During the early ‘60s I associated the Dick van Dyke Show with smoked haddock.
Every Saturday evening, as the activities of everybody’s favourite Cockney would be played out on our TV screens, my mum would serve up smoked haddock. Having flirted with the fishmongers in Balham Market to get their finest fish, I still, to this day, cannot stomach the taste and whenever you go to a restaurant (remember those?) the fish of the day is invariably haddock. There clearly is no God – which is more than can be said of the omnipresent haddock.
The opposite effect on me is with roast beef: my brain conjures up images of Ted Moult. He’d by on the radio (wireless for older listeners) every Sunday (he’d alternate with Jimmy Clitheroe on the Brain’s Trust) and there is still this association. Whenever I’d see an Everest Double Glazing ad on the telly, I’d start salivating – I do that now, but that may be an age thing.
However, I do blame Lucille Ball for my allergy to prawns. My mum’s divi must have come in one week as she decided to buy prawns instead of the haddock. Fine by me. Shortly after another slapstick episode of US situation comedy I decided that I didn’t love Lucy that much and her show should have been sponsored by Kaolin & Morphine.
But the worst taste and smell for me: boiled fish in parsley sauce. My nan would make it and was the worse smell ever and am reminded of it whenever I read Dante’s Inferno; the recipe had come from the tenth circle of Hell – so awful, it wasn’t even in the book.