Story by Ivan Brett
6.38 pm Hi. My name's Casper, I'm 11 years old, I've got until tomorrow morning to finish this homework and I’m covered from head to foot in Shepherd's Pie. Let me explain.
When Mrs Snagg told us we were getting a day off school, I thought, brilliant! But then she told us what we'd be doing and my good mood popped like a puffer fish in a pin factory. You know the drill: you follow your mum or dad around the office all day, they show you how to use the printer and how to make the spinny chair go up and down, then you're supposed to write three pages about their job and how well they do it when actually all they do is drink tea and dunk biscuits and snort about the cricket. Think I'd rather be in school, to be honest.
6.52 pm This would be easier if Dad had a normal job, but he doesn't. My dad's a chef. That's why I'm sitting here tonight in the kitchen of The Boiled Sprout with mashed potato blocking my ears and sticky globs of mince dribbling down my back. I'd actually got halfway through my homework when it happened: Dad was carrying Shepherd's Pie to the oven when he slipped on some smoked salmon and flew feet-first across the room. The pie soared into the air like a thundercloud of sticky meat and rained down on me, my homework and the rest of the kitchen.
7.13 pm I could have wiped most of the pie off my homework but it's too late now. Dad served it to table 7 with a side-order of chips. Never mind, I’ll start again.
7.46 pm Dad’s melted all three plastic ladles in the chicken curry so now he’s stirring it with a shoe.
8.18 pm Homework's not going well. I've reached as far as 'My Dad', but now I'm stuck. What is he? I'd be lying if I said he’s a chef. All he does is throw things into a pan and wait until they’ve changed colour. I’m don’t even know why anyone comes to The Boiled Sprout anymore, especially after that time Dad served old Betty Woons her own false teeth (which she’d left behind in a crusty bread roll the week before) topped with white sauce and a pinch of fresh parsley. I guess they don’t have a choice: the only other place to eat within twenty miles is the pig swill container down at Sandy Landscape’s farm, but the service there is terrible.
8.36 pm A woman on table four found a shoe in their curry and she wants another one. (Another shoe, that is. It was just her size.)
8.51 pm Restaurant’s packed. Dad roped me into cooking the sponge pudding and custard, so it’s no homework until that’s done. I can’t find any custard powder but there is a packet of mustard powder. It’s yellow and it sounds the same. Let’s give it a go.
9.04 pm Apparently sponge pudding’s not supposed to be made of real sponges. Customers are angry. Custard’s going down great though.
9.35 pm Dad tried to throw some mouldy sausage hotpot out of the window but it was closed. Interesting to see how much of it stuck. Time’s running out and I haven’t written a thing.
10.11 pm Trying to think of stuff to write, I asked Dad to show me his expert cooking techniques. Bad idea. There are three pancakes on the ceiling and two on the floor.
10.29 pm Most of the customers have left now (one in a stretcher, but that’s pretty usual). Those stray cats are still living in the dishwasher so Dad’s making me do the washing-up by hand.
10.12 pm The hot tap’s blocked with cheese so I’m washing up the plates in leftover lobster bisque.
11.11 pm Finally in bed. After today’s Shepherd’s pie disaster Dad made tomorrow’s one in advance. On his way to the oven he slipped up on today’s Shepherd’s Pie (still splattered across the floor alongside the smoked salmon, two pancakes and a mouldy sausage hotpot) and flew across the room again. As if it needed any more, the kitchen was covered with another layer of pie. On the upside, I’ve finished my homework. I know it’s short but you can’t fault me for being honest. Hope Mrs Snagg likes it.
What My Dad Does, by Casper Candlewacks
He makes a mess.
© Ivan Brett 2011