When I first thought about writing this blog, it was going to be based around the idea of writing someone a book for Christmas. However, given the recent Christmas restrictions, which are pretty pants, I decided to take a slightly different angle. I’m going to diverge slightly but stay with me.
So, in mid-November, my Grandma turned 90. I struggled to know what to buy her; she has sensitive skin so fancy soaps and shampoos were a no go and there’s only so many M&S cardigans one woman can have. As I was thinking about her, I realised how many memories, both hilarious and ridiculous, I have with her. Probably enough to fill an entire thesis. Also, over the years, she has told me many stories about her life as a district midwife in Cheshire. So, I decided that there was no better way to bring all that together than in a book of short stories about her 90 years.
And thus, with the help of my dad and brother, The Mad Midwife of Mobberley was written.
Back to my opening thought - this year, Christmas is going to be strange. We know that, but how can we react to it? I realise that some people might be alone and that is really tough. But in thinking about my Grandma and all the memories we’ve shared as explored in that book, it made me think about the importance of valuing one another and cherishing the memories we’ve shared. Just the other day, for my own birthday, my friend Elana put together a zoom quiz based on all the highly embarrassing things I’d done in school. It brought laughter, fun and fellowship to our time together, even though we weren’t together physically.
So, before I leave you with an excerpt from The Mad Midwife of Mobberley, remember that loving one another, and sharing and making memories together, whether across a screen or on a doorstep, is a wonderful gift.
(Though I’m not encouraging my Gran, who has now broken her arm for the second time after a treacherous trip to the bins, to do anything like she does in this story again!)
The Mad Midwife of Mobberley - Chapter Eight
‘Whoops, there goes the soup!’
Now another thing about the Mad Midwife of Mobberley is, she knows her way around the kitchen. There’s all the signature bakes: almond cookies, egg custards and turkey pies. Most of which quite frankly would put most of these modern bakers on The Great British Bake Off to shame. There’s all this hype over a Paul Hollywood handshake. Wait until you get one from the Mad Midwife of Mobberley, then you’ll know you’ve made it.
I for one certainly haven’t got there, especially not after the time Isaac and I tried to make soup in Grandma’s kitchen. Throwing every ingredient, we could find from the spice rank into the blender. It was to be a masterpiece. A product of culinary excellence that finally mastered the combination of garlic with…I honestly can’t remember what we put in there. It wasn’t pretty. Especially when we excelled ourselves to not putting the lid on the blender when we hit the button. It was quite a worrying moment for us two siblings. The sticky unknown mixture was on the ceiling, on the worktop, on the floor, in the sink and all over us.
“What’s Grandma going to say?” Isaac whimpered behind his round spectacles. Perhaps he was concerned he might get the full wrath of the Mad Midwife of Mobberley. Not to worry though. As she does in her mad way, she wandered into her beloved kitchen to see the massacre and laughed out loud. It was a beautiful moment that I’ll never forget. The Mad Midwife of Mobberley never misses out on a good giggle.
Now then, you think you’re disappointed? You’ve seen the title of this chapter and been intrigued by the notion of some flying soup and thought: is that it? No, my dear friends. The Mad Midwife of Mobberley is somewhat accustomed to soup-related calamities. And this one is quite spectacular.
On the previously mentioned list of her signature dishes, one important entry was missed out. It is of course, her infamous golden soup. *cue angelic music*. A splendid mixture of something like boiled down chicken bones and vegetables and whatever.
What? I’m sorry, I don’t know the ingredients. That’s the thing. Nobody really does. It’s only created by the Mad Midwife of Mobberley in her secret kitchen, whistling away as she throws in whatever she fancies to boil up and stew.
Anyway, the golden soup is heavenly. There’s nothing quite like a bowl of golden soup, on a Winter’s night, with a softie from Goostry’s Bakery. Just lovely.
On one fine night, when darling Harold was still alive, the Mad Midwife of Mobberley boiled up a pot of her cherished soup for her three grandchildren to enjoy around the kitchen table. The thing you must know about the kitchen table at dear old Barithon is that there’s not a lot of space. Only four chairs and if you’re around the back and need a wee, you’ve had it. Hold it, have a wet seat, or jump up in your rush and whack your head on the cupboard above you.
So, it was time for the three of us to sit down, primed and ready for the golden soup experience yet again. And the Mad Midwife of Mobberley being you know, mad, decided that the three of us and Grandad should take the chairs and she should sit on a small collapsible stool with a tartan seat.
You’re probably thinking: what’s wrong with that? She’s very sacrificial, making sure her family is comfortable and so forth. Yes, all that is lovely. But you see, this stool was small, and the Mad Midwife didn’t have the smallest, ya know, backside. The stool was probably much more suited to the derrière of a child under ten like Isaac. But the Mad Midwife would not stand for it. She would have the stool and that was that.
So as we were, the three of us kids tucked in to our golden soup after saying grace. Delicious as always. Grandad was also enjoying his, and the Mad Midwife finally came to the table with her own bowl. Ready to indulge in her own soupy creation. She sighed as she sat, perhaps feeling tired from all the hosting and culinary graft. Little did she know that wasn’t hard work at all.
BANG. The four of us eaters looked up at the noise, golden soup almost down our fronts. What did we behold before us? The Mad Midwife? No, actually. Just the top of her head poking out at the edge of the table. And her bowl of soup? You guessed it. Everywhere.
Then came Grandad’s signatory line to address the Mad Midwife: “What you doing, love?”
The kids didn’t know what to do at first. All three in shock. Grandad was up out of his chair, trying to hoist the Mad Midwife up to her feet. But don’t forget, there isn’t much room in her kitchen of dreams. So, there was nothing else for it. She would have to slither along the floor on her stool-snapping bottom to reach the more open side of the kitchen and pull herself up to her feet. One look down at herself to see her clothes covered in her treasured, famous, and wonderful golden soup. They do say you wear your heart on your sleeve.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11