Food glorious food

Charli Mills had challenged us to write a 99 word flash with food at its core.

September 3, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include food in your story. Is it the focus or part of the setting? Does it speak, smell or feel slimy? Is it sensual or practical, basic fare or feast worthy?

It is difficult to be ambivalent about food. One of the Vet’s closest friends doesn’t ‘get’ food. She will only eat it if it is beige and doesn’t contain fruit. But she is the exception in my circle. Food is a part of the fabric of our lives, not just as a power source but as a glue, a catalyst, a magnet, a stimulator of conversations, a source of argument and a tool of forgiveness.

Even the way it is consumed can be important. I eat ridiculously fast; I don’t know why. It’s not as if the Archaeologist tried to eat everything and I had to fight for my share. My memory of him and food is he loved parsnips, Brussels, spinach and grapefruit while I devoured eggs, offal and those slimy puddings beloved of 1960s schools – tapioca, rice, semolina.  This would have been the classic Jack Sprat and Mrs Sprat scenario, save our mother came from the ‘clear your plate or it will be there for breakfast’ school of home economics; which meant one of us had to force down something ghastly and inedible while the other watched with undisguised glee (help each other out by sneakily eating the other’s portion? I don’t think so!). By university I guzzled so fast I was nicknamed J Edgar because I was the nearest thing to a hoover at the table. Starting work didn’t slow me down; my first lunch with a client had me pushing four peas around my plate waiting for the others to catch up, me feeling mortified as I saw the disdain on the partner’s face. He, by the way, ate with his mouth open – I recall the way the client tried to brush the crumbs from the roll that the partner sprayed about, oblivious to where he was spreading the debris. I doubt we secured any new work between us.

2014-09-07 11.06.37I’m also a messy eater. I have this thing about boring lawyers in grey/blue suits. They are the classic city lawyer’s uniform, or at least they were until dress down Friday became a daily phenomenon and brought the tyranny of choice into our lives. I rebelled in my small way by indulging a propensity for jolly (some would say childish) ties. They were loud and pretty dazzling and have one big advantage over the plain red or yellow – they don’t show the stains. Now I don’t wear ties (thank heavens – there is really nothing more irritating) so it I left to my shirts, lapels and belt buckles to collect the bits that slip from my fork or miss my mouth. The family know to cough if there’s been a spillage I haven’t spotted. If they don’t and leave me sporting a dollop of cream or a soupçon of mash I know family loyalty is no more.

And so we come to the flash and the next stage of Mary’s story….


Something to chew on


‘Where are you going, Penny?’

‘Great Aunt Alison is dying…’

‘She’s not your Aunt.’

‘What is she then?’

Mary couldn’t say ‘Grandpa’s mistress’.

‘Please Mum. She’s old and ill.’ A tear slipped down Penny’s cheek.



Rupert answered. ‘Do you want to help with supper?’

Mary watched Penny spoon food into Angela’s slack mouth. She looked dreadful.

Rupert whispered urgently. ‘She needs proper care.’

Mary nodded, understanding why they had challenged her father’s will. ‘I…’

Alison started gagging, her eyes bulging. Rupert lunged for his mother as Mary pulled Penny from the room.

‘What have I done, Mum?’

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in cooking, flash fiction, food, miscellany, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Food glorious food

  1. Archaeologist says:

    I am a great believer in serendipity and curious coincidences. When notification of this blog appeared on my Facebook page, it immediately preceded this;
    “I just realised. Fruit are dangerous! So many pigs seem to die while eating an apple.”
    From someone who has no knowledge of you, or your blogs. Curious isn’t it?


  2. Annecdotist says:

    This is lovely, Geoff, both your thoughts on fast and messy eating and the way your flash has moved on to yet another level. A really enjoyable post but, having shared one or two meals with you, I think you might be undervaluing your eating skills though it makes for a fun fictionalisation.
    Love that tie collection, but what do you do with them now you’ve retired them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      What to do with the ties? I can’t bear to be parted in truth. Ut I doubt I will wear most ever again. I should bow to the inevitable rather.


      • Archaeologist says:

        I would have thought that the Textiliste could come up with an interesting idea of what to do with the ties, perhaps create a memory cushion to go with the memory desk.

