“The question is that…” So often the debate concerning the composition of the evening meal, even when that meal is going to be shared by two people who have shared evening meals together for many years, can be fraught with disagreement. When neither the ayes nor the noes have it, then compromise becomes the dish of the day. That compromise often comes in the guise of a baked potato. What is surprising is that it rarely, if ever, disappoints. If society could find the baked potato of political compromise, many of our problems could be smoothed away.
I have a memory of a baked potato which I may have shared with you on a previous occasion, but I can’t remember so I’ll probably enjoy writing it again.
There are, to my mind, only two approaches to a fancy dress party. The first one demands total commitment to achieving the best looking, and most flattering, costume whilst the other demands a Miss Otis response to the invitation. Any half way house is doomed from the outset, although the apparence of that doom is often not encountered until the first foot is well and truly over the cliff’s edge, leaving no way back from the certain descent into the abyss. Our hero, a young nobleman who had succumbed to the fleshpots of London in the 70’s, had returned to his parents stately pile in the north in order to remind them of his continued existence. Whether he saw his parents or not remains unreported. What he did see was an unopened invitation on the mantelpiece, which on closer inspection was addressed to himself. There was always the choice of not opening the invitation but, curiosity having got the better of him, it was revealed that his presence was requested, that very evening, at a fancy dress party hosted by eminent and hugely wealthy friends of his family at their nearby home. An effort would have to be made, and most of that effort would need to be expended on the rapid acquisition of a memorable costume. Stung into action, our hero had a memory of a costume hire business, associated with the local theatre, through whose door he was passing before one could say the long and convoluted name of a Welsh railway station. It was immediately clear, from the empty clothes rails, that the same thought had passed through the minds of the majority of the invitees. The larder was bare…..save for one costume that all had rejected. It was that of a baked potato. As a costume, the baked potato demands little of its creator, save for a framework that is covered in brown material, reminiscent of the skin of a baked potato. What the costume lacks in design demands it amply replaces with its demands on the wearer. The very shape decrees that there is a hole at the apex, through which the head appears, and two other holes at the base, for the legs. If the potato is to perambulate, holes for legs are a sine qua non. The apertures that it lacked were for the arms, meaning that the wearer would be without the demonstrative alliance of arms and hands, an alliance that has proved to be so critical in our human efforts at social intercourse, as is so clearly demonstrated by the inconvenience caused by a strait jacket. Beggars , choosers and Hobson all flashed through what was left of a distraught mind and soon he was absorbed in packing a life size baked potato costume into a sports car, as hands free high speed driving would be demanding more than the customary blind eye from the local constabulary. The scene quickly shifts to a night time exterior. Our hero, now in evening dress, is in a quandary. He is also in an open car, with an empty baked potato for company, outside his hosts’ stately home. There are only a couple of parked cars which means that his transformation into a potato can be accomplished without the mockery of which he will later have his fill. Whilst slipping into his costume….I use the term “slipping” lightly…he notices that his evening suit trousers were not made to pass through the leg apertures provided by the potato suit designer. The potato was designed to be worn as a single dramatic statement with no unnecessary accessories, apart from patent leather shoes. Once fully transformed into a potato, his lack of arms became evident and never more so than when he stood at the monumental front door and became cognisant that his head was now the door knocker. He knocked and, teetering between consciousness and oblivion from the blow to his head, he waited. The huge door swung open, revealing the butler who was well acquainted with our hero.
“Good evening, my Lord, how nice to see you. Please do come in”.
There was a dreadful peace about the grand house that was making him think of why Miss Otis regretted that she was unable to attend and that it seemed preferable to being where he was at the moment.
“Please follow me , my Lord”
Fleeing as a armless potato was out of the question, he’d never get out of the door, so the noble potato meekly followed, which is unusual for a potato in that it would normally precede a butler on entering a dining room.
His hosts, both of them, were dining quietly together. He stood before them bare legged, patent leather shoed and baked potato clad. He longed for his arms. All that was left to him was to bow and slowly reverse out whilst the date on the invitation danced before his eyes.