Virginia Barton

25 January 2019: Intruders, part 2


25 January 2019


I got somewhat carried away with mice last time I wrote about intruders in the kitchen. What I actually meant to write about were the number of weird items brought in by my thoughtful family, possibly for myself or more likely for them when they visit, which they frequently and kindly do.

I have never in my life had 13 different kinds of tea and coffee in the flat. I had no idea they even existed, let alone might find a lodging with me. There are cereals galore and several types of porridge oats. There are milks in the fridge from things I never knew could be milked; my pint of semi-skimmed looks boring – worse, cheap.


In the cupboard there are pulses to set your pulse racing (sorry). On the whole I dislike pulses unless cooked to a tasteless mush, and my digestion most certainly objects to them. There are multi-coloured lentils, bullet chick peas, garbanzo beans, fava, kidney, pinto and borlotti. The very sight of them makes me clutch my middle.

And what can quinoa be? Highly dangerous I would say – let alone soya.

Good old Heinz baked beans, yes; just a few on toast.


The fruit bowl has been transformed into a profusion of exotica: ropes of run-of-the-mill garlic, a sort of orris root of ginger, multi-coloured netted chillies and several things I don’t recognize, well-travelled though I think am. Where have the jugs of fresh herbs come from and for whom are they intended, I wonder?

The window sill is lined with dill, coriander, mint, several parsleys and thyme. They smell marvellous anyway. (My herbs are either conveniently dried — and possibly out of date — or wilt in the door of the fridge, forgotten.)


Nervously I open the freezer. Ha! More familiar ground. The next generation cooks fresh, and the one after takes away, as far as I can tell.

So my fish fingers are still there, a few sausages, chicken bits and stand-by ready-mades for old persons.


I love my children and grand-children and am fascinated by their habits. They are huge. Much taller and bulkier than ever we were. They have magnificent teeth, silky hair and huge feet.

We were brought up during the second War on occasional shepherd’s pie, fried Spam and corned beef. Heaps of potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

I, the tall silent one of four sisters, am 5 foot 1 ½ inches. I won’t go on about the hair, teeth and feet.






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