Thursday, 17 May 2012

Mr Heinz and I

In the years after the war (no, I mean the second not the first) food was in short supply and it was then, as a small child, I was introduced to tinned food. The well-meaning people of Australia, Canada and South Africa sent us food parcels – can you imagine? I remember Epicure sausages and tinned peaches and condensed milk. (I once stole a small tin from the larder and tried to eat the evidence. I gave up before I got to the end).
Food was so difficult to come by that housewives became a dab hand at spreading butter on bread only to scrape it off again. And the joint on Sunday always had a bone in it which ended up as soup on a Thursday.
My family had been bombed out of Croydon and I was later allowed to go and stay with old-neighbours in their tiny flat, 5 doors from where Vera Lynn lived. (Something that was pointed out to me every time we passed the house. ‘That’s where Vera Lynn lives. The forces sweetheart, you know.” I didn’t for at least 40 years.) The little flat possessed a tiny corner cupboard. Mostly empty, its middle shelf always had 2 tins of Heinz Baked Beans on it. My introduction to heaven – beans on toast. It was ‘the thing’, ‘the tradition’ that I had beans on toast for supper whenever I stayed with Mr and Mrs Noakes.
No one can quantify just how strong the whole childhood memory-syndrome thing is but I can tell you this, I have stayed faithful to Heinz Baked Beans for 60 years. It didn’t matter a jot that they stuck the price up and up till it became 0.69p or 0.71p (My mother would turn in her grave at the thought of paying 14s 2d for a tin of beans, but I didn’t care. They were Heinz and that was all that mattered.)
Mr Heinz and I were about to celebrate our diamond jubilee when he took out the salt and turned nectar into tasteless pap! Heartless and unforgivable treading on my childhood memories like that. I am now suing for divorce.
Okay, I know the arguments about salt and I never use it in cooking and never buy processed foods or ready meals. But I can’t help feeling like king in the nursery rhyme:  

The King asked the Queen, And the Queen asked the Dairymaid: "Could we have some butter For the Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid, The Dairymaid said, "certainly, I'll go and tell the Cow now Before she goes to bed."
The Dairymaid she curtsied, And went and told the Alderney: "Don't forget the butter for The Royal slice of bread."
The Alderney said sleepily: "You'd better tell His Majesty That many people nowadays Like marmalade instead."
The Dairymaid said "Fancy!" And went to Her Majesty.She curtsied to the Queen, And she turned a little red:
"Excuse me, Your Majesty, For taking of the liberty, But marmalade is tasty, If it's very thickly spread."
The Queen said "Oh!" And went to His Majesty: "Talking of the butter for The royal slice of bread,
Many people think that Marmalade is nicer. Would you like to try a little Marmalade instead?"
The King said, "Bother!" And then he said, "Oh, deary me!" The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!" And went back to bed."Nobody,"he whimpered, "Could call me a fussy man; I only want a little bit Of butter for my bread!"
The Queen said, "there, there!" And went to the Dairymaid. The Dairymaid said, "there, there!" And went to the shed.
The cow said, "there, there! I didn't really mean it; Here's milk for his porringer And butter for his bread."
The queen took the butter And brought it to His Majesty. The King said "butter, eh?" And bounced out of bed."Nobody," he said, as he kissed her tenderly, "Nobody," he said, as he slid down the banisters, "Nobody, my darling, could call me a fussy man - BUT, I do like a little bit of butter on my bread!
Shame on you Mr Heinz. Right your wrong and restore the flavour to beans. Then we might not need a divorce after all.

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