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Rhubarb & Custard

Growing up in the UK, in a middle class white suburban area was not as bad as some TV sitcoms or movies make out, even being one of a very rare number of ‘brown skinned’ families in the area wasn’t that bad… if anything it kinda made us stand out in the crowd.

As a child I went to a local Primary School where me and my brothers were the only "brown" kids, that not only made us ‘special’ but add that we were smart kids, great at sports, and obviously handsome, again, me being the most handsome out of the four of us… it is a cross I bear!

Forget name calling or bullying, one of the biggest issues we faced was school lunch!

The school suddenly found themselves in a situation having to feed 4 young Muslim boys with Halal food, a situation they never faced before, but wow they handled it well…. Apart from one day when it all went wrong!

Being the only Muslim kids in a school meant we got some benefits, if there was any form of meat served at lunchtime we would always get compensated with extra scoops of mash potatoes or fish or chips, but many times we also be given a lump of cheese! That’s right, while the other kids had burgers and sausages, we got two scoops of mash, a puddle of bakes beans and a large chunk of cheese, and trust me, it was heaven. But this only happened when the head cook was in the canteen, otherwise God help us, we ended up with next to nothing or even worse……

There I am, eagerly looking forward to lunch, me and my younger brother lining up, trays in hand eyeing up the rhubarb crumble & custard, but to get to that we first had to finish lunch but we had a problem, the head cook was nowhere to be seen.

The dinner lady handed us both a plate of what looked like stew, potatoes, carrots, a strange looking sauce of chunks of pinkish meat. I explained that we cannot eat the meat and asked for something else, sadly the dinner lady angrily told me that we had to eat what as given to us just like all the other kids and to stop complaining!

There we are sat at a dining table, my brother staring at me and both is us refusing to eat, but with each minute that passed the dinning room emptied more leaving us sat there with a dinner lady standing over us demanding we eat and making it clear we cannot leave until we finish everything on our plates, forget the rhubarb custard, we had no chance of tasting that now!

We had no choice, we had to eat and eat we did, but with every spoonful came the urge to vomit but eat we continued until our plates were acceptably empty and we could return to class.

Let us just say that Dad’s visit to the Headmistress Office the next morning was rather vocal and the school never force-fed Ham again!

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