RECENTLY I have been pointing the fish finger. I finally crashed the fish barrier and can now eat fish with impunity, which was something I couldn’t do in my youth for some reason, which was quite a problem. Those of my age were part of the preVatican II Catholic Church era and we were also known as Holy Romans, rock-choppers, tykes, micks, left-footers and Cattleticks — these names pronounced by infidels who one day shall know His wrath with knobs on.
Fish was a compulsory substance and one without which your soul would endlessly languish. Denied meat, you ate fish on Friday or else you went straight to hell.
I thought of this the other day when at a lunch for 500 or so Cattleticks. It was not fair, I muttered under my breath as the meals were handed around. We women got fish and the chauvinist men ate steak. Why do they do that?
Apart from that excitement all was dead calm, as quite a lot of us are not getting any younger. Some people — mainly men — had a little zizz at the table. One man at the next table fell asleep for quite some moments, although fortunately he didn’t fall on the floor.
Some time later I was sitting on the train on the way home, contemplating my navel. It wasn’t a show-offy thing and I’d stopped thinking about fish. It was just that I had a pot of flowers on my lap and I was getting saturated. I shudder to think what some of the other passengers may have thought.
It wasn’t my fault I had the pot. When lunch ended I found a man wagging his finger at me and saying: ‘‘ Those have to find their way to a good home!’’ He was referring to the floral centrepiece on the lunch table. My eyes widened. This bloke had never seen my messy kitchen. Good home indeed. But I was ordered to depart from the hotel with the blooms from our table, and there was no point in arguing. These men were bosses.
I had to make a plan. First I had to get to the station without getting lost. I have previously told you how I have panic attacks when it comes to direction and the fact I might never see home again. I used to behave like Hansel and Gretel and drop crumbs on the ground; it took me years to realise birds would be following me and having a meal.
I also had to get rid of the flowerpot. I thought it best to place it in a non-conspicuous gutter, but every time I did this an urchin came running after me and threw it back.
I was forced to board the train with it, looking quite mad and making it very clear I didn’t want to start a conversation with anyone. While the other passengers had their heads turned away I skilfully squashed the vase, which was made of wire and squishy stuff, and stared at the wobbly flowers of many hues, although dominated by purple and pink.
I got off the train without further incident and headed to the cab rank for the final part of the trip home, handbag in one hand, bloody bad and mad blooms in the other. Three taxi drivers ignored me and drove past at a great speed. I couldn’t blame them — who would like the back seat to be a pool of water?
Of course it was at this minute my husband rang me on my mobile phone. I can never resist a phone call and while ferreting in my handbag lost my balance and dripped cold water down my legs. I began to give little whimpers and told myself to behave normally. He was phoning to tell me he was caught in traffic. ‘‘ Take your time!’’ I snapped.
I finally got home after a uphill walk and threw the pathetic vase on the kitchen table. It skidded along. By this time I was sneezing like a horse. Flowers are not exactly my cup of tea.
Yes! That’s what was greatly needed! Strong black tea would do the trick. When I wake in the morning I smell the tea being made and this is the real reason a woman has a husband. Mine gets up very early in the mornings and I hear him clattering the cups and saucers and crunching his cereal and toast, and it will be a matter of moments before the mug appears (not the man, the mug of tea; although both appear at the same time).
However, on this particular morning there was no sight of the tea. He had brought the flowers, obviously thinking they would cheer me up considerably. They didn’t. I dived under the duvet and shrieked: ‘‘ Take the bloody flowers away.’’
I would have killed for a cuppa. And should have killed the man who forced those flowers on me.