Geoff Le Pard writes some of the most wickedly humerous flash fiction stories I have ever read. If you have not visited Geoff’s blog you are really missing out. You can read one of Geoff’s pieces here and see for yourself: https://geofflepard.com/2018/06/26/lost-found-who-knows-where-next-carrotranch/.
Michael and I are delighted to have Geoff over for a visit to tell us about his Mother and his new book: Apprenticed to my Mother.
My mother had strong opinions about motherhood, one of which was that when my brother and I left home, we would possess a range of skills that would stand us in good stead for the future. A large part of that motivation was my father, and specifically the fact he lacked any of what my mother considered to be basic skills. ‘I will not be able to look any of your girlfriends in the eye if I let you loose on an unsuspecting world as poorly prepared as your father.’
So it was that my brother and I were taught to cook. Back in the 1960s a boy’s education would include woodworking and TD – technical drawing – but never domestic science. It wasn’t an option even.
She knew she had to overcome several hurdles. One was that my brother was something of a fussy eater. The other day I found a letter he wrote home from University, during his first term in Bristol. ‘I hope to be home next weekend,’ he wrote, ‘so could you make sure you get in some celery and hot chocolate powder’.
An early example of her teaching was making fudge. It’s not difficult: condensed milk, sugar butter, milk and a flavour – vanilla, orange, chocolate. But it’s also a process: ingredients need mixing, there’s cooking, more prep and a waiting period while it sets.
It’s a sweet chemistry and you make loads, far more than we were used to seeing – we rarely had sweets as children, unless one of our grandmother’s came to stay or it was Easter. And if we did, it would be one small bar, easily demolished in a sitting. Not this; two hungry, sweet-toothed boys couldn’t managed this lot – even if we’d been allowed to.
At some point we tried a cake – probably a sponge. We weren’t unusual in that we both loved licking out the mixing bowl, often thinking the cake mix tasted better before it was baked. Back then we didn’t have a beater so the mixing of the sugar and butter was with a wooden spoon. That, people, is hard work especially for two small boys. But Mum mixed it up with getting the filling sorted out and a lot of tasting. Boy, did I enjoy tasting.
My brother? Not so much, but Mum was shrewd. She understood his mind. ‘It’s just chemistry.’ She appealed to the scientist in him. The fascination of why eggs rise. Meringues were an especial favourite for this.
I suppose I might have fallen in love with cooking anyway, even if it had just been a necessity. But Mum’s biggest skill was to create an event with cooking at its centre. It was fun, it was an education, it involved her but she didn’t baulk at letting us, small fingered clumsy boys that we were, try every little thing. It’s not the winning but the taking part that matters. So true in sport, equally true, in my experience in cooking. What if things go wrong, cake flop, meringues don’t set, fudge can be burnt? So what? There are laughs along the way and, with Mum, there were always plenty of laughs. And mess. Especially mess.
Maybe that’s why she had such a massive collection of cooking equipment when she came to downsize after dad died. Maybe that’s why she wanted to keep them all. It wasn’t that she ever thought it likely she’d need numerous glass mixing bowls; it’s what they stood for, what they reminded her of.
About Geoff Le Pard
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
Books by Geoff Le Pard
My Father and Other Liars
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
Life in a Grain of Sand
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
This is available here
Buster & Moo
Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Life in a Flash
Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages
Apprenticed to My Mother
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.