Tag Archives: pumpkins

Swedes, Spit And Soft Apples

1 Nov

Swedes, Spit And Soft Apples

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So it’s Halloween again and the streets are full of moppets in Gothic whimsy collecting enough sugary snacks to keep them in sugar rushes until the Easter Bunny brings them shed loads of chocolate. It wasn’t like this when I were a lass.

The boy opposite’s Dad carved him a swede (rutabaga) because pumpkins didn’t exist in those days, not in the UK anyway. It was a nice fat, round swede, pumpkin shaped but smaller. I was impressed and wanted one too so I went into Mam’s kitchen and found a small, shrivelled, rather conical swede and demanded that my Dad carved it for me. Dad was just back from the pub and swaying and I don’t know how he carved it without ending up in A&E (ER), but he managed to gouge out a hollow bit in the middle, stab a couple of mismatched holes for eyes and a slash for a grimace and Mam found the stub of a candle (there were no  night lights back then) and I went out with it proudly. The boy opposite snorted with derisive laughter and mocked me. I was bereft. 😦

Mam tried to cheer me up by organising an apple bob. She rounded up a few neighbour’s children (including the boy opposite with the flashy swede) and poured some water into a washing up bowl and threw in a few apples that had been in the fruit bowl awhile getting soft. They had to be soft for bobbing because you couldn’t sink your teeth into hard ones. The boys rushed forward, jostling each other and dived into the water face first, biting at the apples. I hung back and watched the carnage with distaste – the bowl was murky with little-boy spit. Ychafi (an ancient Welsh exclamation of disgust). Ychafi!

“Go on”, Mam said, “you too”. “No thanks”, I said, crestfallen, clutching my shrivelled mutant swede, watching the boys scoffing the soft apples with saliva dripping down their chins. “I’ll leave it”.

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