My youngest brother (2 years my senior), sister-in-law and two nephews came to lunch with the OM on Friday. The discussions with TOM upon his announcement of their imminent arrival centred – as always with him – on “catering arrangements”. He declared that he would be buying a couple of pies from Charlie’s (the piemaker and sometime butcher in Cary), and that we would have some potato salad and some green leaves with it.
“Excellent idea”, I said, “would you like me to dig some spuds?”
“Uuuuurm, actually someone bought some potatoes”. He sounded a little embarrassed.
I pointed out that it seemed ridiculous to buy potatoes when we have a whole garden full of them and said that I would make a salad with our own spuds. He accepted my offer to make some salad and – never able to resist the chance to offer some advice – told me that I would have to make enough for eight.
So Friday morning I dug a root of Belle de Fontenays, scraped ’em, boiled ’em and mixed ’em with some home-made mayonnaise (made with our own hens’ eggs). I was duly summoned to lunch as soon as Hugh and Brigitte arrived and there on the table when I walked in was…..a bowl of potato salad which he had prepared with the shop-bought spuds. And in addition to this there was a bowl of “leaves”: a little gem lettuce and some almost albino chinese leaves from the supermarket that looked like they had never seen natural daylight.
Disappointed would be an understatement of Wildean proportions in describing my mood. The OM realised he might have messed up and said he felt that I had not made it clear that I would make a salad. It was a rather poor attempt at an apology or explanation.
As a youngster and younger man I suffered years of my parents informing me of what was growing in the garden and what we should be harvesting and consuming before they run to seed. And now I find myself – inevitably – turning into my parents as it is I who am telling my father to use up the spuds, pick the lettuce or use the beetroot tops in a nice salad. Hell – I even made my own mayonnaise: how bloody middle-aged is that?! For the dread of heredity to have finally come true, is no great surprise. To discover that the Old Man has turned into a rather truculent teenager who fails to remember simple instructions and offers lame excuses for doing so is an unfortunate flip side to the same the coin, I guess.
Ah well. Let’s not worry for now. I feel better for that. Let’s take a look at what is growing in the garden. Even if no one wants to eat it.