Depressed after slopping out the zillionth packet of Batchelors Supernoodles whilst delivering another of my obviously pointless healthy eating lectures, I did a deal with Bonnie and Alfie; if they came shopping for something nutritious, they could leave their homework. I turned my back to shove a few toffees in my mouth and off we went to join the well-heeled foodies in a polite but firm queue at the fishmongers, warning the children before we entered that if they said ‘pooh’ as we entered there'd be no Supernoodles for a year.
This was, for us, an exceptional foray into the world of inconvenience food. My fellow customers probably separated the fish from the finger before their children could say ‘more asparagus please!’, encouraging good eating habits – and interesting conversation - around the family table. Not us! I’d tried, but my children were strong, and I was weak!
‘One fillet of rainbow trout, one of mackerell, please’, I bellowed excitedly, obvious fake, explaining the fillet and the steak as we waited. ‘We get our fish-fingers from Iceland’, said Bonnie, advertising to all and sundry my supermarket of choice, newly discovered (fish fingers two packets for £1, come on). My inner snob screamed 'Shut that child’s trap!’ and I leaped on her, fishes flapping, and tickled her violently out of the shop.
We all took part in the Grand Grilling (oily fish don’t need additional fat, oh no no!). ‘It’s so shiny! Look at the lovely crackling skin!’, we chattered, serving up, slice of lemon on the side. I dug in, and they folded theirs this way and that. Alfie even talked to his a bit as if that would count. Sadly, neither was quite in the mood for fish. ‘Eat it while it’s hot!’ I sing-songed, ‘Mmm, it’s scrumptious!’
The bile rose in my throat as I watched them stir their fish to a paste. I grabbed their plates and spooned the gloop into my mouth ostensibly not to waste, but really to make them feel bad. The convivial meal was shot to pieces. ‘I love you mummy’ said Alfie putting his arms around me. ‘I love you too’ I said, ‘but I wish you would eat your fish’. ‘Fishy Wishy‘ he said, gently. ‘Let’s give it to the cats.’