        Liked by 2 people

      • TanGental says:

        Brilliant; I just have to persuade her! We need to get a date in the diary re Woodfidley, btw…


  3. Wonderfully engaging. I met my husband and we went on our first date, let’s just say the ice-cream went everywhere, two old ladies sitting opposite said very sweetly, ‘You two look as though you’re really having fun’ – she was right – and we’ve been battling messy eating for years. We are seriously considering bibs, hey why not, when no-one’s looking. It’s when you go to answer the front door forgetting you sport this addition that could be a problem. Small islands, busy mouths…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Avalina; do try Charli’s prompt sometime, they are a fun bunch. If you want to see the rest of Mary’s story (this is my ‘novel in a series of flashes’!) it’s on my blog under the ‘my work’ tab.
      And I’m glad there are more serial food-klutzes out there. I can’t begin to list the food I’ve worn down the years.


      • Yeah -it ain’t good honest food unless you’re wearing it. I might look in on Charli’s prompt but not sure I can commit to two comps a week! Congrats for runner-up, you deserved it, it was so original birthing children from the soil. I voted yesterday (postal vote) first time I’d voted in years!


      • TanGental says:

        Well done for voting; I’m hoping that, at least, it’ a good turn out If ever a vote counted and mattered it has to be this one. I’ll nail my colours to the mast and say I want the Union to continue but if it’s not to be then I shall still visit every year until the border is closed!


  4. Amber Prince says:

    I do enjoy these flashes about Mary and her family. I do hope that Allison hasn’t just killed off poor Angela.

    Your post has given me a bit more appreciation for my younger brother. When my mom made us sit at the table until our plates were cleaned, he would not only clean his plate but also clear mine of whatever I refused to touch.


  5. Charli Mills says:

    Such a dichotomy from the post to the flash. I relished the food magnetism and laughed at the messiness of eating. Passion for life mirrored in a passion for food, right? Having invested in bottles of Spray & Wash between the Hub and me, I understand the ties. Just two days ago we went to the Hoot Owl for breakfast and the owner told me what a lovely top I was wearing. I ducked out of there with huckleberry brightly announcing my difficulty getting a spoon to my mouth without incident.

    And then we get to the flash where Mary simply can’t escape her father’s affair–the elements of it are becoming far too human to be just an event. Aw, but Penny, dear sweet child. What a dilemma for her! Rupert, so much an older version of Penny in the sense that he was the child of this affair, innocent and seeking approval and love of family just as Penny is innocent and tries to give love and embrace all family. Wonderful writing!


    • TanGental says:

      Why is it that we food droppers choose to shed the dark berries on our white shirts and tops and cream sauces on dark suits and ties. It’s another variation of Sod’s third law of thermodynamics : the one that has the buttered toast landing buttered side down. I saw a neat experiment where a slice of buttered toast was strapped to the back of a cat – fabled for landing on its feet – to see what was the stronger law- cat’s paws or sticky toast – the jury is out. Maybe something similar us needed for food droppings.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sherri says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one to spill food down me Geoff!!! I was always the kid at parties with chocolate round my mouth…nothing much has changed today 😉 I’m very much enjoying your flash as it continues to tell your story. Enjoyed this post very much…oh wait, is that the hoovering going on?


    • TanGental says:

      Tis incredible how many people can’t eat properly. There’s clearly a disorder waiting to be named – gastroplasty or something. My fav story (not exactly on point) is of a colleague whose keyboard wasn’t working properly; when the techies came round they wanted to know how pineapple had lodged under the letters R and G. The night before, after a heavy session with clients she had come back to collect her house keys… and thought she’d got away with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Food for Fiction « Carrot Ranch Communications

  8. Norah says:

    You are really developing this story of Mary, Penny and Rupert and I am enjoying following along. Is this it for Allison? My aunt passed away at a similar time in her life – mid mouthful! What will happen to the survivors now? I also enjoyed hearing tales of your eating adventures. I was one of ten children and we had to eat what was on our plates or get nothing. We also had to get in quick or we’d miss out. I loved hearing the story of the different foods you and the Archaeologist liked. Did you have to clean your plate while thinking of the starving children in Africa like we did?


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