Tag Archives: potatoes

1886. A small tragedy

(Dear Friends – a footnote at the top of the page! All my poems in the past have had an audio except for “Self-portrait in landscape” which was promulgated the other day. I’ve fixed that omission, so there’s now an audio of me reading it if anyone is interested. None of this has anything to do with the following story!)

When Charmaine was peeling potatoes she accidentally cut off her baby finger. Her mother had always said, “Charmaine! Don’t peel the potatoes with a sharp knife! Peel the potatoes with a proper potato peeler!” But you know young people. Charmaine knew better. It was inevitable that one day she would cut off a finger with the knife.

It wasn’t just the tip of the baby finger; it was the whole hog; the entire pinkie on her left hand.

Part of the tragedy was of course that Charmaine was a fabulous concert pianist. What a fabulous concert pianist was doing peeling potatoes I have no idea. Nor did her mother, my wife. Naturally, her hysterical mother phoned for an ambulance after wrapping the little finger up in several pieces of paper towel, the roll of which sat on the window sill above the kitchen sink. There was blood on the cutting board and kitchen bench and everywhere, and the couple of potatoes that had been already peeled were ruined.

I said to Charmaine that I wouldn’t mind paying a famous composer to write a piece for piano that used only nine fingers, and she said “Don’t be silly Daddy. How would a famous composer know it was my pinkie on the left hand that was missing?” I wouldn’t have thought that such things mattered.

And then the ambulance, while turning off the road into the driveway, missed and drove into the ditch. It was stuck. And what is more it was blocking the gate so that the next ambulance (that my wife had called for immediately) couldn’t get in. To add to the inconvenience, the ambulance personnel got the stretcher through the gate, but with Charmaine lying on the stretcher they couldn’t squeeze it between the stuck ambulance and the garden wall. It simply wasn’t possible to turn the stretcher on its side. Not with Charmain in it.

The ambulance crew tipped Charmain onto the grassy verge and managed to get the stretcher through the gap. They then had to get Charmaine through the gap and onto the stretcher and into the usable ambulance.

That is when I said, “Look Charmaine, I can tell the famous composer which finger is missing when I commission the piece.”

And Charmaine said, “Oh Daddy, it’s not the same.” I didn’t have a clue what she meant. She can be so obtuse at times. But anyway, before long the ambulance was on its way and I followed (with Charmaine’s mother as a passenger) in the family car which fortunately I had parked on the side of the road outside the gate. Somehow the ambulance got through all the heavy traffic but we got stuck. We were sitting on the road in the car halfway to the hospital, and I said “Well at least the right vehicle got through”, and my wife said “Yes, but I have her finger in my purse. There’s no hope now.”

I said, “That settles it. I’m commissioning a piano piece for nine fingers from a famous composer. I’ll do that tomorrow.”

That is when Charmaine’s mother’s phone rang. “Hello? Hello?” The batteries went flat. The phone was dead. Now it’s going to be hours before we find out what the lottery numbers are.

1794. Peeling potatoes

Caitlin was halfway through peeling the potatoes for dinner when the phone rang. It was Uncle Philip phoning to say that Great Aunt Philomena had died. Caitlin hardly knew her. Once or twice when she was a child her parents had visited Great Aunt Philomena and Caitlin was each time ordered to “behave like a lady”. Even back then Great Aunt Philomena was as proper as one could get, and now she was dead. It was no great shakes. Caitlin went back to peeling the potatoes.

The announcement of Philomena’s death brought back some vivid memories for Caitlin. The spinster aunt would sit in a huge armchair while Caitlin’s parents sat on the sofa and made small talk. Two or three times throughout the visit, Great Aunt Philomena would rise from her chair and grandly announce, “I shall be back shortly. It’s time for a little Coca Cola.” She would depart the room only to return a few minutes later smelling of gin.

Her death was five years ago. Throughout those five years, every time Caitlin peeled potatoes for dinner she thought of Great Aunt Philomena. That phone call had associated Philomena with potato peeling. Forever, it seems. Why can’t I think of something else when I peel potatoes, thought Caitlin? The association remained. There was no escaping it. Great Aunt Philomena and potatoes were inextricably bound. It was an existential annoyance. There was only one thing for it: Caitlin would have to give up peeling potatoes.

