Soem time ago (December 2008 and February 2009) I wrote about trying to decide which of my mother’s books to keep after she had died. It wasn’t until this summer that I finally took the last ones to the charity shop. I have kept a fair number, integrating them into my own collection, but accepted at last that I wasn’t going to read – or re-read Sara Woods, Anthony Gilbert, and a few others, much as I had enjoyed them in the past. And then earlier this year my lovely mother-in-law died and so there was another house to clear. My husband went down to Devon to take some last things a week or two ago and I wasn’t able to go with him, so asked him to bring home some things to remind me of her. We shared a love of crime fiction,but that wasn’t really what I wanted (apart from a little World’s Classic edition of Sherlock Holmes short stories). No, what I wanted was DELIA SMITH’S COMPLETE COOKERY COURSE. Nothing special about it, just a paperback copy of dating back to 1992, with slightly old-fashioned recipes that use more butter and cream that we would now. But it reminds me of her and the times I used it myself when I was cooking for her and the family. Avis herself used to make a mean shepherd’s pie and I’ve also got the dish she used to cook in it. These things have a poignant homeliness about them that make them as precious as any heirloom. A book of her’s that I used to covet was Peg Bracken’s I HATE TO HOUSEKEEP and she passed that on to me a few years ago. I’ve written elsewhere about Peg Bracken’s I HATE TO COOK BOOK and this is hugely enjoyable too, with chapter titles like ‘Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There’ and ‘The Hostest with the Leastest.’ As well as being a pioneering woman GP Avis did cook and run a household – very successfully – but she was firmly of the view that those activities should be kept in their place and I agree with her.