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What’s put me off parsnip soup for life

PUBLISHED: 08:07 04 March 2018

I'll never be able to look at parsnip soup again...

I'll never be able to look at parsnip soup again...

PA Features Archive/Press Association Images

Keith Skipper heard rather more than he wanted to when he went out to a favourite eaterie.

I’m not averse to a spot of tactful tuning-in when interesting conversations spring up within comfortable hearing range.

Little gems like “She never did that in my house” and “I always put vinegar on mine” are tucked away for a rainy day. But there are limits as to how far this sort of give-and-take exercise should go in a Norfolk tea-room.

My wife and I were enjoying our meals at a favourite haunt when a party of senior citizens came in with their mini-bus driver on what was clearly a regular outing. They ordered refreshments, sorted out their seats and mardled amiably.

The driver, blessed with a loud voice and strong accent (not made in Norfolk) assumed the role of master of ceremonies for this homely occasion. He began reasonably enough with a eulogy for parsnip soup and its reviving qualities on a cold winter’s day.

A few more favourite recipes followed along with how his recently-retired wife had taken up cycling and other strenuous activities. We were offered a stride-by-stride account of a lovely walk in the Lake District and an energetic summary of Eastern European folk dancing.

For no obvious reason, a member of his immediate audience mentioned it must be fun being a vet. Right on cue, our parsnip-loving driver moved into top gear. He had volunteered to help a vet and it was surprisingly hard work.

He presented a graphic description straight from All Creatures Great and Small about aiding a cow to give birth with all the thrusting, pushing and sweating involved. Fortunately, I had finished my ploughman’s lunch and summoned up blissful memories of farmyard frolics.

Unfortunately, my wife was still deeply involved with the joys of blackcurrant cheesecake. A glance towards the voluble man of many talents seemed to be taken as a token of appreciation rather than a well-earned reprimand.

He’s put me off parsnip soup for life.

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