Today I am calmer.
Although I am about to go forth and shop with my mum in town, which might alter that. Not because it is with her. We will gossip and laugh and eat and generally have a fine old time, as ever. But because it is edging nearer and nearer to Christmas and people get mental at Christmas, which can make shopping something of a trial.
I am lucky in that I only have a couple of things to do, and if I don’t get them done, it isn’t the end of the world. My plans are to avoid any huge hot beds of consumer frenzy as much as possible. I am very grateful my children are not into Frozen, and I can simply write the Disney Store off as somewhere other mortals are suffering but where I am exempt.
It has to be said that we are mainly going to meet my aunt and have lunch in a restaurant that we have been frequenting as a family for over fifty years. In fact some of my earliest memories of eating out are of sitting in The Good Earth with the people I love. The decor hasn’t changed, even the crockery is the same. And for me, the people haven’t changed either.
Luckily, over the years the food has changed. But only to me.
As with everything else about this place, the same things feature on the menu year after year with only the odd tweaks or nods to modernity. It is a vegetarian restaurant, and as a child I was horrified by this fact and would mostly eat bread, cucumber and potatoes and try to hang on desperately until pudding arrived. These days I am delighted by the food and look forward to eating there with great gusto.
It is wonderful to me that it endures when so much else changes. I am fairly pro change for the most part, particularly in Leicester, which used to be rather barren in many respects in terms of shops, restaurants and theatres, and if you didn’t like British Home Stores and Woolco’s cafe you’d had it.
There are, however, always things that should endure. Things that were pretty perfect to begin with and would only be spoiled by modernising them. Food wise things were fairly parlous in the Seventies and Eighties, but there were two places I held in high esteem. One was the greasy spoon at the top of the market. I think it was called Rossi’s. It was around for years and years, but they have recently remodelled the whole of the indoor part of the market and I have not dared to venture there, knowing that it will almost certainly have been flattened and made way for something tasteful and corporate.
I am a great believer in a greasy spoon. There is always Cafe Rialto, which is clinging on, serving huge slithering plates of egg and chips to the masses who still think you can’t get much better than double egg and chips with white bread and butter and a mug of tea (myself included on some days), but I do miss the market cafe.
The other is The Good Earth.
I hope it continues to endure. It is part of our family life. I have been taking my own children there, year after year, watching them wrinkle their noses in the same way I did as a child, and then waiting patiently for that transformation into appreciation. And it will come, as long as they can continue.
I dream that one day I will take my grand children there too. It will be a tiny miracle, registering on nobody’s scale of the wondrous but my own, but it’s a fine thing to hope for.