A banquet beggars belief as Verity’s charming Prinz saves the day. 

Thomas, my sainted husband, is currently recovering from organising the 1,100th anniversary of Cuthbert’s Cabbage. It turns out our little community resides on land previously occupied by a nunnery, which St Cuthbert visited after he received news that relations between the nuns and the townsfolk were not always limited to religious intercourse. 

During his visit the nunnery was overwhelmed by victims of syphilis seeking a miraculous cure and/or absolution from the great man. That year the harvest had failed due to a plague of rats, so the nuns and assorted guests were faced with starvation until St Cuthbert blessed a cabbage which then grew to such a size that it was able to feed everyone. 

This story is now frequently recited to anyone who will listen by our recently born-again Christian resident, Robena. She found Christianity through our diocene leader, Bishop Gregory, known locally and variously as the Funk Soul Father, the Dishy Bish or the DB. She saw the light shining from his “Paul Newman- blue” eyes  after she joined his online fermentation and fun class. Her conversion also got her reinstated in our community.

Thomas and Robena teamed up to recruit residents for a celebratory banquet to mark this significant anniversary. They had hoped to get a high-ranking royal to turn out but were informed by the Palace that they had been put on a waiting list due to a royal shortage. If they wanted someone quicker, they were told that they would have to settle for the relatively obscure Duke of Hounslow, so they eagerly accepted.

The event generated quite a lot of excitement in our usually quiet community. I thought I’d better be supportive by dressing up, so I pulled out my London University provost outfit. Unfortunately, the moths had fed on the hat, but I had no suitable alternatives and it seemed apposite – being holey…

After some mead and canapes that were described as mediaeval and tasted as such, we trooped into the dining room led by the Duke and the DB. Once we were all in, Bishop Gregory produced a guitar and provided a modern take on the sung grace which is also apparently available on YouTube. We were then served an “authentic Dark-Age meal” involving cabbages stuffed with nuts and grains. 

Unfortunately the food did not receive the rapt reception that the DB’s baritone delivery had elicited. Clearly the art of Saxon cooking had not passed down the generations. Or the modern palate was not attuned to the delights of obliterated cabbage and cremated walnuts. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the diners will be forced to complete the authentic mediaeval experience with a hunt for a dentist.

Fortunately, the Bishop did a second turn with a rousing sermon on the last supper and the power of breaking bread together. And the day was well and truly saved by my favourite local entrepreneur, Prinz Charlz, who miraculously appeared with buckets of fried chicken from his new fast food startup, Da Bomb Chic Bitz accompanied by industrial quantities of a spicy dip and tortilla chips. He bounded in – swinging an enormous thurible which filled the room with a heady aroma. (a nice gesture to the Christian basis for the event, even if it was denominationally questionable).

But his generous offering was clearly welcome because within, it seemed, only minutes of his smoky arrival, the food was all gone and a number of folk had even acquired a taste for the cabbage and cleared that too. Prinz had to call in another load of his chicken which he offered at a very kind discount at £17 a serving.

Meanwhile Robena and the DB, we hear, reenacted the sort of behaviour that brought St Cuthbert to the region all those centuries ago.

Prinz certainly does know how to spice up a party.

Verity Bastion

Verity is an emeritus professor of economics now living in a retirement apartment with her husband, Thomas, after a distinguished career. She writes a regular column for The Mint on …

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