Ian and I went for Sunday roast with my family earlier, as we usually do. It’s always an amusing affair, usually because my nana is off following her own train of thought and throws the odd non-sequitur in at a crucial juncture.
Here is what happened this week.
“Did you like the peas?” my mum asked after the meal. “Nana shelled them.”
Nana grinned. “It kept me out of trouble for a while. Do you remember that advert for ‘Bile Beans’, Steve?”
My dad thought about it and then shook his head.
Nana wiggled her eyebrows emphatically. “They were for, you know! Oh, you don’t know? Oh. I thought you would.”
“Bit before my time then, praps?” Dad asked.
At that point, I thought of a hilarious joke, that referenced both something I learnt in GCSE history (and is apparently the only thing to have stuck with me since then, that and learning about the plague) and poked fun at my dad for being old.
“Was it prescribed for one of the four humours then? Eh? … Why is no one laughing?”
I admit it wasn’t that funny, but it was relevant and I was pleased with myself for remembering so far back, so I was put out that no one even cracked a smile.
“That’s funny, isn’t it?” I asked desperately, hoping for some kind of validation. There was none. I glared around the table. Finally, Ian felt sorry for me.
“I don’t get it,” he said apologetically.
“It’s a joke about the four humours,” I said glancing around hoping to see understanding dawning on faces, but no one looked any the wiser. “You know, the four humours. From when they thought the body had to have four different fluids in balance, black bile, yellow bile, blood and um … sick” (turns out it wasn’t sick, it was phlegm, but they’re all pretty gross so you can see why I got confused).
Everyone shook their heads.
“Is this from a children’s television show you watched as a child?” Nana asked kindly.
“No! I learnt it for GCSE history! It was that guy, you know… was he a doctor? A really famous doctor? Roman or Greek or something?”
At which point, my mum genuinely thought the name I was looking for was:
“Doc Martin?!” I asked incredulously. “A really famous Ancient Greek doctor, and you’re suggesting Doc Martin?!”
“Martin Clunes?” My sister chipped in.
“It’s not Martin Clunes!” I snapped.
My dad thought about it. He’s been on Fifteen to One twice and nearly won both times, so I had real hope that he would know.
“Doctor Finley?” he suggested.
“Dad, that’s your doctor. I don’t mean Doctor Finley.”
“Doctor Calver then?” My mum asked. Doctor Calver, as you may have already worked out, is her doctor, and as such, is not the Greek/Roman physician I was trying to remember. It was Galen.
And in case you’re wondering, here’s the infamous advert for Bile Beans that kicked the whole thing off.