Ever willing to conquer new culinary frontiers, we headed for Hereford Farmers’ Market and bought a tree rabbit from a game dealer who looked uncannily like our accountant. Perhaps it was our accountant.
Certainly there was an unsettling familiarity about his jolly disposition and soft local brogue. But, dressed as he was in a white butcher’s overall, quilted body warmer and wacky hat, there was enough uncertainty in his appearance to make positive identification impossible. In any case, why would our accountant be standing in a freezing wind in the middle of Hereford on a Saturday? Surely his accountancy business was paying him enough to spend the weekend in more leisurely pursuits?
Of course, you never know these days. Maybe he is just one of those restless high achievers who cannot be content unless they are holding down about four careers. For all we know, game dealing was merely a Saturday morning occupation. Maybe Saturday night would have seen him as DJ Numbersman, up there in a wild shirt, groovin’ through some high octane dance tracks at the local club. Or maybe just calling out bingo numbers for a listless septuagenarian audience unwilling to do anything too taxing.
Then again, it could have been his brother. However, I digress.
Tree rabbit. That was the key phrase in the opening paragraph. “Well, it’s squirrel, actually,” said our game-dealing doppelganger, stating the obvious to an inquiry from the woman standing next to us. She gave a little squeal and feigned interest in a brace of Barbary ducks instead.
“Ooooh, I couldn’t eat one of them,” she said. Her involuntary shudder and the tone in her voice suggested that the consumption of mischievous arboreal rodents was about as appealing as dining on frogspawn.
“Well, they’m payin’ top prices for ‘em in London, and these are only two pounds fifty each,” our jolly stallholder informed her.
“Ooooh. No. I just couldn’t,” reiterated the woman, immediately ordering a duck at L10.50 instead.
Delighted with this unexpectedly successful sales pitch, our man turned to us and said, “And how about you, madam? Sir? Would you like the other duck?”
“No, we’ll just have one of these tree rabbits, please.”
Mr Gamedealer’s face was a mixture of disappointment and pleasure as money was exchanged for a very small amount of meat. What I didn’t tell him was that I actually had no intention of eating it. I was merely going to impale the carcase on a spike just near the bird table as a warning and a deterrent to the other feisty squirrels who steal food from our birds. And if that doesn’t work, an air rifle will be the next object on the shopping list next week.