Tis the season to be jolly
The first of the seasonal get togethers around a luke warm mince pie, a luke warm sausage, a luke warm glass of Pinot Grigio and a luke warm fire has been survived.
I used to get the odd invite to a large farmhouse where the farmer wandered around spilling straw and colostrum from bottles over the inherited furniture and fittings. I only ever ate anything still hot and burning from the vast kitchen range and drink from unopened bottles. I have a distinct distrust of any man who smells of soap and believe we all have to eat a peck of dirt before we die, but there are limits. The bottom coolest oven of the range was used as a lamb reviver, a lamb found cold and thirsty would be brought back to the farmhouse kitchen, wrapped in an old sack and brought back to life with a bottle of milk and an hour or so in the oven. I remember going there one cold Easter when friends from the village had also been invited. Roast Leg of Lamb was the order of the day so they were a little disturbed to see this pathetic bundle of a baby lamb in the oven, the door was left open. Their discomfort grew as the lamb revived and staggered to its feet and escaped the oven. They didn't dare ask what was going to happen next but I believe furtive plans were being laid to escape before the lamb was dealt with. Their relief at learning that the roast joint was in the top oven was short lived as they sat down to eat a lovely bit of lamb, with a small lamb noisily running round the kitchen under the table looking for its mother.
But it wasn't the presence of livestock in the kitchen that was most off putting - and I swear this is true with no exaggerating at all. I was eating in the Posh Dining room at Christmas when my eye caught sight of a fresh Walnut Whip of a dog turd on the carpet by the fire. My lessons in etiquette failed to explain the correct response so I made my excuses and left as soon as I could. At Easter I was back, the food again was laid out in the Dining Room. I looked casually over to the fireplace and there was the turd still there - now dry and mouldy - but still, I'm sure the same turd. I went hungry.