Are you sitting comfortably?
Then let’s begin.
Once upon a time, in a Yorkshire village, there lived a little girl who didn’t like rhubarb. She didn’t like it because it was sour and icky. Despite her parents growing rhubarb, and her granny making her the best rhubarb crumble in town, she could not be persuaded to eat it. Particularly not when the rhubarb plant went a bit wild one summer due to a loss of gardening concentration caused by a particularly exciting Wimbledon, and every other meal contained yards of the stuff.
Then the little girl moved house. I will gloss over the tantrums and the insistence that the new bedroom was decorated exactly the same as the old bedroom. But the one major positive of the new house, as far as she was concerned, was that the garden contained not a single rhubarb plant. So the little girl was able to avoid rhubarb, and was very content with that. Her parents were pleased too, as they’d become bored of growing it, so everyone was happy. The only person who wasn’t entirely happy was her younger brother, but that’s mostly because he liked eating crumble, and growing your own rhubarb seemed to involve eating lots of crumble.
The years passed, and the little girl became a big girl, and then very nearly a grown up. She’ll never really be a grown up, no matter how old she gets. And she still hated rhubarb. And her brother still loves crumble.
But then one day her Mummy had a Big Birthday. And so she travelled home on the train from London, and her brother travelled home from university, for the weekend. But Mummy wouldn’t tell what the surprise was, only that they had to be smartly dressed for a day out on Sunday.
The very nearly a grown up girl was not pleased to discover that the day out involved rhubarb. But being a polite and well dragged up girl, went along with the plan. And suffered through a three course rhubarb themed lunch. Have you had rhubarb stuffed chicken? The very nearly grown up girl has.
And do you know how to use rhubarb in flower arranging? The very nearly grown up girl doesn’t, despite sitting through two hours of demonstrations. Not because the demonstrator wasn’t any good, but because the prospect filled her with horror and she’s blanked the memory.
And then Mummy revealed the best surprise of the day: a visit to the rhubarb farm and sheds. Did you know that rhubarb bends towards the light of a candle when it’s grown in the dark? The very nearly grown up girl nearly set light to the whole darn lot of it.
The very nearly grown up girl hasn’t eaten rhubarb since, and it’s been nearly ten years. And nothing will persuade her otherwise.