Reasons why Fran never returns parcels
These moments are, thankfully, rare. What he usually has to say is more trivial. But he adopts the same stance, and the same serious intonation, whatever the announcement: 'We could have carrots or peas - which do you prefer?' or 'I've replaced the bag in the vacuum cleaner.' Sometimes he's there to deliver the latest shock-horror headlines about his job as a gardener: 'I'm not sure I've grown the right variety of runner bean this year.' or 'My secateurs are blunt.'
This morning's intoned declaration was, 'There's something in the freezer that could be ready-made polenta or it could be pastry.'
I said, 'Are you sure it's not a body part, the way you're talking? Perhaps a leg, or a head?'
I followed him into the kitchen, knowing I would get no peace unless I went to look. We both stared glumly at the package which was wrapped in plastic but unlabelled.
I knew it would be unlabelled. The packages in our freezer never are labelled. Even though this is the case, I still felt I had to comment. 'It's not labelled. Why didn't you label it?'
My husband is in charge of the freezer and its contents. There's a reason why, and it's the same reason he is generally in charge of any space in our house which has a door and storage capacity. He is the Dark Lord of Packing, able to get more items into a space - by arranging, and re-arranging, and fitting together - than I ever could. He's also good at jigsaws, and those tiny little wooden puzzles one gets in a Christmas cracker.
|If he's thinking of a career move ......|
When our online shopping delivery arrives on a Friday evening, it'd be worth your popping over just to witness the masterclass as he slots cans of beans, packets of pasta and herbs and spices onto the shelves like someone creating a mosaic.
When we're going on holiday, I sometimes offer to pack the suitcases. He laughs, in an evil Bluebeard fashion, at this. The most I am allowed to do is to pile my clothes and toiletries and shoes on a bed, ready for him to pack properly.
I am one of those people who receives an item in the post - let's say, a new mobile phone - and takes it out of its packaging, praying that it will be in perfect working order and won't need to be re-packaged and sent back. I don't know how I do it, but once the item is unwrapped, suddenly the polystyrene packing materials grow to double their original size, or morph from rectangular to square. The little dip in which the headphones went disappears. Or perhaps I can fit the phone back into the box, but not the instructions. Sometimes it'll be the other way round.
For all his packaging skills, though, he will not be taught - and I've been trying for 37 years now - to label what goes in the freezer. Many times we have eaten pork when we expected beef, leftover shepherds pie when we anticipated meatballs, and cheese scones when we'd bought jam and cream for a cream tea.
I have bought him labels.
I have bought him a labelling pen.
I have put these things in the kitchen drawer where he can easily find them.
It makes no difference. 'I'll know what it is,' he claims. 'I'll remember.'
In the same way, he makes jams and jellies each year, stashing away the unlabelled jars in the mistaken belief that he'll know which is blackberry jam and which is redcurrant jelly. There are jam jar labels in a drawer in the hall but they don't make it on to the jars unless I do it for him.
You win some, you lose some. If packing a freezer became an Olympic sport, he'd win a medal, and I certainly couldn't do it the way he does. But the fact remains that we have a package that could be pastry or could be polenta, and the only way to find out is to defrost it then adjust the menu accordingly.
'If you ever decide to murder and dismember me,' I'm going to ask him, 'and keep me in the freezer, can you promise me you'll use the labels? It would be a comfort to me. I'd hate to be mistaken for a leg of lamb.'
He'll probably point out that he wouldn't be able to fit my whole body in the freezer.
But, with his skills, I'm not so sure.
|Just like our cupboards. A lottery.|