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The bad news is, it’s mouldy; the good news is, I’m alive

PUBLISHED: 12:36 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:36 06 November 2017

You have to eat a bit of dirt before you die... apparently. Picture: BB

You have to eat a bit of dirt before you die... apparently. Picture: BB


Lynne gets herself into a bit of a pickle - Branston pickle

“You have to eat a bit of dirt before you die,” this and other wise saws came from my maternal grandmother over the course of a childhood spent not singing at the table in case I died in the workhouse and being mainly seen and not heard.

With the dirt thing, I think she meant that there was no point in worrying about biting down on the gritty interior of a leek or trying to excise the residue garden soil attaching to your cauliflower floret. Maybe not the bread rolls.

The wholemeal rolls were a day past their use-by date but I had wrapped them in cling film to keep them moist. I had my heart set on a cheese and pickle roll for lunch. It is a favourite of mine but my husband can’t stand pickle. The very word makes him flinch. He pulls a face if we pass it in the condiments aisle in Sainsbury’s. If I have pickle, I have to sit on the other side of the room in the outcast’s chair and I’m not allowed to breathe on him. Not that I often get that close in the normal course of events. I try to maintain an air of mystery to keep him on his toes but he does draw the line at an air of Branstons.

I made my roll and rinsed the knife and spoon I had used in case there was trace evidence of pickle that might permeate his nasal membrane, though I would have thought the nostril hair would have filtered it out.

I settled myself on the naughty seat and the fragrance of pickle and the tang of cheddar filled my senses. After about four or five bites, I discerned another taste... what was that? It was a sort of musty, background flavour... sort of mouldy. I looked at the underside of my roll. It was a perfect laboratory specimen of bacterial growth, fuzzy with little hairs , mostly green but with outbreaks of purple. Miss Short, my high school biology teacher, would have been very excited.

My husband predicted I would suffer dire gastro-intestinal consequences, up to seven on the retcher scale. My daughter, an expert on all things medical... actually on all things, said it would boost my immune system or act as an antibiotic. I looked it up online. The good news, I would live. The bad news, I might get a tummy upset. I checked my belly button for mould.

For the next few hours I emitted Branston infused burps. It could have been worse, I suppose − even though my husband refused to be in the same room with me.

By the way, have you noticed how young pop singers (as in X Factor and similar shows) sing “wit” instead of “with” and “chew” rather than “you”. Thus “with you” becomes “wit chew”. When I did grammar at school, I had to use expressions properly in a sentence. I imagine: “I would of liked to go wit chew” would be correct usage in the context of the utter grammatical madness of the 21st century.

I digress. There were no ill effects from the mouldy roll and after a time the burpage abated.

Since my husband and I have been dallying with the idea of retirement, we have been trying to reduce food waste, which is why I risked the bread rolls and ate lentil and mushroom lasagne for supper four times last week. These days the fridge is a Turner-prize short-listed tribute to cling film (or stretch-and-seal as we called it in ye olden days). A slice of leek and roquefort tart, a wedge of camembert, an inch of cucumber, a centimetre of single cream in a plastic pot − all of them wrapped up ready to be thrown out in a couple of days when we decide we’re not going to eat any of it... especially as the cucumber has turned into green slime.

Meanwhile there is good news on the health front for East Anglians. A survey, by, of embarrassing complaints including flatulence (see cheese and pickle roll above), smelly feet, constipation, and worms, reveals this region of the UK is by no means the worst afflicted and in the case of snoring, we are the least affected with just 28 per cent of us (that’s “us” as in “me included”) being noisy sleepers compared to 42% of Londoners. My husband says I must be a bit of a Londoner.

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