Anyone fancy a savoury scone?

Dave Johnson and Jenny Harvey had been good friends since they’d attended

Hereford County Primary School. However, they insisted it was not a girlfriend, boyfriend

situation. Of course, all their friends were convinced they were bonking, but they weren’t; it

was only wishful thinking on Dave’s part whenever he’d had too many beers.

Soon after leaving high school they became flatmates. They rented a cold, run-down

house that had so much mould on the walls it resembled the inside of a cave. The curtains and

what little furniture they had was constantly damp and smelt like wet dog fur.

Their nearest neighbour was the local rubbish tip, or to give it its posh title, ‘The

Hereford Recycling Station.’ They did not need an alarm clock to wake them each morning

because rubbish trucks began rumbling in and out of the place before seven every day except

Sunday; on the Sabbath, the public took over deliveries and it got really noisy.

If the sound of trucks discharging their loads every few minutes wasn’t enough to

wake them, the high-pitched clatter of the glass recycling machinery was. The only thing

louder than the glass being sorted was the radio the staff used to maintain their sanity while

performing mind-numbing tasks for eight hours at a stretch.

Three weeks after they left school, Dave and Jenny began working at Wetherspoon’s

in Commercial Road. They started on the same day and told their friends it was a ‘gap year’

project. Whenever Dave said, “We’re saving money for when we enrol at Uni’ next year,”

Jenny would nod vigorously to emphasise the point to anyone listening.

When the gap year ‘project’ entered its third year, all hope of getting to university had

disappeared. “Maybe next year?” Dave would say, more to himself than anyone else as he

served meals to customers who had been drinking too much.

“Yeah, maybe” Jenny agreed, serving other customers in the same state.

Jenny had been dyeing her hair black ever since she was fifteen. She always tied it in

a ponytail with a coloured fluffy rubber band that Dave had bought her for Christmas. She

followed his lead in January by buying him an orange plastic brush and comb set for his

birthday. He didn’t say anything at the time, but he was sure it was a hint for him to tame his

unruly mop of ginger hair. While in a romantic mood one evening, as they ate doner kebabs

on their way home from Wetherspoons, she admitted that she often thought she was living

with a giant carrot.

Jenny’s IQ was well into the eighties, so she was way out front in the partnership’s

intelligence stakes; she was also the first to become completely disillusioned with the routine

at Wetherspoon’s.

She decided to spice up her life a little by learning how to bake at evening classes.

Her tutor, Luigi, was well into his fifties and convinced he was still a teenager back in his

native Italy. He wore shiny black pants, worn-down cowboy boots and floral-patterned shirts

that had the widest collars Jenny had ever seen.

Luigi would leave the top five buttons unfastened on his shirt to show off his hair-

covered chest and his chunky gold necklaces. Jenny could never work out why there was

always a curved green stain across Luigi’s expanse of Italian chest.

Many things were said about Luigi, including his expertise at baking bread. His

repertoire also covered every scone recipe known to man - and most women ─ and he

genuinely did bake most of his bread like a true professional.

After the fifth and final baking lesson in the Department of Domestic Science at the

Hereford College for further Education, Jenny had a good understanding of scone baking but

was a basket-case when it came to making bread. “It’s something about the yeast,” she

insisted.

After she got home form class one evening, she told Dave, that, as a special treat,

she’d make him some scones at the weekend. He exaggeratedly began licking his lips and

then theatrically wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. He looked like a Saint Bernard

that had suddenly grown arms.

“Great,” he said. “I’ll try them when I get back from the pub. You remembered I’m

meeting with the crew from school for an hour on Saturday, yes?

“I remembered,” she replied, trying not to sigh too heavily.

“Sure, you don’t want to come along?” Dave asked.

“No thanks,” she said. “I didn’t like those people when we were at school, I think I’ll

probably like them even less now.”

“OK,” he replied, and then added, “What sort of scones are you making, Jen?”

“Savoury ones,” she replied tersely.

“Are they the ones with the bits of capsicum and mushroom and onion in them?”

