Author Ben Aitken inspired me to visit to Poznań after reading his excellent and witty book A Chip Shop in Poznań.
Sadly, the lockdown led to my trip being cancelled and I am yet to head over, but I will. But as much as I admire Ben, I won’t be following in the footsteps of his latest tome.
The Marmalade Diaries are a tribute to the time Ben spent living with a stranger, decades older than him and the marmalade is to mark the substance which pulled the very different duo together.
Ben moved in with 85 year-old Winnie Carter in 2019 after being teamed up with Share and Care Homeshare as Winnie had recently lost her husband, Henry and needed help around the house.
What both of them never expected was that after 10 days of moving in, Ben and Winnie would find themselves in national lockdown due to the pandemic.
And so neither could escape from each other’s company. The result is a hilarious and moving insight into how two strangers, with nothing in common, came together and enjoyed each other’s company.
With 50 years age gap, it was a hard trick to master at the beginning, but slowly each got used to each other’s strange habits and began to enjoy each other. Ben knew he had made friends when Winnie started giving him the crossword to tackle each day.
The book is a 12 month look at how they survived and learnt from each other and it’s a breath of fresh air.
From Winnie criticising Ben for not knowing what a conifer is. “There were no trees in my garden,” he protests. “There were no Egyptians in mine,” she retorts, “but I still know all about them,” to regularly breaking the Government Covid rules, it is a joy to read.
It reveals how Winnie’s daily pledge to see her 60 plus year old son Arthur, who suffers from cerebral palsy is relegated to standing under a tarpaulin outside his assisted-living home to Ben enjoying daily walks with Winnie on Wimbledon Common and how it all brings the two closer together.
It’s light, its touching and overall, it’s funny and well worth the read.
Publication date: 10th March 2022
UK Price: £16.99
Format: Portrait format – available in paperback, hardback and eBook
The Marmalade Diaries – The True Story of an Odd Couple
By Ben Aitken
Published by Icon Books
For more information and to purchase a copy of the book, please visit: https://iconbooks.com.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.