Jayne Dawson: My name is Jayne - and sometimes I eat on the sofa

Mary Berry.
Mary Berry.
Have your say

I have a feeling it could be the last great taboo.

We talk about most everything now, compared with the bad old days.

Millennials will discuss their mental health and sexual orientation with anyone, from the person asking for their name to write on the paper cup in Starbucks, to their grandma.

It’s all startlingly refreshing to an older person trained to keep it all inside.

In the bad old days a person would have to be on their deathbed to even tell you how much they earned, but things are better now.

Except about this business of mealtimes. People are still a bit iffy about telling the world where the family meals are consumed.

We all know the myth. The story put about is that a happy family eats together round a table.

Lifestyle magazines are full of it. According to them, you are really not a functioning family unless you are gathered round a table at the end of the day, eating something homemade and revealing snippets from your day.

A decent family does that every evening , an even better family gathers round the table for breakfast too.

I’m not so sure myself. I think that version of life is more television advert, more Katie Oxo, than reality.

There are questions to answer in that lifestyle myth: who made that casserole, how did everyone get home at the same time and, crucially, where exactly is that table?

Because there is major breaking news: according to research, only half of us think a dining room is a necessity in life anymore.

The rest of us say we eat round a table in the kitchen, and even that’s probably a fib. A kitchen with room for a table is a bit of a luxury so I think a lot of us eat meals on the sofa in front of the telly where it’s warm and cosy and we don’t have to do anything taxing like talk to other family members present.

Or we might eat them in the kitchen but standing up at the counter, or hovering over the cooker, or in front of the open fridge door, because we’re tired and starving and we’ve just got in and all we want to do is shovel in some fuel quickly.

I’m certain all that is alright. I don’t think it makes us bad people. There are reasons why Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are the way they are, but I don’t think it’s because they didn’t eat with the family around a dining table.

It makes me curious though.What is happening to the nation’s dining rooms? What are they being used for?

Even the great Mary Berry says she only uses hers for Christmas and special occasions now.

Probably the answer is that, mostly, we are not using them for anything much. They are languishing, a bit cold and dusty and neglected, full of unloved furniture that we feel bad about chucking out, because it may be ugly but it’s pristine, since we have never so much as sat on a chair.

As funds allow, we are obliterating dining rooms altogether, knocking down walls to make them part of the kitchen because life is all about the big kitchen now.

The trendy thing is to have your big table there, so that your perfect family can gather round each evening.

Former prime minister David Cameron, if you recall, was known to hold “kitchen suppers” for guests, to show how informal and on-trend he was. He may still be doing that, he certainly has more time these days.

Overall, the message from the lifestyle police is that it is now no crime to eat at a table amongst the pots and pans, in fact it’s the right thing to do. Stick a candle on the breadboard, wrap some fairy lights round the fridge - all the best people are doing it.

The message from real life is that it’s alright to eat anywhere. It’s time to break that last taboo and be proud: My name is Jayne and sometimes I eat on the sofa.In my pyjamas. Don’t judge me.


There are wedding ring games being played again: Sometimes Coleen Rooney is wearing hers, sometimes she isn’t. I’m not sure about Wayne Rooney, I think he’s just looking sheepish.

In the other corner, Louise Redknapp is wearing hers but husband Jamie isn’t. Neither of them are looking sheepish, but Louise is definitely looking the more chirpy.

What does it all mean? It means the showbiz columns are finding fodder where they can.

But, just for the heck of it, I’ll give my prediction: the Rooney marriage will survive the current domestic, the Redknapp marriage won’t.

Coleen is undoubtedly a bit fed up with her husband who keeps making a public eegit of himself with other women, as well as being a genuine danger by driving while over the drink-drive limit.

But they are from the same Liverpool background and their ties are strong.

The Redknapp marriage is doomed. Louise is a born performer: she was a stage school kid, she sold millions of records as part of the pop group Eternal.

Then she married, had kids, and it all stopped. Louise became a “contented wife and mum” until she decided to do Strictly - and realised she wasn’t contented at all.

Louise has found the spotlight again and she is hanging on to it. And if that also involves letting go of Jamie then she looks quite happy to do it.