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Friday, 12 June 2020

Snail Bogeys

Children can be very fussy eaters. I was. As was my brother: for years and years, the only vegetable he would eat was peas. It might be genetic. One of our cousins would only eat one cornflake at a time.

Well, you reap what you sow, as they say, and in due course I experienced the joy of being a parent of fussy eaters myself. “I’m not eating that,” they would complain, “I don’t like it. It’s revolting.” Or “Yuk! It’s covered in nasty stuff”, or “Errrgghh! What are all these black bits in it?” and in the end you run out of patience and snap back at them: “They’re snail bogeys”.

It does not help.

But I had coined a phrase and in due course it became a family saying:

“What’s this?” “What’s for tea?”

“Snail bogeys!”

The kids tell me, should the blood line survive, that in two hundred years time there will be some exasperated descendant yelling at their infant offspring to eat up their food and “stop being so faddy because there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s only snail bogeys,” without either of them having any idea that one of their ancestors was the brilliant wordsmith who coined the expression.

Talking of snails, here is a still from the infra-red night camera mentioned in last month’s posts (it will take a day or two to compile another video of selected clips). You can see a hedgehog biscuit placed in the middle of a suspended wooden ruler, and a snail that has crawled along to consume it. This is one of the jumping and climbing tricks we have been dreaming up for the field mice that live under the shed, except the snail got there first.


Being cold blooded, it is not the snail that has activated the camera; it has been set off by Mummy Mouse on the ground. She bravely scales the bricks, nimbly tiptoes along the ruler and snatches the hedgehog biscuit right out of the jaws of the snail, from under its very nose. She dashes back down the bricks with it and darts under the shed to feed her mouse babies who are waiting for their tea. Because they are ours – i.e. they live in our garden – they too are fussy eaters.

“I’m not eating that,” they say, “It’s disgusting.”

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” she yells at them, “Get it eaten.”

“But what are these slimy bits?” they say.

“Snail bogeys!” she snaps at them.


34 comments:

  1. Your vocation is to celebrate, Tasker. Your field mice are jumpy and your snails are slow and meditative. And your children were normal, being fussy eaters. There was a BBC documentary about insects being the future food source of humankind. I reacted like your children, *Errrgghh!* Do you remember the scene in *Papillion* where the prisoner on Devil's Island kills a bug crawling up the walls of his cell and eats it? Steve McQueen is disgusted, but after a lengthy spell in solitary confinement, Steve gets peckish for bug life too! I ate snails twice, once in a Glasgow hotel, once in a Paris restaurant, but could never face them again. Oysters I avoid for fear of poisoning. There's a wonderful cafe in Glasgow (the University Cafe) which sells wafer oysters with marshmallow inside - delicious with a scoop of their ice cream. Your kids would have been in foodie paradise.

    John Haggerty

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  2. What a delightful turn of phrase. I shall remember that one the next time him indoors asks what is on his plate.

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    1. Oh dear. I hope Peregrine won't go hungry.

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  3. If I had been your father I would have clouted you and your brother too then I would have said, "Shut up and eat what you are given!" There's too much mollycoddling when it comes to children's culinary "dislikes". Imagine an African child living on the edge of starvation moaning about the food placed in front of him/her! It just wouldn't happen.

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    1. Ay, Sir, the child that won't eat his vittles, pardon my English, needs clout on ear, or my name ain't Gradgrind. Here in Coketown, we force feed our fussy eaters, tying them to chair-post with piano wire, and we stuff a bit o'tripe, or snail bogey, down wretch's little throat. Sissy Jupe durn't like my approach, but she's only a servant wey ideas above her station, and she campaigns for Women's Vote, no doubt. Thee and me, Yorkshire Pudding, we've known Hard Times.

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    2. That was another frequent parental remark: there are starving children in Africa who would be only too glad of such lovely food. And: if you don't eat it now you'll get it for breakfast and every meal after than until you do eat it. But I hope you didn't clout your own children YP. Goodness me! You could have turned them into vegetarians.

