Thursday, November 16, 2006

war child
Sometimes I feel out of step with my contemporaries. I’ve come to realise that at least some of this comes from having older parents. My father’s brother and brother-in-law fought in the second world war; my mother’s family moved to the Isle to escape the blitz while her father stayed in Woolwich at the barracks. I seem to have inherited more of that generation’s “waste not, want not” attitude than most 29-year-olds.
My place of work supplies fresh fruit for us worker bees. I think the groceries are delivered once a week, unless extra fruit is needed for client meetings. Sometimes the admins seem to hide fruit, only for it to reappear later in the week; while this works well with oranges and apples it can spell disaster for the bananas (usually the most popular items in the fruit bowl).
At the end of last week there had been a bananalypse of quite astonishing proportions. On Friday I surreptitiously put five overripe bananas in my “bread bin” (over-desk storage) ready to take home for smoothies and/or cake, leaving a few other blackened specimens just in case someone else had been saving them up. Unfortunately, although I remembered to take my trainers and the bottle of wine I’d been given home with me, I left the bananas in the bread bin and this is where they stayed until Tuesday, since I worked from home on Monday.
Yesterday morning I transferred the pungent, squishy fruit to my rucksack and hoped no one noticed that my desk smelt of banana. In the evening I realised that there were still a large number of battered bananas in the bowl. I added the worst-looking ones to my hoard and hoped no one saw that I had a rucksack literally bulging with bananas. I felt a sick shame about “stealing” the fruit and fervently hoped nobody witnessed me scuttling from the kitchen to my desk with a handful of booty.
When I got home I set to. Listening to Ruth sob to David, “it wasn’t an affair!” while David, full of self-righteous anger, replied “You’re in love with THE COWHERD!”…I started multiplying the amounts in recipe I’d found on t’interwebby (ten bananas, 1.2kg of flour) and improvising (600g dark brown sugar, 600g of homemade butter). It was only after I’d managed to fill two mixing bowls full of cake goo that I realised that I was going to end up with a lot, lot more cake than two people can eat.
I’m not someone who brings things in for their co-workers. In fact it’s not that kind of office. And I’m not particularly sociable with the extended team either – I try to keep a lowish profile other than doing my job. So it was that I got very anxious about explaining how ten black bananas disappeared from the kitchen only to be replaced by an enormous cake.
In the dark, sweating, I woke TA up to ask: should I send mail with the subject line “yes, we have no bananas / we have no bananas today”? Do you think they will get the reference? He thought that my – young, mainly non-Brit – co-workers wouldn’t know the song.*
After TA reassured me this morning that the cake was fine for sharing, I took the second, better-looking specimen with me. I placed the cake in the kitchen with a note saying “banana cake – dig in, please!” The gannets didn’t need to be told twice and my modesty seemed false within thirty seconds (loud shouts of “who is the cake fairy?” reverberated around the open-plan office) so I sent e-mail titled “gone bananas” explaining my largesse.
Although the thought that someone not only repurposed the past-its-best fruit but also managed to do so on a school night when all right-thinking people should be tucked up in front of the telly met with general bemusement, it seems that my banana theft has generally been thought of as “a good thing”. I shall now feel free to import some of my family’s other thrifty traditions into the office – soon I’ll be rinsing the milk bottles with a drop of water and adding that to the milk jug too (just as soon as I persuade everyone to use a milk jug).

*I’m coming to the conclusion that I have a unique musical heritage. I listened to a programme on Radio 4 all about WW2 soldiers’ songs the other day and was heartbroken that “Saying goodbye to my hoss” wasn’t mentioned. Perhaps I should do one of those neato webcast thingamyjigs so that everyone can learn the genius of that song?

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