Sitting in Wetherspoons this afternoon watching my step-daughter toying with and finally discarding a huge pastry crust from her chicken pie, and her soldier son photographing (not eating) the truly massive plate of mixed grill he had chosen, I suddenly found my initial amusement turning, first to anger, then to distress.
Carefull to show neither reaction I was nevertheless at a loss as to where it had come from.
At a few hours' distance it is suddenly much clearer. This is undoubtedly a throw-back to the post 2nd World War attrition which was the back-drop to my childhood. We were, even by those days standards a poor family and the everywhere visible injunctions to waste nothing were totally unnecessary since there was absolutely nothing to waste.
My three brothers and I were never hungry, never lacked for companionship, never went unwashed to bed but there were no frills, no luxuries and no paid-for entertainment ever. My mother made my father's tiny wage stretch to unbelievable lengths and worked from morning to night to keep the house clean and as warm as possible while drying all laundry (hand-washed ) on bannisters chairs airers - no washing machine, tumble dryer, central heating or other luxuries.
We ate what we were given without question and usually without complaint and did our share of household chores with only occasional rebellions and if we were not outside playing with friends because of bad weather or because it was too dark we had our own made-up games, quizzes devised by one or other parent, or now and then a radio programme to occupy us. We all joined the local library as soon as we could read and I lived out my fantasies based on characters in whatever I was reading at the time.
When our local school was bombed we had to move to another, further away. Long walks to and from school and indeed everywhere else were just part of life and we never gave any other means of travel a seconds thought.
As I was the only girl, my clothes were usually new - though made by my mother and very basic - my brothers were not so lucky and garments were passed down the line, altered, repaired until beyond all further use when they went to the rag and bone man for a few pennies.
My father grew all our vegetables and we wasted nothing. What was not fit to eat went to the pig farmers via a waste-food collection scheme, and other bits went on the compost heap which in turn fed his roses (my father that is not the pig farmer).
All my life the habits ingrained in me in childhood have influenced the way I discard (or fail to discard) things which are no longer of use, and it is only in very recent times that it has become possible to deliberately give away something I no longer want , simply because it has lost its appeal.
Even now, I never throw food away, if it can't be eaten by the neighbours' cats, it goes out for the birds. My step-daughter and grandson grew up in a different world. Different, not better!