I read last night, before a moderate coffee house crowd, read “You Remind Me Of Haggis and other Stories.
” It was snowing, wet, clotty, west coast fashion. The slurping, grinding, chair-dragging, cold draft from the hallway to the toilet, name dropping,(Margaret Attwood and I had lunch) rabble of open mike poetry night.
The very large Shakespeare guy was there, the sad woman read from her book, “My Office Cubicle”. Dave read, he was always funny. You needed to be good to be heard, there was phone checking, the rude rustling of papers, a chap who had just ducked in out of the weather, another who had removed her teeth and set them by her plate to enjoy a sausage roll.
More name dropping,(my agent is talking to Random House). I read “You Remind Me Of Haggis”- Godfrey’s youthful paen to his lifelong friend Beatrice. Read to smirks, raised eyebrows, laughter from Dave, who always laughed, a brief pause in chatter from the Pashmina draped name droppers table. I finished my read, drained my cold, congealed mocha, and prepared to escape via the loo hall, and through the all night pharmacy it adjoined , A young man stopped me by the loo door, “I really dug your story”, he told me, your Godfrey is a cool guy” Thank you , yes, he was I told him, thank you for restoring my faith in the inherent wisdom of all things silly, for all who read his message, many thanks…we wait for Random House to call..
Oh look!, a box of tapioca, I heard him cry, holding the red and white package for me to see. I could do a complete shop as he browsed the baked goods aisle, such was my friend, the vagabond Godfrey.
“I grew up eating school dinners”, as you know said he, I ate Beatrice’s tapioca, she ate beets in return for me. “We did get caught, a lot, dragged by the ear was I to sit alone with laden tray, of beets remainder of the day”. My sister Alice hid beets bottom of the tapioca, but because I loved it, I could fish the bits and chunks out straight away.
Tapioca Cream Fluff- I recall learning to cook under the eagle eyed look of my stepmother, Mrs Gibberflat, Sunday afternoons back home. At the smell of scorched sheep’s milk my siblings fled, as across the stove top my tapioca spread, in a sea of lumpy foam. Only our dad would never complain, about my tapioca, ate it without looking, glued as always to the hockey game.
Home economics class, a sensitive thirteen, I recall the kitchenettes painted clinical green. Mrs Heikila with her apron on on meant tapioca bubbling on the menu. Finally something, however inept I felt I could do.
As always, boiled at will the pot, watched in horror my tapioca spew, what I scraped off the side of the stove never really set, Tina House made perfect tapioca…a “C” in tapioca was the best mark I would get. I remember tapioca, in verse and vignette.
Visiting Beatrice, in Wales, we encountered tapioca, at a “Little Chef” east of Tharn, off the motorway, there sat tapioca on the end of the buffet. “Godfrey ate his weight in this”, Beatrice reminisced, over the chipped and age scuffed parfait dish, handing one to me.
“He called it Anti Gravity Frog Spawn, you won the game if you could lift it by the spoon, hop without dropping it the width of the lunch room” We were very young then, and very silly. I remember tapioca, it lives vivid in my memory, long live tapioca, celebrate it in vignette and poetry.