Expecting The East Ardsley Inquisition

Wednesday AM – After today’s habitual cordial exchange of “Good morning.” on entering the kitchen, my mum held out her hand to show me a 5mm white disc and questioned “Is this one of your tablets, Gary?”

This the first of what I expect will be numerous maternal enquiries of the day. That short seven word question signalling the commencement of Margaret Strachan’s daily inquisition.

This a salvo of catechisms which when on the receiving end feels like you’ve inadvertently wandered into the worst pub quiz in the world. The dreadfulness of it exacerbated further by the fact there’s not even the consolation of winning a meat basket from Binks butchers if I get all the questions right!!

During their TV pomp in the early 1970’s, the Monty Python team wrote a sketch incorporating a famed, and since oft mimicked, adage of “I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition!”….. Well, I can’t assure you when in the company of my mother I DO expect the East Ardsley Inquisition!”


Sadly for myself and the other subjects to her barbarism, our Leeds born lass has a far more effective techniques for breaking victim’s spirits to encourage their candour than 15th century Spanish conquistadors.

Modern research showing attempts to extract information by rack stretch as an infinitely inferior method of tormenting the victim than simply just asking them the same bloody question every 5 minutes…… The latter a technique developed and honed to ‘perfection’ over decades by Maggie Strachs.

So cruel her tactics, this habitual matriarchal mantra has now been outlawed globally. Austrian humanitarian Kurt Response declaring mater’s questioning tactics a perfect example of how in contemporary times the Geneva Convention is abused.

My mum, though, is unrepentant; thus far not adhering to UN edicts about her barbaric questioning techniques. Only last week ranting at dissenters, “Well, if you think I’m gonna start waterboarding people instead, especially when I’m on a water meter, you’ve got another thing coming!”

Regardless of whether or not she stays on the right side of  UN protocol/edicts, I’m pretty sure Margaret Strachan will always have the interrogatory wherewithal to extract information from people.

Not always cruel, on occasions she does use more humane techniques to lull her unwitting victims into spilling secrets; drawing them into a false sense of security with her excellent hosting skills.

No matter how much you want to avoid being overly candid in front of Mags, it’s amazing how frequently people acquiesce after being subject to four cups of tea, a Kit Kat and an affably put question like “That’s a nice jumper!… Did you buy it from Marksys!”

During my half century on this planet, I’ve witnessed mater’s effectiveness at extracting information through over the top, almost servile, niceness on numerous occasions. On one occasion, she even extracted a friend’s bank card PIN number, house keys and identity through a cordial provision of three cups of coffee and a Toffee Crisp.

Anyhow, back to today’s inaugural question in the East Ardsley Inquisition….. “Is this one of your tablets, Gary?”……. A politely enough delivered enquiry from mater, attempting to ascertain if the tiny white disc she’s just found in a kitchen cupboard had any salubrious qualities.

On taking the tablet sized disc from her palm, it didn’t take a great deal of scrutiny on my part to realise what she’d stumbled upon in the cupboard above the microwave was in fact a plastic screw cover. The type utilised by kitchen fitters to mask inner cupboard fitments to enhance the interior carcasses aesthetics.

I passed these findings to my mother; explaining that, unless used as a placebo, there’d be absolutely no health benefits from ingesting the plastic fitment cover. She responded with a smile and a brief “Ok. Thanks for checking, love.”

Five minutes later, just as I’d completing my cereals, mum approached me again and with the same small white disk in her hand asked “Is this one of your tablets, Gary?”


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