I went to the university kitchens today to see how preparations for the
state banquet Vice-Chancellor’s dinner are coming along.
I made my way through low, gloomy, underground caverns, past scullery maids scrubbing floors, butlers reading royal circulars, plump-cheeked stable-boys winking while carrying buckets of coal, ladies’ maids playing poker, red-coated valets carving a giant ice statue of the vice-chancellor, and the malnourished, illegitimate children of the local aristocracy licking lead paint off the skirting-boards.
I came to the heart of operations – a vast, medieval fireplace.
There, overseeing a dozen urchins turning a boar on a spit, stood Cook.
I knelt, cleared my throat, and held out my offering.
She turned, silhouetted against the flames.
Her tiny beady eyes narrowed.
‘The entree for the Vice-Chancellor’s dinner, oh Cook’, I said. ‘Puffer fish. It is from the Professor of PLDO, sadly currently in custody for Oyster card fraud.’
Cook took the parcel in her great hammy fist.
‘B’aint it be furrin?’, she said. ‘I ain’t ‘avin’ no furrin muck in me kitchin.’
‘Oh no’, I said. ‘It’s not from Europe’.
Cook spat in the inglenook.
‘Orrite then’, she said. ‘Now git aaht before I sets the dogs on yer’.
Dear Reader, I fled back upstairs, humming pride, pomp and circumstance all the way.