Fred’s Bread

Jo Kemp's goose

I call it Fred’s Bread — but it isn’t. It’s actually Luba from Ukraine who bakes it to such perfection at Moores’ Bakery in Morcombelake. Quite simply, it HAS to be the best bread in Dorset. Everyone agrees — with one exception.

This churlish gourmand will spurn the freshly baked cobber still warm from the oven. He turns aside from the light rye, the sourdough, the wholemeal spelt and even the delicious black bread with its undertones of treacle.

All endeavours are met with a petulant child’s stubborn refusal. Only Mother’s Pride is accepted. Thick slices of spongy Kotex softness (preferably crusts off) or, at a push, Warburton’s or Hovis, but even these are eyed with suspicion and a certain air of distain.

So as the procurer, I’m the one who pathetically drops everything to dash up to Felicity’s Farm Shop on the pretext of shopping for something I’d like but don’t really need. It’s me who argues (rationalises) that while I’m out I may as well go on to Charmouth because I’ve run out of a non-essential “essential” like kitchen roll when I know, deep down inside, that the purpose of this ridiculous charade is purely to replenish stocks of his Mother’s Pride fix.

And who is he? Who is this jailer, this tyrant? Who is dictating the structure of my day when, with his cold blue eye fixed, he inspects to see if I’ve brought the right thing?

He’s my goose. He hasn’t got a name because this was never intended to turn into a relationship. The original goose was given to me along with his mate by Geraldine, the goddess of all things poultry, who didn’t have a “love pond” and charitably felt that I could provide the watery platform to enable their union to bear fruit.

Feeling vaguely professional, I collected their eggs and hatched a clutch in an incubator, which Fissle lent me. Two goslings survived (I wasn’t that professional) and harshly, I gave them a life expectancy of until justbefore Christmas. Of course Christmas came and went, all the geese lived on, and in the end it was a fox that reduced the family back to two again. But which two?

The remaining gander wasn’t interested in his mate; she was either his sister, his daughter or his mother (to me, mature geese all look alike) and, not feeling genetically inclined to go there, he began making overtures towards me. First it was following with purposeful intent. Then he got vocal with serenades of hissing and shrieking but what finally did it was the bowing — the graceful gesture of submission — as he fell in love.

I was touched, flattered and wanted to treat him, but it was early morning and I only had Mother’s Pride as demanded by the builders then working on the house (bacon butty bribery worked a treat with them). He took that first, thick, soft slice directly from my outstretched hand, deftly embroidering neat little razor bites with his neat little razor-like teeth.

And now for almost a year, that’s how it’s been. I’ve tried; believe me I have, to convert him to a lifestyle change. I’ve tried slicing and disguising but if it isn’t a soft pappy slice, he shrieks and is utterly distraught until I capitulate. What began as “mother’s pride” has truly become Mother’s Pride.

Jo Kemp's goose

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