The little girl sat at the table, her face cupped in her two hands, transfixed by the activities of her grandfather, who was sitting opposite. He was preparing his usual piled-high breakfast concoction, which went something like this:
- The foundation of the structure was usually a pair of shredded wheat biscuits. Fair enough, thinks the little girl, breakfast looks normal so far.
- These were scattered with a coarse brown powder, a mixture of ground-up pumpkin, sesame, linseed and sunflower seeds. What is that stuff, wonders our heroine.
- Added to this was almost always some stewed apple. Not sure I like how this is shaping up, thinks she.
- This was sometimes mixed with spoonfuls of stewed apricots, prunes, or maybe blueberries. Prunes, ewwww. She is starting to feel that there is something very wrong about all of this.
- Slices of banana or pear came next. Not in the same bowl, surely?
- Onto this burgeoning pile went a liberal pour of diet 7-up – a diabetic-friendly replacement for sugar – which would cause the by now mushy-looking contents to froth, fizz and almost escape the confines of the bowl. Euuuuuughhhh! That’s shouldn’t be allowed!
- As the bubbling subsided, the breakfast mish-mash was crowned with a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt and slurpily devoured. Our heroine is not sure she believes what she has just seen.
At the end of the ritual, the little girl had only one thing to say:
Granda, you’re disgusting!
Fortunately my niece (who is a little girl no more) was not permanently traumatised by the experience, while my father, her grandfather, persists with this breakfast formula to this day. It’s sandwiched on one side by a swig of cod liver oil straight from the bottle and, on the other, by the ingestion of an assortment of pills and medicaments which seem to be the stock-in-trade of the eldery gent. Even when those pills and such depress his appetite, he still manages this breakfast feat daily and we all still look on and wonder.