How Markar discovered "Toad in the hole"
Photo credit: Robert Gibert - Public Domain
This was the day for my first interview in the UK. I boarded a coach at the Victoria station, bought a ticket to Leicester and sat down in comfort to enjoy the English scenery. I was thrilled when the conductor addressed me as ‘Sir’. It must have been my altered ‘posh’ suit bought at the Pettah Bale Market in Colombo.
My interview was at 2 p.m. and I had reached Leicester Hospital by 12 noon. Time for some lunch, I thought. I was yearning for a rice and curry. I found the canteen and studied the menu carefully. The cheapest was called toad in the hole. I wondered why people were eating toads? Maybe it was a British delicacy. After all, the Europeans eat frogs and snails – so toads in England – why not. I was about to order the toad, when I saw rice on the menu. My eyes lit up, rice at last! OK, they called it rice pudding, maybe it was like our milk rice (kiribath) back home. I ordered a plate of rice pudding and some Lamb curry to go with it. The waitress looked aghast when I asked her to put the lamb curry on to the rice. Why was she looking so surprised? Anyway, I paid for it and sat down to eat it. It tasted awful – sweet, milky, hot and sticky. I just could not eat it and asked the waitress why it tasted so sweet? She then said, “this is a pudding Sir, to be eaten as a dessert.” Really, why didn’t they say so”, I thought. That cost me a lot – nearly 500 rupees! I am still counting in Sri Lankan rupees. May be, I should at least have a pudding. Back to the menu card, and I saw “spotted dick”. I wondered what that could be, and my imagination ran riot. I had so many different visions of a spotted dick that eventually I decided not to take the plunge. I left the canteen, none the wiser.
As 2 p.m. sharp I was ushered in to the interview room. The senior physician was a tall man with a winning smile. Kindly and thoughtful, he had class written all over him – metaphorically of course. He went through the usual formalities, and then asked, “why are you here.” I was surprised at this question and said, “I have come to be interviewed for this job.” He said, “Yes, I know, I know but why are you here.” I was confused and took a while to realise that he wanted to know why I was in the UK. I said, “Sir, this is our mother country and I do feel I have come home at last! I do plan to stay here perme….”. I couldn’t complete the sentence before he said, “thank you, thank you. That is all.”
I didn’t get the job!! 40 years on, I still don’t know what I said wrong.