Monday, 11 January 2010

Pub talk: ham and eggs

Only loosely pub-related, but prompted by my visit to the Shakespeare's Head on Kingsway on Saturday.

Perusing the vast menu at this Wetherspoon's, I didn't take long to decide on ham, egg and chips.

It sparked a memory from childhood. My parents separated when I was six. Thereafter, I saw my dad once a fortnight, and for the odd week throughout the year when he would take me on holiday. When I was about eight we went to the Lake District. One day we went for a walk up a 'mountain', of sorts. When we set out we could see the top of the mountain and aimed for it. It was a nice day. As we surmounted the foothills, climbing ever higher, somehow the peak was always out of sight.

The weather began to change, clouds came down, the sky darkened, and a persistent drizzle set in. The temperature dropped. My dad determined that we should give up on our ambition, which disappointed me. But he made a new adventure of following the course of a small river that ran down the hill.

We clambered along beside the river. My father urged me to go quickly. I can judge now that he was anxious for our fate, though he didn't say so. We must keep ahead of the descending cloud, outstrip the storm, or we might get stuck and lost.

At a certain point, it became clear that we were travelling faster than the storm, and were no longer in danger. We relaxed, suddenly blithe, blase, light-hearted. The car park came in view. We jumped into the car and drove straight to a pub.

Nowadays, it would be considered a gastropub; then it just served food to cold and grateful climbers. Among the many delights on the menu were 'ham and eggs' and 'more ham and eggs'. I'll have more ham and eggs, I said.

The waitress looked askance at my eight-year-old frame and said, are you sure, it's rather a lot. My dad looked at my eight-year-old frame and said, she'll have more ham and eggs. It came, it was enormous, and I ate every speck.

This only reminds me that I still have not succeeded in visiting my father this winter, where he is - much to his pleasure, I'm sure - cut off by snow and ice in deepest Kent. It also reminds me of the value of knowing when to quit.

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