‘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!
Why not take a look on amazon? UK USA
A link to my review of ‘Cabbage and Semolina’ by Cathy Murray.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Mr Spearman is a cosy crime novella set in the fictional sleepy market town of Burcliffe. A young teacher, Rosie Rainbow, has a broken heart, Mr Spearman the school catering manager has disappeared, six year old Susie Sullivan makes an unusual discovery in the school playground at school and the famous Italian violinist Leonardo Pizzicato is robbed of one of his most precious possessions. As the mysteries deepen and entwine, we travel from Burcliffe to Naples, Legoland and to Dagenham, meeting a mysterious signorina, a suspicious photographer, a jealous cat named Marlow and a gang of ruthless criminals along the way. All is solved by the time we reach the sparkling musical finale, thanks to the incredibly quick thinking of Rob Dobbs and his police colleagues, not forgetting vital help from Rosie Rainbow and the slightly dotty Miss Palmer.
This novella can best be enjoyed with a large pot of tea and a mind eager to spot the cheesy clues.
UK amazon link
USA amazon link
THE FUNNY BUSINESS OF LIFE (Mozart, Murder and Messiah)
Book 2 in the ‘Sing with the Choir’ series.
REDUCED TO 99p until 31st March 2015 – grab it while you can!
About the book:
Miriam has a secret, a secret she cannot bring herself to share, a secret that leads to a brutal stabbing on Bonfire Night at St Cecilia’s School.
We travel back in time to investigate the mystery, meeting a host of colourful personalities along the way, including the bumbling Director of Music Lancelot Prokofiev, the predatory french teacher Celeste Dubonnet, Brunhilda the chocolate-loving music secretary, Dorian the sixth former who can understand complicated mathematics but forgets the day of the week and the egotistical conductor, Tristan Proudfoot.
Demons are wrestled and surprises abound before we return to Bonfire Night for the final revelation of a dramatically altered future.
For readers in the UK:
For readers in the USA:
ENJOY SINGING WITH THE CHOIR!
Cathy Murray’s easy conversational prose tells of her happy childhood in the fascinating fifties – shadowed by the war and the heavy cost paid by the nation, but looking forward to a modern age. We get glimpses of an earlier long-vanished world too as she remembers her grandfather telling her how he went to work in the mines at the tender age of twelve and showing her the field where the pit ponies had their two weeks annual ‘holiday’ above ground.
The author looks with the eyes of a child, quite rightly starting with school dinners, for food is children’s main preoccupation, as anyone will tell you, and she also has periods of reflection when she observes through her adult eyes.
I particularly enjoyed reading about Miss Heaps, the rather formidable piano teacher, and how she managed to get a hundred per cent pass rate by ridding herself of the weaker pupils – a practice not generally encouraged today!
How times have changed we think as we read about liberty bodices, pens being dipped into ink bottles at school, ‘Listen with Mother’ on the wireless, pre-decimal money and the early days of the NHS, but we also realise that some things never change when we read the delightful descriptions of children playing with whatever comes to hand (the Geiger counter!) and having fun whatever the circumstances.
Cathy has described an ordinary childhood in ‘Cabbage and Semolina’, and in doing so, has made it extra-ordinary.
Perfect by Rachel Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Perfect! Very emotional read – beautifully written.