Wednesday 12 December 2007

Radishes. Not as good as they used to be, I tell you.

Have you noticed how radishes are not as good as they used to be?
Long ago, and far away, the best radishes and carrots were the ones in Mister Watson's allotment, which was next to ours. My sister and I had been specifically prohibited from pulling up and eating the various vegetable goodnesses in our allotment, but no specific statement had been made regarding Mr Watson's garden. If you were a politician, you would know that not having a prohibition being read out to you and being forced to sign an acknowledgement is roughly equivalent to, um, well, the opposite. If you weren't told NOT to do it, it obviously must be quite alright.
So we pulled up radishes, wiped the muck off, and ate them. Carrots too. Potatoes were not very nice, a couple is too many. Our mother had demonstrated that a carrot top in a saucer of water will sprout and thrive. So we never ate the top quarter inch, and carefully re-planted them. Obviously, no harm was done, and they'd just regenerate theirselves overnight.
Imagine the outrage when called in to meet the irate neighbour, and the shouty parent, and the confiscation of toys, loss of privileges, and being banged up in solitary, -sent to bed in the daytime, no toys or books allowed. Damn those grown-ups.
Mr Watson had two names. To grown ups he was called Frank, but children were told not to be cheeky if they referred to him by that name. And he had a pond with special goldfishes.
Radishes now are too clean, no mud at all, and though big, do not make me sneeze, which I seem to remember was the point of it, biting a radish and seeing how long you could go, eyes watering, before the explosive sneeze and fits of giggles.
Whales were bigger too, in those days. Bigger than a ship. That one in the Thames last year must have been a fake one, animatronic or something cheap and shoddy, because they can fight giant squids and are fierce. A real whale wouldn't just swim up a river, dither around and die, would it?

Could a whale beat a bear in a fight? Simon thinks they can, but even cowboys are afraid of bears. And squids have suckers.

Moby Dick could beat a squid though.
I always wanted a better name than the one I was given. Especially when I read Moby Dick...

"Mum," I said, "Can I be called 'Queequeg' from now?".
"No." , she said. And that was the end of that idea.