mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 10: Autumn 1993


When one's character has been marked for excess it is practically impossible to convince the observer that a cautious side may exist, not far below the surface. Hadn't Aunt Cora cheerfully made do with uneaten trays of leftovers, egging her colourless family on as though they were émigrés partaking of strange food in a strange land. She made no secret of this method of budgeting. The animals shared it as well, the dog with bacon bones and the cat with scraps of chicken. She concocted lovely sandwiches with sweet-and-sour fillings and the horses got extra fruit. A bacchanal for the animals, she called it, as gay in her old gumboots as she had been in her unpaid-for dress from Ballantynes.

My mother particularly did not see this as thrift.

'How can self-induced famine be thrift?'she demanded. 'Why, you might as well say the starving people in Ethiopia are recovering from a party.'

page 53

'You're thinking of Rio, my dear,' my father interposed. He knew, if she didn't, that her strange comparisons, so easily dismantled, hid a passion for world order. If only the people of Ethiopia had had a carnival and dancing until they dropped.

'I abhor extremes,' my mother said, her voice shaking. 'Too fat, too thin. I never realised it before. Those famine expressions are worse than opera, worse than some horrendous woman in horns.'

'Horns, what do you mean, horns?' cried Douglas. 'Mother, you are tiresomely hard to follow.'

'The one to get it can have another helping of pudding,' said father. 'Opera, of course. She means opera. A great fat soprano at the end of Wagner. Hair to the ground and horns to the heavens.'

'I still don't see what that's got to do with the famine in Ethiopia.' 'It's a circle,' explained Douglas, scooping more raspberries onto his plate and strafing them with whipped cream. 'Thin and fat are equally to be abhorred, dear sister. By the way I think you're putting it on a bit.'