With my Mum's talent with words and malapropisms, at various points, my Dad has had a ‘womb’ in his leg “Show them your womb Dave…” (Wound), he’s developed a bit of a ‘porch’ (Paunch) and he’s had 'that cystitis’ with Mum pointing to his red and sore eye. I think that one was ‘conjunctivitis’.
We had my Dad’s personal favourite the ‘22nd of DEVEMBER’ and another of Arleen’s favourites, a ‘conversation order' on my Nan’s house, which I think is safe to assume was a ‘conservation order’.
Many of my Mum’s funnies were Malapropisms but some of them were just daft happenings.
The night before my husband & I were to marry, his family came over from Yorkshire and stayed at my parents.
This was a worry for my Mum because she was aware she wasn’t the world’s greatest cook and didn’t want to let me down, especially as I had raved on my MIL- to- be’s cooking – her roast dinners were tops.
“It’s okay, “ said my Mum, confidently, “I’ve got it all sorted. I’ve been to Cordon Bleu (the Iceland of the seventies) and bought all the stuff frozen. It’s foolproof.”
“Sounds good, “ I still had reservations. The expression that my Mum cooked by was “when it’s brown it’s done, when it’s black – it’s buggered!” There were often comments when we were growing up from my smart-mouthed brothers about ‘burnt offerings’ and ‘which deity is it this week Mum?’
“It’s okay – I’ll make sure I don’t burn anything and I’ll make sure there are no icebergs in the middle (yes, that had happened before too…!).
“Alright then, what’s the menu?”
“We’re having Cornish pasty, chips, peas and onion gravy.” That sounded okay – her gravy was usually okay.
"Please twll me we're not having jelly for afters....." My Mum's jelly was not like anyone else's jelly. I had grown up believing jelly had ice crystals in it in parts and strawberry flavoured rubber in others.
“No - for afters, I’ve got apple turnover and custard…..”
“….MUM! You know you can’t do custard…”
“…it’s okay, they had some in tins, already made.”
“Just don’t burn the pan then.” I suggest and somewhat mollified I go off to finish making my dress (yes, last-minute Kate…!).
So the guests duly arrived and Mum had the house uncharacteristically sparkling clean.
We all sit around chatting and Mum excuses herself to see to the food.
Mum & Dad’s house was tiny and the living/dining room was only about 10feet square with a three piece suite and a dining table in it, so the in-laws got to sit at the table (which only sat four) and we (OH & me) were sat on the couch and Dad in his chair.
Mum dished up for the visitors first and I was watching them intently.
I’d gone out earlier and certainly the pasties looked lovely, all golden and flaky and provided the chips weren’t speckled (my Mum’s signature on any dish was speckling) I couldn’t see what could go wrong.
There were a few strange looks being passed around the table, but they were eating it with liberal helpings of brown & red sauce so I didn’t worry too much, especially as mine was the best my Mum had ever produced from that cursed kitchen.
OH and Dad were enjoying theirs thoroughly but I was troubled by the strage expressions at the table still and, to be honest, I was getting a little cross. Okay, Delia Smith she wasn’t, but she was doing her best!
And then the penny dropped.
I couldn’t speak. If I opened my mouth, I’d disgrace myself. I nudged OH and somehow, soundlessly, communicated to him my suspicions. That set him off and the pair of us were silently shaking and leaning on each other with tears coursing down our faces.
My Dad was getting very cross with us. “What’s the matter with the pair of you! Behave!”
Which, if anything, served to make us worse.
In retrospect I could have handled it more sensitively, more maturely but I was only twenty.
Have you guessed yet….?
My in-laws had just eaten, with liberal helpings of sauce, apple turnover, peas, chips and onion gravy!
My question was…..WHY?
But apparently they’d heard of ‘butties’ and ‘scouse’ and other Liverpool delicacies and this, allied to their further epicurean knowledge about ‘apple sauce’ with pork they thought this was just another Scouse menu item!
I’m just glad we twigged before the inevitable Cornish pasty and custard……