Blackberries. They remind me of him more than anything. His birthday was in the autumn, and he always said that in preference to a cake he’d prefer a crumble. If we were visiting the country we could go picking ourselves, stuffing carrier bags into our pockets and tramping down the worn paths to collect our free food. He taught me how to look for the little worms and grubs that burrow their way into the fruit, taught me how to love the feeling of stickiness on my fingers that intensified through the afternoon, eating half as many as we bagged. At home we could cook them with a little apple if they were too tart, or just fling handfuls of sugar onto the top of them. He had big hands. It was his job to make the crumble topping too, getting the flour and butter and sugar to meld between his fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl before lifting it up again. Sometimes he could be persuaded to add oats, but that was rare. Last autumn he refused.

“I want a pure crumble. Nothing added. Just blackberries, sugar, crumble. Like I had when I was a kid.”

We weren’t in the country that year, so it was a trip to the supermarket, loading up the basket with punnets, tutting about the cost. In the kitchen at home, I watched him make his own celebratory pudding.

(A wee break with the family last week, & a wee bit slow to start today.)

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