Cutting the mustard

I think my maternal nan had lodgers; I think they were The Borrowers.

Every Sunday I’d walk, with my parents, down one flight of stairs in our Balham flats, to lunch at my nan’s.

Everything was laid out on the table, the roast was brought in, then the condiments: salt, pepper and, and this is where my suspicions were alerted, a very small bowl, full of mustard, plus an even smaller, exceptionally tiny, tiny spoon!

All through lunch I’d be looking around looking at cracks in the skirting board for any evidence of stunted human life. 

I assumed The Borrowers didn’t have Sunday lunch.  Was this part of the rental agreement with my nan – you can live here, but we want your spoons every Sunday?  Did the size of the spoon affect the taste of the mustard?  Did The Borrowers insist, as part of this bartering system, on it being Colman’s own brand and not some muck from Dijon?

My nan had an old crimplene house coat she’d wear permanently.  It had two pockets: one would store the sprouts I’d not eaten, having deflected my parents’ attention before whipping them off my plate; the other might have The Borrowers’ bedroom?

My paternal nan also had tiny spoons.  Whenever I’d make the journey to Marylebone to see her, dessert was always served with a tiny spoon with “LCC” on it.  Perhaps another side of The Borrowers family lived there – a family of kleptomaniacs who stole from local council offices?

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