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The Mystery of the Missing Mackintosh’s

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Just for a bit of fun – can I ask you something?

What do you do when you lose an item and can’t find it…?

You know, that special something that you put away carefully and you put it away so carefully that you can’t remember where you hid it?

It’s almost like its hiding place is so secret that you subconsciously block it out of your memory.

As I sit here right now, feeling a tad foolish, I’m reminded of a story from my childhood…

I was from a family of nine children, my older brother Stephen sadly passed away long before I came along, and so there we were a family of eight kids and Mum and Dad made 10. 

What’s that got to do with losing things you may ask…bear with…

You can imagine the planning and mission impossible task my dear Mum had when it came time for birthdays and surprises and treats. Where was a clever Mum supposed to hide those treats and surprises with ever present, noticing everything kiddies?

She was very inventive I must say and sometimes too clever for her own good – hmmm, definitely inherited. Sometimes, those hidden treats and surprises got sucked into a void, somewhere in the house (inter-dimensional travel maybe) and were never seen again.

The best place I ever saw Mum use was hiding something in the bowl of the twin tub washing machine, a birthday cake would you believe?!

So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty good at finding my own places to squirrel away treats for another day. In fact, I’m too good.

And thus begins the tale of the missing MackIntosh’s Toffees…

Music please…

It all began on a day, long, long ago – well actually just before Christmas, but let’s not spoil the moment – in a land far away…

OK – now, she’s getting silly. Mind you, I am living in a land far away from where I grew up as a kid and learnt at my Mother’s knee how to hide things so carefully that the odds of ever discovering them again were well stacked against me.

Right…definitely onto the tale now…

‘Twas the days before Christmas and the dogs began to bark madly…

“It’s here…at last…”  I thought.

The wonderful gift that Nicky had bought me for Christmas was just a few short minutes away!

As I rushed outside, narrowly avoiding Katie our border collie who lives to herd (I am NOT a sheep) and bounded towards the gate, the postie sat looking at this 62 year old kid, slowing down as my gallop became a canter and I puffingly arrived at the front gate.  As the postie began rummaging over her shoulder to find the treasured and prized cardboard box, we struck up the typical conversation.

“It’s gonna be a hot one today” she said (she must wake up at night sweating over what topics of conversation will be the order of the day tomorrow…news, politics, definitely not religion) 

And of course I dutifully play along “I think you’re right there…35 degrees already on our patio…”

“Sign here…” she smiled at me.

As I reached for the little spike of a pen and scratched my signature onto the hand-held device (actually I couldn’t see much as the sun was making the glass look like a mirror – was that actually me I thought as I spied the anxious reflection on my face?)

“Have a good one” she shouted as she handed me my gift, well she didn’t know it was a gift, only Nicky and I knew that and I’d been given the green light to dig in!

Armed with the box of precious giftings I gave a final good-bye wave as the postie disappeared around the corner.

Little Tess in me was delighted and, I’m not sure but I think I may have almost skipped up the driveway back to the house.

I love being a kid again, I don’t give a toss how many wrinkles and white hair adorn this aging, but so thankful to still be here, exterior – I just love the feeling of passing over the grown up stuff sometimes and just living for the moment, for the hour, for the day.

Katie of course, by this time was highly excited at the fact that she, along with Chester her brother, had once again defended our little kingdom and after a quick lick on my leg, or it may have been a wet nose, gleefully galloped off to keep an eye on Red our horse.

Now, Red’s a horse with real attitude – feed me…servant! So, deep down I don’t mind that the dogs rile him up at times. Mind you, he doesn’t take much notice and with a flick of his tail, an indignant snort, he moves on his way, passing the dog’s backyard. 

It’s funny isn’t it how something can bring back wonderful memories…a taste, a smell, even a darjevue moment, where you find yourself transported back in time, in a split second. As I stood looking at the dogs chasing the horse up the fence line, my thoughts drifted back to that wonderful day.

“Tess…you wait till you see the lolly scramble at the Christmas party this afternoon…” Dad shouted at me as I was practising knuckle bones in my room. They were real knuckle bones too, no plastic in sight.

It was getting exciting as my Dad’s workplace was holding their annual Christmas party and this was the year I was going to win the running race for my age group. Last year I’d disgraced my Dad by stopping in the middle of a running race to…wait for it…look at a tractor in the distance!

I don’t know if you ever watch The Middle but the look on the parents’ faces at times reminds me of the incredulous look on my Father’s face. He went from jubilation and joy that his little girl was winning the race to one of disbelief, horror, then shouted at the top of his lungs. It was the shout that woke me up and I picked my little legs up and ran for dear life to arrive in third place. Not a bad effort and, in my defence, I had never before seen a tractor that close. It absolutely fascinated me and, at that moment in time, was far more important than some silly race.

Dad had always been big on sport and my older brother of 18 months was a champion footballer, so really he was being a bit greedy to think that I would follow in his footsteps.

Arriving at the Christmas party I was delighted to see Santa Claus and, along with my family went up and was presented with the company kiddies gift.

When I look back at those amazing Christmas parties, I’m filled with joy as they were wonderful. From the moment you walked into the big worker’s cafetaria, it was like walking into an Aladdins cave. The thing I remember most was the variety of colours of bottled fizzy drinks, balloons, crepe paper decorations and tinsel hanging from the walls, party hats and tables full of goodies. There was such an array of delicious, tasty treats that, for a little while, you could forget about the main event, the lolly scramble.

