiting their turn. Arms, tiles and money flying about and everyone shouting at the same time. The air was so thick with smoke from whatever it was they were all smoking I was surprised they could even see the little pictures on the tiles. My eyes and throat were burning. Anyway that’s another story which ended in tears. xx