The other day I popped into a sandwich bar to buy something for my lunch and as I was waiting to be served, a man in his sixties walked in with two children, aged around 10 or 11. The man looked a bit flustered, and had the demeanour of someone who wasn’t familiar with the process of ordering custom-made sandwiches. Just to make conversation, I asked the children “well, are you off school for Hallowe’en?”
That got the conversational ball rolling and I learned that the two young people were off school for a whole week and a half. I don’t recall ever getting a week and a half off school at Hallowe’en: to my mind we only ever got a couple of days off! How times have changed! The children’s grandfather chirped up “Jaysus, I don’t now what to do with these two! I brought them in here to give them somethin’ to do. They’re doin’ my head in!” It was clear that granda was on childminding duty… He watched in agitated awe as the children ordered their sandwiches with aplomb, reeling off the names of sandwich fillings that their granda had probably never heard of. Gesturing towards them he said “God knows what they’re atin’! All this stuff here…God knows what’s in it! I tell ya, it’s not like it was years ago, a good feed a’ spuds, ye knew what ye wur gettin’. It was all good stuff. Is it any wonder people’s all dying o’ cancer? It’s the food we’re atin’, the stress, the fumes from all them cars out there. It’s not a bit o’ wonder people’s all sick nowadays. People aren’t living as long nowadays.” I agreed with him, and told him of the centenarians on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family: her family all lived to be ripe old ages, the youngest passing away at the age of 87.
The man paid for the sandwiches, again despairing of the ingredients contained within which he considered potentially devastating to his grandchildren’s health and their overall longevity. Still agitated, he gestured towards the children and said to me “love, wud ye keep an eye on them two a wee minute? I’m away outside fur a wee smoke…”