Don’t Insult the Cook

by Bill Cox


‘So, darling, what delight have you cooked up for dessert tonight?’

‘Oh, I decided to go for something traditional. My mother gave me this recipe for bread and butter pudding. Familiar but with some personal tweaks, shall we say.’

‘An old family recipe, eh? It looks lovely.’

‘Thank you dearest. Tuck in and enjoy.’

‘Mmm. It’s delightful darling.’

‘Thank you, dearest. Recipes are interesting, aren’t they? When you think about it, creating a dish is like creating a relationship, wouldn’t you agree?’

‘I’m not quite sure I follow, darling.’

‘Well, both have a list of ingredients for success. For example, a relationship requires honesty, love, trust. If you put the wrong ingredients in, the recipe, or indeed the relationship, will fail.’

‘Yes, I take your point. I presume the berries are your special tweak?’

‘Indeed. For instance, suppose that instead of weekly business trips to Edinburgh, you were spending time with your mistress. Imagine what that would do to the recipe that is our relationship.’


‘Well, at least you’ve finished your dessert. Did I tell you about the near miss I had with the dog last week?’

‘What? I don’t…’

‘Yes, poor Towser. We were out walking and I saw him sniffing at some berries. I’m pretty sure he was just away to eat them. Luckily I stopped him in time. I recognised them, you see. Deadly nightshade, dear.  They would have killed him within minutes.’

‘Eh… oh that’s… berries you say?’

‘Are you feeling all right dearest? You look a little bit peaky. Off colour, even.’

‘Oh my God! You haven’t…?’

‘One wrong ingredient and the whole thing falls apart.’

‘Oh God, I feel sick. Is the room spinning? I need an ambulance. Where’s my phone? My phone!’

‘I’ll just crack on with the dishes shall I dearest? I think we might just skip coffee tonight.’


‘So you have no idea why your husband thinks you poisoned him?’

‘Goodness me officer, no idea whatsoever. He insisted that he was feeling sick and decided to drive himself to hospital.’

‘Yes, where his stomach was pumped.’

‘Was it? My, how unpleasant for him! Did they find any traces of poison?’

‘No. Your husband mentioned deadly nightshade?’

‘Oh, I don’t know about that! His dessert did have berries in it, but they were just blackberries. They are a little tart, perhaps, but not poisonous!’

‘I see. Very well, Mrs Hall, thank you for your co-operation. Sorry to have taken up your time.’

‘Not at all officer. Oh, by the way, if you see my husband can you tell him his belongings are on the pavement outside? He may want to collect them sooner rather than later. The local youths aren’t always respectful of private property.’

‘…Eh, of course, ma’am. Thank you again.’

Mary stood at the window and watched the police car pull away. She looked down at her dog, a small smile on her face.

‘Well Towser, as Mother always used to say: if you want dinner, don’t insult the cook!’

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