There is no pleasant way to pluck a pheasant, the pheasant pluckers agreed.
‘You put the wing tips under your feet, so, and hold the feet in your hands, so, and you just pull, hellish hard,’ the domino players were discussing novel ways to disassociate the tasty bird from its feathers.
It’s quick, but messy.’
Ah, but if you get the knack you can disembowel it all in one movement, have a look on You Tube,’ — unlikely things you hear in a Welsh pub.
‘Layered with sausage meat and bacon and wrapped in foil and baked in the oven, that’s how I like it.’
And so, last night, I went to sleep thinking of the first time I tasted it – pheasant — picked from the dried-out carcass of the left-over roast bird that invariably sat in my ex-father-in-law’s massive but largely empty fridge, next to a half pint of dodgy milk and the stale eggs that made us ill, in the days before he re-married, when all there was to eat in the old patriarch’s brightly lit kitchen in the dead of night was the remains of his Sunday lunch and hard baked water biscuits; a Sunday roast, no veg or trimmings, but a roast nevertheless, is the benchmark of a proper home-life. There was sometimes roast rib of beef, tender, pink and delicious, served with salt and there was always whisky and Canada Dry, whatever time of day or night that we arrived.
Last night I had a dream; other people’s dreams are very boring, but it illustrates something, something quite important that we all know but which I have rarely felt.
Pop, he of the Sunday roast who has been dead for years and anyway long estranged from me by circumstances, visited me – a visitation. He walked down our lane weaving through the puddles, in a tweed suit and a beige waistcoat (he usually wore a cardigan) but the buttons were still straining. The wind lifted a layer of his unruly frizzy hair, darkened and restrained by repeated applications of Brylcream. His small feet (size 7) wore good leather shoes, shiny and very stylish with leather tassels on the laces and he guffawed when he trod in horse manure which is odd as we do not have a horse. He rebuked me for my directions; everyone gets lost when they visit us.
Afterlife is what I’m writing about. Heaven, if you like. Ghosts. You can fill in the details but I woke with the glow of affectionate recall (Pop wouldn’t do love). But there he was.