a penny pomegranate novella (part six)

He would call in regularly after that but kept missing her or she might have been on a wpid-20141224_100517.jpgbreak in the back. One Saturday, February probably, he asked after her. ‘I’ve not seen Debbie here for a while. Is she ok? I know she had a cold at Christmas.’ ‘Oh, she left. She got a job on Coast Community TV. Are you pomegranate man?’ He felt his head jerk forward. ‘I think there’s a note for you or something, somewhere here. Yeah, here it is.’ And she passed him an envelope, ‘To the Pomegranate Man’.

He took it home and left it on the table for a bit. He decided he’d make cocoa with two pieces of dark chocolate dropped in for good measure. He sat down on the sofa and opened the note.

Dear Mr Pomegranate Man, sorry, I don’t know your name. Mine’s Debbie. I’m not sure if you know that. I just wanted to say thank you to you. I enjoyed our banter and I think because of it spotted an advert in the Green Growers’ Weekly. They were asking for people with experience to come for an audition for a fruit preparing series on tele. Like Bake-Off, only with tangerines. Well, with all the practising taking the seeds out of the pomegranates (you never saw me do that, did you? I used to practise at home), I’d got really good at it and my topslicing abilities shone through. Good enough, anyway, to get me through the audition and onto the show

One of the filming staff is very nice and he asked me out to lunch at a top brasserie! I did a search for Corsairea – did you mean ‘Coursera’? – found it and have completed the module on Pomegranate and related fruits. It’s really interesting. Did you know there was a woman called Persephone who ate either 3 or 6 pomegranate seeds, depending who’s talking, and ended up in Hell? Makes you think twice, doesn’t it?!

I’ve progressed onto the Pre-Advanced Pomegranate module on Seed Extraction Methods (with/without Toothclaw). I just love it!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you and hope to see you again. I feel like I’m dreaming. It’s really hard work on the show but a bit of a change. I’m looking forward in the spring to our talks back at the shop. ‘That’ll be cabbage, then’ no doubt.

Best Wishes,

Debbie:O)

 

‘And all that happened nearly forty years ago?’ He was holding a playing card with a picture of a pomegranate on it, playing Reminiscences with Juliet, the young carer sitting beside him in the care home. ‘She had a piercing in her nose, just like the one you’ve got. And she went on to make a career in fruit on TV. She used to pop up in all sorts of places, even had her own mini-series on the BBC for a while. She never did come back to the greengrocer’s.’

‘You must have missed her?’ said the young woman. ‘Why didn’t you ask her out?’ ‘Well, I was building up to it, I suppose, and then she left. She got married and had kids and did well for herself, so that was that. Funny how things happen, you know. You’ll find that out for yourself, I expect, one day…if you haven’t already!’ his eyes twinkling.

‘That’d be telling, wouldn’t it! Well, lovely talking to you but here’s the food trolley. Time for lunch. Let’s see what’s on the menu today. Butternut Squash and Pomegranate soup…chef trying out a new recipe.’ ‘Or an old one? Could be one of hers? She did used to write.’

John moved to a table in the dining room. It looked a cold, frosty day outside but he sat quietly breathing in the warm aroma of the soup, taking him to another place, another time. His two daughters had treated him to half a sourdough loaf from the local baker’s. He loved sourdough but couldn’t eat a full one now. He broke a piece off and dunked it in the bowl, biting into the crust. ‘Heaven, delicious! Thank goodness I’ve still got me teeth.’

a penny pomegranate novella (part five)

Back home, he got his crayons out but it was soon clear his teacher at school had a point when he advised him to choose something else, anything but Art. He tried working with pastels, pencil, even charcoal. You can make anything look good in charcoal, he thought but it was no good. God loves a trier but it was just too messy. Instead, he turned to Publisher on his computer, quickly found a suitable template and began creating.It wasn’t one that would fool anyone, really, just for a bit of fun.

wpid-20141224_095958.jpgHe returned to the greengrocer’s in less than a week because it was Christmas and the holidays. He had put a copy of the certificate inside his veg bag and was feeling more and more excited, looking forward to seeing the look on her face. But she wasn’t there. Maybe, she was in the back? He took his time, buying the apples and pears he needed, before making for the till. He recognised the young woman from the previous Saturday. ‘I’ve brought my certificate in to show the other woman…it’s my elementary nodule one…about the pomegranate pipping. Do you remember? I was in on Saturday. I did this online and I don’t think she believed me.‘ ‘D’you mean Debbie? She’s not working today. She’s not well.’

