It could have bean a disaster

But it never was. Just now, for the umpteenth time recently, I’ve been picking, de-stringing and chopping runner beans. As I stood there I remembered some of the many years I’ve done this, since I was a little girl, perhaps five or six. I always helped my grandparents, I loved it, the bright green of the pod and then inside, the pinky red of the bean. It made me feel grown up to use a sharp veggie knife, as I opened the pod, the fresh scent and juice transferred itself to my little hands.
I doubt many five year olds would slice beans these days, their parents would be worried that they would cut themselves. Even my own children didn’t, there were too many other things to do. Perhaps that’s the problem, too much doing of techy things, TV, computers and games consoles. Making connections, just I am now, with the virtual world, instead of getting hands on and mucky.
Well I’m glad I know how to prepare runner beans. I didn’t like them back then, and I still don’t. I have discovered that they may delicious spicy chutney though, so I’ll keep on chopping.
beans
I never did cut myself either, in fact I’m more likely to now, I’m far more blasé. I didn’t burn myself on a hot pan back then either, but in between writing this post and chopping beans I’ve been making blackcurrant jelly. Not only did I burn myself but I also let it boil all over onto the hob , making a sticky red mess to clear up!

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The Offie

This morning I read a prompt from Oloriel at ‘We Drink Because We’re Poets’. It’s about remembering a place from your past and she said
‘This week I would like you to share with me a poem about a place – a place that was dear to you, but is no longer there. It can be a bar, a museum, a library, bookstore, your old school – anything. I invite you to tell me what changed, what got replaced and how did it make you feel. Form, length, rhyme, all is optional.’
Me, being me, read the prompt entirely wrong. Why I would read a prompt on a poetry blog and not catch on that I was supposed to write a poem I don’t now, but I’ve only just caught on. I’m posting anyway because the little memories were special for me.

The Offie

Sparkling white art deco instead of grubby cream. Now the future homes of well-heeled, aspiring middle class, first time buyers. Curved windows that will forever be a problem to curtain well, high ceilings that will keep the fuel bills high. I used to peep through those windows to see who was sitting on the curved seats inside them, all the time wondering what it would be like to sit there. By the time I was old enough to sit there, it was the last place I wanted to sit, not trendy enough for me, filled with old men and Laners have a night in the posh one instead of the Flying Horse. Me, I preferred the club scene, even if a Babycham was twice the price.
I wonder what happened to Ross, Mr Whitaker. He always had a soft spot for me and watched me grow from a toddler to an eighteen year old, who thought she was sophisticated. In the beginning it was Spangles, Maltesers or if I got lucky a big bar of Dairy Milk. Crisps were Smiths, and the salt came in a little blue paper twist, that you had to reach to the bottom of the bag to find. It was never enough to make the whole packet salty! I loved the salted peanuts as well, until a connection was made between eating them, and waking up an hour after bedtime with vomit in my hair.
The entrance was on the side, in, turn left, no dawdling to see what was up the corridor – barrels, boxes and a pay phone and then a choice of two doors side by side. I was only allowed in the first, the second was for adults. It was years before I was tall enough to lean on the tiny counter to ask for my own sweeties or bottle of fizzy pop. At weekends it was rowdy and when I stopped being a little girl, I’d get yelled at by the blokes who could see me from the other side, the dark side.
Years later I learnt that Ross and his wife had moved back to London. I felt sorry for him, she was a miserable old boot. I rarely went that way and when I did it had deteriorated badly, windows and doors boarded up and generally going to wrack and ruin. Rumours were that it was going to be demolished. Then last year, I was stuck in traffic at the bottom of the road, craning my neck I saw the dazzling white paint. The St Loyes had been converted into apartments. I wonder if there is any trace of the art deco left inside. I wonder if the beery, cidery, smoky smell has ever left the pub and if the Off Licence is someone’s bedroom.
If you’d like to check out the prompt and use it properly, it’s here.
http://wedrinkbecausewerepoets.com/2014/03/17/poetry-prompt-2-the-places-we-are/

Good For Me

As a small child I remember certain things that were supposed to be ‘good for me’. Back then I wondered if it was only me that these things were good for, I don’t remember any other children I knew that had these ‘good for you’ experiences. The earliest GFY was Cod Liver Oil, teaspoons of it. I can’t remember the taste, more the idea of it. I mean it hardly sounds appealing does it? Surely it might have been easier to swallow if it had been called Golden Smile Squash or something, any other ideas? Even as an adult – well outwardly, the idea of extracting oil from a cod’s liver is gruesome and quite strange. Who first thought of such a thing and how and when was it decided that it was GFY?

Next, when I was in infant school, a third of a pint of full cream milk in a glass bottle was thrust upon us every morning at play time. No doubt it was the government’s attempt to keep the countries children well nourished. Well it was wasted on me. The fact that I was made to drink it was guaranteed to make me rebel, but aside from that it made me sick. Luckily a willing victim grateful recipient in the shape of one of the Henry sisters was waiting for me to sneak it to her as soon as Miss King’s back was turned. I’ve never been able to drink a glass of milk and can only tolerate skimmed milk in hot drinks.

Also in school, where the classroom was converted into a dining room at lunchtime, ready to serve the dreaded green vegetables. I don’t think anyone liked them but everyone but me managed to eat them anyway. I would move them around my plate until they were stone cold and eventually teacher – who was probably desperate for her own lunch, took pity on me and let me out to play. That is until Miss Dunn arrived and saw me as her personal challenge. She would stand over me with a very stern face and a sharp tongue insisting that I would sit there until I had eaten it, or until class resumed. On one lovely sunny day I really, really wanted to play with my friends so I stuffed my cheeks, hamster fashion, with a couple of Brussel sprouts, smile sweetly and she let me go. Sadly for me she caught me just outside the door, spitting them down the drain. Headmasters office for me, but I’ve never, ever, eaten a sprout.

Medicine is GFY and when I was about ten with an ear infection; it was bright yellow anti-biotic pills, big enough to choke on. I’d never taken a pill before and these tasted nasty. The doctor suggested mixing them with something to disguise the taste, and at the time I had a craving for oranges. Tucking a pill into the flesh of my orange should do the trick it was thought. I cried and cried because all it did was spoil my orange. I suppose I must have taken the course of pills but I can’t remember it or imagine how.

All these memories were triggered by this evenings GFY experience. Green tea. A few years ago at the end of a Tai Chi class, green tea was served from a punch bowl, I tried a sip to be polite but as I wasn’t a tea drinker I didn’t expect to enjoy it. Since I had swine flu a few years ago I haven’t been able to drink coffee and so I have become a tea drinker, not bog standard tea, but Lady Grey or Earl Grey, and lately I’ve braved out and can do the odd Rooibos, all poncey stuff, according to most people. So perhaps I would now like green tea? Perhaps my palate has acquired the necessary degree of sophistication to appreciate its beneficial properties. Uh, no, I won’t be drinking that again. Good for me? Someone is having a laugh.