Wednesday 22 May 2024

Eyes on the Yorkshire Pudding by Penny Rogers, strong black coffee

What would any thirty eight year old do when faced with a problem?

            ‘Mum.’

            ‘Hello Liam, is everything OK?’ Stella knew that her son only rang when there was something wrong or he wanted something.

            ‘Just finding out how are you and Dad.’

            ‘Everything’s fine thanks. Your Dad’s in the garden. How’s your new job?’

            ‘All cool. Nice people. In fact, hot news for you: I’m seeing one of the reception team. Her name’s Isla, she’s really nice Mum. I expect you’ll meet her soon.’

            This was music to Stella’s ears. Since his divorce Liam had had several failed relationships. Perhaps this one would be different.

‘One thing you might be able to help me with. How do I make a Yorkshire pudding? I’m cooking Sunday lunch for Isla.’ He added by way of an explanation.

            ‘Don’t even try to make a Yorkshire pudding. Buy frozen ones, they’re much better. Did I tell you that your Auntie Janice is going on holiday to Costa Rica? Andy’s taking her.’

            Liam wasn’t in the slightest bit interested in his aunt’s travel plans, and he wasn’t at all sure who Andy was.

            ‘Thanks Mum. I’ll look in the freezer cabinet for the Yorkshires.’ He wasn’t going to argue about it; he knew there was no point. ‘Love to Dad. Talk next week. Bye.’

 

Next morning he met Carol at the bus stop. Carol lived next door and always seemed to be cooking something. ‘Hiya, can you tell me how to make Yorkshire pudding?’

            ‘It’s not difficult. Make a batter out of flour, eggs and milk. Put some oil in the pan, make sure the oven’s really hot and don’t open the door until they’re cooked. Ta ra, and good luck.’ Carol boarded the Number 14.

 

At last he had something to go on. At lunchtime he took his coffee and a sandwich into the park. Jono from accounts was there; he appeared to be taking a photo of some ducklings. Liam sat down on a bench to eat his lunch. Jono gave up trying to get the photo and came over to the seat. ‘I want to get a good shot for a competition. Difficult with animals, I’ll try later on when there aren’t so many people about.’

            ‘Odd question, but do you know how to make Yorkshire pudding?’

            ‘Don’t they make packet mixes?’

            ‘Probably, but I want to make the real thing.’

            ‘Why?’

            ‘Long story buddy. I’ve been seeing Isla, and she’s going to come to me for lunch on Sunday.’

            ‘What, Isla on reception?’

            ‘Yeah. Is that a problem?’

            ‘Good luck with her! She’s my ex. I’m surprised she hasn’t mentioned that. Didn’t know she was seeing anyone. Gotta go, don’t wanna be late.’

            Sour grapes thought Liam to himself.

 

That afternoon Liam got a text from Lou. ‘Saw yr mum in suprmkt. Look on YouTube. Pity u never cooked Sunday lunch for me.’

He wasn’t sure how to respond, so just sent an angel emoji. Why couldn’t Mum keep quiet about his love life? Especially with his ex! Mind you, Lou might be right about YouTube. She was usually right about most things.

 

That evening his sister FaceTimed him with a demonstration of mixing up the batter. ‘Use plain flour’ Jaz advised.

            ‘What other sort is there?’ This was getting too complicated.

            ‘Self-raising. Use that when you want to make a cake.’

            ‘I’ll never do that.’ Liam was sure he’d never cook anything else.

 

On Friday evening he practised. By the end of the evening the kitchen was covered in a dusting of flour, the work surfaces were sticky with egg and the waste bin full of burnt or soggy Yorkshire puddings. He cleaned up the kitchen and had one last try, the results were perfect. Puffy and crispy they almost jumped out of their tins.

 

He leapt out of bed on Sunday morning; this was going to be a good day. Isla was due at 11.30. He’d put prosecco in the fridge, bought some flowers and found a table cloth. He showered, confident in his Yorkshire pudding making skills and even hummed while he got dressed. The sun had never shone more brightly. It was only when he got downstairs and was making coffee that he realised his big mistake. He’d spent so long worrying about one element of Sunday lunch that he’d forgotten the beef, the horseradish, the vegetables, the potatoes, the gravy – everything except the Yorkshire pudding. Isla would think that he was completely useless and probably never see him again. Even worse his Mum and Lou would have a field day. And Jono would gloat. The sun went behind a big black cloud. There was only one thing to do.

            ‘Hello, is that the Red Lion? Any chance of a table for two please?’

About the author

    Penny Rogers lives in Dorset in the south of England. She writes mostly short stories, flash fiction and poems and facilitates an informal writing group. She is a regular contributor to CafĂ©Lit. When she’s not writing Penny makes jams, pickles and preserves from home grown or foraged produce. 

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2 comments:

  1. Mum knows best! Great story 😄

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Mums usually do!

      Delete