Suck my plums!
When I was a mere lad, our next-door neighbour was Mrs Broad. She was unremarkable. Well, there were a few things that I remember vividly. One was that her husband was a baldy-head man. Another was that her dog, Quest, stunk of stale piss. Another was that she has a beard that would put Brian Blessed to shame. However, the thing I remember most was that she has a plum tree, and every autumn it was heavy with juicy plums.
Mrs Broad also had a niece or granddaughter or … well, she was some kind of a female relative child. Her name was Sharon, and at times she would visit and play in Mrs Broad’s back garden. I didn’t like Sharon. In fact, no one liked Sharon. She was a freckle-faced lump of a thing with a voice like a baboon screeching while defecating matted coconut husk impregnated with rusted wire. Worst of all, she was a ginger.
As the summer days shortened and Autumn prepared to take over our lives, the tree would produce a seemingly never-ending bounty of plums. From the very moment they were soft enough to bite into, I’d be nipping over the fence and filling my pockets with them. Green and tart, yellowy and bitter, light red and sweet or purple and spilling with nectar-like juice, I didn’t care. I loved the plums. I’d gorge on them until I could shit through the eye of a needle.
At that age, mortality wasn’t a great issue, but I feared for the death of Mrs Broad. No doubt lumpy Sharon would move in once the bearded lady was buried, and she’d be a bit more observant. If I wanted to sustain a good supply of plums, I’d have to cosy up with the ginger one. It didn’t bear thinking about.
Anyway, Mrs Broad didn’t die (well, she did or she’d be around 130 today), I didn’t have to let Sharon have her way with me in exchange for plums, and I moved away. In the interim years, I haven’t really been bothered about plums. Until now, that is.
The Five Acres of Idiocy has three plum trees, and they’re currently heavy with fruit. They’re at a variety of stages: green and tart, yellow and bitter, light red and sweet. They haven’t made it to the purple and juicy stage yet. Here’s the thing – I’m back on the horse! I can’t walk by a tree without picking one, regardless of its stage of maturity. I’ve gone plum crazy. My arse isn’t thanking me for it.
Interestingly we have three trees that all seem different. One produces light green plums that yellow. These have sweet flesh and skin and are delightful to eat. We have one that produces darker green fruit that lighten, then develop a red blush. These have juicy sweet flesh but a sharp tannin-heavy skin. The third produces smaller darker green fruit with turn red, but generally all seem to have skin blemishes. They’re sweet but the skin isn’t that appealing.
Plans are for plum chutney, plum wine (probably with the scabby tree’s fruit), plum tarts and if there’s enough left, a couple of gallons of plum jerkum.
Interestingly, we also have three damson trees. The fruit are dark purple, almost black, and soft and juicy. I know that damsons are supposed to be tart and puckeringly sour, but these are sweet and delicious. I’m trying not to eat them, however, because I want to make someone a bottle of damson gin (oi oi sis!).
So there you go, plums. Thousands of them!