Alec Thompson’s banty eggs were frequent visitors to the 1970s/80’s Strachan kitchen table in Dorchester Gardens, Low Fell. Not just physically, in the shape of an omelette or cake ingredient, but also as a catalyst to meal time banter surrounding the culinary splendour of truly fresh produce.
I didn’t know Gateshead man Alec personally but my mum was a friend of his wife, who for anonymity purposes I’ll call Linda Thompson.*** The lady who supplied my mater with freshly laid oeufs, provided courtesy of her husband’s banty hens.
*** – Actually, her name was really Linda Thompson….. One day I’ll get used to this giving people anonymous monikers malarky.
From memory, the Thompson’s lived in a three bedroom semi-detached house on the Chowdene estate, close to The Gold Medal pub at the bottom of Chowdene Bank. However, I can’t say with any surety if the hens resided within Mr & Mrs T’s garden, or whether they stayed off-site in an allotment chicken coop.
It matter’s not, though, where the eggs were laid; this tale is one relaying my family’s appreciation of their home-reared yoke and albumen. Tastebud delighting freshness that oft led to my dad, mum, brother, sister or me appreciatively exclaiming “By, those eggs are fresh!”, “What a difference from the rubbish eggs we used to get at Fine Fare!” or “Where did you get this bacon, mum?!…….. It’s saltier than a Russian’s armpit!!”****
**** – I’d no idea, or any desire to research, if a Russian’s armpit was salty. However, I used the made up adage knowing the specificity of the simile would rule out anyone being able to contradict it with any real surety.
There was barely a week went by where the wonders of Alec Thompson’s (AT’s) banty eggs didn’t rear their head within family conversation. So bad did the obsession get that, after one particularly heated teenage argument with my mum, I melodramatically threatened to leave home citing the reason as “You think more about Alec Thompson’s banty eggs than you do your own family!”
This leading to mater’s indifferent response of “Go on then, leave you miserable sod!…… You won’t be missed!…… Certainly not as much as the eggs if, god forbid, Alec’s hens stop laying!”
After concluding that if I ran away I’d be robbed of the fresh poultry produce, unless I could blag a room at the Thompson’s gaff, my threat was never carried out. Instead, misguidedly going on hunger strike to protest about my perceived notions mother didn’t care about her offspring. This action, though, rendered less effective by my insertion of a caveat that I’d still be able to consume banty eggs, Iceland frozen margarita pizza and Findus crispy pancakes.
My ill thought out selective ‘industrial action’ backfiring badly when for three days after it’s inception my mum aimed to break me by preparing meals that didn’t include either banty eggs, Iceland frozen margarita pizza and Findus crispy pancakes.
In the 1970’s it was regular to hear news reports telling of arbitration association ACAS becoming involved when trade unions and employer negotiations were at an impasse. With this in mind, I tried ringing ACAS HQ requesting assistance with my domestic dispute with my mum. Forty years on, though, I’m still awaiting a call back to confirm if they’re interested in becoming involved.
Consequently, I was starved into admitting Mrs S did care about her kids more than AT’s poultry produce…… But if truth be told she didn’t!……. The heartless mare!