Mum’s always been a worrier. As her children grew and the family circumstances changed so, too, did the list of cautions issued whenever one of us left the house.
Don’t break any arms, legs or teeth, mind you don’t step on any stonefish, look out for blue-ringed octopus, never turn your back on a goat, watch out for the creature of the black lagoon (code for be careful driving around the reservoir) and – the favourite for visiting terrorist hotspots like London – don’t stand next to rubbish bins at railway stations.
Since mum’s stroke she doesn’t worry so much.
And, let’s face it, she had pretty much covered all the bases. Or so I thought, until a recent visit to a famed foodie hotspot where, it turns out, she’d been terribly remiss about what to do when confronted with an alpaca … on your plate.
Now, it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with alpacas per se. We regularly babysit two of them when the neighbours go on holidays.
Feeding Siegfried and Roy was one of the last special moments I shared with mum before her collapse.
Perhaps it was that instinctive thing some animals have with sick people, but they’d paid her particular heed, whiffling gently through her hair with their soft muzzles.
They’d communed and she’d been so enchanted she talked of little else for days.
Photographs of the pair became part of her rehabilitation as she struggled to make new pathways through fried synapses, raising a lopsided smile at the sight of them.
What would mum say to tempura alpaca tenderloin?
Never eat anything with eyelashes longer than your own.