bad smells before breakfast
Every winter morning when Granny was a child she used to come downstairs to breakfast to find her dad opening up the bottom oven of the Aga and heaving out the saucepan in which he cooked his chicken food. She can't remember what was in it; old veggies probably, left-over scraps of this and that. All she does know is that it STANK. And that nothing would persuade him to wait till after breakfast to do this, ever. They had to sit and eat (a full English breakfast too, this was insisted on, from cornflakes through egg, bacon, etc to toast, cooked by him) amid the lingering reek; intensified by the time he took to mash it all up and add meal. Also, amid the cold air he left behind him when he opened the door to the garden to take the feed out to the chickens. This at least got rid of some of the smell, but by no means all.
Granny came into the kitchen this morning to find another bad smell. One of the worst perpetrated by Beloved - boiled up prawnshells. 'Couldn't you wait till after breakfast?' she asks him. 'No' he says, 'It's for the chickens.' 'Lucky them', she says. And retreats into the office. Which is why she is now in here writing this, instead of making coffee. Not in the best of tempers. The wind blows, the cloud cover is down, her arm aches. Across neighbouring fields they've been picking up onions. The agaves over the wall have produced a small forest this year. Any minute now the flowers on the arms of the trees will be bright yellow. Now they are still a fluorescent green.
Beloved takes watercress out of the fridge. 'They must grow this on Tenerife.' he says. 'There's running water there.' RUNNING WATER!! Granny has a brief but agonised moment of longing. Green fields, dark water, standing up to your knees in the eddies with a net, trying to catch minnows.... Though, come to think of it, mud between her toes might no longer seem for her the most desirable of sensations - and what's minnow when you can catch shrimps; or octopus? No more would she yearn to experience again the smell of her Dad's chicken food. But on this dry, cactus-breeding island she does miss the sound of running streams. (She COULD call them 'babbling brooks.' But after nearly 3 hours last night of listening, via the internet, to Andrew Murray's match on Radio Five Live, she defers to those masters, those ph.d doctorates of cliche, of mixed metaphor, the tennis commentators - Max Robertson where are you? - and does not seek to compete.)
She will now try to obliterate the boiled up prawnshells with the smell of coffee. Not quite heaven, more like addiction. It will do for now.