They all sat up, as they called it, an action no doubt fixed in Rachel's childhood, when sitting up, rather than sitting down, was compulsory. Joe didn’t want to appear rude and was sat bolt upright with his chest pushed out as far as he possibly could.
As he waited, Joe’s eyes shifted along the oak runway and silently counted the number of receptacles that cluttered the table. The contents of the red cast-iron saucepan were transferred to similar vessels and then perched at regular intervals on ornamental metal trivets. In time, these spuds and sundry veg’ would find themselves on plates ready to eat.
Derek had been sitting up for Rachel for thirty years and Natasha, their youngest daughter, for over twenty, but they didn’t seem to mind. The Peterson family accepted having to sit up straight, and apart from slightly pronounced sternums, were (more or less) free of disability.
The wine hadn’t made it to the table yet and was waiting dutifully by the fire. It was undoubtedly a good one, smooth as wine buffs say - very smooth. Joe momentarily wondered whether it might be a fruity one, or perhaps possessed a hint of something or other, but he really hadn’t the nose for wine.
Sat at the top of the table Derek broke the silence. ‘Fifty pence a bottle in France’. He then hoisted the bottle to eye level, pointedly examined the label and in a soft Anglo-French accent, proceeded to announce the grapes origin and hinted about the quality. ‘Produce of St. Emilion 1982,’ adding with the softest of sniffs. ‘You can't beat a good Bordeaux can you Rachel?’ Lowering the bottle within a half-inch of his not inconsiderable nostrils, the connoisseur, emitted a bolder sniff, and after a short pause, concluded, ‘Superb’.
‘Do you like Claret Joe?’ Rachel asked politely, while Derek tilted the bottle and gave the label another once-over. Joe, being Joe, knew Claret was wine, but what category it fell into was a mystery. What he did know, was that if he drank anymore of the stuff, he’d have serious digestive problems later.
Natasha was placed sitting up straight next to her father. Derek & Rachel had been desperate for one of each and weren’t best pleased when Natasha came along. It was such a nuisance having to have the extra child, but Derek really wanted a boy and right up to the birth Derek was convinced Rachel would give him a son.
It was after Natasha was born that Derek developed his theory: The Origins of Male Offspring. According to Dr. Derek, the sex of the child was nothing to do with chromosomes or DNA, but personality. If, the theory went, the parents were forceful enough, a male child would be produced. To Derek, this appeared to be the truth and his theory prevailed, but even after their daughter was born he was unable to accept the science. Derek had certainly tried his hardest, but he wasn’t convinced Rachel had put enough into it. His determination paid off in the end however, and a couple of years later, an oh-so-determined Rachel, produced Tarquin and at long last, the Peterson's were a proper English family.
Copyright © Anthony Bounds. All Rights Reserved | November 2019