Thursday 7 August 2008

Maybe Oliver James was right, after all

Toast one side of a piece of bread. Put a few slices of tomato on the untoasted side, followed by a poached egg and grated cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Whack it under the grill until the cheese melts. What do you get? Mrs Swanky's Toast, right? Wrong. Who knew?

About three weeks into sharing a house with my girlfriend and long before I banned her from the kitchen, I got a bit ill and couldn't face the prospect of food. She was going through various options, seeing if I might be tempted by anything. No go. But then I remembered Mrs Swanky's Toast, something my granny used to make on rainy days, and then my mum and sisters, too. Even I could make it, for pity's sake.

So when I said oh, I know, I'll have some Mrs Swanky's Toast, please, I was surprised that she looked at me blankly. Mrs Who's What? Naturally enough, I simply repeated myself, adding the slightly patronising tone you might reserve for a child or – yuck – foreigner. Nice and slowly now: Mrs.....Swanky's....Toast.

Look, how come mothers and grannies and sisters, god damn it, don't warn you about the rest of the world? I'd always had this presented to me as Mrs Swanky's Toast, because that's what it was called and because that's what it was. Why would I even think that this was a made-up name, family-specific, not fit for wider consumption? Such a shaming horror, too, as the slowly dawning realisation hits home.

Now, of course, my girlfriend refers to Mrs Swanky's Toast without so much as a smirk. This must be how words and phrases develop, I suppose, and it's not too hard to imagine some future child of ours astonishing some future boyfriend of his own (can we have a gay, please, Jesus or Santa, with Portuguese skin and Italian shoes? fanks) by earnestly asking the very same thing. Loser. God, how I wish I could be there to ruffle his hair and call him a no-mark twat. Just how stupid are you, son? You actually thought it was called Mrs Swanky's Toast? Ha ha ha. No wonder you got picked on at school, dumbo. That sort of thing.
(Then it just becomes a question of sitting back and waiting for my "Dad of the Year" mug on Father's Day, I fancy.)

Here are some more:

Hot tocko – hot chocolate

Ratty tatty toot toot – ratatouille

Coddle oddle ooh – cod liver oil

Woolton dog – Old English Sheepdog

Sprinkle star – see picture, below
Filey – when something was unbearably exciting, it was filey. Don't ask.

Obviously, because I'm no longer five or stupid, I don't use these words anymore - except for hot tocko and sprinkle star, right enough, but then I made those two up all by myself. The hot tocko thing is just a bad habit, really, but I still use the term sprinkle star quite happily because a) I don't know the real name for a sprinkle star and b) I don't want to know, either. I'm pretty sure my youthful invention stands the test of time, in any event, and must surely eclipse the reality. Feel free to copy.

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