as a serviette for everyone. And there was a small vase of flowers in the centre that Robert bought his wife each pay day.
When her father came home they all sat around the table; Robert went out into the yard and sharpened the carving knife then returned and cut two generous slices for everyone. That which was left would go to make a fry up the next day. Nothing was ever thrown away in those days. If you didn’t eat what was put down to you then you went without.’
Robert said grace before anyone touched anything from the plates then they would all tuck in. Conversation at the table was allowed and they talked freely.
“I’ve wrote to my aunt Ester Da’ said Muriel.’
“Aye and what would you be writing to my sister for?’
“I want to go and stay with her for a few months so that I can learn how to type and do short hand so I can get a better job.’
“What is wrong with work on the fish quay?’
“Well Da’ I’m never going to get anywhere working down there.’
I’m nearly twenty one and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a kipper house.’
It was good enough for your mother when I met her; why not you?’
“Because I don’t want to Da’ I know that I can make something of my life if I’m given a chance.’
“Don’t become all self righteous in here Muriel.’
“I’m not, I just want a better life, is that so wrong.’
“What is so wrong with the life that you have now.’
“Do I not provide for you and this family?’
“It is not for you that I ask; it is for me and my future; would you not like to see me married to some gentleman.’
“Gentleman you say; her two brothers laughed; I haven’t met any gentlemen doon the ship yard have you Craig?’
“No, and you never will.’
“Shut up you two and eat your dinner.’
“What makes you think that a gentleman is better than someone who works by the sweat of his brow?’
“I don’t father al I’m saying is would you have me married to some dockyard drunk who comes home abusing his wife?’
“I am no dockyard drunk and I certainly don’t abuse your mother.’
Annabella could see her father getting angry and squeezed her daughters hand under the table.
“Is this what would you have me do for I will never marry anyone who works in a mine or a shipyard I tell you that.’
“Well then you will be a spinster then because there are no gentlemen breaking down my door trying to ask for your hand in marriage.
You live in a dream world Muriel, life is just not like what you read in those books.’
“Why not, why shouldn’t I have hopes and dreams?’ I am young; not bad looking and intelligent.’
“Who told you that said Jimmy; is that mirror broken in your bedroom.’
Shut up Jimmy said his mother; you have no room to talk to your sister like that. Rose is no oil painting.’
“The sooner I’m out of this house the better said Jimmy and was about to stand up and leave the table but his father stopped him.’