Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Every year, something nests in my workshop. One year, it was wrens which cosy'd up in Joyce Grenfell's hat, hanging on a nail from a beam. This year, a couple of robins built one of their untidy piles of vegetable detritus - happily on a pile of tools which I seldom need to use.
I've been tip-toeing around the place for the last couple of weeks, trying not to frighten them too much. Yesterday I was looking for something near the back of the room, and became aware of a pair of eyes peeping at me in the gloom.
Strange to think that the first introduction to other species on the planet was me, for this little fellow. Now I have to be careful not to step on him or one of his siblings. As if I didn't enough to think about.
I'll tell you what I miss more than most things in this age of air-miles attached to kitchen garden vegetables - seasonality. It really irks me when H.I. comes home with a punnet of strawberries in December, and it also makes me feel wretched when I buy tasteless green beans from Kenya, which I am sometimes forced to do because H.I. is very colour-conscious (you wouldn't believe), and if presented with a monochrome dish of winter tubers, tends to come over all silent.
Most seasonal treats have to be gathered by hand, such as wild mushrooms - or anything else with the word 'wild' in front of it - and whole festivals have been celebrated since ancient times to mark their arrival.
For a brief period of about two weeks, geese lay a few eggs which they walk away from (or get robbed by slavering bulldogs) before laying a couple which they sit on to hatch the next generation to be trussed up for Christmas, and I look forward to the goose-egg season with childish enthusiasm.
There is a smallholding near me which keeps a few geese, and they sell the small number of excess eggs for £1 each. Buying them is pretty much like gathering them yourself, because you have to face the wrath of a very large, very angry, German Shepherd guard-dog which is stationed on the other side of the farm gate to make sure that you put the money into an honesty box.
Waitrose is probably the prime offender when it comes to selling foodstuffs out of season, and they make a big fuss when they don't, by sticking Union Jacks all over the produce, just to let you know why the price is so high.
The reason the price is so high for locally sourced farm-produce is because they do not have to go to the trouble of chartering a plane to get it into the country, then own a fleet of lorries to take it from the packing and distribution centre at Bracknell, then on to all of their many outlets, spread hundreds of miles apart, right across the country. Hang on, that can't be right.
Every Spring, Waitrose sells a few goose eggs - for £7 each. Seven, fucking pounds, or £6.99 when discounted, like the one below. Do you think any idiots actually buy them, or do you think that they are all thrown away every May, year after year?