Friday, 19 September 2014
Billy hated vegetables with a passion. Especially the green ones. Broccoli with its hard stalks and soggy ends, a million varieties of cabbage that all tasted like… well cabbage… Sprouts of course are just miniature versions of the giant green footballs and should be shot like the bullets they are as far away from dinner plates as they can possibly go.
Courgettes always looked promising but turned to the texture of glue once in his mouth. Peas were OK at a push – a push around the plate and surreptitiously off the side.
It was nearly time for Sunday lunch and Billy had made a sneaky foray into the kitchen to check out the contents of the chopping board and various saucepans. It was not looking good. Mum had hurried him out before he’d had chance for a proper look, but there was definitely something green on the counter top and he was sure he caught a whiff of cabbage in the air. He was dreading sitting down at the table.
Up until recently the dog had been his ally, happily snapping up falling bits of vegetation that somehow made their way off the edge of the table. But Pongo was living up to her name and on a strict dry diet because of it. Mum shut her out of the dining room at meal times. She whined and scratched at the door. Billy felt sorry for her, but was truthfully more upset that his only meal-time friend had been banished.
Inevitably the moment came when they were called to their seats. Billy tried to smile and look happy but until he saw what was in those serving dishes his nerves were a wreck. He reached for Sue’s hand hoping for a bit of solidarity but she pulled it away and glared at him. Sue loved vegetables, she was quite strange in that sense.
Dad brought in a joint of beef. It gave off a heat haze scented with merlot and thyme. Billy salivated. He noticed that he was the only one not to have a plate, but then Mum appeared behind him and placed in front of him a smiley face made from carrots, baked beans and sweetcorn with mashed potato for hair.
“There you go son” she winked. Your vegetables, just as you like them.
Sue, Billy’s wife burst out laughing. “You spoil him” she gently admonished her mother-in-law before reaching over to give Billy an affectionate kiss on the cheek.
Billy ignored them, piling his plate with roasties and drowning everything in gravy. A couple of carrots fell under his plate. He hoped nobody noticed…