Saturday, 20 March 2010

Big book of proper - the dining room table

When I was young we ate almost all of our meals at the kitchen table. The dining room table was pushed back against the wall, out of the way, and only pulled out for us to sit round on special occasions.
So, why does the dining room table feature in my Big book of Proper?
When I think back and picture myself as a child I am almost always sitting at the table. I know I sat there for hour after hour in quiet concentration, finding all sorts of ways to keep busy.
Colouring in was a game that required careful planning - my concerns weren't about using the right colours, or keeping inside the lines - I knew that each part of the picture came alive as I coloured it in,so I had to colour it in the right order - if I did the feet first, the person would run away only half-filled in.
I always loved reading and had plenty of library books, but one of my favourite ever books actually belonged to my sister Caroline - it was called Caroline and her Friends. I desperately wanted my own copy, so one year I sat at the table for what seemed like the whole of the summer holidays, copying out the stories word for word into my own book.

A single jigsaw puzzle could present a number of challenges - sorting out the edge pieces first then filling in the middle; trying not to look at the picture on the lid, or attempting to do the sky first. My favourite ever jigsaw had a picture from the film of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang - Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious dressed up as wind-up dancing dolls. I completed it so many times. Even now when I see the film, that scene takes me straight back to the dining table and the jigsaw.

So, no sign of dinner, and certainly nothing to do with etiquette, but the dining room table firmly belongs in the Big Book of Proper.

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