‘Jam for Tea’ is a touching, funny and affectionate look at the author’s childhood in the 1950s and ’60s. It follows on from ‘Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood’ and takes us right up to the point where Cathy Murray is a qualified primary school teacher and is, in her own words, ‘on the cusp of some of the best experiences of my life’.
We learn where Cathy was when JFK was assassinated, how she tried to subdue her naturally curly hair with sellotape in an effort to copy Twiggy’s hairstyle and of the fun she had on her trip to Wales with the Girl Guides even though conditions were fairly basic. Cathy tells us about her holiday jobs, why we might want to follow her example of never sending food back to the kitchen in a restaurant and reveals why the book is called ‘Jam for Tea’ (hint: there is a canine influence).
One of my favourite reminiscences has to be the story of Cathy’s mother attending a wedding reception wearing a dress made out of the new one hundred per cent man-made fabric, Crimplene. In the crowd, her mother was pushed against a heater then spent the rest of the evening with her back turned away from the other guests so that no one would see the large brown scorch mark on her bottom!
There are charming glimpses of the future too, for example the vignette of Cathy and her father dressed up in their wedding outfits, playing piano duets at home while waiting for the ancient Bentley to arrive and take them to Cathy’s wedding. These hints of what is to come whet our appetite for the next installment of Cathy’s life story. More please, Cathy!