In Food, Words


I had a dream this week about seeing Gollum in the crowd at Wimbledon, watching tennis, and every time he turned his head to follow the ball his personality changed.

“Good shot, Sir!”
“Oh, that’s rubbishes!”
“I say, well played.”
“Gets to the ballses, you snivelling little worm!”

It kept me amused for the best part of three sets. I think it’s because I’d been eating strawberries, one of which was probably off, because, let’s face it, they usually are.

I have a Gollumesque love/hate relationship with strawberries: those beautiful, enticing, shiny, scarlet jewels that wink at you from the supermarket shelves and whisper, “Buy us. You know you want to. Even though you always forget to eat us within 24 hours and we go all mouldy in your fridge.”

Treacherous little fruitses.

I’ve tried growing my own, with impressively disappointing results. I keep reading that the strawberry season has been delayed because of the weather, but surely not by three years! I’m still waiting for the plants I bought in 2018 to show any interest in fruiting. If anyone out there has a surefire method for growing abundantly productive strawberry plants โ€“ one that doesn’t involve polytunnels or too much hard work โ€“ please let me know.

Anyway, with the strawberry season (or lack of it) comes the word punnet โ€“ a word that, like the Olympics, holds our attention for a few short weeks and then recedes into obscurity, presumably to train in the Azores or build stamina in the highlands of Kenya, or something.

It’s a pleasing word, punnet, possibly because it’s associated with strawberries (disappointing though they may be), and it would be nice to find more uses for it. We could apply it to any collection of things that promise more than they deliver. A punnet of phone chargers. It could even replace the word Cabinet.

And now I’m seeing Gollum in Boris’ chair.

“But we loves Europe.”
“No!! We wants Brexits.”
“But we needs the people to loves us.”
“Screw the peoples!! Let the bodies pile high!”

Must stop eating strawberries.

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