When I was about eight or nine my beloved aunt Alice was in her twenties. She had just got married and was setting up home, first in Richmond, then in Maidenhead, with her husband Dick and their little mongrel dog, Heidi. I wasn’t sure of Dick, and even less sure of Heidi – a cross between a dachshund and a Labrador apparently – legs of a dachshund, just so you know – but from time to time w were invited to their flat.
Alice was welcoming and loved to show off new things in her kitchen. She had discovered Tupperware parties. Yes, they did exist, and she was a true enthusiast. She had Tupperware in all shapes and sizes. All the latest models, all closing with their famous burp. I thought this was magical. My mother still wrapped everything in paper, or put things in cups and lidded them with a saucer in order to stop the flies getting in. We had only recently acquired our first fridge, so all this food storage was a fairly new concept – (our fridge had a freezer compartment that would fit one packet of fish fingers and an ice cube tray. Or two ice cube trays and nothing else!)
Anyway, Tupperware was the in thing. It came in pretty colours, was useful, but had one major defect. It was expensive. I reckon now that Alice ran these parties in order to make herself some money – she didn’t earn very much otherwise, and I don’t think Dick was over generous with the housekeeping! He after all had a lifestyle of fast cars and boats to finance. But that’s by the by.
What was important then was I really coveted some Tupperware of my own. Every Christmas my aunt would present my mother with an interesting storage box – and my mother would politely convey her thanks. She wasn’t really all that impressed – she would have preferred something less useful. But I, as a nerdy child, thought these boxes would be ideal to keep all my little collections in.
Finally the moment came. I had started boarding at school in September 1964. The food was dreadful but the one saving grace was that we had afternoon tea at four o’clock. A cup of tea and as much bread and margarine as we liked. A spoonful of jam. A pat of real butter. Trouble was I didn’t like margarine or salted butter. So my bread was dry. Some of the other girls didn’t like it either, so in the end we were allowed to bring two things to put on our bread. No fridge, so they had to be able to last. Marmite, sandwich spread, peanut butter jars all found their way into the refectory cupboard. But I still wasn’t happy. I wanted to bring my own butter.
And this is where my aunt gave me the best present ever. Six little Tupperware bowls – with lids. On Monday morning I could put in some real butter – enough to last me all week – and take home the receptacle at the weekend. It was perfect. I was allowed a third item, my friends were envious – or so I liked to believe – they probably didn’t care either way, and I could bring in a different colour pot on a six-week rotation.
When I think about it now it probably wasn’t a good idea to keep butter in it because of the reaction with plastic – but I did for seven years. And this little green bowl is the last in the line. Now we have plastic storage boxes aplenty – but nothing to evoke such a feeling of pleasure and nostalgia as the one in the picture! The real thing. And all mine!