When Grange Girl requires your immediate attendance you don’t open your diary to find a more convenient time, nor bother her with extraneous trivia such as being in the bath. So I hurtled round, not even stopping to put on mascara, and did she thank me? Did she heck as like. She glared at her watch, told me not to let my wet hair drip on the sofa, and said, “Your eyes look piggy.”
“What’s the emergency?”
“I hope you’re hungry.”
“An eating emergency – my favourite kind!”
“I’d like you to taste test some muffins.”
“This gets better and better. Worth leaping out of a fluffy bubble bath for…” My nostrils did that outraged widening thing patented by Kenneth Williams. “What’s that smell?”
Grange Girl opened the oven and the room was filled with noxious smoke. “Yes, I did wonder if sprouts would work.”
“Brussels sprouts muffins?”
“I thought they’d be a pretty colour.” Grangey removed a tray of huge round bogies.
“I prefer chocolate muffins.”
“The point of the competition is to use vegetables which can be grown or foraged at this time of year. Like sprouts.”
“What kind of cockamamie competition is this? Don’t tell me!” I slapped my forehead. “This has to be something to do with Seedy Saturday.” I’ve got previous with Seedy Saturday. Last year I got so rained on during raffia bird feeder-making that the resulting bronchitis nearly did for me. And at the fateful Seedy Saturday three years ago I first introduced Grangey to Uncle Adultery, setting off a chain of events that began with her abandoning her marriage and ended with her creating mutant muffins.
“Yes, it’s their Muffin Master comp. ‘Show off your skills and maybe win a trophy!’” She frowned. “I don’t like that maybe.” She lined up four misshapen and whiffy monstrosities on the table, beauty pageant style. “So here we have kale and cheddar, nettle and raisin, rosehip and star anise, Brussels sprouts.”
“Because Brussels sprouts are a super-food that stand alone?” I thought longingly of my bath, and of nice food with chocolate in.
“Ok, eat up. I need an objective opinion.”
“Tasting doesn’t get much tougher than this.”
I reached reluctantly for the first one, and the phone rang. Grangey looked at me suspiciously. “How did you do that?”
“Me? I’m sat right here.”
“Don’t move.” She went into the living room to answer the phone and I hastily crumbled the muffins into the earth of Grangey’s weeping fig.
“No-one there. Idiots. Good god, where have all the muffins gone?”
“Long time passing,” I sang, as I reached under the table and clicked my mobile off. “They were all scrummy. The nettle one was best.” This guesstimate was based on it containing raisins, a bona fide ingredient.
“Thanks,” said Grange Girl, opening a cake tin full of blackened warty muffins. “Here’s some more experiments from yesterday for you to try.”