Easter has changed its meaning over the years. When I was a child, it was a time of dismay, because it always coincided with Passover. This is a Jewish festival, so called because the Angel of Chocolate passes over the houses of Jewish children and gives them matzos instead. A matzo is a large square cracker; pleasant enough, but not really a substitute for delicious creamy chocolate. Makes a lousy sandwich too. Bite into it and it explodes into fragments, which is why at Passover, Jewish mothers all carry dust-busters in their handbags.
If only I’d been aware, back then, of Richard Dawkin’s proposition that bringing up a child within a religion is tantamount to abuse. Though he selfishly didn’t make this statement till 2006, far too late for me. To be fair, being brought up a liberal Jew wasn’t usually abusive so much as wishy-washy. Until I was given some criminally horrible ‘approved for Passover’ chocolate, at which point I would have been only too happy to ring Social Services and expose my parents as monsters.
Once I grew up and could abandon the faith of my forefathers, which I did gladly, Easter became a time of supersize gluttony. There were lost years to make up for. Soon after Man of the House and I got together, he briefly left me alone in the car with a large Easter egg which we were taking somewhere as a gift. By the time he’d paid for the petrol, I’d laid waste to it like a plague of locusts, and had no defence other than to mumble, thickly, ‘You were sold a pup, this box only has half an egg in it’.
When my kids were toddlers, Easter became a lovely four day break, spent gazing at their dear little faces as I scoffed the many presents they’d been sent, and occasionally chucked them a smartie.
Then Thing One started school, and Easter is now an immensely long holiday for which I am completely unprepared. Two weeks? Hang on, we’ve only just had half-term. Everyone else must have been secretly planning, as they’ve all gone away, in a mass Exodus (I still remember my Old Testament). In their stead, come a load of people from other places.
In Neros yesterday, I didn’t recognise anyone. You can normally guarantee to see Hoxton Mum at least; she’s always sitting in the window sipping a skinny soy something. The place was heaving, but it was filled with strangers, holiday-makers in wind-cheaters, all talking about how quaint and nice everything was.
I strolled around, looking at Lewes through their eyes. I guess the castle is quite cute. And there’s a Monsoon. And a brewery. Fair enough, it’s got everything you need for a mini-break.
Then I found myself at Catlins. He still had a couple of Montezumas eggs left. I sat in the Grange, frenziedly ripped off the cardboard and tinfoil, and spent a therapeutic afternoon shaking off the memories of my deprived childhood.
Beth Miller, 7th April 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith