Monday 21 April 1986

…The Queen’s proper birthday today.
It was a festive occasion for all the royal family.
Also all our £1 coins are three years old.
Did SMP, project and Nelson today.
Had horrible cheese pie for dinner…

I always had school dinners at primary school. I never brought a packed lunch.

As such I had to stomach, literally, the foulest meal I have ever not had the privilege to taste in my life to date. Its name was cheese pie, and it was almost always served on a Monday, and always with a side helping of tinned tomatoes.

Just think about that combination for a moment.

A wodge of stodgy, glutinous, tasteless cheese, accompanied by a dollop of watery, inscrutable, vaguely metallic-tasting tomato skins. Euuucchh. Even the thought of it now makes my mouth fill with traces of quarter-century-old saliva.

Our school dinners weren’t cooked on site. They were delivered to the school by a man in a council van, usually at morning break, and were carried into the kitchen through the playground in full view of the entire school.

This meant we all got the chance to see, and therefore guess, what was on the menu for that day.

The food arrived in large flat tins and urns, with cryptic lettering chalked on the side. Much discussion would be had as to whether a “CH” on the lid of a tin referred to the dreaded cheese pie (as was invariably the case on a Monday) or whether it might, just might, stand for something else. Something like…


Oh yes. Chips. This was the upside to be being officially registered for school dinners and not packed lunches.

One of the greatest Mondays ever in our primary school was when the “CH” on the side of the tin turned out not to be cheese pie but that other, far more appealing, far more thrillsome and life-affirming delicacy that is the chipped potato.

As soon as it was confirmed that it was indeed chips, word spread around the school faster than a verruca or bit of gossip about a Valentine’s Day card. What a day that was.

Yet for all the gruel and bile I ate at primary school, as soon as I got to secondary school and had the choice to ditch them for packed lunches, I stuck with routine and carried on having hot dinners.

I guess it had become something of a familiar ritual that I felt the need to cling to on embarking into unfamiliar surroundings.

Nowadays if I have hot food at dinner I need to have at least half an hour’s snooze in the afternoon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s