Liv­ing a life fit for roy­alty, with­out any of the airs or graces or china

Bray People - - OPINION - With David Medcalf med­der­s­me­

‘WE live….’ Hermione paused mid- sen­tence to blow away a fly which had the temer­ity to land on the tip of her cute but­ton nose, ‘… like roy­alty.’ With one hand hold­ing a shovel, while the other was grimed with evil smelling muck, she avoided wip­ing her fair face. She was like­wise con­strained from tuck­ing away the un­ruly curl which had strayed from the con­fines of her bat­tered broad-brimmed hat to bob down in front of her eye. Her en­sem­ble was com­pleted by an old tee-shirt and a pair of shape­less jog­ging bot­toms worn over a pair of mud en­crusted work boots. In short, my wife was the very vi­sion of love­li­ness – but a far cry from the con­ven­tional model of be-medalled roy­alty.

‘I bet there are very few kings or queens who have the priv­i­lege of ser­vic­ing their own cess-pits,’ I re­sponded as we set about ban­ish­ing the un­for­tu­nate whiff hang­ing over The Manor in re­cent days. Ap­par­ently some of Eldrick’s friends flushed a punc­tured foot­ball down the toi­let in the East Wing, with mal­odor­ous con­se­quences as the al­ways del­i­cate bal­ance of our an­cient waste dis­posal sys­tem was thrown out of equi­lib­rium. ‘And show me the prince or princess who knows one end of a sewer rod from the other.’ My voice echoed nicely as I peered down the man-hole we had opened on the edge of the Rolling Acres. ‘I would rather re­main repub­li­can.’

Hermione, fra­grant freck­led Hermione, squinted from be­hind the way­ward curl as she at­tached yet an­other length of rod on to the al­ready wor­ry­ingly long line. At this rate, the head of the line would soon be pop­ping up in Bris­bane: ‘No, what I re­ally mean to say is that we eat like roy­alty.’ She moved to dis­miss the vi­sion form­ing in my mind of gold plate and price­less porce­lain. ‘We eat food fit for roy­alty and never mind whether we eat that food off dog bowls or Dres­den china.’

The menu at Med­ders Manor is dic­tated to a large de­gree by the sea­sons. At present, potatoes loom large on the bill of fare as ex­trav­a­gant wheel­bar­row loads of freshly dug Kerr’s Pinks are hauled in from the Side Gar­den. We are also in­un­dated by toma­toes, prompt­ing prepa­ra­tion of tomato sal­ads, tomato soup, tomato rel­ish and pasta sauce rich in toma­toes.

Toma­toes are de­ployed as one of the prin­ci­pal in­gre­di­ents in a nour­ish­ing veg­etable stew which also helps deal with the glut of cour­gettes. Our off­spring are not keen on the toma­toes and both are ac­tively hos­tile to the cour­gettes. So we cut them up small and smug­gle them on to the plate in all man­ner of guises. I con­fess to fist pump­ing slyly in tri­umph the other evening when young Perse­phone de­clared my veg­etable chow­der a culi­nary tri­umph and de­manded a se­cond help­ing. Not only does the chow­der recipe de­mand tomato and cour­gette but it also calls for (hor­ror of ado­les­cent hor­rors) mush­room.

The fam­ily diet is good and hearty but scarcely re­gal as our potatoes and toma­toes fall far short of be­ing ex­clu­sive fare. The su­per­mar­ket chains make a point of lur­ing cus­tomers into their stores with give­away of­fers in their green­gro­cer de­part­ments. There is noth­ing more demo­cratic, more ac­ces­si­ble, more pro­le­tar­ian in this day and age than a cour­gette, or a carrot or a beet­root.

The grow­ers of home pro­duced veg­eta­bles are de­lud­ing them­selves it they reckon they are mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to the house­hold econ­omy . Do the maths. Reckon the cost of seed, of fer­tilis­ers, of slug de­ter­rent. Then al­low for the man hours which went into pro­duc­ing this bowl of peas or that hank of onions. Grow­ing cu­cum­bers or beet­root is oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, and not a fi­nan­cially worth­while un­der­tak­ing. So what was Hermione on about?

‘It’s the rasp­ber­ries,’ she ex­plained sim­ply.

The rasp­ber­ries. Ah, yes. Easy to grow but de­li­cious, a lus­cious in­dul­gence, de­cent rasp­ber­ries are never given away for 40 cent a pun­net. For a few weeks each sum­mer, we do in­deed eat like roy­alty, gorg­ing our­selves, juice run­ning down our chins. Lucky us…

A loud suck­ing noise boomed up the pipe, fol­lowed by a nox­ious wave of sewage gas. Then came a muf­fled ex­plo­sion as the foot­ball was shoved clear and nor­mal waste wa­ter treat­ment was re­stored.

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