I’m not ashamed to admit it. I am often wrong. Until I was about 25 I thought that tripe was a fish. I put this down to it sounding a bit like “trout” and “pike”, which are fish, and to not believing anyone would actually eat offal.
I was 31 and sitting in an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh when I first discovered that anchovies were not a vegetable. I think I had them confused with artichokes, and I’d never previously ordered anything in which anchovies had been involved.
Going further back there were constant misunderstandings, such as my belief that the Beatles lived in my parents’ record player, and that my primary school gym teacher, Dundee United’s star striker and our next-door neighbour were all the same person.
Thankfully, as the years go by, these mistakes are cleared up. Sometimes this comes as a surprise (as in the case of anchovies), sometimes I feel like I really should have known that already (as with the idea that the Beatles were each 1 inch tall and lived in Aberdeen, inside a piece of electrical equipment in my parents’ sitting room).
But there are also times when it’s everyone else who believes the nonsensical, and I find myself in the unusual position of being able to speak without fear of contradiction. During a recent walk in Greenwich Park we were talking about the old adage that a rich crop of berries was a sure sign of a hard winter to come. I have given this issue a great deal of thought over the years. I saw my moment, and I grabbed it.
“A rich crop of berries is not a sure sign of a hard winter to come, because if it was that would mean vegetables had the ability to correctly predict the future”
Argue with that.