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5:23pm on Wednesday, 25th September, 2019:



My wife was so desperate to find something different to do with the hundreds of apples we currently have that she looked inside the copy of Mrs Beeton's Everyday Cookery that I inherited from my maternal grandmother.

This was written on a blank page after the opening advertisements:

To save you the bother of trying to figure out what it says, here's a transcript:

To Dear Annie
As a small token of appreciation for all the Love and consideration she showed gave me whilst House Keeper at Kirby Hall.
July 1st 1936.

Never let any bitter experience you may meet along life's pathway, spoil or mar in any way, your beautiful nature.

Kirby Hall, in Little Ouseburn, Yorkshire, was where my grandmother worked in service until, it would seem, July 1936. This note appears to have been written by the then mistress of the house; I don't know her name, but my guess is that she was a Mesey-Thompson. My grandmother would have been 25 in 1936. She married my grandfather in January, 1938 and my mother was born in 1941 in New Lodge, a gatehouse on the Kirby Hall estate that the couple rented.

Once, the wife of a work colleague remarked to me that it was hard to imagine how much society had changed. Why, her grandparents had had servants. I replied that my grandparents were servants. That led to a rather awkward break in the conversation.

My wife spent so long looking for recipes that by the time she found one, she didn't have time to do any baking.

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Copyright © 2019 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).