EAT Out to Help Out, they said, so that’s what we did. We diners have been selflessly doing our bit to get the country back on its feet, stuffing our faces in pubs and restaurants for half price.

And with hundreds of venues across the district taking part in the discount scheme, there’s been no shortage of dining choice.

The month-long offer, which ends on Monday, has given hospitality a vital boost, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak revealing that more than 64 million meals have been discounted so far - the equivalent of nearly every person in the country dining out. “This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly two million people who work in hospitality,” says Rishi.

After months of cooking for ourselves in lockdown, it seems we’ve got quite an appetite for eating out. And it’s not just about the food. Eating out means getting out, albeit it at a social distance, and whether it’s a much-loved bistro, a regular Friday night haunt or celebrating a family birthday with posh nosh, it’s an experience that often stays with us. Many of our memories of various stages of life are interwound with eating out.

A recent call-out from the T&A for memories of Bradford’s legendary Italia Cafe prompted hundreds of responses. People from around the UK got in touch with recollections of the family-run establishment, its friendly service and hearty home-cooked stew, lasagne and fry-ups. It was a home from home for students, rock bands, young mums, factory and office workers and I’ve been quite moved by their mini love letters to a place that meant so much to them.

Steve Palmer from Barnet in London was at Bradford University in the early 1980s and lived in a student house a few yards from the Italia. Nearly 40 years on, it still has a place in his heart: “We were more than regulars,” recalls Steve. “I lived in that house with the woman who became my wife. We went travelling after university but visited again in 1988. As the waiter brought my wife’s meal, he stopped before putting the plate down. She asked if everything was OK and he replied: ‘It’s just that you used to have eggs, chips and beans, not eggs, chips and peas’. They offered such personal service that they remembered people’s preferences years later.”

Before I became a student, my dining out experience didn’t extend much further than the Wimpy bar. Eating out today is accessible to all, but family-friendly gastro pubs and kiddie menus weren’t around when I was a child of the 70s. Going to a restaurant might as well have been going to the Moon. Children just didn’t dine out, or at least we didn’t - unless you count the fish and chip cafe on Blackpool Front we went to once a year with my grandparents.

We didn’t even eat in service stations. We just used the toilets then sat in the car eating curled-up sandwiches from a Tupperware box. From the car park, dining in a service station looked like a world of decadence.

If Eat Out to Help Out had been in the Seventies it would be for the grown-ups - chicken in a basket, or prawn cocktail and Steak Diane if you were the kind of people who invited the boss to dinner, like Jerry and Margo in The Good Life.

My earliest eating out memory is probably an Italian restaurant for my 12th birthday, when I was allowed to invite a few friends for something more grown-up than jelly and ice-cream. It would be several years before I took dining out for for granted. Now I know how quickly it can disappear, I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted again.