Sunday 24 January 2010

A feast of meat and filth

15st 9lb, 6.4 units. I should perhaps have said that I did not really gain 4lbs yesterday, except by shifting my geographical location and using a set of scales that is less kindly disposed towards me. Though I do, of course, invariably take full credit for the completely fictitious weight loss that apparently occurs whenever I travel in the opposite direction.

The omens for the waistline today did not look good, as Mrs H staggered across the kitchen under the weight of the huge leg of lamb, and began rubbing it with assorted spices under the watchful eye of The Dog. Her natural inclination, once equipped with enough meet to feed 13, would have been to invite at least 11 people around to share it with us. I, in my buttoned-up English way, preferred to stick at the six we can seat comfortably around the 1930s dining table I inherited from my parents. But in Iran, apparently, Mrs H’s relatives would cheerfully invite around 16 people and simply spread them out around the house – some at the table, some on the sofa, some in the conservatory. “And they would all have a really good time,” Mrs H concluded. I felt like saying that this would be a first for a luncheon or dinner party at my house, however many people were invited, but somehow I managed to contain myself.

I don’t know where my morning went. Well, I do. It was mainly absorbed by listening to two weeks’ worth of The Archers Omnibus back to back, while assembling a flat-pack high chair for The Baby and doing a mountain of accumulated ironing. As a result, there seemed to be a mad rush to accomplish my share of the pre-lunch chores, such as fetching logs and wine (shades of Good King Wenceslas) lighting the fires and laying the table. I had just about finished when our first guests arrived, bringing with them two mad spaniels and their year-old daughter (human, not canine). They plonked her in the high chair before I could mention that I had managed to wreck two vital barrel nuts through over-enthusiastic application of my Allen key, and that as a result it probably would not pass an official Elfin Safety inspection. I was much heartened by their pride and joy’s failure to plummet to her death, and tipped Mrs H the wink that it was probably safe to use it for our own Baby so long as we put a load of cushions on the floor around it to break his fall.

Mrs H Does Not Do Gravy but fortunately one of our guests did, while I devoted myself to the uncharacteristically manly task of carving. I provided enough lamb in each serving to exceed the RDA of red meat per person by around 150 per cent, yet it was so delicious that 66.6 per cent of the plates were completely cleared, and one was left merely decorated with a few artfully cut scraps for the dogs. True, one guest did not eat any of it all, merely shifting it around a bit for form’s sake. I am confident that this is not the result of vegetarianism, and I suppose if I were a restaurateur I would have enquired what was wrong with the dish and then pushed the cook onto her sword. But, as it was, I just let it pass unremarked and three dogs were very grateful. After lunch the Men took them for a walk across the muddy fields while the women stayed by the fire and talked about us behind our backs. I do not think I have ever seen three animals get more filthy, but sadly I am talking about the dogs rather than the ladies.

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