Peter’s Patter - Poor Me

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I had a wonderful childhood. I don’t remember many bad times just lots of fun growing up in a council estate in Greenock.

Friends galore, food on the table, summer holidays every year and the greatest Christmas and New Year parties imaginable with countless cousins as our families gathered at our grandparents home.

Not for one second did I think we were poor but lately I have been thinking back to those days and although we weren’t exactly running around bare-foot, I have a sneaking suspicion that every penny was a prisoner for mum and dad.

I was watching TV the other day and some people were expressing utter surprise that a 50 year old man never had a birthday party when he was young. It was only then I realised that I never had one.

My wife tried to be sympathetic and suggested that having a birthday cake with your family constituted a birthday party.

When I told her that I never had a birthday cake either she said that it didn’t have to be a cake, just some nice buns or fancy biscuit. She went very quiet when I told her that I never even got a toffee Yoyo!

Don’t feel sorry for me. I got presents and cards and as far as I was concerned that was fantastic. I should have guessed that things were tight as, thinking back, the signs were definitely there.

We didn’t use the central heating so had to go to bed one at a time as my dad moved the one and only paraffin heater from room to room.

I’m not making any of this up but back then I never thought anything of it. Now I was wondering what other signs were there?

I was eating my dinner at the time and it suddenly dawned on me that I had never eaten chicken until I was nearly 14.

Every day was more or less the same but chicken never graced my plate. Sunday was a cheap cut of meat, usually from a cow’s bum.

Monday to Wednesday you could take your pick from spam, corned beef or sausages. Thursday was mince, Friday fish and Saturday was a fry up. All served with potatoes which were either mashed or deep fried.

I do remember that we had pancakes every Shrove Tuesday though, so for me the egg definitely came before the chicken!

I eventually succumbed to that succulent white meat but my lack of variety in food and veg was eventually exposed when I went for my first Chinese meal with my girlfriend and ordered sweet and sour chicken without the sweet and sour. I didn’t even touch the prawn crackers!