The last prompt from the Carrot Ranch is here
December 29, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a cosy story. What is it to be cosy, to experience Danish hygge? It doesn’t need to be culture-specific, but it can be an interesting point of comparison or contrast. A character might long to feel cozy, or you might describe the perfect cosy scene. It may or may not include Prosecco.
I’ve written extensively about my mother on this blog and I hope one thing that comes across is her determination to be her own woman, In part that manifested itself by her urge to cose (I’m sure that must be a verb).
For her cosy didn’t mean being still, necessarily. She’d happily cook for all and sundry and so long as everyone was replete and full of good cheer, she’d reach her cose threshold and approach the content plateau.
It would also occasionally involve some element of subversion. Here are two examples where she would be at her most relaxed and content, when she would experience her own hygge moment.
Example one: in our family home there was always noise. If not from a family member it came from the radio and was never music (other than Desert Island Discs) because it was always tuned to Radio 4 (or its precursor, the Home Service). Chat. Constant chat and a lot of news and opinion pieces. An early memory would be coming downstairs to breakfast to my father cursing the radio. At that time in the morning it was, as it is today the Today programme and in the 1960s the presenter was Jack de Manio. His recurring failing was his time checks. Many was the time dad would be reading the paper finishing his toast and hear ‘And the time now is ten past eight’. Since he had to leave by eight to catch a train he would have a heart attack until a correction moments later to ‘Sorry ten to eight’. But more memorable than those explosions were the interviews with politicians where dad joined in arguing his points as if in the studio. I think it helped prepare him for a hard day at work, selling chemicals. Mostly the rest of us coped with the vitriol, but then, in the late 1980s dad retired. Now he had the whole day and, in particular, Woman’s Hour with which to ‘discuss’ topics of the day.
I’d like to say my father was a tolerant far-sighted man, well ahead of his generation when it came to tolerance, empathy and understanding but that would be errant bollocks so let’s just say that he did learn that his prejudices were generally irrational but it took time. Mum preferred to keep her opinions hidden and listen to the debates so a tension grew.
Then the time came when the kitchen radio crackled its last and mum set out to buy a new one. When she came home, as recounted by dad, she was clearly in a happy place. She took the radio out of its box. It was a very trendy cubed thing but more than that it was a shocking dazzling pink.
‘Pink, Barbs? Really?’
‘You don’t like pink.’
Mum hugged the radio. ‘Shush, you’ll hurt her feelings.’
‘HER? She’s a box of gubbins not a surprise grand-daughter.’
‘Yes, a her. And Desmond, remember that when you are about to shout at her. You’ll be shouting at a woman.’
That utterly floored the old bugger as she knew it would. I can imagine her Cheshire Cat smile, her settling into her listening with a relaxed air. If there was one thing more entrenched than his loathing of railway unions it was his misplaced but deeply ingrained ideas of chivalry. For years Mum loved that little pink box of noise and if he did argue with ‘her’, mum would tie a ribbon round the top, often with a glittery bow.
Example two. When Gordon Brown was in charge of ruining the economy, like all chancellors (other than Ken Clarke, a much underrated exponent of pragmatism) since the war, he had this drive to help pensioners. One such was an increased heating allowance for the over 80s. The amount was pretty derisory given the cost of heating so mum took the extra, when it started in April with the Budget and set it aside in a piggy bank. When Christmas arrived she bought herself half a bottle of Moet and, on Christmas morning toasted ‘dear Mr Brown for understanding that warming the cockles of the heart is more important that the toes’.
And Mary and her family, as 2016 ends…
‘This is nice.’ Mary put down the tray of tea things and smiled at Sarah her cousin, nursing her baby. ‘Penny, can you put your phone away please?’
Penny scowled at her mother.
Sarah snorted. ‘Remember when your dad sent us upstairs because we wouldn’t making a din?’
‘We dismantled the beds and made a den.’
She looked at Penny. ‘I think your grandpa might have liked your phone. Keeps you quiet.’ She patted the seat next to her and Penny moved across. ‘But he mostly liked a good conversation on a cosy afternoon. So who’s your latest boyfriend?’
And here’s where you can catch up with Mary and her family