The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I were eating lunch in the rather lovely surroundings of the Palm Court Pavilion. I was much refreshed having been treated to a lie-in until well after 9 a.m, while our daughter
tended to her father’s early morning requirements. Like breakfast. Now I was preparing to tuck into bubble and squeak cakes topped with ham, egg and hollandaise sauce.
How is yours? my daughter wanted to know, looking up from an enormous helping of fish finger sandwiches and chunky chips. I had to confess (casting envious eyes at her plate) that my meal wasn’t quite as tasty as I expected.
I often have problems with ordering food. The fact is that I am not very good at reading menus, consequently my meals are often a disappointment to me. This is mostly down to me and
my tastebuds rather than the excellent eateries I have frequented. My most famous eating errors have occurred on foreign holidays, particularly when visiting those countries where I possess a smattering (think O Levels from the early Sixties) of the lingo.
On one infamous occasion, in a French bistro, I promised Mr B that I was ordering him a cheese omelette - only to find, when it turned up, that it was a potato omelette. Mr B was not amused. He was slightly mollified when my meal arrived at our table and,
offal-hater that I am, I discovered I had accidentally asked for braised kidneys. It was not my Finest Hour. It was, well, offal....
I wish I was a more adventurous
eater. I wish I didn’t prefer my food plain and unadorned. I wish I had an eye for the appetising. My Foursome still like to remind me of the time in their childhood when I served up steamed cod, mashed potatoes and cauliflower - a dish notable for its
total whiteness. I like to think it tasted delicious, despite its anaemic appearance.
Anyway, enough of that - back to our lunchtime meal. The Youngest
of the Darling Daughters felt I should mention my dissatisfaction when the waitress came to collect our plates. She obviously didn’t hold out much hope because she knows I’m not a complainer by nature. However when the sweet waitress looked concerned
at my half-eaten meal, I did tell her, half-apologetically, that it didn’t have much taste. Amid profuse apologies, she said she would report back to the cook and headed off for the kitchen.
At this point, we looked at each other as it suddenly occurred to us, at one and the same time, that the lack of a sense of taste is one of the many symptoms of coronavirus. The restaurant staff are not to know, after all,
about my less-than-adventurous palate. Might we find ourselves surrounded by staff wearing visors along with their face masks, armed with thermometers and ready to frogmarch us out of the restaurant? Maybe, my daughter suggested, I should make a point of mentioning
that my meal smelt quite delicious - or commenting on the pleasant perfume of the air freshener?
By this time we were both in fits of giggles. “Please, please,
whatever you do, don’t cough!” my daughter urged me between my snorts of laughter. I was off again.
There are many, many reasons why I love the time
I spend with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters - one of them is that we almost always have at least one fit of the giggles when we get together. If I tried to explain what we were laughing at on any particular occasion (including the current one), it is
likely that nobody would understand what was so very funny. We were still laughing when our waitress returned to tell us that because of my disappointment our coffees would be “on the house.”
It occurs to me that more than ever at the moment we need moments of rib-tickling hilarity. If you happen to be feeling low, just at the moment, I urge you to try to find something totally ridiculous to laugh at.
A fit of the giggles - preferably in the company of a Darling Daughter - is the very best medicine for the gloom and doom of today.