What’s on the Menu

Baked Bean Bowl © David Forward

A coach looking more like a space ship pulled up along side the Old Bell Hotel and its passengers began to disembark looking like parachutists baling out of a C47 Dakota, lines attached pulling up their brollies as they descended the steps onto the rain soaked pavement.

The tour guide having landed first, hauled in her chute and clambered to her feet to bawl out the orders to the passengers now hitting the pavement. “Follow me men”, cried the guide as she charged the gates of the Abbey at full gallop, backpacks and water bottle weapons bouncing with each stride.

All in-line astern they headed to capture The Great Norman Doorway, taking shelter from the torrential Wiltshire down pour. Brollies down, pull-ring pins back in their smoke grenades and backpacks slung to the floor, they gathered around like American Footballers deciding tactics – turned about – and faced the Angels.

There above them, either side of the porch were the 12 Apostles gazing down upon this unsightly bunch of humanity, eager to take in and absorb all the history of this wonderful Abbey, that could be flung at them by their commander in chief. Arches and Carvings consumed; St Peter’s feet kissed; the soaking wet alien army fresh out of their space ship, headed on into the Great Mother-ship of Malmesbury Abbey.

Casting off their dripping wet attire, they took to the Nave and gazed up at its vaulted stone roof. Someone then spotted the watching-loft and taken aback startled suspecting pill box cross fire, the rest of the troops quickly took cover behind the huge white columns that the building sat upon. False alarm, not a shot fired, so they all proceeded to head for the Altar.

After a fierce battle with all the stained glass, carved stonework and brass plaques, it was time for slit trenches and refreshment. An orderly queue was formed and out came the tourist rations, Baked Beans – backpacks stuffed to the gunnels with tins of food-bank Baked Beans. A neat pile was hastily constructed at the doorway to the Abbey Café.

Ruth stood back aghast at such a sight, Sarah stepped out from the kitchen, mouth dropped open in shear amazement, a unique expression, usually reserved by her for Polish Chickens. The frozen feet of Ruth and Sarah, rooted to the cold stone floor of the Abbey, held the two of them in gruesome awe at such a pile not seen since Robert dropped all of his books.

Out stepped Stella Artois from behind the counter, two large strides forward, arms held out horizontally in front of her, she parted her assistants, casting them aside and taking control of the horror right there for everyone to see. “Ruth”, she bellowed, “Get a tin opener”. “Sarah”, she instructed, “Get twenty bowls and spoons”.

“So would you all like buttered soldiers with your beans”, exclaimed Stella, grabbing a very large armful of Baked Bean tins, turning on the spot and marching right back into the kitchen, hot on the heals of her cohorts fleeing before her – to the shelter of their very own “Baked Bean Bunker”.

17 August, 2017
All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License