“Alfie, would you like me to bring you a bacon roll for your lunch tomorrow?” asked Charlotte.
Bacon? Did someone mention bacon? Now to be fair, someone only has to say something similar to bacon, like “are we back on for the weekend?” for my little ears to prick up and take notice. It must surely be something primaeval for me where bacon is concerned.
Charlotte doesn’t even like bacon! Having lived a life of abstinence for so many years following the death and subsequent dismembering in the bath of Christine, Charlotte has been a devout vegetarian. Understandably upset at coming home from school one day and finding that her father had slaughtered and butchered her pet pig for the winter freezer, she turned her back on eating meat for the next twenty-seven years.
Being nine or ten years old at the time of the incident in question, I know you’re thinking that Charlotte must now be in her late thirties. I’d agree with that assumption except for the fact that since 2015, Charlotte has not been so devout in her pursuit of all things green and pleasant. In fact, meat has passed her lips on several occasions. But not bacon.
2015 saw us completing fundraising for water wells in Uganda, Africa, to then turn our gaze upon Ukraine. Specifically, on the problems caused by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster of 1986 and the effects that are still troubling many within that country with related sickness, cancer and poverty. Our first of many self-funded trips to Ukraine saw us warmly welcomed by families, communities and local governmental bodies. Part of our learning curve was in the sampling of local cuisine where, at every family we met, a spread was put on. To not eat that which had been prepared would have been disrespectful to them, so we valiantly and dutifully ate. This invariably meant repeatedly eating Borscht soup. Red in colour from the beetroot used, at the bottom of the bowl of fluid, hid an identifiable lump of meat. To eat, or not to eat? That was her dilemma. It would have been rude not to. So, and for the subsequent years, Charlotte has sampled meats from many different bodies. But not bacon.
Harriet, newly arrived from Paris, France, came for dinner, before the lockdown overtook all meaningful contact with her – see Social Distancing. Charlotte produced a lovely Chicken Stew for us all to eat.
We sat around our kitchen table and tucked in. Except for Harriet. She sat there picking at her dinner with her fork, her face, a picture of scowling thunder. We asked her what was the matter? to which she replied that she couldn’t tell us and promptly burst into tears. We looked at each other in bewilderment. What had happened that was so bad, our prodigal daughter, for whom the fatted chicken had been slaughtered, was unable to divulge, reducing her to this wreck before us, at what should have been a ‘welcome home’ celebration?
“You’ll be so cross with me and think I’m an ungrateful cow” she whimpered. George and I looked at each other and promptly burst out laughing – slightly premature I know, considering how upset she was, but then this is Harriet.
“And now you’re laughing at me and it’s not a laughing matter” she snivelled.
Harriet is 22 years old. She has spent life since she was 13, flying around the world and staying in all manner of lovely places, helicopters and Formula 1 Grand Prix, living what most people can only dream of. She has experienced the high-life of society and wealth, but, sat sitting across the table from us tonight is our little girl, saddened and distraught over an issue of such great enormity, she is unable to put into words, the nature of the grief that is so plainly exhibited for all to see.
“Come on babe, it can’t be that bad” I entreat her. “Are you pregnant?”
Why is it, when your daughter comes to you in floods of tears, the immediate thought must be of insemination? (There, I’ve done it. I’ve finally managed to get the word ‘insemination’ into one of my blogs! I deserve a drink).
“NO DAD, I’M NOT PREGNANT!” she shouts indignantly.
In that case, we are at a loss as to see what can be so bad, that she feels we will not be receptive to her issue.
“You’ll say I am being ungrateful” she repeats. Then she whispers in a small voice, “It’s the chicken.”
Charlotte, George and I look at each other in bewilderment. The chicken???
“Yes, it’s dirty. It’s dirty chicken.”
Whaaaaat???? Ok, now we are totally lost. What on earth has happened in the two years she has been living in Paris, to make our daughter, on her first day home with us, come out with such a complaint, that we are “making her eat dirty chicken”?
Hang on a minute, what is ‘dirty chicken’? I look at my plate. The chicken looks fine. I can’t see any dirt – although I wouldn’t say the same for the back of the toilet after Alfie has been in there. Nope, no dirt to be seen. I look at Harriet’s plate – no dirt that I can detect there either. What is the girl on about?
She confesses that she has a thing about chicken. “It’s the chicken you get from the supermarket in the polystyrene trays covered in cling film that is dirty – even if you wash it. It’s that raw, dirty chicken!”
Okay… I think I understand. At some point in her life, she must have had a ‘Christine’ moment with chicken – so now in her words, “only KFC or McDonald’s will do! Their chicken is fine!”
Oh, the life of a model, who’d have it?
Bacon anyone? It’s definitely dirty…
Carry on Regardless.