Wednesday, February 8, 2012
1975: knick-knock feelin' fine
We all stopped taking sugar in our tea and coffee on a family holiday to Angelsey in 1973. I'm not sure why it was decided to do that, but none of us have ever done it since.
Well, I tell a lie. At school the only drink available with lunch was pre-sweetened tea. Served in glass cups too. There's nothing right about hot drinks in glass cups is there. It's just wrong. Anyway, I just had to go with it. It was so vile it didn't make me want to start again, but it was something to wash down these evil meals with.
I wasn't too bothered about school dinner on the whole. I could stomach the mince meat pie that was practically white because of all the fat in it. I didn't mind the sickly, semi-burnt taste of the cheese flan if you could combine it with a mouthful of something else, and the puddings were always edible if horrific, leading more often than not to small puddles of pink sick in the playground (not mine), but I'm afraid I drew the line at the fish.
Being a Catholic school, every Friday was a fish day. Bony, over-fried, greasy, silver-skinned nastiness. But there was no escape from it. It was one poor teacher's duty to stand guard at the place into which you tipped all you weren't going to eat, and if it was thought you'd not eaten enough you'd be sent back to finish it up. I dreaded this.
Mrs Byrne was chief martinet where this was concerned, and she always seemed to be on this duty on Fridays. I pleaded time and again that I had a problem with fish. I blame my mother of course, boiling it in milk and trying to force-feed it me as a baby. It put me off for life. But I was never the hide food in your pockets type, so would either deposit it under table or hover until she was otherwise occupied then tip it. I can still taste the fat from those extra crispy bits everyone used to go mad for.
I can't really do fish now. I never think, 'ooh good fish!' when I see it on a menu, and have a hard time understanding those who do. I'll eat a fish finger or a fishcake, but I'm really not mad on proper cuts of fish at all. At the chip shop I'll plump for the sausage, with or without batter.
I got my revenge though, in the fourth year I became a prefect, and along with two other boys, our sole job was to carry the teachers' lunches from the main school down to our litlte primary outpost. Now, I don't know about you, but I'd rather get my own rather than entrust a 10-year-old with it.
Of course we licked it, spat in it, shook it up, so much so, that when they lifted the lid off at the staff room door to see what was on offer it often looked like the contents of a litter tray. But no one ever said a word. We used to sing The Bump while we did it. Whenever I hear that song I think of an egg salad you'd not feed to your dog.
It was enormous fun. And we got ot walk by the house of the woman with the husky voice off Houseparty.