The Little Chef at Hooton – 1986

Dad’s tastes in eating out were not sophisticated; he did not live to witness the major increases in eating out places that have meant, for instance, at least 11 new eating places in New Brighton, where previously there were none.  In my early years sophistication was represented by the Little Chef at Queensferry, which was one of the earliest of its kind. It had small tables but, on an American model, stools around a central serving bar. Often there would be personnel from RAF Sealand nearby. Whether Dad approved of the place because it reminded him of the wartime RAF, I will never know. It was a convenient place to stop on the way from Wallasey to his parents in Pantymwyn, near Mold; a longer journey in those days, with no M53, and queues through Queensferry and on the hill to Ewloe and elsewhere.

All of that has now gone; the Little Chef was bypassed many years ago, and then closed and its replacement demolished, and the site opposite at RAF Sealand has been closed and cleared in the last five years.

These memories are prompted by driving past the site of another Little Chef, at Eastham, on the A41 just north of the M53. In what I recall as his last week, my mother phoned to say that she and Dad were going down the M53 to have a snack at this place, and asked if my late first wife and me would like to join them.  It sounded a less than exciting trip, so I declined. I doubt if it made any difference to Dad, but I have always been sorry about this. It would have involved so little effort, and maybe that gentle man in his early 60s, an age I am now approaching, would have been pleased that I and my wife welcomed his company. Well, there’s nothing I can do about this, but I cannot drive past that site without feeling a sense of regret. That said, if Dad had lived as long as his parents, he would have left us only recently, and if so, such a non-event would have been long forgotten.

You cannot live each day as if it was one of your (or someone else’s) last, but a modest regret is not out of place.

June 2015

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