Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Eating out. Meeting people. The importance of singing songs.

On Monday I did ladies-who-lunch again. We went to a Catalan tapas restaurant in the rather picturesque Barton Arcade off Saint Ann’s Square in the centre of Manchester. They have a sort of two-tier lunch menu of two or three tapas per person. The portions are generous so two tapas are plenty for a light lunch. Our waiter, a young man with an appropriately Salvador Dali-esque moustache but who turned put to be Not Spanish but Italian, assured us that they cook all the food themselves on the premises - but not himself personally!

One consequence of their cooking on demand, as it were, rather than having loads of stuff lined up waiting to be microwaved, is that your tapas arrive individually, a little like having your birthday presents in dribs and drabs. Of course, I suppose it is quite feasible that they have stiff lined up to microwaved and just serve it in dribs and drabs to convince the clientele that they are doing proper chef-business in the kitchen. But somehow that all seems a bit too Machiavellian. And the food WAS good.

On my way home in the tram later in the afternoon, I was approached by an apparent stranger with one of those “It is you, isn’t it?” questions. As soon as she spoke I recognised her as well, someone I almost went into a translation business with almost 30 years ago, someone I’ve not seen for at leat 25. “You’ve not changed a bit,” she declared. Good grief, I thought to myself, if I truly have not changed a bit I must have looked pretty ragged in my forties! But, no, I understood perfectly well that what she meant was “I would have recognised you anywhere”. Peculiarities of the English language!

Yesterday our daughter came round for a second breakfast, having had her first at about 5.00 am when the small person woke her up and refused to go back to sleep. Just what she needed on her day off. The small person is now quite articulate and more than a little demanding. One of her favourite things is to smile at you and say, “Row, row”, which can be a request for you to sing “Row, row, row your boat” or, more likely recently, for “The wheels on the bus go round and round”. The latter receives the best response if sung while making a soft toy do the actions to the song.

Her mother thinks she is a genius. You would not think that she has been through this three times before. But then, the older siblings think the small person is a genius as well and apparently do not feel in the least supplanted or neglected. Unlike the 16-year-old daughter of a photographer I read about recently who wondered why her mother had stopped taking pictures of her now that she was a teenager. Why was her mother only interested in the small sister. So the photographer produced a book of photos of the teenager and her friends. 

According to this report from the Independent many parents nowadays need teaching how to sing nursery rhymes with their small children. This need has been identified because so many children are turning up in the reception class in infant school with very limited vocabulary, a consequence of not singing enough nursery rhymes and not reading enough children’s story books.

If the current generation of parents don’t know the nursery rhymes, this suggests to me that they problem goes back a generation. Presumably nobody got them to sing nursery rhymes either.

So, is my generation really to blame again?

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