A children's tale that's fun for all ages, but one with a difference.
JELLY BABY SATURDAY
By David Stevens
Saturday morning started like every Saturday morning for me and my siblings, we awoke and instantly started making a noise which eventually woke our sleeping parents. It fell to me to get shouted at by Mum for the excess noise, I being the oldest of her children and therefore deemed unfairly I think, to be in charge or at least responsible. With both parents now up and the house filled with screaming kids the day has began.
This Saturday was not going to be like most though, Mum has made a decision, and dad as usual will go along with her. Today is to be another Jelly Baby making day, and Mum already has the mould out and on the kitchen table, with the huge pot into which she would pour the ingredients for this her treat. She banished all but me from the kitchen, as I said before she thinks I am responsible, sending my younger siblings out to play in the garden, away from the kitchen so that she can concentrate.
The ingredients as always are kept in the cellar where it is nice and cold, and there is no sunshine to affect them. Dad, as per the normal routine of making Jelly Babies is dispatched from the kitchen to fetch the mix, whilst Mum placed a large pan of water onto the stove to boil. The process of making our latest jelly baby is well underway.
I am assigned the important job of watching the pot of water boil, and then adding just enough cold water to the bubbling water to bring the temperature down to just perfect. Dad having returned from the cellar came over and removed the ready water pot and carried it over to Mum, who taking a ladle she very carefully and evenly added the water to the mix she had been gently sifting with her fingers. The mix does not only form the basis for the new Jelly Baby, it also contains the colourant. Mum for her own reasons, she always chooses the colour, has decided on a deep rich lime green this time. The point of no return has finally arrived, the colour is chosen and the liquids have begun to blend, so now the magic begins.
The water and the sifted paste had flowed together and started being mixed in the huge bowl. Mum was now using a large wooden spoon, why it had to be wooden I did not know, but mum says that it must be to get the blending just right, so I am not going to argue with her. She was gently, lovingly, folding in and seeing that she soaked every particle of the remaining dry mix, and then as she added still more ladles full of water and the level in the bowl increased to nearly full reaching a line etched into the rim of the bowl. She put down the ladle and dipped her wooden spoon into the mix again and re-commenced to stir starting slowly gently lovingly swirling the mix. Gradually her pace increased, until she was finally whirling the warm mix around the bowl with both hands firmly gripping the spoons handle.
Dad's help was now needed again by Mum, as she must hold the mould's sides gently but tightly and keep it level whilst dad poured the blend into the mould. It had already been placed on a pillow on the table, so that it was easier for Mum to hold it perfectly level. The other reason for the pillow she said often as I watched previously was so that the thin outer case of the mould, which has always been very flimsy but was thinner still because it is was now very old, cannot get dented, or it would deform the new Jelly Baby.
Dad lifted the mix, which had now taken up the colour perfectly so that it was a lovely uniform lime green fluid. He very slowly ensures that he coats the inside of the mould thoroughly first, before he pours the remaining liquid in, filling the mould to its brim. As always the mix fills out the jelly baby shape perfectly, infact to the best of my knowledge this process has only ever failed once, but it has been totally successful each of the other seven previous times, and we do not ever talk about the one that failed!
The mould once filled was wrapped in a white muslin cloth, as Mum does not allow anyone, including her to watch the final creation. The whole thing is then taken very gingerly down to the cellar and put into a framework of metal especially designed to hold this one mould. From there on time is all that was needed, it must be left for six hours exactly. During which time Mum will, I know, be continually looking at her watch.
Dad for his part will pat her reassuringly on her back trying to ease her tension. I of course being of a certain age, do not wish to show my real feelings, so I create a pretend image of being relaxed, well more like, who gives a damn. The time ticks slowly past, as below us in the cellar the newest Jelly Baby slowly sets into its mould.
I go out to the garden to supervise my siblings; who are playing nicely for them, which is unusual, but then even they know that today is a Jelly Baby Saturday. Now let me see. Peter is under John, very well pinned down I thought. Carol is standing behind the tree watching Mary, who is throwing water over the scrapping boys from a small plastic teapot. Harry is with Mark trying to tie all of the scrappers into a knot with the washing line. And I, Samantha, the oldest at fourteen, am watching them all enjoy the sunshine and play.
Later, once the process has finished, we will all be called to come into the kitchen to watch the unveiling of the mould, and to enjoy the treat that it should provide, but first the time has to pass
It might seem strange to you but it is just another day for our family, just another Saturday, despite it being a Jelly Baby Saturday. There are, as normal, all seven of us children outside in the garden, the only different thing about this day, and it is not that different really to us, is that Mum is inside with Dad, waiting for the arrival of a new Jelly Baby. Thus making us eight not seven, plus two loving parents of course, living in this house.
So as I said, all in all just another normal Saturday. With us all outside, and Mr. and Mrs Jelly inside, the only odd thing for a Saturday is that soon we will have a new baby to welcome to the family, once of course it has properly set.
I thought that this collection desperately needed a sweet little story, so after some long seconds thought, Jelly Baby Saturday appeared fully written in my mind. As I have said before and I honestly believe, stories know when and how they want to surface, and will always find a way out, this story pleased me enough to write it and include it in this growing collection of tales, and I hope it will give a simple pleasure to anyone who reads it.
I accept that you cannot please everyone all the time, but I can at least hope to please some of you, some of the time; and only the heartless could not like Jelly Baby Saturday.