Food from 50 years ago contained enough nutrition and goodness to not cause much damage when a few sugary treats were thrown in. 

But, the best part of the Christmas party for the kids was the lolly scramble and this year I was determined to do my best and get my fair share.

“Everyone ready?” shouted Father Christmas, gathering us round in a circle out on the lawn in front of the factory.

“Make room for the little ones…” he reminded the taller kids who reluctantly made their way to the back of the crowd.

“Here we go then.” 

Have you ever been in a storm with heavy hail? Well, those delicious rather hard Mackintosh’s toffees rained down on us kids and with squeals of delight and wonder we all went head first into the midst of arms, legs, bodies, tumbling and falling and clambering to find the prize – some free lollies!

I mean, this event almost rivalled our huge lolly jar that we saved up over Easter. It was a big deal and as we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves down, we were counting what treasures we had managed to harvest.

Sitting in the back seat of the car, on our way home, I counted my meager crop and determined that I would save mine for another day. A gal can only handle so much pushing and shoving and sharp elbows after all.

Then it happened – somehow a bag of Mackintosh’s toffees, apparently surplus for the lolly scramble, had made its way into our car. Hmmm, that Father Christmas did look a bit familiar – I wonder…

Us kids looked at each other and silently tried to phathom what was going on. No-one had any idea how it got there but there it was. The biggest, most beautiful, impressive bag of Mackintosh’s toffees I had ever seen – up close and personal!

Now, us kids weren’t the best behaved in the neighbourhood and we frequently took to the neighbours’ fruit trees when they were away on holidays, helping ourselves to the abundance of fruit. In our defence, most of the fruit went to waste anyway, except for our lovely elderly next door neighbour who remarked years later, when I was an adult and visited for a cup of tea, that she had never seen so many plums on her tree!

Guilt…quick, change the subject…weather…that’ll do…

“Yes I would like a top up, thank you…hasn’t this weather been lovely…?”

See it’s not just reserved for posties!

I can see my brother now, standing in front of us, looking very teacher-like, as we eyed that bank vault of toffees

“You can pick 10 at a time but they all have to be different flavours, you can’t just go and take all the good ones.”

My older brother was in charge of sharing them out and soon we each had a stash of waxy paper wrapped delights to enjoy at our leisure. Although, I would have to find a really good hiding place this time round as my brothers had found all the chocolate eggs I’d saved and the lollies I got from my best friend’s birthday party.

Gosh I can remember the thrill of opening that toffee – first pull the ends to unwind them, then unravel them, making sure you get the waxy white paper piece off inside, and then pop them in your mouth to get that first sweet, creamy, taste and experience the silky texture of real caramel toffee. Then as they warm up, chew down and know that these toffees would never disappoint by being soft. Probably caused more cavities than enough, along with no tooth brushing habit in those days, but it was worth it.

And for the record, my brothers never did find my hiding place – come to think of it, where was it again?

So, as we fast forward to 2018, and I’m sitting here wondering where I’ve hidden my treasured sweeties.

My Mackintosh’s journey was reawakened a number of years back now, when Nicky discovered they were available in Australia and she bought me a large bag and a special Mackintosh’s tin as their little house.

I was delighted and really treasure that gift (pictured).

Today I ate the last of my first bag of Mackintosh’s toffees , thinking to myself that if I create a void, then I will automatically remember where I stashed the other two bags.

Not so.

You see, about a week ago, as supplies were running low, I began to casually look for the other two bags of toffees. I don’t have them everyday, just one now and again.

Well, maybe two or three but it is now and again.

But…do you think I can find where I’ve stashed those other two bags?

You know when you get that feeling that you know where something is and you open the drawer or cupboard and there it is.

Well, I’ve had that feeling for over a week now.

That feeling of ‘knowing’ where it is, has failed me and I find myself in a state of flux, and realising that I’m very much my Mother’s daughter. I’m sure you can relate to the meal that made it to the table missing a vege or two, only to discover it later when it’s time to clean up and do the dishes. Mum’s favourite was roast pumpkin and often we would be nearing the end of the meal and Mum would jump up and tell us all to stop eating while she went and rescued the toastie warm roasted pumpkin hiding under the cover of the roasting dish.

I’ve decided to do something silly and document my journey as I look for the lost stash and share the outcome with you. 

Since I started writing this, I’m realising that everything happens for a reason, maybe the elusive toffees are lost so you can have a laugh and perhaps remember the good bits of your childhood.

In menopause we can get weighed down with the struggles of life and revisiting some happy and joyful memories can really give us a boost. It reminds us that we are multi-faceted and need to let that little kid inside us have some fun now and again. If that means munching on a caramel or two – then so be it.

Maybe it even means enjoying an icecream or listening to some favourite music, or singing a silly song or doing some drawing or colouring in or watching one or two kids’ movies. 

Now…we don’t have a twin tub washing machine, so Mackintosh’s will not be found there.

I really don’t want to turn this house upside down, but I will if I have to!

Obviously, my prosperity lies in toffee, it’s better than money in the bank and makes little Tess happy. A small price to pay.

Now…perhaps if I re-check the linen cupboard…

Will keep you posted – pardon the pun.