"My grandma," answered my daughter when asked, in her sixth-form scholarship interview, what role model she aspired to most. At the time I was taken aback. Why choose someone from our family? I thought she would have gone for Michelle Obama or Sheryl Sandberg or some more well-known powerful role model.
But why not? My mother is a force to be reckoned with, an impressive lady, who even at 89, effortlessly dishes up the best roast dinners for our ever-expanding family. It is she and my grandmother Lily, who inspired me to cook.
Although, as my mother points out, don't forget the amazing men in the family too! But it's International Women's Day so it's a perfect opportunity to reflect on how the women in our lives have moulded who we are today.
My grandmother Lily (Lilian Sait, pictured above on her honeymoon with my grandad Frank) had her own business, pretty exceptional for a women born in 1898 to a working class East End family. My mother (Brenda Percy, top right with the hat!) was a leader in the field of education. Now 89, she still polishes off the Times crossword every day and effortlessly dishes up the best roast dinners ever for the whole family.
These ladies were the ones who inspired me to cook – left me to my own devices aged 8 to cook a family meal because I wanted full control of the kitchen.
Maryland chicken and sweetcorn fritters, I remember it well!
According to mum it took nerves of steel to leave an 8 year-old alone in the kitchen. In hindsight, probably not to be recommended. But hey ho, I'm still here, and the family enjoyed the food!
I feel very privileged to have grown up with these incredible role models and I realise that very many children these days do not have this. Either because their parents don't have the cooking skills or because they just don't have the time (or, I would argue, find the time).
I think we owe it to our children to do our damnedest to be the best version of ourselves, whatever our circumstances or struggles may be. I've certainly tried to be for my own daughter (and my sons!) - although they might argue otherwise 🤣.
I am also soon to become a grandmother. I know, far too young! Will he or she see me as a good role model? I will do my best…