Saturday 16 March 2024

Sunny Side Up


Sunny Side Up: I wrote this piece in response to an exercise I set participants during the creative writing session I facilitated as part of the 'Reengaging the Body Symposia/Workshop' organised by the

Symposia/Workshop: Reengaging the body – in May 2023


Conscious of keeping time and ensuring everyone is comfortable in what they are doing I don’t always join in the writing exercises (at least at the time). On this occasion I did.


Sunny Side Up 

I adore eggs, cooked every and all ways. They are absolutely on my desert island foodstuff list. The ultimate comfort food has got to be a scrambled egg buttie (or maybe ‘sandwich’ if you’re not from Liverpool); white bread, the eggs not too runny, nor too hard and bouncy, so they melt in to the butter making a messy but delicious and happy meal. I recall an afternoon 25 or more years ago when after what I had guessed would be a difficult work meeting my late husband John came into the hall to meet me as I returned home.

‘How did it go?’, he asked before I was even properly inside the house, my key still in the door.

Saying nothing I held up my hands; a loaf in one, six eggs in the other.

‘Ahh, as you expected then’, he said before taking the ingredients from me to carefully prepare some sympathy on a plate.


The day starts grey and wet but later the sun comes out and it feels like everyone’s mood, already good, lifts a little more.  In the writing workshop I’m leading as part of a weekend focusing on re-engaging the body I’m encouraging those I’m working with to think about what colour the day feels like to them. I ask participants to concentrate on the memories and emotions the colour evokes, what senses it stimulates and more. It’s an exercise I’ve done before in workshops led by others but this is the first time I’ve included it in an event I’ve facilitated. We start with a spider diagram of thoughts which leads onto a story, poem, piece of memoir, or anything else that people feel like writing. I’ve brought coloured pencils and felt-tip pens for the first part of the exercise and everyone seems to be enjoying using them.  

As we begin, and without much thought, I see, and feel, a warming yellow. Images of the sun and of sunflowers, of a pretty bedspread I bought for my mum for her 60th birthday, even a yellow submarine (there’s that Liverpool connection again) drift in and out of my mind. Next I’m remembering the discussion about eggs I had with a fellow participant, and newish friend, at breakfast. She’s over from the U.S., well into her three and a half week stay, and we are sharing our delight at the quality of the scrambled eggs, which are unusually good for a buffet breakfast; creamy and delicious and so beautifully yellow. My friend tells  me how impressed she has been with the food this trip, the eggs – scrambled, sunny-side-up and poached - being a particular unexpected treat.

In our afternoon workshop as I’m reflecting on the pleasure of the morning’s eggs I remember too how my dad, Ron, used to prepare boiled ones for eating; a practice I follow. Tap, tap, tapping the egg gently with his teaspoon, dad would  painstakingly remove each piece of shell from more than a third of the egg. He’d work from the top down, checking that all the outer covering was gone before digging his spoon into the egg-white, allowing the wonderful bright and beautiful yoke to drip and be mopped up by toasted bread. There are of course two types of people when it comes to boiled eggs. The tappers and diggers like my dad and me and the slice off the toppers of which my mum, Dorothy, was one. Her practice, like mine, following her father’s. My mum’s grew up in a poor household. My grandfather was a builder and when there was no work there was no pay. Sharing a bed with one of her sisters, in winter my mum, and my Auntie Blanche, slept under coats as well as one thin blanket and without the Salvation Army, my mum told me, often they would not have eaten at all. Every Sunday (money, or the Sally Army, permitting) my maternal grandfather would have a boiled egg for his breakfast and once a month (there being four girl children in total) it would be my mum’s turn to receive and eat the top slice.

Despite their egg differences my parents were very happy together. I’ve written before about our small (just the three of us) family life; often lean in terms of income and material goods, but always rich in love. One of my many happy memories is of how at Easter my dad would draw funny faces on all of our boiled eggs before we tapped and dipped or sliced in order to reveal the glorious golden protein within. My oldest friend, who knew both of my parents well, sometimes still boils and decorates me an egg or two on Easter Sunday. Family – by birth and/or by choice – and good food (particularly when it’s yellow); what a combination.

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