Among the many pieces of adult advice I’ve abandoned since I grew up (at least five minutes ago) is the mantra, ‘don’t play with your food!’ Back then, things were tough (I know, nothing changes). The war was a fairly recent memory for mothers like mine who had their babies late in life; she’d had to figure out the rations from one week to the next, without any spare cash to bribe the butcher. So waste was not to be contemplated, and pushing your food around on the plate a sign of slovenly disrespect. It sounds cruel nowadays, but we had terrible battles over the eating of (sodden, overcooked, tasteless, disgusting) cabbage. If I didn’t finish it at tea-time, it was waiting for me at breakfast. I can’t remember who won; if it was me, it was at the cost of raging disapproval on the maternal front. Explains a lot, my friends might say.
Anyway, I’m free from all that now since my friend Joseph shows such blazing impudence in these matters. What on earth would my mother have made of this portrait? Or of the 36 prime apples he chucked in his bath the other night to make his dinner guests dook with a fork, from the back of a chair? She’d be turning in her gravy. But to be fair to Joseph, he did put the apples to a good use. He gave them to me, with instructions to ‘make a crumble for the crumblies’. Ageism apart I have taken said apples to the Day Centre along the road and I’m sure they’ll make good use of them. The old ladies and gentlemen who make up our clientele can’t stand waste, and neither can I. But nowadays I know how to laugh at a good yolk.