Scottish Field’s online columnist Brash McKelvie has an unwanted invitation to dinner.
Here are the cast of characters that share the vicissitudes of life:
Scragend – a Rhode Island Red of indeterminate age and foul nature.
Shitting Cat – does exactly what it says on the tin.
The Beloved – a paragon of virtue and a self-appointed critic of most of my thoughts and actions.
Snr and Jnr Orifice – our fledged offspring.
The Beloved’s head popped round the shed door as Scragend and I were perusing a seed catalogue.
‘You do remember – don’t you – that we are having dinner at the Watsons tonight?’ With a small knowing smirk and a slight dip of the chin I nodded my assent. But internally I was screaming ‘No I did not bloody remember that we are dining with the damnable Watsons and I wish you hadn’t either’.
Not that I have anything against the Watsons you understand. They are perfectly pleasant people. He likes to play cars, ‘Jags’ in particular, and embraces the ‘wife beater T shirt’ as the height of hip, sartorial chic. She is a faded beauty, a touch chanteuse/chartreuse, a smidgeon theatrical but one of the deftest touches in the kitchen department of life.
In fact we have enjoyed the Watsons hospitality on many occasions and they were a joyous sojourn into open-handed hosting – marvellous wines, marvellous food. Succulent meats, pillowy clouds of Yorkshire puddings, lakes of fragrant gravy, herb encrusted roasted veg, what they would knock up in that kitchen almost verged on the indecent.
And then joy free vegetarian/vegan January descended, swiftly to be followed by Fed-up February – and in true Watson style they embraced the most radical of the options, to be ‘woke’ with the youth, and went vegan, organic and …smug.
Of course we did not know this at the time we accepted their invite to dine with them last month.
I forswore off eating all that day, prior to dining at Casa Watsup, in preparation for the delights of whatever cold spring feast was in store for us. Ragout, casseroles, tangines, heavy with spiced and unctuous sauces and heaped with melting meats.
Reader, when I sat down to dine, and with what followed in the matter of the cuisine (what deluded fool thought that tofu was ever a ‘thing’ never mind a food?), well it was as close to putting your child on your lap, hugging them closely and then whispering in honeyed tones that neither the tooth fairy, nor St Nicklaus exists.
These warm, hospitable people had turned into righteous commandos of the quinoa, extremists of the smoked tofu and intense proponents of the ‘concerned-hip-and-smug-and-by-God-are-you going-to-know-about-it’ school of bores. By the end of the first course I had mentally signed up to the ‘slap-me-so-hard-and-often-till-I-cannot-feel-my-face-or-hear-your-drivel’ school of thought.
There must be no rematch. But that was too much to hope for. The Beloved has only gone and accepted yet another foray into the kimchi underbelly of the Watsons’ new fad.
Coming out of my reverie about all things Watsons and culinary, I observed Scragend. Her attempts at showing a maternal instinct by sitting on the goose egg lasted all of three days before her true colours shone through and she pecked at it until it cracked and then hoovered up the contents with unseemly relish.
‘I might as well eat this seed catalogue Hen for all the gourmet delight there will be tonight’ quoth I. She assented with a small dip of her chin and a knowing smirk. ‘Sucker,’ she thought.