Of course, Caitlin peeled the potatoes only to be useful and “ordinary”. She didn’t need to do the peeling. These days one of the scullery maids does it. It helps that Great Aunt Philomena left Caitlin her mansion and all her millions.

1327. Potatoes

News Report: Mr and Mrs Stanley McBride are so proud of their daughter Mary (pictured). She had just come fifth in a Grow the Biggest Potato competition at her school.

“We are so proud of our daughter’s efforts at growing a potato,” said Mr McBride. “She just stuck a sprouting spud in the dirt and voilà! Look at that beauty!”

“There’s no doubt that our daughter takes after her late grandmother,” added Mrs McBride. “They both have green fingers as can be seen by the size of that potato. And she’s only nine! There were four boys ahead of her, but she beat eighteen other boys and two girls with her potato.”

Letter to Editor I: I am shocked and horrified that the parents of the “girl” who got fifth in the potato growing competition have already determined the gender of their child. She is only nine, for goodness sake, and already she is having her parents’ old-fashioned definitions of sexuality rammed down her throat. Who said the child wants to be a girl? Who determined at such a young age that she should be female? While I congratulate the child on getting fifth with her potato I am sure the child shall come somewhere near the bottom when it comes to coming to terms with its own sexuality.

Letter to Editor II: How dare the school run a competition. A competition exists to make those who do not win feel bad about themselves. The school could have had instead a Celebrate the Potato Week. But no! They have to go and tell most of the students that they are losers. Even the little girl who got fifth is a loser. There can be only one winner in a competition and that is the person who gets first. The girl is a big-time loser and that is all this potato competition is telling her.

Letter to Editor III: Why did we see a photograph of the girl who got fifth in the potato growing competition? Was it because she was a girl? I would like to have seen pictures of the boys’ potatoes. A couple of the boys holding onto their potatoes would’ve been much more stimulating than seeing a girl holding a spud and getting fifth. What is the world coming to?

Letter to Editor IV: I would like to join with others in congratulating the little girl who got fifth in the potato growing competition reported in your paper last Thursday. The photograph of her is stunning, and she looks wonderful in her summery frock purchased, I believe, from my shop on Duke Street. I am putting this brand of children’s wear at half price during this week as a way of celebrating. But be in quick. They will sell fast – Like a hot potato!

Letter to Editor V: I hope the girl’s potato was grown organically. These days too many gardeners grow their potatoes using sprays. We eat only what we grow ourselves. I haven’t sprayed my potatoes now for five years. My wife says, Oh for God’s sake spray the potatoes this year, because she’s hanging out for a boiled spud, but no! I refuse, even though Colorado potato beetles decimate my crop every year. I really hope the little girl at the school, and the boys too, learn from my example.

Letter to Editor VI: I always piss on my potatoes. The same for lemons. The potatoes love it. I think the little girl who got fifth in the potato competition should get some extra points. It’s a lot easier for boys to piss on their potatoes than it is for girls so she’s at a disadvantage from the start. Judging from the size of the girl’s potato I wouldn’t be surprised if she got her father to take the occasional slash out the back of the garden shed.

Letter to Editor VII: My little girl didn’t get anywhere in the potato growing competition. She grew a sweet potato and was disqualified. A sweet potato is apparently not a potato in terms of the competition. They said the only reason my little girl grew a sweet potato was because she’s fallen victim to stereotypes. Being female should not be regarded as “sweet”. My son grew an unbelievably huge carrot. He didn’t get anywhere but he wasn’t disqualified. They said he was welcome to stick his carrot in the competition. There seems to be one standard for girls and one for boys.

This correspondence is now closed: Editor.

1258. The grass verge

All the neighbours down a country lane got together. Look at the waste of space on either side of our lonely road, they said. Let’s plough it up and plant potatoes.

So they did. The local residents had enough spuds to feed all and sundry. Well, they did, until the Council came along and ploughed the potatoes up.

You can’t do that, said the Council. The grass verge on either side of the road is public property.