Even though I only lived feet away from my Balham primary school, my mother thought it best I attended school dinners. I lasted one day.
I remember sitting down on a mashed potato-ingrained table and chair.
What I’d not anticipated – never having had it at home – was caterpillar – in the salad. Lettuce, yes; tomato, yes; the odd spring onion.
Never a caterpillar.
We did live on the fourth floor of our flats, so I assumed, as I sat staring at said caterpillar moving slowly over a slice of beetroot, they weren’t capable of climbing up 100-feet of brickwork?
I’d never seen mashed (this was a masterpiece of overstatement) potato like it. The original King Edward they used was more mashed. And why was it grey? Had they used grey butter? Lurpak had grey packaging, perhaps they’d used that?
But it was the sponge pudding which was the pièce de resistance, as we like to say in Balham. If you wanted the quickest way to dehydrate, the sponge pudding offered this. Adding the chocolate sauce would have had Lady Isobel Barnett not knowing which clue to give the listeners!
When asked, after I’d arrived home, what I’d had for my school dinner, I said Roast Swan, as I dreaded my mum ordering hundreds of caterpillars to make me feel like home.
I’m still waiting to fully digest the sponge pudding.