by PAULA DAVIES
ONE of my greatest ambitions in life is to be a grandmother. Motherhood has never appealed to me. but grandmotherhood—that is a very different story.
Since it is physically impossible to be a grandmother without going through the mother stage I am managing to survive like a soldier in wartime—convinced that I won't he killed and buoyed up by the thought of peace in the end. The distant delights of grandmotherhood exert a strong, almost magical influence over me. But I have to ration myself to only an occasional glimpse of such delights for fear that I might think myself a grandmother already.
If Molly Bloom's stream of consciousness is earthily sexual mine is ethereally grandmaternal. I shall be happy to have my grandchildren to stay because I know I shall soon be able to kiss them goodbye. I can give them as many sweets and chocolates as I like without a twinge of conscience for I don't have to take them to the dentist.
I shall spoil them as much as I want because I don't have to live with them for long. I shall have all the pleasure of children with none of the parent's pain. Responsibility,
except of a minor sort, has gone completely.
What of the children's attitude to me? They will talk to me in a way they never talk to their parents. They will have secrets to share that are never shared with parents. They will love me without also hating me—feeling reserved for their mother. They will be sweet and well behaved with me because I am not their mother.
I have always liked other people's children. Now I shall be able to love as well as like for my grandchildren are other people's children, not my own.
What a pleasant dream it was until someone awakened me to the sombre reality of being a grandmother today. "Do come and stay with us. We'd love to have you," is the usual form from son of daughter. It sounds delightful but most grandmothers, I fear, wait for the inevitable pill hidden not very carefully in the sweet.
"Perhaps you wouldn't mind . . . looking after Johnny/ making one of your marvellous cakes/doing the teeniest bit of mending/just sewing on the odd button." Perhaps you wouldn't mind is one of those dreaded phrases that means "we know you do mind but will you do it anyway?"
The teeniest bit of anything means a deluge and the odd button means a veritable arsenal of them. It is no wonder that many of today's grannies are busy taking up
flower arrangement, or amateur dramatics to get away from the real-life dramatics of having grandchildren.
The sensible ones—grannies I mean, expect to be used a certain amount and enjoy being needed like everyone else. But they don't want to be needed too much. Moderation in all things is as applicable to using grandmothers as everything else. And you get more out of them that way. There's the rub as far as grandmother is concerned. Perhaps it isn't so much of a sinecure after all.
CARICATURE is what vegetarians have always suffered from. Nut cases making nut rissoles just about sums it up. Vegetarian cooking is invariably depicted—by those who know nothing about it of course—as being a concoction of attempts at making vegetables look like meat.
New Food for All Palates*, although subtitled A Vegetarian Cook Book, is very much more than this. Containing a splendid collection of vegetable recipes from all over the world, it shows even an inveterate meat eater like I am how to cook vegetables in new and fascinating ways.
Leeks, so often ruined when boiled in the traditional English fashion, are given a new lease of tasty life in a leek paella. The salad recipes, with pimentoes, olives, watercress, all manner of herbs and other delicious things bear no resemblance to the typical, tired English salad. I have never before actually wanted to use a vegetarian cook book. This one I'm already using with pleasure.
• New Food for All Palates. By Sally and Lucian Berg. Published by Victor Gollancz, 25s,