Mothering Sunday

25 Mar

Mothering Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent. It dates back to the 16th century and  is a religious festival honouring mothers. Mother’s Day is an American invention which honors (sic) mothers and dates from the early twentieth century. Wikipedia British and American contributors are locked in combat over the merits of provenance but there is no doubt that the Yanks have patented the name of the day. Only those floral, funereal cards that one sends to Mummies in their 90s carry the the Mothering Sunday moniker. As with Halloween and trick or treating we have prostrated ourselves on the altar of Americanism and the retail trades love it.

Time was when youngsters made their own Guy and touted him around in an old pram to con cash from the blue rinse brigade in your locality. Now they beat your door down to demand financial or other material benefit or they’ll piss through your letter-box. And Mummies and Daddies spend extraordinary sums to kit their kids out with diabolic costumes and make-up. The pumpkin trade has run riot and vast amounts of pumpkin soup is wasted. And who has heard of Guy Fawkes these days? The odd primary school teacher.

Back to Mothering Sunday. In the sterile fifties and the slightly more affluent sixties this day was one where the family Sorro children would all sign a card which was handmade by the youngest (who was always at primary school and had a maiden-aunt-style teacher) and delivered while Ma was peeling the potatoes for Sunday lunch. I might have offered a little sous-chef support on the day, occasionally but Mother would usually prefer to do the lot herself, knowing the potential for disaster if she didn’t.

My lovely Mummy would be grateful for the small mercy of a card – possibly some Black Magic Chocolates too, if elder brother had saved enough pocket money and had an uncharacteristic surge of generosity. Father would come out with high-sounding nothings about the importance of the matriarch but we never got anywhere near to going out for lunch; heaven forbid! Neither were the local hostelries remotely geared for an upsurge of Sunday trade. Pubs were places for men to have several beers before the wife put the grub on the table. Sleep followed soon after the belly had been filled. No one had heard of Gastro pubs, catering outlets hadn’t dreamt that they could double or treble the price of their food and watch the suckers flock to table on this oh, so special day.

Well, that was then and this is now. Today, Tuesday, I tried to book a table at three of my favoured posh pub venues and one restaurant. Without labouring the narrative, I failed. One example:

Ah Paul Sorro here, can I book a table for Mothering Sunday?

Do you mean this Sunday?


Have you booked with us before?


Hold a second, please. Two minutes pass.

Yes you’re on our system. Can I check your postcode?

I complied.

First we’ve got is 8 o’clock.

Is that morning or evening?

Evening sir, sorry we’re all booked for lunchtimes. Eight too late?

My mother is 86, she goes to bed at eight.

Sorry we can’t help. We do get booked very early for Mother’s Day.


And so it went on with each pub and restaurant. I wanted to tell them all that my mother had been happy with a hand-made card, a phone call, a hand with the washing up and a bite into a hazelnut Black Magic.

When I ventured out every retail outlet screamed Mother’s Day. The florist, the petrol station, the supermarket, the pubs and restaurants all were heralding the Sunday that is shortly upon us. The card business has hit the stratosphere.

As a father I have reflected on the paltry attention paid to we worthy males whose seed should have spawned a generation of thankful progeny. The Yanks haven’t quite grabbed Father’s Day by the balls yet…but they will and I will look forward to the transformation from the absolute denial in the 1950s that fathers deserved anything beyond polite but brief communication at set times of day – to the imminent gigantism that a day devoted to Daddies could become if an entrepreneurial Yank gets hold of it.

And it mightn’t end there. I have just reached grandparent status. A Grandma and a Grandpa Day could well be in the offing.I ‘m an uncle and a godfather too. The list of celebrations that could capture the nation and swell the bank balances of parasitic businesses is endless. I’d like a piece of that action.

For now, however, I must focus on my Mummy. Given that she eats like a sparrow (as most elderly ladies tend) the three course, fill-yer-boots with a glass of prosecco at the local Vintage Inn for £30 would be like force-feeding a French duck. She’ll settle for a gin and tonic and a nice home-cooked roast. Well I watched her do it so often, I reckon that I can manage to do a fair job. Won’t be as good as Mummy’s, though.

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