I knew a very serious professor at Oxford who carried an ornate strawberry-mashing fork with him. It's amazing how it gave fate a nudge, and strawberries tended to go his way.
Speaking of cutlery, while I was putting together the Food & Drink Miscellany, I came across the spork, a three-tined spoon that's been around for at least a century; the woon, a curved wooden spatula you get with ice cream in cinemas; and the runcible spoon, which we come across in The Owl and the Pussycat - "They dined on mince and slices of quince / Which they ate with a runcible spoon." It's either a spork-like thing or a double-bowled utensil with a teaspoon at one end and a tablespoon at the other.
None of which are at all good for Eton mess, which is best eaten (excuse that horrible pun) with hands, to get into the messy spirit. And as for strawberries being out of season, well, it's awful but I say let's have things flown over for our convenience. Better still, get someone to make this for you while you lounge indolently.
1 punnet strawberries
A carton of whipped cream
A few pre-made meringues (optional)
A little kirsch (optional)
A few sprigs of mint (optional, too - you only really need strawberries and cream, I suppose)
First drive as far from Eton as possible to avoid being mobbed by schoolchildren. Macerate most of the strawberries in kirsch and mix everything together messily. Garnish with a few strawberries and mint. Serving suggestion: best fed to a close friend.
'Schott's Sporting, Gaming and Idling Miscellany' is out now (Bloomsbury, £9.99)
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