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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aunty Amy's mustard – another 'tale from my wicked past'

A delightful posting here about plastic-tasting glug reminded me vividly of a saga with my Aunty Amy. I was living with her and Uncle Vic the whole three years I was at university in the late 1960s, after teaching ankle-biters for a couple of years.

    She insisted on packing me a cut lunch, which had its advantage in cost-saving for someone climbing down from a teacher's wage of about $50 to $19 per week. Apart from a piece of fruit, the lunch invariably consisted of two sizable packs of sandwiches. Aunty Amy was short and barrel-shaped, and her main mission in life was to try to make everyone else conform roughly those proportions. Me, anyway.

Avocado, not mustard. *SIGH*
    The only problem was that one packet of the two invariably contained ham sandwiches with a particular mustard on them I loathed. I figured I was being picky and should get used to it, so I ate them for some time. A farm life made it impossible to throw away good food.

    But, as in the piece mentioned above, it got to the stage where it was too late to say, "Don't put mustard on it" without raising a query from Aunty Amy about why, and I wasn't skilled enough in diplomacy to get around it.

    The problem was solved when I started meeting my youngest sister at the university refectory for lunch, she being in the first year of her degree. She had no objection to the mustard and was as poor as I, if not poorer, so for the best part of three years, Aunty Amy unknowingly provided lunch for both of us. [Had she discovered it, she would have simply doubled the rations.]

    Aunty Amy was Dad's sister, and much loved by us all. When we were little, on the rare times she was able to visit the farm, she snuck out to us kids on the verandah and told bum jokes.

    Aunty Amy was wicked, you see. That's why we loved her so much.

    "What's the difference," she would ask us, blue eyes sparkling, "between a postbox and an elephant's bum?"

    "I don't know," we'd chorus, with evil expectancy in our eyes.

    "Well," she'd snort, "I'm not going to send any of you to post my letters!"

    They just don't make them like that any more.

    Her only complaint was that she couldn't sit babies on her lap, "...because I don't have any lap!" she'd say sadly.

    But oh, she was rude, in the way the Vicar of Dibley is when telling rude jokes to Alice.

    "Do you know what I'm going to buy if I win the lottery?" She'd make sure our mother wasn't around, or pretend to, to make it more conspiratorial.

    "What will you buy?" we asked, knowing it was going to be deliciously rude.

    "I'm going to get a new bum," she said, "because mine's got a hole in it."

    Unlike the Vicar's Alice, we were rude too. We needed no explanation of the joke, and a splendid one it was, you must admit.

    If you're rude.*
*No kidding, this just came up on my tweetline: "Touch the hole in your life, and there flowers will bloom." ~ Zen saying. [I suppose now you can be certain that Aunty Amy and I are related.]


  1. I don't have any aunty Amy's in my life, Denis - more's the pity, but I do have sandwiches.

    At age four I spent a couple of weeks in hospital, where I was fed thick crusty sandwiches. And did I hate crusts? The first day I left them on my plate and a severe nurse stood over me and made me eat them.

    "I never want to see a crust left on your plate again," she said.

    And she didn't; not one.

    I have often wondered, though, what they thought in the laundry, after I was discharged and they found a pillowcase with two weeks accumulation of detestable crusts in it.

    Later, at age 13, harvesting on a farm in England (still used horses and scythes and sickles in those days, believe it or not), the farmer's wife used to send us out a wicker hamper containing a bottle of cold tea and a selection of cheese and jam sandwiches.

    The first day, old Joe, Ernie Peacock and myself sat under an overgrown hedge and polished off the whole lot. The second day the number of sandwiches was increased. Same thing, we cleaned them up. The third day there were even more, and we couldn't finish them.

    It was here that Ernie showed the wisdom - in my eyes at the time, genius - that comes with age.

    "Boy," he said to me (I was, after all, a farmer's boy) "Boy, you take them sandwiches and stuff them down that there rabbit-hole. We be getting just the right amount now but, if we don't finish them, she won't give us so many tomorrow".

    So, with a bit of delicate, ongoing, fine-tuning we always had enough to eat. Don't know what we did to the rabbits' digestion though.

