The World’s Happiest Pudding

Frankie McMillan 2014

In my childhood my mother took in boarders and in this way I developed a tolerance for the odd behaviours of men. They were noisy, they put posters of big breasted woman astride motorbikes on their walls, and sometimes they cried because they were missing a woman. Mostly though they were hungry. At the dinner table my mother fed them first with soup so they didn’t need such big plates of meat and on Sundays, when they grew restless, she served them roly poly pudding oozing with burnt jam and topped with clotted cream. That silenced them; they had to stagger to their beds to sleep it off.

All this is by way of saying there are ways to manage things. I tell this to my daughters. There they are striding the tussocky hills, pale legs lit up by the sun. ‘What odd men?’ they say, ‘ what are you talking about?’ One stops to examine a tiny flowering shrub and I think that one will always save herself. She stands lost in the wonder of the purple star shaped flower, her head bent low. Then they are both striding up the steep hill again and I struggle to keep up; too soon I will be the Innuit woman left behind in the snow, waving her family goodbye. ‘I’m talking,’ I yell, ‘ about how to keep everyone happy.’