This week’s theme for Sepia Saturday evoked a particular family memory as soon as I saw it, though I can’t believe it’s twenty years since this enjoyable day out. Our youngest daughter had been on a gap year after finishing uni and had been working at a pub in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire for six months with her partner. When we met up with them in Tuscany, they’d been backpacking for a few months – staying with us in a villa was quite the lap of luxury.
It was so exciting when we met them off the bus: kisses, huge hugs and smiles, and maybe even a tear or two. The Italians from the bus were very approving of this grand display of emotion. We were amused when the multi-lingual localrestaurateurgave us a quote from his own family gatherings “today you laugh, tomorrow you fight“. Luckily we managed to avoid any major “blues” and had a good time together. By the time we drove into Siena for a look-see we’d even learned to deal with the Italian traffic! To celebrate we sat in the sunshine in the Piazza del Campo and enjoyed a cold beer together. Perfetto!
This topic turned my thoughts to family drinking habits and the role of alcohol. My father had only an occasional beer though he also liked a whisky from time to time. One memorable time, he was watching a Rugby Union match with Mr Cassmob and myself. Mum arrived, busying around, and moved his coffee table. Being engrossed in the match, he replaced his beer glass exactly where it had been previously – only problem being that the table was no longer there. Oops! We were not popular! My mother was never, ever a drinker of alcohol, nor was her father (or presumably her mother) since they’d both signed “The Pledge“. Amazingly I managed to avoid all school encouragement to do the same, so I can enjoy my wine.
Similarly, my father’s parents also never drank alcohol in their old age. My paternal grandfather may have been known to have a beer as a younger man but perhaps not after he married my grandmother who was a staunch Presbyterian.
The following newspaper extract describes my maternal grandmother’s parents’ refreshment rooms in Charters Towers. One might infer from this that the Melvin family were non- drinkers as well (though Stephen Melvin’s brother did run pubs). It’s also worth remembering that in Queensland, and especially the tropical north, there’s little appeal to sitting in the sun with a cold beer, or any other cold drink. Being in a shady, cool place is much more attractive.
Perhaps some of the family antipathy to alcohol can be explained by the death of Anne Callaghan who I believe to have been my 2xgreat grandmother from Courtown in Ireland. At first, one wonders how no one noticed she hadn’t returned home but it’s entirely possible the men in the family were at sea fishing. By 1886, my great-grandmother, Anne’s daughter, had already emigrated to Queensland.
As the advertisements say “Drink in Moderation“.
Why not visit the Sepia Saturday page to see how other Sepians have “hit the grog” and whether they were basking in the sunshine at the same time.
And sometimes, an ice cream is every bit as good as a beer when it’s hot.