When I was growing up, every non essential work place was closed on Good Friday. Back then coffee, booze and take away food were not considered paramount to survival. The four days of the Christian celebration of Easter offered less options than ‘lockdown’, a concept that we are now familiar with and accepting of, although globally and locally we are now demonstrating less compliance and greater frustration with the strategy.
Of course even then, medical and ancillary staff at hospitals and nursing homes were still doing their shifts just as I am sure were police, ambulance and other actual essential workers of the times. My mother Gerry, was a domestic at the local nursing home less than twenty houses from where we lived. Interestingly she had no desire to take on the nursing training offered by Matron and much preferred the reassurance of physical, well known labor. The strength required for the heavy floor polishers of the day meant that my Mum had ‘guns’ decades before it became sexy for women to have strong and defined muscular arms.
The domestic staff were a tight group and had more fun than the nurses who had to deal with dirty bums and dreadful pans. Mum wanted none of that! The cleaners were ethnically diverse, managed language hurdles with humor and grace and worked incredibly hard and took pride in their job. Once a young male university student started doing some shifts and acted superior and condescending to the other domestics. Not surprisingly he did not stay long, but not before some of the cleaning ladies pin pricked his rubber gloves a good few times!
An enduring memory of Good Friday were the holy movies. My Mum loved these roman films which would be the only viewing on all three channels on Good Friday. If my Mum was not rostered on to work or when she got home I would watch a ‘Jesus Movie’ with her – looking back they were of course, very gory and violent!
My father Alex, never ate meat on Friday. Regardless of when the Catholic church relaxed the ruling on Friday meat consumption – Dad continued to observe this one practice. Growing up meant Friday night meals of egg and chips, fish fingers or sweet rice but never meat. Sometime in the home years, hot cross buns became a Good Friday morning event, toasted under the grill and served hot with butter. It seemed an incredible treat to have such an exotic breakfast which easily trumped the usual cornflakes or porridge.
It is Good Friday, 2021. Here today on our little lake, it will be a quiet day. Music is playing – the old albums (vinyls) as we have recently purchased a record player (turn table). There are a few preparations to be done for the ‘kids’ coming home, one on Sunday, and two more on Monday. There will be baked fish today and no meat. We are back to masks and immunization schedules feel way too slow.
If I turn the telly on today there won’t be a holy film showing but for sure I could scroll through Foxtel or Netflix and find many choices – although somehow that just wouldn’t feel the same.