“Anyway, fellow man?” counters Frank. “That’s sexist. Glad you’re such a sexist, Audrey.”
“It’s an expression.”
“It’s a sexist expression.”
“I think we should go,” Dad cuts in. “Mum’s on the warpath.”
“I’m entertaining Linus,” says Frank, without moving an inch. “I’m entertaining a guest. You want me to abandon my guest?”
“He’s my guest,” I object.
“He was my friend first.” Frank glowers at me.
“I have to go anyway,” says Linus diplomatically. “Water polo practice.”
After Linus leaves, we hear Mum yelling, “Chris! Frank! Where are you!” in her most ominous You’ll-pay-for-this-later voice and it’s like we all realize there’s no point hiding out here anymore. Frank trudges back to the house looking like a condemned man and I take a few deep breaths because I’m feeling a little edgy.
I mean, I’m fine. I’m not panicking or anything. I’m just a tiny bit—
Well. A bit jittery. Dunno why. I’m probably just getting back to normal after all those months polluting my body with chemicals. I mean, when is the last time I knew what normal even was?
The kitchen is full of the most motley crew of people. There’s one old lady in an ancient purple suit and hair which is clearly a wig. There’s one middle-aged lady with plaits and sandals. There’s a plump couple who are wearing matching St. Luke’s Church sweatshirts. And a white-haired man on a mobility scooter.
The mobility scooter’s pretty cool, actually. But it is kind of getting in everyone’s way.
“Right!” Mum comes in and claps her hands. “Welcome, everybody, and thank you for coming along today. So, the fete starts at three. I’ve bought lots of ingredients…” She starts emptying food out of supermarket carriers onto the kitchen table—stuff like tomatoes and cucumbers, lettuce and bread, chicken and ham. “I thought we could make some sandwiches, stuffed wraps, um…does anyone have any other ideas?”
“Sausage rolls?” says the plump woman.
“Right.” Mum nods. “D’you mean buy sausage rolls or make sausage rolls?”
“Ooh.” The plump woman looks baffled. “I don’t know. But people like sausage rolls.”
“Well, we haven’t got any sausage rolls. Or any sausage meat. So—”
“That’s a shame,” says the plump woman. “Because people like sausage rolls.”
Her husband nods. “They do.”
“Everyone loves a sausage roll.”
I can see Mum getting a little tense. “Maybe next time,” she says brightly. “Moving on. So, I thought…egg sandwiches?”
“Mum!” Frank says in horror. “Egg sandwiches are rank.”
“I like egg sandwiches!” says Mum defensively. “Does anyone else like egg sandwiches?”
“Sweetheart, I think we can do better than egg sandwiches.” A man’s voice cuts across Mum’s, and we all look up. A bloke I’ve never seen before is striding into the kitchen. He must be in his twenties. He’s got a shaved head and about six earrings in one ear and is wearing one of those chef outfits.
“I’m Ade,” he announces. “My grandad’s Derek Gould—he just moved into Avonlea. Told me about this. What are we doing?”
“Are you a chef?” Mum goggles at him. “A professional chef?”
“I work at the Fox and Hounds. I’ve got an hour. This what you’ve got?” He’s turning Mum’s food over in his hands. “I think we can knock up some nice fresh fillings to go in the wraps, maybe a Waldorf salad, maybe roast this fennel off and do it with a lemon-tarragon dressing…”
“Young man.” Purple lady waves a hand in his face. “How will we keep salads fresh on a day like today?”
Ade looks surprised. “Oh, I brought the chill boxes from the pub. Thirty. And all the other catering supplies. You can give them back tomorrow.”
The purple lady blinks at him in surprise.
“Chill boxes?” Mum is starting to look overexcited. “Catering supplies? You’re a saint!”
“No problemo. OK, so our menu is Waldorf salad wrap, Mexican bean wrap, a couple of salads—”
“Um, could we use some eggs?” says Mum, looking embarrassed. “I bought a whole load of eggs for egg sandwiches, which no-one seems keen on.”
“Spanish omelette,” says Ade without missing a beat. “We’ll put in some chorizo, garlic, fry off some sweet onion, serve it in slices…”