Mourns for the Kippers He Refused – By ROBERT LYND

Lethbridge Herald – April 08, 1943 

Mourns for the Kippers He Refused


I remember some years ago travelling in a train to Brighton on a June day in the same compartment with a girl in her late ‘teens, who said to me: “I’m lunching at the — today, and wondering what I am going to eat. One gets so tired—doesn’t one?—at this time of year of perpetual salmon, salmon, salmon, followed day after day by chicken, chicken, chicken. I can hardly bear the thought of it.”

Yet what a feast this lunch of salmon and chicken would seem even to the idlest and richest inhabitants of this island today! Luxuries become luxuries only when they are unusual.

Think of the luxuries that eggs have become. I can remember a time when eggs and tomatoes were so common that, according to general report, many people, instead of eating them, used them as missiles to be thrown at candidates during Parliamentary elections.

Who would venture to throw an egg at a parliamentary candidate today, though there must be a certain temptation to do so in some of these five-cornered contests?

The egg, owing to its rarity, has become a golden egg, a treasure and the man who is lucky enough to get two poached eggs on toast for lunch feels as though he were dining with princes.

The banana, again, one of the most commonplace of fruits, which owes its popularity entirely to the fact that it is easier to peel than an apple or an orange, has become a luxury in our thoughts ever since it was unobtainable. It is now the kind of fruit that Faust used his magical powers on to transport himself through the air. It is on a level with those strawberries out of season which used to fetch fabulous prices in the West End.

Another thing to the return of which I look forward as a symbol of the reintroduction of luxurious times is the kipper. It grieves me to think of the hundreds of times in the old days that I have refused a kipper for breakfast.

How foolish I was not to realize that the kipper, far from being a commonplace dish, was food for a king! But, in days of plenty, one is inclined to be indifferent to many of the things that are plentiful. Things like milky rice pudding, prunes, dates, tinned salmon, cold mutton, and even strawberries and cream at the end of the season.

When peace returns, I fancy, we shall regard a good many of the things of which we used to think little as among life’s little luxuries. Imagine the joy of eating sausages and mash of the prewar standard. Conceive what it will be like once more to be able to squeeze the juice of a lemon on September oysters. Cakes will be allowed to have icing on the top again, and there will be no lack of raisins for the Christmas pudding. Tripe and onions will come back, and there will be enough fats with which to fry potatoes.

Even as it is we are not doing half badly. There are extras even on our restricted menus—occasional jams, and sardines and buns. And after the war we shall have better still, and, as we eat our boiled bacon and cabbage, we shall not feel envious of a Roman emperor.


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