Saturday, 14 June 2014

Breakfast with the Bryants

Earlier this week, my daughter and I – due to an uncharacteristically early start to the day – ended up having breakfast at my parents’ house.
          My mother, unused to being awoken at what she calls the crack of dawn (it was nine in the morning), and recuperating from her recent operation, was still floating about in her nightie.
          ‘Put the kettle on, Debs,’ said Mother Bryant, ‘while I go and get dressed.  You know where everything is.’
          ‘Indeed,’ I replied, before turning to my daughter.  ‘What would you like?’
          ‘What is there?’ asked Eleanor.
          My mother immediately did a U-turn and shuffled back into the kitchen.  ‘I have ten different varieties of cereal, or there’s muffins, or bread for toasting – you can choose from brown, white, oatmeal or gluten-free – there’s also croissants…plain and almond, or scones with either currants or cherries, I’ve got teacakes, or you can have fresh fruit…bananas, blueberries and strawberries.’
          Only my mother can offer such an array of goodies.
          Eleanor pondered.  ‘Is there anything else?’
          Only my daughter can still remain indecisive.
          ‘Boiled eggs and soldiers?’
          Eleanor’s face lit up.  ‘Yes please!’
          ‘I’ll let your mother take care of it for you.  I must go and get dressed.’
          My father came into the kitchen.
          ‘Are you taking care of Eleanor’s breakfast?’
          ‘Yes.  I’m doing boiled eggs.  Do you want a couple?’
          ‘No, thanks, I’m going to have toast.’
          My mother immediately shuffled back into the kitchen.  ‘No you’re not, Tony, you’re going to finish off the yoghurt.  It’s two days out of date and needs eating up.’
          ‘Right, dear.’
          ‘Do you think it wise to eat dairy that’s out of date?’ I asked.
          ‘Certainly,’ said Mother Bryant, ‘when you’ve been through a war you’ll eat anything.’
          ‘Do you want to share some yoghurt?’ Father Bryant turned to Eleanor.
          ‘She’s not having any yoghurt!’ Mother Bryant cried.  ‘I’m not risking my granddaughter getting listeria.’
          ‘But it’s okay for me to get listeria?’ Father Bryant asked.
          My mother thought about it.  ‘Yes,’ she nodded her head.  ‘Now excuse me, because I must get dressed.’
          There then followed a couple of minutes where I side-stepped my father to reach the hob, and Eleanor danced around her grandfather to grab the kettle, and my father jiggled around the pair of us to open the fridge, and then my mother shuffled back in, still in her nightie.
          ‘Dear Heart,’ said my father (you can tell he’s irritated when he refers to her as Dear Heart), ‘there isn’t enough room in this part of the kitchen for all of us.  What are you doing?’
          ‘I want to warm the bowl for Eleanor’s eggs.’
          ‘Surely the eggs will go into eggcups?’ asked Father Bryant.
          ‘No, she likes them turned out.  Now get out of my way please, I want to warm the bowl.’
          ‘You don’t need to warm the bowl, Grandma,’ said Eleanor.
          ‘I’m warming the bowl!’ said Mother Bryant in a tone of voice that defied argument.
          There then followed a minute while we held our breath, Mother Bryant daring us to interfere, as the tiny woman with the stoop picked up a boiling kettle and, with a violently wobbling hand, slopped scalding water into a china bowl.
          ‘There!’ she said triumphantly as the kettle banged back down on the worktop.  We all exhaled with relief.  ‘Now excuse me.  I must get dressed.’
          I then watched the water boil in the egg saucepan, set the timer, and a couple of minutes later turned the eggs out into the warmed bowl.
          ‘Oh dear.’
          ‘What is it?’ asked Father Bryant.
          ‘The eggs aren’t cooked enough.  They’re all watery.’
          ‘Oh, Mum,’ Eleanor peered over my shoulder, ‘that looks revolting.’
          ‘Not to worry,’ said Father Bryant, ‘we’ll put them in the microwave.’
          ‘How does it work?’ I peered at the old-fashioned buttons.
          ‘Everybody out of my way,’ said Mother Bryant lurching back into the kitchen, grabbing hold of door handles and backs of chairs for support.  She was still in her nightie.  ‘I’ll set the timer for you.  Will ten seconds do it?’
          ‘I’m not sure,’ said Eleanor.
          ‘We’ll try it,’ said Father Bryant, pressing the start button.
          ‘Stop!  Stop!’ shrieked Mother Bryant.  ‘The timer says nine minutes fifteen seconds!’
          ‘No, it doesn’t, Dear Heart.’ (Dear Heart again, see.)
          ‘Yes it does.’  Mother Bryant pointed a knobbly finger at the digital display.  ‘See?  There!  Are you blind?’
          ‘That’s the clock, Dear Heart.’ (Said through gritted teeth.)
          ‘It isn’t.’
          ‘It is.’
          ‘It isn’t.’
          ‘It is.’
          ‘It isn’t.’
          ‘It is.’
          ‘Grandma,’ interrupted Eleanor, ‘I don’t think it can be the timer because nine minutes and fifteen seconds in a microwave would cause the eggs to explode.  Several times over.’
          My mother thought about this.  ‘Don’t you want the eggs well cooked?’
          ‘I think thirty seconds will suffice.  Why don’t you let me do it, and go and get dressed?’
          ‘Yes.  Good idea.  I keep meaning to get dressed, but everybody keeps interrupting me.’  My mother then shuffled over to the kitchen table and sat down.  ‘Actually, I’m too exhausted to get dressed right now.  I’ll do it in a little while.’
          The eggs came out of the microwave looking extremely unappetising.
          ‘Are they okay?’ Father Bryant asked Eleanor.
          ‘Um, yes, I suppose so.  They just look a bit dodgy.’
          ‘What about some marmalade?’ asked Mother Bryant hauling herself upright and shuffling across to a cupboard.
          ‘Not on eggs, Grandma.’
          ‘No?  Well what about something else?  I’ve got Nutella, Marmite, strawberry jam, or peanut butter.’
          ‘I think I’ll just have butter, Grandma.’
          ‘Okay.  I’ve got Lurpak, Olivio or Flora.’
          My daughter took the Lurpak before taking a mouthful of egg.
          ‘How is it?’ asked Father Bryant.
          ‘If I don’t look at it,’ Eleanor replied, ‘it’s passable.’
          I put my piece of toast down and glanced at everybody around the table. ‘I’ve just remembered the dream I had last night.’
          ‘Why, did it have micro-waved eggs in it?’ asked my father.
          ‘No, it had angels in it.’
          My father and daughter exchanged a look.  One that clearly said she’s away with the fairies again.
          ‘I’m listening to you, dear,’ said Mother Bryant indulgently, ‘even if these two aren’t.’
          ‘I went for a spin around the globe with these two massive angels.  And very nice it was too.  Oh, and they kept chanting three words as we flew.  Love, Mercy and Forgiveness.’
          ‘Probably in relation to your egg cooking skills,’ muttered Eleanor.
          Which reminds me.  What day do eggs hate the most?  Fry-day…



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