Idle Eye 153 : The Pig’s Table

The 1970s. A decade of strikes, skyrocketing inflation, shocking trousers, way too much hair and cars that didn’t start in the morning. But to this then knock-kneed schoolboy with nascent food issues and a paranoic fear of authority, it will forever be remembered as the one that threw up the Pig’s Table. And I mean that quite literally. Let me get you up to speed:

The Pig’s Table was a monstrous form of ritual trial and humiliation, cooked up by some of the sickest minds this side of the Nuremberg trials and brutally administered by a stringent headmistress and the minions under her employ. These punitive cronies were known collectively as The Danes, whose sole remit was to concoct a regular school meal that could be instantaneously jettisoned by any formative digestive system within a fifty foot radius. In this they were ruthlessly efficient. The universally feared Egg Nest™, an impossibly thick substrate of aqueous grey potato, cunningly concealed beneath a quagmire of zygotic discharge, was the jewel in their crown. Even Heston has not yet superseded this appalling Frankendish, and God knows he’s tried.

In the days before CCTV, food slop bins were manned in shifts. The trick was to get your plate of Egg Nest™ in there at point of changeover and make a break for the door before the new guard had worked out what was going on. But alas, as many did try, so many more failed and were instantly fed into the sausage machine of corrective punishment. First, an guilt-inducing rebuke. How that the thousands, if not millions of disadvantaged children in some of our poorest nations would be pathetically grateful for the delicacy you had just rejected. At which point you resisted the urge to mention Parcel Post. But then came the killer. Your penance would be exacted the very next day. You would suffer the Table.

I’ll take you through it. Like Spartacus, albeit unshackled, you were led into the refectory, filled to capacity with one hundred plus Lords of the Flies with an immense thirst for cruelty, and thrust towards a table for one. This braying throng, despite having narrowly missed the margin themselves, saw you as legitimate quarry and mocked mercilessly as you gingerly took your seat, steeling yourself for the imminent arrival of yesterday’s Egg Nest™. When it turned up, more congealed and pitiful than before, so began the painfully slow process of its consumption. The inevitable gagging was met with a wall of pre-pubescent ridicule, sweat, bile and fear meshing together as one as you prayed to whichever deity was in the vicinity to make it all stop.

It did eventually. But as you collected your thoughts in the ensuing nauseous aftermath, you knew you’d never be the same again. You had become a husk, a grotesque traumatised ghost of your former self, and mealtimes would from now on be heinous culinary skirmishes for you to fight and lose. So then, lunch anyone?

Idle Eye 70 : The 70s

Good Lord! Have a look at the mast there. Turns out we’ve managed to get through seventy (SEVEN OH) versions of this literary piffle together. And it got me to thinking, as it does when you’re running out of ideas, that just maybe it would be a bit of fun to do a quick post about…wait for it…the 1970s. Obviously I will have to tie this concept in with the pub, but between you & me I think I can swing it: I’ll just say something about the price of a pint back then (probably about 50p), then have a good old moan about inflation, the Tories and the grand old summer of 76, when you could fry an egg on the pavement and Terry Scott (off Terry and June) pushed me into the swimming pool with his face covered in meringue and scared the living shit out of me for the rest of my years. It’s a long shot, but I think Nibs will run with it ‘cos he’s good like that.

It’s funny. I was having an ale with me ‘ole mate Donald (off Julian Cope) just now, asking him which peeps he remembered most from that time. And both of us came up with pretty much all of the Yewtree candidates. Admittedly we’re both diehard musos, and our reference points were probably the DJ’s that allowed us a path to the songs that would change our lives forever (currently residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure). But even as a soft as shite, lily-livered Southern pansy, I still recall the blackouts when Nibs & I helped our mom dig about in the pantry for the Prices candle multipack as our stepfather crawled the walls upstairs, hurling abuse and worse at the Three Day Week whilst simultaneously sorting the eight track cartridges for his three hour journey in the Jensen the following morning: Walker Brothers, followed by Shirley Bassey, followed by Cleo Laine. And, if we were lucky, we’d get a pound to spend in his absence, half of which usually went on a chart-topper of choice and the other on premium smack, straight off the boats. Innocent times, innocent times…

But no other consumable can define the zeitgeist like a chocolate bar. Mars, Galaxy, Milky Way were just entry-level stellar signposts to the hard stuff. From here we got the Texan bar (sure was a mighty chew), and for misogynist hardcore chocoholics there was always the Yorkie, marketed at the Surrey stockbroker craving a bit of rough via the long-haul trucker. And let us not forget the aftershaves: Hi Karate, Old Spice, Blue Stratos, Bay Rhum, all of which I had purchased long before the fluff came, and the illusion that a socially backward pre-teen actually had a chance with a pneumatic bikini-clad babe had been shattered for good. But never mind that, I still had the lovely Farrah. Always Farrah. Isn’t that right, Charlie?