You, that is if you were under forty and were a guest at my grandfather’s table, were not allowed to laugh outright or for that matter, even giggle. If you were under thirty you had to wear the mask of a sphinx no matter what clean clerical joke was cracked.
It always seemed a little odd to me that on the seventh day there had to less humanity in the house than there was on the other six. Not that is to say that there was much fun and games for the young from Monday at 1 am (if you were up) till Saturday 12 mid. during the week. It was just that if you felt like smiling on the sabbath you just daren’t.
Grandma who always wore a great collar which was distinguished by its height and purity of whale boned lace, always saw fit to give my brother a good clip under the ear whenever he passed. Why Jack never learnt to pass her underneath the table or beneath the throne she held court on is still beyond me. Not that Jack did anything very much. Being four years older than I, he couldn’t sense the danger of just being around. I suppose his Eton collar and the fact that he sang in the choir sort of gave him (falsely in his own view) an air of sanctity which Grandma always failed to discern.
The clips on the ear Jack always earned for the little things he might have done or even thought of doing, but never had the hardihood to do. For the things I would have liked to do Jack got two clips.
So it was that Jack always smothered up in a neutral corner when Grandma was around.
Grandpa was beyond all this. He just sat and ate and ate and bemoaned his lack of appetite.
His theatrical indifference to food never seemed to dim his awareness of what was going on or off the plates to the right and left of his august presence.
One dreadful 1st Sunday before Pentecost our hired help foolishly skidded her meat and peas on his lap.
If this girl ever had a name, that is immaterial. Today she is probably wrestling under the name of Big Chief Thunderplate or another latin alias. Although young, she had an extraordinarily powerful jaw which was never really clean shaven. The mole, which on another face would be called a beauty spot. remained untrimmed.
A few weeks after she tipped her Sunday dinner on the lap she went completely to pieces & either stayed out on a tram or sat on a gas box till 10 pm.