‘Oh, well, he thought, then he sensed the moment and passed the certificate to the assistant. She ran her eyes over it and was about to hand it him back. ‘At least, you can tell her you’ve seen it.’ She shot him a quick look and then gave it a more careful read. ‘It’s my Corsairea nodule. It’s not printed that great. The ink on my printer’s going, otherwise you’d be able to make out the college stamp better. ’ She was really studying it now. ‘It’s a really interesting fruit, the pomegranate, you know. Got all sorts of properties, goes back to Roman times…the juice is meant to be good for you. I’m only on Nodule One, so, early days. Anyway, best be off. Will you tell her I hope she is feeling better and I’ll probably see her on Saturday.’ He picked up his hempbag and turned to go, ‘Merry Christmas!’ and he gave her and everyone in the shop a wave and a smile. ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too!’ she called after him.

a penny pomegranate novella (part four)

On the way into the greengrocer’s, he overheard her voice and checked back. She was wpid-20141223_174427.jpgtalking with a friend outside on the pavement in front of the boxes of broccoli and beetroot. So, she was working today. He went inside and picked up basket. But it was only when he was waiting to pay that she came up and stood next to him. ‘Certificate?’ she said. ‘Printing error,’ I answered. ‘Couldn’t print it out. Still cost me 25 dollars, though.’ ‘Next week, then. I’m looking forward to seeing it.’ ’Oh, you will, no problem. It’s only a nodule/elementary 1 pomegranate pipping certificate, you know. It doesn’t show you every thing and I’m still disappointed I’ve not had the chance to see your topslicing skills. You only have to put on a simple demo and it’s all clear then.’ ‘I would but the boss won’t let me.’ ‘Have you asked him?’ ‘Yes and he said no. He won’t let me.’

‘Well, can’t you just rustle something up, while he’s out on his lunch? He’ll thank you for it in the long run. You’ve got an hour. How long would it take? It’d be worth it. You could even film it, add something new, something different to the High Street. Just think, you’d be doing the general fruit and veg-buying public a great service.’ ‘Boss won’t let me.’

‘Well, anyway, I still haven’t seen any of this top slicing technique on YouTube. How are we ever going to learn if you don’t teach us?’ ‘The boss won’t let me. I’ve asked him. We’re too busy. What more can I do?’ ‘Well, I think that’s a great waste…where is he, anyway? In the back?’ ‘He’s just popped out for 10 minutes. Make sure you bring your certificate in with you next Saturday. Don’t forget!’ ‘Not likely. I won’t forget, unlike some. I’ll see you next week, then.’ ‘See yer!’ ‘See yer!’

a penny pomegranate novella (part three)

wpid-20141222_091839.jpgTwo Saturdays passed before he could return to the greengrocer’s. She was serving someone at the till. He affected not to notice her and collected his potatoes, onions, carrots…’Hello,’ he said to her, putting his basket down on the slide-out shelf. ‘Yes, I’ve brought my own bags’ and mooched inside his rucksack for the hemp, fair trade sack he used for veg carrying. She started putting the veg and fruit in the bag. ‘Could you leave the tangerines till last?’ he asked her. ‘Sure,’ she said and took them out again. It was only when she got to the two pomegranates that he pounced. ‘And yes, my tutorial..?’ He left the question dangling in the air. He knew he had her.

She looked embarrassed, a little awkward. ‘I’ve been really busy,’ she excused. ‘It’s on the tele. You only have to google it. I’ve seen it done.’ In desperation, she called across the heap of pomegranates to her colleague, ‘Can’t you open a pomegranate and let all the seeds fall out?’ ‘Yes, cut the top off and slice it into quarters.’ ‘But where is the romance in that? The adventure? Do you know where these gorgeous fruits come from? How far they have sailed to land here on your shelf? They deserve more…’ and, at that moment, he dropped his bombshell. ‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘It’s no matter. I have a Certificate.’ She looked curiously at him. ‘Yes, I’ve given up on ever learning the pomegranate cuts you mentioned and I’ve done a course. Corsaira Nodule One Pomegranate Pipping (Elementary). And it’s cost me 25 dollars.’

He looked at her, smiling. She smiled at him. He felt his power. ‘I’ll bring it in next week to show you,’ he said, picking up his bags and walking out. ‘It may be hand-written…with crayon. Adieu!’ ‘I’ll look forward to it.’

a penny pomegranate novella (part two)

wpid-20141222_101002.jpgThat evening, his son came round for tea. When told there was only pomegranate for pudding, amazingly, his son had said, ‘Have you been talking to mum?’ ‘Mum..? About pomegranates..? Er, no. What would I do that for?’ He felt sure he was haunching his shoulders. ‘I just like pomegranates and got you one on the off chance, that’s all.’ ‘Good,’ his son said, ‘I like them.’ He seemed a little troubled by this and looked at his son, ‘I’ve only got one safety pin.’ But his son just raised his eyebrows. And, in truth, the pin had become a symbol of a time gone-by, a time, where everything was held together, taken apart, re-assembled again with the help of a safety pin.

