BULLGOOSE: Jeannie got flustered when her custard didn’t cut the mustard

Allie launches into: “Aubergine drought!”

“What? Who?”

“Aubergine drought.”

“Sounds like a member of the British House of Lords: ‘Sir Aubergine Drought rose to ventilate his tweed jodhpurs’.”

“Shut up! Eggplants. There’s not a single eggplant left in Casino. Sold out.”

“That’d be Eid.”

“Ed? Ed who?”

“Eid the religious festival. You know, when they quit fasting and start grilling eggplants.”

“Oh, I forgot.”

“Baking eggplants…stuffing eggplants…”

“I get the picture, Wes.”

“Pureeing eggplants, stuffing them inside something else, then baking it…”

“Wes…”

“Boiling eggplants maybe. Hmm, it’s hard to know.”

“All I wanted was one eggplant.”

“It’s a tragedy, I know, Allie. But consider the poor eggplant-charring folk. I mean come the second week in December there’ll be someone thinking, ‘Hmm, I feel like some nice turkey to have with the eggplant tonight. Maybe stuff it with roasted pine nuts and aubergine puree’…”

“What are you on about?”

So she trots down to Casino Plaza to buy a deluxe Number 32 Butterball turkey, only to discover, to her heartbreak, that the Christmas folk have descended, like the plagues of Egypt and carried off every last bird for their festy feast.

?

Wes offers his usual level of compassionate support: ‘It’s goose and gander, swings and roundabouts, slings and arrows.”

“Whatever, I blame the supermarkets. They should stock up as soon as they sniff a religious festival coming up.”

“It makes you think though, doesn’t it? What are the two things we enjoy the most?”

“Erm, Big Bang Theory and Call the Midwife?”

“No, Allie, food and sex.”

“Maybe.”

“And what are all those religions of the wide world and general cosmos hung up on?”

“Invisible friends?”

“Food and sex. They can’t help making up mad rules about food and sex. ‘Stay off the prawns, shun the beef, dodge the pig, don’t be gay, and don’t eat anything at all during a leap year’.”

“Just a bit of fun.”

“Fun? Booty bans and stonings? I mean, I get why the Mob came up with animal totems so that everybody didn’t chow down on, say, echidnas and wipe them out, but…”

“Well you certainly know how to wipe out a Christmas dinner. You’re the pope of chowing down, Wes. Nuts, turkey, pudding, custard…”

“Oh, you had to mention that!” (Wes enters a dream state of pained reminiscence)

Jeannie Piddens loved cooking. She’d cook up a storm for no particular reason. But give her an excuse, like a birthday, and she’d cook for the cosmos. And Christmas dinner? Let’s just say that, compared to her operation, the D-Day landings were just an impromptu affair.

One year, on school canteen duty she spotted a plastic, caterer-size mayonnaise container about to be tossed out. It was a beauty – about eleventeen litres.

 “Hoy, hoy! That’s just the thing for my Christmas custard.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Mayonnaise, plastic container, custard: a match made in the steaming bowels of Hell. But Jeannie was a cleanser, a soaker, a scourer, a boiler, a stain and taint whisperer. She could remove century-old axle grease stains from a bridal veil. Mayo? Pffft! Child’s play.

Two dozen eggs: fourteen cows’ worth of cream; a whole bottle of brandy; half a litre of vanilla essence and Jeannie was able to fill that rehabilitated mayo container to the very brim. There would be custard aplenty for the whole Christmas season.

Christmas dinner was, as usual, a triumph. A little light on the aubergine perhaps, but there had been a big Greek wedding down the road the weekend before.

And now out came the pudding.

Lovey Piddens poured half a litre of warmed brandy over the pudding and ignited it. Oohs and aahs at the dancing blue flames. Right on time, Jeannie appeared with a jug of custard.

Slicing, serving.

 “Ice cream?”

“Yes please.”

“Custard?”

“Of course. Thank you.”

Tucking in.

 “Mmm.”

“Mmm.”

Wait.

Spreading puzzlement.

Jeannie’s radar triggered.

 “What? What?”

“Nothing.”

“What?”

Lovey sniffed the custard.

 “What?”

“Nothing. Nothing.”

Jeannie’s face darkened. Silently she collected everybody’s plate.

Silently, she collected the custard jug and marched to the kitchen.

Some rose to go and help, but Lovey shook his head. “Just leave her,” he whispered.

Silently, they listened while dishes were washed; while another two dozen eggs etc were attacked; while a saucepan simmered; while footsteps approached.

 “Pudding, anyone? Custard?”

“Yes please.”

A lesson to us all.

Bullgoose.

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