“That’s right,” she replied. “And, if you find anything extra that we can put in them,

great, we’ll give it a go”

The following day at Wetherspoon’s, Dave was out the back having a quick smoke

when his friend Alex struck up a conversation. Alex was a natural Welsh comedian and

practical joker. He smiled as he said, “How’d you like to see one of my latest experiments

after work today, Dave?”

“What sort of experiment’s that then, Alex?” he asked.

“It’s a gardening thing I’ve been trying out at the allotment,” he replied, swishing the

side of his nose with his finger and looking like Del Boy Trotter making a deal on Only Fools

and Horses.

“Will it take long?” Dave asked, with no idea what Alex meant by brushing his nose

that way.

“As long as it takes for you to see what I’m growing… Dave,” Alex replied, sounding

impatient.

“OK, I’ll catch up with you after five then,” Dave replied, oblivious of Alex’s

frustration.

“Done,” replied Alex, as they walked back through the kitchen to begin serving more

meals.

Just after five, Dave and Alex met outside in the carpark. They drove around to

Alex’s allotment in his rust-bucket of a car and he carefully parked it out of the way of prying

eyes

When they entered the fenced off area, Dave saw a neat, well-established garden that

looked as though it was tended by a troop of professional gardeners.

“Do you recognize any of the plants here, Davey boy?” asked Alex, sweeping his

arms around like a helicopter.

“Not really,” Dave admitted, “Although I think that tall one might be spinach?”

“You think so?” said Alex, with a broad smile on his face. “Would you like to take

some home to Jenny? She could add it to those scones she’s making you this weekend.”

“Great. Thanks, Alex,” Dave replied. “That’ll get me some much-needed brownie

points,”

“No problem, Boyo,” replied Alex, his smile growing wider by the second.

When Alex dropped Dave off at his home, he said, “Don’t forget to save me some of

those scones.”

“Will do,” Dave replied as he slammed the door shut and watched the rust fall like

confetti on the roadside.

Jenny had heard the car stop and the front door opened before Dave had a chance to

slip the key into the lock. “You’re late,” she said, with pursed lips, sounding more like a wife

of thirty years than a flatmate of almost three.

“Yeah,” Dave replied, unable to avoid the guilty sound in his voice. “I went to Alex’s

place after work and he gave us something exotic to add to your savoury scone mix.”

“What is it?” she asked, sounding a little curious.

“It’s some sort of spinach, I think,” Dave replied. “But I’m only guessing really? Are

you familiar with spinach?”

“Well I know it’s got green leaves but that’s about all I know. Let’s have a look.”

Dave dutifully opened the plastic bag and showed her the big pile of leaves inside. “That

looks nice and healthy. Is Alex a closet gardener then?” she asked.

“He is. You should see his really flash allotment, it looks like that one Jamie Oliver’s

got on the telly.”

Sounding like a horticultural expert, Jenny said, “I’ll add some into the scone mix in

the morning. It smells different, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, it sure does,” Dave replied, screwing up his nose at the pungent odour.

Just after one the following day, Dave returned from the pub, having had two beers

and plenty of deep, meaningless conversation with his old schoolmates. They had sorted out

the troubles of the world and promised to put them bang to rights before their next meeting.

The aroma coming from the kitchen was wafting out into the street as he opened the

front door and the cave’s doggie smell temporarily disappeared. Dave yelled out, “Wow,

that’s different, Jen’,” taking in a lungful of the baked scone smell.

“Wait till you try one,” she shouted, laughing at some private joke and sounding

cheerful for a change. “I tried one earlier, as soon as they left the oven; they taste great.”

After they had polished off two scones each with a cup of tea, there was a loud

banging at the door. Dave tip-toed down the hallway and saw the blue and red lights strobing

like a kaleidoscope through the dappled front door window.

“Good afternoon sir,” said a stern-faced policeman. “Any objection if I come inside?”

“No, come in,” Dave said, smiling and slurring his words slightly, holding the door

open like a doorman outside the Ritz.

”We’ve had reports that someone is using an illegal substance on these premises.”

Dave didn’t stop laughing until just after the policeman arrested him.