Never really written on the back of a bus before. Legs swung sideways out in to the aisle, there’s nobody here, the top deck is mine, no need to worry. Why has evaporated milk become so much part of my waking life than before? Because on the boat we have a tiny fridge that is crammed full of grapes and orange juice and cheese, so, there’s not much room for milk and Mer doesn’t drink milk. When I have cups of tea on the boat I usually have the ginger one or the knettle and jasmine one but sometimes you just hanker for tea, right? Regular nice builder’s tea with sugar and milk and everything Good about hot beverages. But there's only this thing called evaporated milk on board and it comes in a tin.
The first time I put some evaporated milk in my tea it tasted fine, creamy but fine. Not like a normal cuppa but it was like not so different, you know. A day went by, I went to work where also I had cups of tea in the office and coffee and nothing that unusual. Another day, in the afternoon I bought a salad and went to eat it on the deck, which is much like a sun porch or a patch of grass that somebody owns out front. I had my book on British Birds and I was checking out the birds, the only kinds really are the coot and moorehen, both of which are labelled “confusion species” of one another; the coot is plumper and larger than the moorhen with a bright white stripe down the middle of its face, and they make a racket with their whirring click click clack clack noises. The tea I had on deck then tasted a bit odd but then I couldn’t remember how the first evaporated milk cup of tea had tasted, so I started to doubt whether the tea had ever tasted normal so I just drank it in sips and left the rest.
When Mer came home to the boat on my lazy Saturday afternoon which had been provoked by a great hangover incurred after Alex’s birthday, I offered to make her a cup of tea.
’Sure. I’ll have the knettle one! No - actually yes… no, I’ll try the melon and raspberry one.’
I boil the kettle and wait, tapping on the side of my white porcelain mug. I ask, ‘Mer can I have some of your evaporated milk?’
‘Sure you can but just check it hasn’t gone off.’
‘How do I check that?’
‘Well I’d pour it out somewhere and have a look.’
So I reach for a utensil and pour this gloopy substance on to the face of a spoon and it slides in to the shape of a white chocolate button but glossy.
‘I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like though’ I say in anticipation for some big reveal by the evaporated milk, but it gives me nothing. Mer comes over to have a look too.
‘Maybe give it a taste?’
So I pop the spoon in my mouth and immediately have to spit the fucker out because it tastes sour and gross.
‘If it’s off spit it out!’ Mer desperately scrabbles to make some room for my spittle in the sink and then I have to spit it out.
The evaporated milk had definitely gone off so I would have thought I’d be scarred for life from that tin-held impostor, but then this morning I woke up quite early and had a freezing cold shower because I’d messed up the heater settings due to daylight savings time (the clock was wrong basically), and I needed a cup of tea. Like normal tea. So I boiled the kettle and put the tea bag in and pierced open the tin lid of this new evaporated milk and strangely enough, the tea tasted great. So, my overall feelings on evaporated milk are as yet undecided.