‘You know what I fancy?’ said my husband on Friday. ‘A roast lamb dinner.’
This was unusual for a number of reasons. For a start my husband declared himself ‘off’ red meat some time ago and as a result has mainly confined himself to chicken and fish.
Secondly, only a few hours earlier, as if by way of a spooky premonition, my mother had pressed a foil parcel into my hands ‘for the dogs.’ It was the remains of a shoulder of lamb that had been cooked on the bone, the smell of which excited Lucy so much she made a bid for it while it was in my bag ready to be taken home.
Thirdly, it was technically Saturday morning because my husband had just got in from work and it was gone midnight, so why he felt he needed to share his dietary urges with me at all at that point, I have no idea. I had been asleep for about an hour before he arrived home to make his announcement, presumably because when a man decides he is going to eat lamb again after a long break, he wants you to know as soon as possible.
‘Of course Sunday will be no good,’ he went on, ‘because I am working. But perhaps Monday or Tuesday I could have it?’
I slowly realised what he was doing. He was trying to plant a subliminal message into my head when I was in a semi dreamlike state, so I would wake up on Saturday and feel some irresistible urge to buy a joint for roasting without even realising why.
I admire his optimism. I have not eaten meat since 1981, so it was going to take more than a half whispered suggestion to plant the idea. He clearly had not watched Inception properly.
That said, we browsed the meat racks late on Saturday afternoon, only the find there had been an attack of celebrity chef at our local supermarket. There was no plain shoulder of lamb to be had, but there were loads of vacuum-packed slabs of butterflied shoulder marinating in various unctures. Clearly, plain meat with a bone in it was off the menu.
Giving up, I resolved to pick up joint to roast somewhere else on Sunday after I finished work and so after being greeted by an ecstatic Lucy on coming home today, I had to explain to her only 20 minutes later that I was popping out for another half an hour.
My target this time was a small, independent Italian grocery, which has a very popular and apparently very good butcher as part of it. I pulled up and headed to the busy counter. It did not look good. I could see legs and chops, but no shoulder. I asked the man behind the counter if they had shoulder on the bone.
‘We have sold out of shoulder,’ he said, ‘but I tell you what I got. A lovely piece of rump. Johnny! Go get the the rump out of the cool room.’
Johnny did as he was told.
‘Here,’ he said, ‘waggling it about in front of my face, ‘Beeeeyooooutiful. I can clean this up no problem and it will be lovely.’
It was not his fault. He did not know he was waggling his beautiful rump in front of a vegetarian.
‘Thanks,’ I said, ‘but I am buying it for someone else so better stick to what they want.’
I never thought it was going to be this difficult.
Eventually, though, I did manage to track one down in another supermarket and as is the way with these things, when I found one shoulder, I found a pile of them. I bought the meat and some rosemary to go with it, got home and placed it carefully in the fridge to await its fate later this week.
Now I just have to work out how to cook the bugger.