Rose Tinted Spectacles

We are eking out our Christmas chocolates (not because we are saintly in our approach to all things confectionary  but because Treats – butter, cheese, nice fat roasting chickens, good chocolates – are hard to come by in the Outpost); we’ve got to the Quality Street: saving the best till last.

Quality Streets elicit teeth achingly sweet memories of childhood: my favourite then was the flat golden wrapped toffee. My choice has matured to the big purple one with the nut in the middle.

After supper Hat makes her selection with infinite care.

”Can I have three?”

”No, you can have two”.

This just slows up her deliberations because I’ve limited her choice.

”Have this one”, I proffer …. ”and this one”. (They are the Chocolate Orange Creme and the Strawberry Delight: which husband and I hate and she loves; imperative to have a lover of the orange and strawberry chocolates in any family or you’ll have to share the Caramel Swirls and Vanilla Fudge).

I digress.

Hat unwraps her chocolates and as I watch her smooth the colourful cellophane of each one to flatness on the dining table I am struck by another memory.

”I used to do that”, I tell her as I watch, ”when I was little.  And then I used to make spectacles using the coloured paper as lenses”.

Hat smiles, ”did you mummy?”

”Yes, I did, look”. And I pick the red wrapper up and put it to an eye. My world has gone pink.

”Rose tinted spectacles”, I say.

Hat, who is experimenting with a blue and a yellow asks, ”what does that mean?”

People who look on the bright side of life are sometimes said to be wearing rose tinted spectacles.

”I’m going to make some glasses like that, Mum, I’m going to make some with …. ” and she thinks …. ”green on one side and orange on the other.”

I laugh again.

”And then, when we go to Arusha I’m going to go to Shoprite (the largest supermarket in town) wearing my glasses and I’m going to wave at all my friends” (and she gets up from the table and minces around it waving at unseen crowds like a red carpet treading celeb might).

”People will think you’ve gone potty living in the bush” I tell her, “wearing your home-made glasses with different coloured lenses!”.

“So what?” she retorts, ”I shall them I’m looking on the bright side”.

So what indeed. Perhaps I’ll make some for myself.


17 Responses to “Rose Tinted Spectacles”

  1. Mzungu Chick Says:

    Mem – that is brilliant. Please tell Hat to keep me all pink wrappers as I so want some rose coloured glasses to look through. Mine are getting blacker and blacker. Mind you, its probably because our christmas chocolates this year were just After eights! – but I’ve still got half the box and a full monster size tube of smarties that my son hasn’t even started yet – in case Hat wants to swop!

  2. DJ Kirkby Says:

    Hello, I’ve only read this one post so far but you write beautifully.

  3. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Mzungu Chick: oh no, the pink ones are for me – you read a recent post: I need all the help I can get to look on the bright side. We’ll save you the orange ones though? Then you can dress up like yoko ono? Which will brighten everybody’s day.

    DJ – thank you very much. For reading. and being so kind about my blah.

  4. ann Says:

    Bloody hell. How do you get TV, internet, telephone? Are you linked up to satelite? How does that work? What a strange world where you have to travel so far for milk and bananas and yet you can use all this technology. My brain hurts at the thought of it! Travelling for milk and bananas, that is!

  5. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    no no no Ann, the milk and bananas I can get in the local duka. The cornflakes I have to travel hundreds of miles for. The technology? I know – amazing isn’t it; tanzania has roared ahead regards telecoms. The tv is sat, the internet and phone, courtesy of Tanzania Telecommunications Co Ltd. The roads are still crap, mind. Thanks for reading.

  6. foxhollowjewelry Says:

    When I was a kid, it was Heath Bars that were our treat…my dad would go to get a keg of beer (1970’s, mind you) in the next county (ours was dry;hence the keg) and he would bring my brother and me a Heath Bar and we were in rapture.
    Toffee and chocolate together, to me, is better then peanut butter and chocolate any day.
    Great post…I can see her looking through the wrappers…LOL!

  7. Carrie Says:

    That is adorable. Thanks for sharing!

    And you’re right, every family needs someone who likes the orange cream and strawberry delights. In ours, that’s me!

  8. Jeremy Jacobs Says:

    Nice blog.

    Where do you live in Tanzania?

  9. Iota Says:

    As a child, my mother taught us to make rose-tinted (or green or blue) spectacles out of the transparent wrappers, and teeny tiny goblets out of the foil ones. They have both proved to be very significant life skills, for which I am grateful to her. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I deliberately serve Quality Street to people at dinner so that I can impress them with my tiny goblets (which stand up, and indeed hold liquid without oozing, no less), but, hm, yes, actually I wlll confess that I have done so on occasion.

    I hope you are feeling cheerier for the passing of a day or two.

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    foxhollow: definiately agree with you on the toffe/chocolate thing.

    Carrie – you don’t, do you really? Bet that’s because you were encouraged to eat them when you were little?

    Jeremy: tabora. of which it is said ”not quite the end of the earth, but you can see the end of the earth from here”. it’s true: you can.

    Iota: marvellous. now i know what to do when i don’t want to share precious bottle of pinotage with guests, offer chocs first and make them all twist tiny goblets to use whilst i fill own pint size wine glass. mind you, that presents the dilemma of having to share precious chocolates. then again, no visitors, so hypothetical quandry: thank heavens!

  11. Potty Mummy Says:

    Those goblets Iota mentioned were a feature in our house every Christmas. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any soft centre lovers in it, so there were always fights over the last caramel and hazlenut chocs… Love the image of Hat sitting in coloured splendour in Arusha. Didn’t John Lennon do something similar?

  12. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Lennon or Yoko Ono? Which ever one it was, Hat is bound to make an impression. The kind of impression that will prove to everybody that the poor child has gone stark staring bonkers not unlike her mother, who will be wearing the strawberry wrappers and pushing the shopping trolley beside her.

  13. Mimi Says:

    Gosh, we had the same goblets, I had completely forgotten about them, quality Street it is for next Christmas, and goblet-making for entertainment! Love your blog, memsahib, mimi

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thanks Mimi: yup very important to keep those goblet fashioning, spectacle making Christmas traditions alive …

  15. Jeremy Jacobs Says:


    Sounds like something you had for your school dinner!

  16. Bottling Memories « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] ‘I think I’ll wear my new glasses’, said Hat as she donned a fragile contraption fashioned of chocolate wrappers and tin foil. […]

  17. Back Again … | Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] myself in for, my children are bigger, there is no Hat to teach – and, granted, keep me glorious, joyous company – but nor is there a small person present that I am compelled to worry about endlessly, is […]

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