Sausage sandwiches. Even now, all these decades later, a sausage sandwich will transport me back to the kitchenette of a two-up two-down ‘up home’. Hilarious really, as having been a vegetarian for over three of those decades, the sausages are no longer ‘real’, but Oh My the memory is! Then, as now, dripping with red sauce and a bit of grease from the butter. Down the chin! And my introduction to the sausage sandwich? My Grandma. My Big Grandma. So called as to distinguish her from my Little Grandma. There were never any political correctness considerations. It was a physical fact.
So me and my Big Grandma cooking up sausage sandwiches for breakfast. Through my eyes, it was a ‘Coronation Street’ house. Backyard, coal bunker, outside loo, rag-and-bone man in the alley plying his trade. Going ‘up home’ and staying with my Big Grandma was Christmas, whatever the time of year, (though it was usually Christmas!). Christmas always hugs me, fills me with such warmth just from those memories. But I struggle to untwine the warmth from the pain and sadness that one Christmas Day my strong, squidgy, bingo-loving Grandma breathed her last.
Home is an invisible bond. A place? A time? A person? Not always a roof. Always a feeling. Home may mean arriving. Or leaving. Completion or beginning. Home is the inward smile that lives briefly whenever I grab the ketchup. It’s the intensity of Christmas, feeling like I’ll burst and collapse all at the same time. The poignancy of hearing an old time music hall song; On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep? That’s where you’ll find me sobbing my heart out. It’s the anticipation I still feel when I pass a National Express coach, the excitement of my Grandma travelling down to visit us. And it’s the thrill of a win on the Bingo. Even a prize of just a few pennies and I’m a child again sat beside my Grandma, playing along, her used bingo tickets on my lap.
Home is all of it. Life’s struggle and juggle. Keeping one eye on the peas, one on the cat, another eye on the rapidly filling sink and a fourth eye on the time. It’s the bliss, the hiccups, the curveballs, the thunderbolts and the cloud nines. The line we walk is so utterly unique, no path is wholly shared, but our journey is completely in common. Whether we’re stay-ers or go-ers, through choice or forced, everything inside our skin is home. Including those sausage sandwiches.