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A Shout From The Attic: A Parcel Of Crumbs

A parcel of crumbs brought delight to Ronnie Bray when he was serving with the British Army in Egypt.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's story of his crowded life please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

I went into the Army when I was seventeen and a half, entering a world much different from home, and although my home was not the best place I had ever been, there were times when I missed it, perhaps more so when I went to the Middle East.

Egypt was even more exotic that the ancient City of York, and that was the most exotic place I had visited right up until I trod the desert sands in the footsteps of Rameses, Ahkenaton, Joseph, Kilopatera, Mark Antony, and Napoleon. True it is that my arrival in Egypt did not stir the pages of history with deeds of universal import, but I quickly adapted to the climate, settled down to work, and enjoyed occasional mail from home with news of my family.

From time to time, most of my comrades got food parcels. These were not essential to life, because army food was enjoyable and plentiful, especially after mother’s indifferent culinary skills. It was always an entertainment when one of the lads opened his food parcel. Most of them contained a high proportion of baked goods, wrapped and guarded from the many blows and shocks of long distance military mail.

My first parcel came when I was attached to the Support Company of the second battalion of the North Yorkshire regiment, the Green Howards in Egypt’s Suez Garrison, a few miles outside the city. It was about the size of a shoebox, always the receptacle of choice for mother, and it contained the remnants of a dozen currant buns mingled with the fragments of jam tarts. The note inside the box said she hoped I was well and that I would enjoy the buns, and that she had to rush to catch the post. Although I have always liked my buns in larger lumps, I enjoyed the crumbs, and so did my colleagues. I had another box of crumbs before I left Egypt and a further four during my time in Cyprus.

To many people, boxes of crumbs might not be their idea of a treasure. However, people give what they can, and when they give their best, however it turns out, it is as valuable as a Rembrandt, a Fabergé egg, or a marble statue by Leonardo da Vinci. Although, if these works of art were reduced to crumbs, they would pale in comparison to mother’s parcels of edible fruity fragments. After all is said and done, when we get to weighing the value of gifts, given or received, it is the thought that counts.


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