Lea culpa – that is, it was her own fault

A friend, on her Facebook page, said that her child was crying loudly in the bedroom because a caterpillar had been found in the lettuce, even though the child had made the sandwich and been reminded to wash the lettuce thoroughly.

The child is a bit of a wuss, I’m afraid, though would not care to be told so. I was a timid and shy child, but not squeamish. I am reminded of a time when I was little – I was no more than seven, possibly younger. I don’t know where Wink was, but she wasn’t there. My mother had made me an evening meal and it was just for me. It seems that either fresh vegetables weren’t available or there was no time to prepare them, because she had opened a tin of celery hearts.

I don’t like cooked celery as a vegetable, I never have. Fine as a soup or in a stew or stir fry, also lovely raw. Braised, stewed, boiled, no. I don’t enjoy it. But I was a polite child and ate what was put in front of me. I was forty-nine years and six months and one week old when my mother died and she never knew I disliked cooked celery as a vegetable. I was as polite as that.

This was another matter though. I had this warmed-through celery heart on my plate and, luckily, my mother left the room for some reason so that I was on my own when I cut it in half lengthways. A whole slug was curled up in the middle. Dead, obviously, the poor thing was cooked and canned. It was no one’s fault, it could not have been seen. And was young Z revolted? Well, yes, I was rather. But it was more important to be polite and not to cause an upset. So I fished it out, chucked it into the fire and I remember the sizzle now, as my mother returned.

I ate the celery. I never told anyone. My mother would have been awfully upset, removed the celery, cooked something else when she was going out and didn’t have time – I knew all that and simply spared her. I was as polite as that.

I really wasn’t squeamish, though. A year or two after that, friends of my sister’s came round and I tagged along as they went down the garden to the summer house by the river frontage. They were having some sort of picnic, which included sausages cooked on a camp fire and lemon squash. The sausages weren’t all that successful as I remember: they were quite pink in the middle. I’d heard about tape worms and wondered, rather, but hey. I ate them anyway, as did we all. As I picked up my glass of lemon squash. Susan told me that she’d found a snail’s nest of eggs and had run her fingers through them and then dipped them in my squash.

I didn’t believe her, but I didn’t care anyway. I’d eaten half-raw sausages, eggy squash was far less concerning. A minute later, Susan saw my glass was empty. “Did you drink that?” she asked. I said that I had. She looked impressed. Not being a wuss mattered quite a lot to me, shy as I was. I grinned inwardly.

3 comments on “Lea culpa – that is, it was her own fault

  1. Kestrel

    I think you are amazing and so kind not to have your mum do extra cooking. I would have done most things your way but maybe not eating raw meat. I am always amazed at people eating medium rare beef with the blood oozing out, the same way as they ‘ll be surprised I eat mine well done. Each to his own, I guess. I think children this generation are a bit more vocal and if they don’t like something, they say so!!

  2. Z Post author

    I still think the snail’s eggs thing was an unlikely story, Scarlet, and I remember disbelieving her then. But saving face mattered more. I had a lot of dignity, even as a terribly shy child. I was taught politeness but this was a step further and I think it’s just the way I am, or at least as I was. I have another blog post…

    Kestrel, I think I just didn’t want a fuss made. I’m not sure it was kindness, as such. I wouldn’t eat a half-raw sausage now as an adult, I must say. I agree that children will speak up nowadays.


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