Billy’s spear of broccoli flew between the diners, narrowly missing a harassed waitress balancing three plates along her arm. To be honest, I was amazed he had even ordered any veg. He was the only one in the family who had; his sole sensible choice that afternoon. Less than an hour into our first meal after lockdown and my brothers were having a food fight in The Green Pea!  Something rotten had happened to our family over lockdown, something far more worrying than Granddad’s addiction to the ITV daytime schedule.

Picking through his pie of a prime piece of beef, Frank identified his missile and placed it on the end of his spoon.  He craned his arm over his shoulder, ready to catapult our brother with the gravy sodden lump.  “Stop!” interrupted his girlfriend, Jo, grabbing him by the wrist.  This was the first time we had met and this was the first time.  She had been a late addition to the family gathering, after Granddad had insisted on watching Dickinson’s Real Deal ‘live’.

It had started so well: Mum arriving with Gran at 1pm on the dot, ready to celebrate the end of all this as a family.  We met in the doorway of our favourite family restaurant – an explosion of love.  No hugs. Not yet but this was more than I had ever hoped for in the loneliest days of lockdown.


  • Perhaps my own anxieties about eating in a restaurant as invisible new variants swirled around us
  • Mum had always been early.