Thursday 23 September 2010

The strange case of the vanishing ham

15st 6lb, 4.4 units. Mrs H and I both enjoyed lunch in the finest staff restaurant in Britain yesterday. I had the delicious homemade pork pie with mushy peas for £1.85, while Mrs H went mad and splashed out £2.25 on the roast duck. On Tuesday we both (though separately) enjoyed the best end of free range pork with caramelized apples, Mrs H fondly imagining that at least some of the aforementioned fruit had come from the large bag she and The Boy spent Sunday afternoon filling in our orchard, and which she had proudly presented to the head chef on Monday. I, however, had a conversation with him which went as follows:

“Did those apples come in useful?”

“Yes, I’ve got a lady who is always asking me if I’ve got any spare apples for her horse, and that’s the best thing for them.”

Oh well. For some reason this encounter reminded me of a Spike Milligan story about an Army medical involving a colleague with an exceptionally small penis. The M.O. stared at it aghast for some time, before asking “Can you piss through it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’d just use it for that, then.”

Anyway, the net result of lunch was that neither of us was particularly hungry this evening, so Mrs H decided that she would just have a ham sandwich. Not too much of a challenge, there, given that she knew we had bread in the appropriate bin, and butter and ham in the fridge. Only it turned out that we didn’t. The packet of ham that she bought at the weekend, and which was definitely there on Monday when I spurned it for my own lunch, had completely vanished. We looked everywhere, to no avail. She hadn’t eaten it, I hadn’t eaten it, The Boy isn’t tall enough to reach the fridge in question and neither is The Dog.

Where could it have gone?

Mrs H, who clearly watches too many of the wrong sort of TV dramas, remembered one where someone was secretly living in a stranger’s house and sneaking down to raid their fridge when they went out, and duly made me check the bedrooms above the garage that we never use, but I drew a predictable blank.

Just to make doubly sure, I consulted the extraordinarily detailed food diary that I have been keeping for several weeks now, in an attempt to get to the bottom of my irritatingly persistent obesity, but there were definitely no stray packets of ham listed there. Then I started wondering whether I had eaten the bloody thing myself and forgotten all about it. I am, after all, a greedy bastard, and I did gain an inexplicable 2lb yesterday. On top of which, I am suffering from galloping dementia. Could I have wolfed it down and then wiped it from my memory? Could I perhaps have sleepwalked downstairs and swallowed it in the middle of the night?

No, I don’t really believe I did, but this didn’t stop me waking up at 4.30 this morning and wasting an hour racking what is left of my brains on the subject. That and rifling through the bin when I got up in case there was a damning empty ham packet with teeth marks where I had torn it open in my shark-like feeding frenzy.

The only other possible explanations involve the various individuals to whom we have given keys to our house for such purposes as doing the hoovering or taking the dog for a walk. Frankly, none of them seems the type either to borrow food from the fridge or to leave doors open so that casual passers-by could do so – and, in any case, what sort of intruder would pinch one packet of ham and leave it at that?

Odd. It doesn’t matter a damn (or a dam, if you prefer the pleasing explanation that this saying is a reference to the near-valueless Indian coin) but I’d still like to know the answer. As I lay awake in the early hours, I remembered being a reasonably small boy and my Dad asking me if I had by any chance taken half a crown from the pile of change on his dressing table. He would not be cross with me if I had, he assured me. He just wanted to know, because looking for it was driving him round the bend.

I now know exactly how he felt. Clearly this obsession with searching for missing articles is a serious hereditary failing. The sad thing is that I didn’t believe the bit about him not being cross, so I vigorously denied it. Sorry about that, Dad. I dunnit. Though, to be honest, the chocolate stains around my mouth should probably have enabled you to work that out for yourself.

1 comment:

Nicola said...

As far as damn/dam goes, my father, who ought to have known given his Indian Police career, used the term "worth less than a bent anna"; an anna apparently being the smallest coin imaginable in pre-Mountbatten India. Oh, and our ham vanished too - the one that should have been an integral part of our delicious "side of Gloucester Old Spot", but was replaced by an unfeasibly large number of chops. I blame the butcher.