Cally Phillips is still on 'gardening leave' (She has a big garden and there's a lot to do in it) So Jack MacRoary (The Bard of DrumTumshie) is back with a short story to entertain you. Enjoy!
‘It’s a dog eat dog world out there,’ Mr Em our headmaster is always very keen to tell us. Today he’s telling us this because we are about to leave the relative safety of TattyBogle Primary School to go on an ‘orientation’ visit to DrumTumshie Academy where we will all be educated come August.
And Mr Em wants to prepare us fully. I don’t need preparing. My brother John was at DrumTumshie Academy for four years and I was always up there with my parents when his teachers ‘needed a word.’ They could have written a book the number of words they all had about John which is strange given that he never came out with any kind of qualification. My teacher always says that ‘hard work is its own reward.’
I think it’s a stupid expression anyway, because my dog Bisum wouldn’t eat another dog. In fact no dog I’ve ever met would eat another dog. Though Bisum is quite keen to take a chomp out of Dug the cat if she ever gets a chance. But Dug’s quite hard enough to fight back. So while ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ may be a good thing to say, ‘dogs eating dogs’ is, in my opinion just a stupid thing to say.
Dogs do many things to other dogs. They lick each other in places that would make you sick and that kind of thing but they don’t eat each other. Not like Mr Em suggests. So even though I know it’s only ‘figurative’ language, it really doesn’t make sense. I know it doesn’t because I tried to explain it to my friend Brian the Brain and he couldn’t understand it at all. And Brian is the brainiest person I know. Ever.
So there we are sitting on the bus ready to go to visit DrumTumshie Academy and Brian is all worried that we are going to have to watch dogs eating dogs and that maybe we might have to eat dogs too, because on our orientation timetable we see that we are going to be doing Home Economics first. And that means cooking.
In the olden days when my parents were at school in the 70’s cooking was for girls. But now since Jamie Oliver it really isn’t. It’s for boys. But we let girls do it too because if you weren’t a girl doing cooking you were a boy doing woodwork and metalwork and that’s now called Craft, Design and Technology (or CDT – they like to make everything into those letters not words – Mr Em says they are called acronyms) which is not just for boys. I don’t know if the girls do the craft and design and the boys the technology or what. Maybe I’ll ask when we go to the class. But anyway, in these days of ‘inclusive’ education my mum says that everyone gets to do everything which is a much better state of affairs, though my dad says how come when he had the choice of ‘everything’ to do, my brother John still couldn’t do anything.
‘Because they don’t do farming at school dad,’ I said, trying to stick up for John for once, I don’t even know why.
It backfires on me though because dad then says ‘he can’t do farming either,’ and leaves the table. He’s under a bit of stress at the moment my dad. That’s because of the weather (bad) and the sheep (difficult) and the calves (all being born in the middle of the night) not to mention Micro the Pig. Shh. Not to mention. Don’t. I won’t mention Micro the Pig. Not just now. It will cause a riot.
But you want to know about the cooking class don’t you? It was Awesome. That’s a word I heard all the time in the playground at DrumTumshie Academy. The kids there think everything is ‘awesome’ but I don’t know why.
Anyway, they taught us about recipes and how you have to read what you’re going to do and then if you get clever you write what you’re going to do based on what you read before and what you think might taste good. And we all got to invent a recipe right then and there. From a limited range of ingredients of course. I made a pie. I followed the recipe of how to make pastry and I made a filling of meat and carrots and that was my pie. They said I could take it home for my family to try. But me and Brian the Brain ate it on the bus on the way back home after school and we weren’t even sick. I left a bit for Bisum because I thought she might like to eat it. Better than eating another dog after all.
Brian was just happy that we weren’t having to watch dogs eat each other or cook dogs or anything and what he made was, the teacher said ‘quite uniquely individual.’ Because he didn’t follow a recipe or anything, Brian doesn’t like to do that, he just likes to do what’s in his head. And what was in his head was… well, I can’t describe it either really. The teacher said it was ‘an acquired taste’ but to be really honest I thought it was bowfing. I didn’t tell Brian that though, because it would hurt his feelings. I asked him if I could save my bit for Bisum and he said that was okay and so I did, but Bisum wouldn’t eat it either. Everyone is a critic eh?
And in the afternoon we had an English class and the teacher asked what we’d done in the morning and we said cooking and Brian offered her some of his whatever it was and she said ‘thanks but she was on a diet’ and then she started explaining to us that writing was a bit like cooking because you needed to work to a recipe. She said there’s a recipe called grammar and syntax that we’ll have to learn (which sounds about as bowfing as Brian’s thing) and then things like structure, which is like how much you knead your pastry. I thought she meant ‘need’ your pastry and I said ‘you can’t make a pie without pastry’ and she patted me on the head and explained the different spelling made it a different meaning – but she spoke it not spelled it so how are you supposed to know? And then she said, actually you can make a pie without pastry, for example do you ever have fish pie and I remembered that fish pie sometimes has potato instead so she was right all along. And I realised she was a clever teacher after all. So I told her about my three ebook deal with Guerrilla Midgie and about the ebook festival last year, because I hoped then she’d forgive me for the stupid spelling mistake and be impressed by me. And she was, but she said we were going off the subject, and I needn’t try that old trick because she was well used to it over the years.
Then the class had a discussion all about recipes. Well it was a bit of an argument really because some people said their mum’s didn’t even use recipes and they didn’t need to because they had experience. And other people said well Jamie Oliver uses recipes and what makes your mum think she’s better than Jamie Oliver, he’s ‘awesome.’ And just as I thought I was realising what Mr Em really meant when he said ‘it’s a dog eat dog world’ at DrumTumshie Academy, which is that people are ‘at each other’s throats’ all the time trying to be the top dog in the class and bark the loudest, the teacher set us an exercise which was to write about the importance of recipes for writing and for cooking and for life. And I have no idea what she was talking about so I’ve just written this. But I think I might think about it a bit more and it might end up as a chapter in my next ebook. Because when it comes down to it, I think that teacher might just know more about writing than me and I need all the help I can get.
If you liked this and you want to read more of Jack’s ‘unique’ view of the world you can download Tales from TattyBogle and/or More Tales from TattyBogle for kindle or other ebook formats. All proceeds go to feeding Micro the Pig. Which is a charity that begins at home.
And if you want to know what Cally Phillips is up to – just go to her site