"Becky... tell the truth... do you and Jill know anything
about why the custard for the pensioners has had to be investigated?"
It was October half term and we were ten. Mum was a volunteer for what she called "The Old Dears", driving a minibus around Bingley, scooping up housebound fogies for hot meals and bingo in a prefab. Wheels-to-meals .
We'd been carted along as a mischief preventative, having form with a catalogue of minor misdemeanors – prank phone calls to Mr Crappa, fake collections for Save The Children, something to do with the dog and an onion...
So we found ourselves in the back of the minibus, bored. Colouring books and felt tips were never going to cut it. Initially, we entertained ourselves by straining to see the biddie's ankles under the seats. Then we made use of the desiccated coconut from our quarter of mushrooms and stealthily sprinkled it onto their shoulders – edible dandruff.
At some point during our next activity - breathing on the window to draw willies with our fingers - we remembered the Halloween spiders in our pockets. Our original plan had been to lob them down the bus when mum was knocking at the door of someone infirm, but a more rip-roaring ruse was hatched. 'What would happen', we wondered, 'if the wrinklies got a spooky surprise
Meals for the codgers were collected from the local hospital en route – fish or cottage pie and a sponge - plus a few flasks of parsley sauce or such to swill it down. Cook trundled the trolley out to the car park and Mum duly hoisted the denture-friendly fodder into the back of the minibus, asking Jill and I if we'd kindly look after it.
Kindly look after it?
Our eyes locked. No, we didn't mind looking after
it at all....
I think you can guess what's coming. As Jill kept lookout, I reached behind for the first flask and positioned it between us. Our throats thick with swallowed giggles, I unscrewed the first lid. We'd all-on not to wet our knickers. This was our best wheeze yet.
One by one, we plucked off the plastic spider's legs and popped them into the various sauces – driving the final meaty body into the gravy with a felt tip. Then, tops replaced (and sides nearly split) we re-stowed the spoiled goods – and grinned. Oh yes, we'd really looked after
Pulling up at the prefab, mum praised us for being "such
good girls" as she went about maneuvering one elderly lady after another into the warmth. The arachnid broth was handed over, then it was Home James. A satisfying morning's work for all.
Well, about three days later I was wigging-in on Mum's phone conversation; "I know Doreen, it's a mystery...Closed down the whole kitchen for inspection...Unfit for human consumption...Lady serving-up nearly had a coronary..."