The Smell of the Seasons that Take us Back in Time

Posted on October 22, 2021

Sometimes, when I am out walking, I smell the change of the season and it sends me spiralling back to my youth. I can only think that this is because after childhood, we spend decades indoors at home, in the office, or on the factory floor. Therefore, when we get out more later in life, the smells remind us of a time when they were constantly around us. I wonder what smells 21st Century kids will recognise when they are older? The stench of burning plastic reminding them of putting their foot through the Playstation after losing at FIFA, perhaps?

Harvest Hampers

Anyway, this morning was the first frost of the season and, inexplicably, the smell in the air reminded me of when my mother used to do the ‘harvest hampers’. As I recall, this was when she was an SDP (Social Democratic Party) councillor. People would be encouraged to donate food, which would be put in boxes (so, not really hampers then) and delivered to old folk.

The results were, in general, disappointing, with the pensioners receiving a supply made up of lard, tinned luncheon meat and Fray Bentos pies. These were generously donated by the kind people of Tadley. They themselves, had inherited them from the previous owners who had been ambitiously stocking up for when the local nuclear bomb factory exploded. Can you imagine having such a bleak outlook on life? One where you can envisage yourself as a microwaved leper, eating luncheon meat for dinner.

My mother once quipped that the people on the receiving end of this excessive generosity, would either die of starvation, or bleed to death after trying to open the tins with a metal key welded to the lid. Covid-19 would have been the least of worries for a pensioner from the 1980’s.

Twisted Logic

Like any self-respecting socialist, my mother often operated with twisted logic. Pitying the pensioners, she would remove the poor-quality goods and replace them with better stuff from our own cupboards. Whilst old folk on treble lock AWE pensions, celebrated their good fortune, we found ourselves eating Instant Whip sandwiches. On the plus side, we had enough luncheon meat to go barbel fishing for a month.

I can remember, once, my brother (Bruce) mistakenly thinking he was making a cheddar cheese sandwich. He only found out it was Echo cooking margarine when he took a ravenous bite from it and almost instantly vomited. Some 40 years later, he says he can still taste it. It was like a domestic JFK moment; I can remember it like it was yesterday. My mind’s eye still sees a pensioner heartily tucking into cheese and biscuits whilst my brother spent the evening choking back vomit.    

My mother, bless her, enjoyed being ‘The Woman of the People’, unless of course, those people lived in her house. They needed to pipe down to be grateful for what they had.

It’s little wonder my other brother ended up a Tory.

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