The society often has had to resort to vegetarianism, particularly in those testing weeks between the pastor's ending of his winter invites to all the local 'derelicts' for Saturday dinner (tee-hee! How we laugh at his nieveity in being unable to spell or pronounce 'de-rigour') and the beginning of fruit picking season, when one can plentifully work at day and eat at night. Such was the case at the time of this fantastic adventure.
We were beginning to attribute the sores on our groins to meat deprivation and were particularly concerned by the inability of one chap to maintain the societal code – no weeping in front of strangers except as part of a mendicancy. Things looked rough, and there was a possibility that we would have to appeal to the kindness of strangers on a far greater scale than the previous day.
However fortune, like an inverted rainbow, had chanced to smile on The Tavistocks that day. The theft of a poorly attached garden gnome had provided us with sufficient ballast to descend the staircase into Uncle's wine cellar (although, to be on the safe side, we had wrapped the gnome in a blanket and used it to crack open a window) where we were able to spirit off a bottle or two of wine. We had heard that he had some quite expensive ones, but were unable to find any with a price of more than 2005. They seemed to be in a narrow price range; all from 1911 to a maximum of the aforementioned 2005. We selected this final chap, triumphant in the knowledge we could offer a 5p discount and still have a couple of ponys to kick about.
Thus it was as we entered Waitrose and began the hunt for those sweet red stickers which symbolised the official prey of the Tavistocks: discounted food. What would we find? The possibilities were literally endless. Allow me to describe the final pickings in short, for night comes upon us and soon we shall see no more ere the dawn: fine steak, tomato, runner-bean (2), zucchini, spinach, plum, pear, orange. Our own condiment supplies were low, but we knew that we could access the Havisocks' supplies simply by feigning a reconciliation; and of course, therein lied heat, warmth and tap water as a bonus. By simply spicing up the meal to a Tavistock level, we would also be assured of causing the inevitable befouling of one's self on the part of each and every Havisock the posthumous, sorry no, postponed... oops, not that, the following day.
“Alright mate” we issued, as we strode into their HQ like the majestic line of strutting cocks that we indeed are metaphorically comparable to. We headed to what we have presumed was their kitchen from our covert observations (finding the gas-man's uniform in the jumble was truly a pivotal point for our espionage-at-large). We began to cook-up in unison, slicing etc at a high rate. Our best man was put over the pan – the pressure was on not to embarrass ourselves in front of these men who were, from their perspective at least - complete strangers (when we are in the guise of the Tavistocks). Item follows item into the pan, heat is applied, the cooking is complete. All has seemingly gone well.
We awaited the head taster's initial reflection on the dish with baited breath, but frankly, we have heard better harlequin speeches (1) than the diatribe which was eminent from his curry-hole. The meat, initially of a rather fine, bloody redness, firm as a buttock to the touch, had somehow putrefied in the pan to a fatty mess which all would later pronounce to be 'shitey'. The very thought of it reminds us of father, who the local paper would refer to as a shrewd man in the obituary (we were there for much of him, but have no real recollections which can counter or condone its veracity) when we finally received the clippings in mother's estate. The plums, once so redolent of hope and fruitiness, had withered into a shattered carpal shell of bitter and solid goo, as if objectified by the ravages of both lacquer and hair-dryer on the dressing table of the cheap hotel in Barrow where we spent our happiest days under the care of the DSS. The rest was indescribable, as if the very moistness of the vegetal matter, appalled at our malignant intention, has simply evaporated away under the heat of the gas-flame.
Oh why did things happen that way? In future, we have to be sure to issue a prayer to Pan for clemency before enterprises are initiated, or at least before they are begun. And some kind of restraint would be hoped for vis the slicing etc which had seemed so prudent back in the heady days before the curry was made.
We wish we could go back, but at least the presence of foul garments in the Havisocks' bin the next day attested to partial success.
Hunger, however, remains a constant problem.
- Admittedly, harlequin speeches are a speciality of the society, as they often bring the Samaritans down from t'other end of the telegraphy wire with offers of hot food and material comfort. One of them was a lady, once.
- The society considers it abhorrent to see beans referred to in the general and not specifically by type.