TODAY, around my kitchen table (my mother's kitchen table, actually, but we won't quibble) we were talking rhubarb.
I don't mean we were all extras in the background of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes pretending to talk to each other - although to look at us, we could have been - but we were discussing that love-it-or-hate-it garden staple.
It's a truth, universally acknowledged in my family, that a single woman who comes knocking on my mother's door is in want of rhubarb (little literary reference there as the better-read among you will no doubt recognise).
She tries to foist sticks of rhubarb on unsuspecting visitors. I'm wise to her tricks now and refuse to accept any unless it is cooked, covered with pastry or crumble with a jug of custard beside it.
However, today I was reminded by my sister of the time I succumbed to her blandishments and took home a bundle of rhubarb.
Now, cooking is not my forte. In fact, anything that is at all practical and useful is not my forte. If you want a stiffly-worded letter written to a utility firm, I'm you're man, but don't ask me to look after your house plants while you're on holiday. Not unless you want to come home to plant carnage.
Mother wittered on about putting some bicarb in when cooking the rhubarb as it will soften it - so I did.
I made a very tasty crumble and the dearly beloved devoured it. He even had second helpings and possibly later that day, thirds.
Some time later my mother asked him if he liked rhubarb and he said he did - but unfortunately it gave him the shits.
When we were alone my mother asked me how much bicarb I had put in the crumble.
How was I to know she had told me to add a "pinch". What the hell is a "pinch" anyway? I can't remember exactly how much bicarb I had added but it was more than a heaped teaspoon but less than a heaped dessert spoon. That would do it, said my mother while shaking her head in despair.
To this day, the dearly beloved has no idea why the rhubarb had such a bad effect on his internal workings and I'm not going to tell him now. All healthy relationships have their little secrets. Don't they?