memoir – green cabbage

Dear friends

There were so many things I thought to tell you about this past week: FISH!; the cull (redundancies); buildings that look like ships; the weather (very wet); winter coat – parka v. duffle. Finally I’ve settled for a childhood memoir, prompted by the fact that we’re having savoy cabbage this evening.

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I was only sick (I mean actually vomit sick) once at school. In fact I only remember being sick twice as a child – the tale I’m going to tell now and an incident involving tinned burgers. (Imagine my horror at the nausea and vomiting accompanying all four of our beautiful children!)

So, I was about 7 or 8, in Mr Fairhall’s class – he had to be the tallest teacher ever, and one of the strictest in the school; we were addressed by surname only and never allowed to toilet during lesson time.  School dinners (lunch) included a healthy portion of green cabbage – I’ve always supposed it was cabbage! – it was green, watery and really did not look good. I’m fairly certain that I was in the habit of ducking out of the green stuff either by withdrawing my plate or discretely leaving it to the end and on my plate.  However, this lunchtime a dinner lady made certain I ate the green stuff.  Yukkk!!!

Later that afternoon, after play, sitting at my table I began to feel distinctly unwell.  Could I do it? Could I raise my hand and ask to go toiletdinnereven if I managed to ask would Mr Fairhall let me go?  I was desperately uncomfortable so asked.

You do look a little pale, Simmons. You can go.

Pale, I thought to myself, and since then. What hue had come across by brown skin?  What shade was I turning? And I headed down the corridor. I had just turned the corner, by the staff room, when I knew why I wasn’t feeling comfortable and why Mr Fairhall described my appearance as pale.

Once I was done, I sheepishly knocked on the staff room door where the school admin lady opened it, looked at the floor, then looked at me as if to say, “you could have made it another few doors to the toilets!!” All I could see was undigested green stuff.  And at home time, there remained a pile of sand, to mark the spot.  And I never ate green cabbage again, until a few years ago I began making stir fries for the family.

It’s cottage pie with savoy cabbage this evening – little bit of olive oil, yumm!!

I really don’t know how school dinner cabbage in the 70’s looked the way it did.  My theory.  I actually think it was spring greens. I think the dinner ladies told us it was cabbage. So spring greens – however cheap they are – will not land in my shopping trolley – they look too much like the green stuff.

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