A Feast to Remember

(The Nationalist, 13 February 2004)


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, so the story runs, God threw a party and invited everyone who ever lived. No one was forgotten or refused to come.

It was the best party ever known. There was music, and singing, and dancing. At the end, to crown it all, there was a meal with the very best of food and drink. If anyone had a favourite food, it was there. And there was plenty for everyone to eat. In fact, there was so much food that special tables were made for the occasion, two metres across.

As they sat down to eat, the guests noticed just one thing that was unusual – the cutlery. Instead of knives, forks and spoons that were about the length of an adult’s hand, these were very much longer, in fact, almost two metres long.

The meal began, and that was when strange things happened. Because – and this is letting you in on the inside story – for some the meal was hell, while for others it was heaven.

The first took up a piece of cutlery, a spoon, for example, and put it into a bowl for some food. OK. Then they tried to turn this long spoon around so as to put the food into their mouth. Very difficult and awkward. One spoon hit another. A person was hit on the side of the head by a turning knife. A fork, in the act of being manoeuvred towards a mouth, poked someone else in the ear. Someone’s food fell off a fork into another’s glass of wine. Splash! What followed was frustration, impatience and anger, with everyone blaming everyone else. Everyone lost out. The meal was a nightmare, sheer hell.

For the others, things went differently. They were at the same table, with the same food and cutlery. But things went smoothly with no hassle or annoyance to anyone. In fact, the atmosphere among them was happy, relaxed, and full of humour. The difference was that, among them, each one helped the other. They asked each other what food they would like, and then, with the help of these spoons which were almost as long as the table was wide, they fed each other across the table. They laughed at the novelty of it. Everyone was a winner! And they had a great time – pure heaven!

One and the same situation was hell for some and heaven for others. It depended on them.