My last post – Out on a Limb, described my first attempts at stand-up comedy. Until then, my dear readers, I had felt a camaraderie among us. I sensed a sympathetic reading of my reminiscences. But, after this last post, I noticed a distinct movement of sympathy away from the pangs of growth of my younger self and a definite siding with Mum.
Lest you rush to saintly nomination for my mother without all the facts I should describe a lunch-time incident.
I was about 11 and attending a local school on the outskirts of London. In clement weather, I think that was one Thursday, I rode my bike to school. One benefit of this was I could get home and back at lunch time. This seemed preferable to school meals.
One day, the clock hands had ever so slowly moved around and the blah blah blah had mercifully stopped and the bell had set me free to cycle home at daring speed. I was excited about what mum had prepared for us. Mum greeted me with wonderful words “I have prepared something special today, a real treat”.
My mouth was watering already. Mum was a good cook and she knew a number of things that I really liked. Once when I had been ill with bronchitis she had brought me pigeon. Now, these are not your Trafalgar Square flying rat pigeons, but fat juicy clean-living pigeons from the woods. It was like having your own tiny turkey – all dark meat, and the tiniest of wishbones. Could the treat be pigeon. You can see I wasn’t a picky eater and I had a sense of culinary adventure even at that age. Or, maybe it was fish-both-sides. I think that was plaice. It was a flat fish that you could eat all one side, then flip it over and eat the fish from the other side. I liked fish. Could it be FBS?
“It’s a surprise” said Mum. “Something new, something very special”.
Then she served it up. I looked at my plate. In the middle was a steaming grey mound, rather like an enormous dirty dumpling. It was definitely hot, the steam was rising quite dramatically. I must be honest, it did not look as exiting as the meal my imagination had cooked up.
It almost looked like it was throbbing. Finally, after looking at it closely for a while, and chancing a discrete sniff, I asked “What is it?”
“Sheep’s brain!” came the astounding reply.
“Sheep’s WHAT?” I said, moving my seat back a few feet. “It’s just sheep’s brains, they are lovely” said Mum “Just try it”. “Have you had these before?” I asked. I didn’t actually get a reply, more of a noncommittal movement of her head.
I looked at the thing. I picked up my knife and fork and poked it, gently. I moved it around the plate a bit.
“Oh, just try it” she said. However, she hadn’t yet started on her own delicious portion.
“That thing is sitting there thinking” I said. “It’s thinking ‘he’s going to eat me'”. I could distinctly hear these thoughts in a sheepish sounding voice.
I valiantly tried to cut into it, but just couldn’t do it “It’s thinking, ‘he’s got a knife!'” I just can’t do it.”
Mum took away both brains and came back with some lovely cheese and Branston pickle sandwiches. We never had a surprise like that again.