Actually Maurice's chutney does not and never has existed, it all came about as a result of what once would have been known as a practical joke or leg pull, these days more commonly known as a wind-up. The victim of this matter was one Peter. Peter, or Pete was a member of the beating team which my brother Don and I belong to on a shoot just outside of Sherborne in Dorset. Pete lives in Somerset and travelled quite a way to attend the shoot. He is a little man in stature, very well educated and very rich. His father left him a farm and several houses in the Somerset town of Yeovil. Pete's position is not very apparent and one would be forgiven for thinking him something of a hobo. I guess he is in, or around, his early seventies but he has let himself go. This is a rather sad state of affairs as Pete is one of life's gentlemen he is polite, kindly and generally a nice guy. If he has one tiny fault it is probably that he doesn't like to miss anything. He likes to be in the know when it comes to local gossip and will quiz anyone if he hears a small part of a conversation in order not to miss any little bit of info. This is probably his Achilles heel and was undoubtedly why he got sucked into the following matter.
As is usual on a shoot day, the beaters had stopped for their mid-morning refreshments, a combination of snacks and port. We were in a country lane, which was narrow, and whilst we were there a Landrover came along and slowed down in order to pass. Upon drawing alongside our group Pete recognised the driver to be one Maurice and engaged him in a conversation. When Maurice departed Pete informed us that he had known Maurice for many years.
Maurice lived nearby and owned a smallholding on which he grew a large amount of vegetables. He also had a number of biggish barns one of which had a chimney protruding from the roof and would often be seen to be producing smoke when we passed by the establishment, which we did on a frequent basis. Maurice was known to sell his vegetables from a stall in a local car park on Saturday mornings together with his brother. This meant that most of the beating party had knowledge of Maurice on a passing basis if not on a personal level. However, after the above conversation Pete asked the party if they knew Maurice to which a number of us replied that we did, myself included. It later became obvious that Pete, from this conversation, concluded that Maurice and I were well known to each other which was not the case.
The wind-up to which this article refers, following on from the above, just sort of happened, and as these things tend to do grew and grew. The details are as follows. As previously mentioned the beating parties trailer passed Maurice's place on a regular basis and more often than not at the end of the day on our way home. On many occasions this was in the dark as the last part of the days shooting was right at the far end of the shoot, miles from our base. On many of those occasions smoke would be seen rising from Maurice's barn chimney. On one such occasion it was commented that Maurice was working late and Pete made the remark that he no idea what Maurice would be doing at this time of day and so it all began. I casually remarked that he was probably making a batch of chutney. No particular reason, that was what was said. Pete immediately latched on to this remark and said he had no idea that Maurice made chutney. I and my brother then expressed our amazement that somebody had not heard of the award winning chutney which Maurice produced. No he said he had no idea of such a thing. We then piled on the nonsense saying that the chutney was widely available in local shops and was quite superb. Pete then excused himself for not knowing these matters by telling the group that he was not a fancy eater and, he did not eat spicy food. It is said from small acorns great oaks are grown and so the seeds had been sown and the wind-up was up and running. Part two in the next edition which will be January so to all those who read my jottings a very happy New Year.