Travelling back in time did not require any elaborate machinery, no specially adapted De Lorean Car, no blue police telephone box, no Time Machine. Only a visit in 2013 to ‘Paddy’s’, the famous butcher in Much Wenlock, was needed. There on an autumn morning my wife bought me a tub of real beef dripping with thick brown jelly at the base. Spread on hot toast and salted at breakfast the next day I was transported back some sixty or more years to a maisonette in Worsley Bridge Road in the 1950s enjoying the unctuous by-product of the roast beef which we often had for Sunday lunch.
It may seem remarkable that roast beef was a normal Sunday lunch for our family and others like us, when we were, if not poor, certainly having to be very careful with money. I remember at that time often having to hide with my mother and brother and pretend there was nobody at home when the insurance man knocked hoping to collect the weekly payments which my mother did not always have. But of course the roast rib of beef provided a main meal on Sunday, and then what was left was eaten cold on Monday for the main early evening meal and the remnants were minced up to make shepherd’s pie for Tuesday. But costs and the availability of different meats was quite different. While beef was considered a staple food, chicken was considered a luxury and only eaten on ‘high-days and holidays’ – now it is mass produced and incredibly cheap while a rib of beef would be thought of as a great luxury by today’s working class families.
Anthony (Tony) J Sargeant