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    3. Vege-what? Don't make me shudder, Sir. The little blighters were served Horsemeat, and sent up to their dank attic bedrooms with an empty stomach, if they dared ter whimper. A bit o'horse curry makes for a tasty supper, and a change from Welsh Rabbit.

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    4. We en't likely to produce a strong race o' Wage Slaves on Weganism, Sir. Sissy Jupe might eye a Nut Cutlet juicily, but she supports that divil Gladstone, and 'ome rule for the Irish, Gad cuss the girl!

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    5. What's that Hameld bloke on about? Sounds like he still needs his ears boxing. Bloody smartalec! I bet he's from Down South.

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    6. If I'm to have me ears boxed, let it be from a Sheffield lad. Isn't that where they filmed Billy Liar? Aye, I'm from t'South: Glasgow, south o' Aberdeen. A Yorkshireman can't do owt wrang in ma buik, even if he hasna read Dickens' Hard Times. By the way, I truly think Harold Wilson was the last decent Prime Minister this country had, and Harold were from Yorkshire, weren't he?

      Haggerty.

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  4. This is a great story Tasker! I could just see the fussy little mice complaining about their dinner!

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    1. It was just too good a concidence to miss writing about. Wasn't that mouse ruthless in stealing from the snail.

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  5. I found a wood louse in my box of mushrooms the other day and almost ate it - but I do draw the line at snail bogeys.

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    1. And as the old joke goes: the only thing worse than finding a wood louse in your food is finding half a wood louse.

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  6. Called tom over to take a look at the video, so lovely.
    I never use slug or snail killer in my garden, instead I plant what they don't like but I do put out a bit of food for the foxes each night and they all come out to clear up the residue that's left. I must try to get a photo of them, there are loads. Where they all go in the day time I don't know.
    Briony
    x

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    1. There are quite a lot of clips from the past month with other interesting stuff. I'll compile a selection of clips and post it as an update to last month's. Last month's post also describes the night camera I've got. I wish we had foxes to film.

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  7. My grandmother, who traveled this country in the thirties, in the company of her husband, son and daughter, had a picky eater son. So many stories of a five, six, seven, eight year old boy going into a roadside eatery or a hotel and ordering mashed potatoes. If there were none, he did not eat. He didn't fuss, he just didn't eat.

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    1. What determination! Presumably it served him well when he was older.

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  8. I'm reminded of my childhood distaste of Lima beans. I can still hear my mother say,'Just one more bite...!' And it would be the biggest bite the parents could shovel onto my fork, let me tell you.

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    1. I've seen that as well. And the parents seem to think their children won't notice.

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  9. Three years old and on a bus with a lump of fat in my mouth that I could not swallow ;) memory will forever stay with me. Snail snot or snail slime? This is what I asked the snail yesterday climbing up the garage wall, it got thrown over the fence as a feast for any passing thrush.

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    1. Snails and slugs are not treated well in our garden either, but it does not seem to stop them coming in, or hiding under the lip of plant pots.

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  10. One cornflake at a time? How long did breakfast last?

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  11. My children (now grown) eat anything! My second husband, on the other hand... Nothing green apart from peas, no rice, no pasta, no spices. He obviously wasn't brought up right!

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    1. You could have an interesting and mutually self-validating conversation with my wife.

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  12. I like the way the mouse negotiates the climb and then comes down from the rear.

    I don't remember any fussy eaters at home although I hated bread and butter pudding at school because it looked like slime and refused to eat it and regularly got into trouble for not doing so, same with rice pudding with the dollop of jam in the middle. At home we had silly names for food that we or Father made up, more often him than us.

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    1. You sound like a fussy eater - at least a 2.5 out of 5. The mouse is great. I like the way it understands its superiority in stealing the biscuit from the snail.

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    2. They are the only two things I can recall ever refusing to eat. I wish I hadn't bothered to tell you.

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  13. I was/still am a fussy eater. No amount of making me sit for hours staring at congealing food on my plate or going away hungry ever changed me. I've certainly never starved and remain very healthy.

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    1. An adult fussy eater! Whether or not I'm still a fussy eater depends on who you ask.

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