    1. Wonderful story Bob! I often wondered why your hair was so straight. Now I know.

  2. I still long for the sarnies my mum made - Marmite and peanut butter among others

    1. Not Marmite and peanut butter together, I hope! Then again, peanut butter and honey, or peanut butter and banana make a good sandwich.

      I know a wonderful person who I'm sure will gladly fix you a peanut butter [crunchy or smooth?] and/or Vegemite sarnie if you put the hard word on her.... :)

  3. Aww. This is another one of my favourites (of your stories!) What a lovely auntie, and what a good considerate boy you were (are:)) An auntie joke, Sort of like a dad joke, but better. We had a naughty auntie too but she had been a flapper (1920s style), and actually gave us cigarettes!!! I inherited my opium addict Chinaman figurine from her:)and an ivory mahjong set.

    And thank you for that wonderful Zen saying at the bottom.I'll facebook it. Which is grammatically reminiscent of the words of a cooking person on TV recently who was going to 'plate' the food.

    I hope you're getting lots of mangoes! The white peaches are succulent just now too (unusual for this early).

    Julie M xx

    1. Cigarettes! My drug supplier at the age of seven, as you know, was Bimbo Brown.

      I'm afraid "plating up" has a long history in the grub game, so get used to it!

      To be truthful [an' me an' Tracey are both unanimous in this] we think that's not a good translation from the Japanese. Awful in fact. Can Do Better.

      I'll send the hunter-gatherer out for white peaches as soon as possible. Mmmm - I can already taste them.

      Soxy thinks Tracey is the best hunter of all. Tracey goes out hunting and within an hour or so has trapped all these wonderful catfoods.

  4. I once got into trouble at boarding school for trying to wash the Clag-textured and -flavoured sauce from the meat in what they called meat stew, so I wonder if I could have devised a mustard removal system for your sandwiches. I certainly would never have had the gumption to tell Aunty Amy what I thought of the mustard (and perhaps it was Gumption that the instant whip most reminded me of, now I think of it)

    1. How is it that every kid somehow managed to actually taste Clag? I mean, the real thing, with the brush through the lid in every bottle. "Clag" is a ripper name for that goo, you must admit.

      Mr Curtis [aka 'Old Jim'] was very big on us kids using our gumption – he said 20 times a day to do that. It was many years until I found out what Gumption really was, because we were the Clag generation. I still don't get the analogy, quite. Sticking the right things together, I guess.

      Mum's stews could be a bit tasteless sometimes, especially mutton, which we beef people didn't recognise as real food. It would have been a bit churlish of us to complain, given what she had to do in any one day, so we just ate it, hoping there was plenty of mashed patayta. I think I prefer hers to the evil concoction you seem to have been gravy-boarded with.

      Anyone under 30 wading through this conversation [very few] will suspect both of us are dotty. OK, one of us for certain.

  5. Everyone needs an Aunty Amy; I had an Uncle Bob- his rude jokes were petty much the same ones!
    what a wonderful Aunty you had- maybe I should be brushing up on my repertoire for my nieces and nephews.

    1. I have an Uncle Bob who's one of the most delightful people alive. He always had [still has, no doubt] a twinkle in his eye, and though he probably would never have told us those jokes when we were kids, I'm pretty damn sure he knows them. He gets a mention in this story of his father's [my grandfather's] near-miraculous survival on the Somme in 1918.

      Yes, be the wicked auntie, Briar. The kids will never forget it. Their mothers mightn't either, though. You may need to factor that in. :)

  6. Oh OK, I missed the bum aspect of the Zen story (duh) which IS pretty funny! Perhaps 'hole' was not the best choice of words there...LOL...even I don't need flowers blooming there:)


    1. You make me laugh so much sometimes, Julie. You're such a flower-child. :)

  7. Denis Bangali -
    I read your posts from time to time and thoroughly enjoy them. The mention of sandwiches brings to mind memories of my kindergarten days in Chittagong in 1960 to be precise. My Mom used to make simple bread, butter and sugar sandwiches that I loved so much. She would butter up two slices of bread and sprinkle sugar liberally and slap them together. I wanted her to make diagonal cuts by showing on my face by running my hand diagonally across. I used to hate the crust. My Dad told me that the crust has the most vitamins and nutrients and makes a kid grow faster. From then on you can guess which part of the sandwich I used to eat first...


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