AIDA AUSTIN: Mum says there was no cholesterol in her day, so she doesn’t know if it’s hereditary and at least it’s not Ebola

IT’S THURSDAY, 5pm, and my husband finds me in the back hedge, hacking at rugosa with lopping shears. He’s carrying two cups of tea in one hand and eating a sandwich from the other.

“Well, how was the doctor’s?” he asks. “What’s your cholesterol?”

“What’s in that sandwich?” I say.

“Tomato, avocado, bacon, and mayo,” he says, “what’s your cholesterol?”

“High.”

“I thought only fat people had high cholesterol,” he says, “how high?”

“Just high,” I say, savaging a branch with my lopping shears; I’m not telling him it’s 7.2. I’m a measly eight stone five, never sit down and have just found out that I can’t ever eat a pecan slice again — and his sandwich really isn’t helping things.

“The doctor thinks it must be hereditary. I phoned mum but all she said was, there was no such thing as cholesterol in her day, so how on earth should she know and at least it’s not Ebola.”

“Oh,” he says, “I was going to make Spaghetti bolognese for dinner later but I don’t suppose...”

“I bought some quinoa and kale,” I say, savaging another branch. “I’ll have that.”

“Yes,” he says, from lofty heights, “best to take it seriously if you want to make old bones,” and jaunts back to the house eating his sandwich, with what strikes me as disproportionate relish.

Friday, 6.30pm.

“I thought we’d go to Moloney’s in Union Hall,” my husband says, “but...”

“We can still go,” I say — for I can see Moloney’s. In fact, I can feel Moloney’s like a pull in the pit of my stomach. I’m filled with the best kind of hungry expectation that there is: Moloney’s fish and chips on a Friday, where the day’s fish — caught fresh off the boat — is wrapped in paper and served up hot with homemade chips; all for a fiver, nothing up its arse about it, to be eaten in front of a fire.

“You can just have my chips,” I say.

Moloney’s. 7.30pm.

“But what about the batter?” my husband says, tucking into batter.

“He’s right, mum,” my daughter says, tucking into hers, “batter can’t be good for cholesterol.”

I pick it off the fish, placing its crispy loveliness on the side of my plate, where my husband reaches over for it, saying, “waste not want not,” and he’s lucky that the barman’s approach to wine — big glasses and never mind all that measuring malarkey — is so convivial, or I can’t say what I might have done.

Wednesday, 6pm.

It’s my daughter’s birthday and I’ve made and transported two lasagnes up to Cork; one for me and one for everyone else.

“Mmmm, this is delicious,” my husband says, “what did you put in it?”

“Everything that’s not in mine, such as olive oil, salt, butter and mince,” I say, forking damp lentils into my mouth, which are fine, but could be much improved by having a Cadbury’s Creme Egg stuffed inside each cheek while eating them.

Thursday, 10pm.

We are watching The Bridge when my husband presses ‘pause’ on the remote, and disappears into the kitchen, returning five minutes later with Roquefort, Wensleydale and crackers.

“You should get your cholesterol done,” I say, trying to muster a look of wifely concern. “Your mum’s cholesterol is high. She told me on the phone.” But he looks at me with his my-body-is-a-temple face, which is especially irksome, what with the cheese.

“Mmm, maybe I should check it,” he says, from those lofty heights again, “just to rule it out,” and jams more Roquefort into his “temple”.

Two weeks later — I’m preparing a dinner of greens and grains and if my husband wants to make a nice buttery sauce he can make it himself. Returning home from work on his bike, my husband looks ever so shifty. “How was the doctor’s?” I ask.

“What did you say your cholesterol was?” he asks, with fantastically suspicious nonchalance.

“Seven point two,” I say, “what’s yours?”

“A bit on the high side,” he says, looking exactly like he did that time when my brother beat him at tennis.

“How high?”

“Just high,” he says getting all fidgety and terrified.

He takes off his bike helmet. “I’m starving,” he says, opening the fridge.

“Say bye-bye to Wensleydale,” I sing.

“I bought some lecithin granules,” he says, sitting down at the table, “it’s supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol.”

I plonk down his plate in front of him and hand him a fork. “Wonderful,” I say, “they’ll go nicely with your quinoa.”


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