There were the giant ones you could skewer your leg with inbetween bandages; medium size ones for nappies and tiny ones for pinning flowers to lapels, testing both finger dexterity and oblique eyesight. Truth be told, he’d started to use his pin but agh, health and safety! Pins can easily go through gums or other soft tissues. Up your nose if drinking wine while watching The Beiderbecke Affair. Nah, he’d lain the talismanic pin on one side and reached for the sharp knife, separating the pomegranate with swift cuts into quarters.

Another time, raising each quarter up in turn, he’d turned it over, admiring the gleaming, ruby red flesh, absorbing the light reflecting off its sides. He peeled some of the pith away and focused on a patch of juicy seeds, then chomp. Oh, joyous heaven! Oh, wondrous life, he sang, as the juice seeped over his tongue. He savoured the moments, swirling the juice around his mouth before releasing it slowly down his throat. Oh, yum. And there was always juice on the plate, which needed drinking up, like a toast. And, finally, a quick check to see were there any seeds on his chin or dribble. If he was lucky, there would be and he would catch them all, sticking his tongue out as far as he could and licking his lips.

This all takes time, he felt, and is not to be rushed. Once, he had taken more than half-an-hour to eat a single pomegranate. ‘Eat me slowly,’ the pomegranate calls.

The following Saturday, he took his two pomegranates over to the till, along with a basket of other stuff. ‘Brought your own bags?’ she asked him. ‘Yes, just a sec…and I’ve come for my two-pomegranate, de-seeding demo,’ he told her. ‘Oh, no…I forgot! Still, it’s easy. Just google it, Jamie Oliver…’ ‘I don’t want to google it,’ he said firmly. ‘I’m feeling really let down now. I don’t believe that such a trick is possible. A single slice here and another one there and all the seeds drop out. It’s preposterous. I think you’re making it all up, I really do!’ ‘No, really, google it. It’s on…’ ‘I’m sorry. I trusted you and you’ve let me down… as well as missing a trick here. There won’t be thousands of people, queuing up to watch your de-pipping operations now, will there…?’ She started to…’but there’s no such thing, is there?’ He hoped he looked disgusted as he glanced back over the heap of pomegranates on his way out. ‘I’ll find it for next week,’ she called after him. ‘See you next week. See yer.’ See yer.’

A penny pomegranate novella (part one)

wpid-20141224_100224.jpg‘What’s a safety pin doing in there?’ He was staring into the box he kept his ‘needle and thread’ in. There was a solitary safety pin inside. He picked it up, put it on the shelf in the kitchen and muttered, ‘I don’t know, safety pins. What next?’

Later that day, he called into his local greengrocer’s and there, in front of him, rose a heap of pomegranates. ‘That’s why I’ve got the safety pin,’ he smiled with delight, looking round. ‘Did I say that out loud?’

The assistant turned towards him, as he was remembering childish ways of picking the individual seeds out with a pin when they were little. Funny how you forget the small things isn’t it? ‘It’s the best way to eat a pomegranate,’ she called over, across the heap of pomegranates, pears and tangerines. ‘I know’, he thought. ‘Picking each juicy piece on the end of a pin, crunching it in your mouth, savouring all the juice bursting out…’, he was remembering it very well now. ‘I found a pin yesterday,’ he told her, ‘only I didn’t know what to do with it but I do now.’

She looked at him, ‘I was watching tele yesterday. They showed someone making two cuts across the top of a pomegranate and banging it hard on the table and all the fruits fell out. ‘No’, he cried, ‘what a terrible way to treat a pomegranate! Where’s the fun in that? The risk? The encounter? That’s no fun at all.’ She nodded. Still, it would be interesting to see how it’s done. ‘Maybe, next week, you could do some demonstrations? Learn the technique, show it off to your customers. You’d get more people coming back for pomegranates that way, I reckon…?’ He’d already noticed how handy she was with a machete, slicing a red cabbage in half as well as breaking a bunch of beetroot stalks off with her bare hands. He noticed too she wore a diamond piercing in her right nostril.

‘I’ll look it up again and let you know next Saturday.’ ‘See you do. I’ll see you next week, then.’ ‘See you.’