‘Do we have all we need?’ said Mrs Osborne, hands on hips as she surveyed the table in front of her.
‘An elephant’s sufficiency,’ I said, running my eyes over the plates of pikeletes, scones, cup-cakes decorated with tooth-rotting objects, huge and delicious-looking slices of fruit cake, platters of asparagus and sausage rolls and little balls of something rolled in cocoa powder.
‘Oh,’ I said, pointing at the balls, ‘Mozart’s Balls.’
‘What?’ said Mrs Osborne turning pink.
The other kids standing around tittered, eyeing me as they talked behind their hands.
‘They’re a German confection – “Mozartkugeln” I think is the right term,’ I said being Horrible Hinemoa, ‘but “balls” is a close translation.’
The other girls turned away and tried to pretend I wasn’t there.
But of course I didn’t care and never had.
So here I was at another school Fair day, holding a plate adorned with my flourless chocolate cake. How I detested school Fair Days. This regional school was much worse than my school back in Auckland. Yes, I loathed the things, except for the jazz band. But then I was peculiar. My friends told me I was weird. I didn’t like the pop-music my friends liked. Once I said I like Simon and Garfunkel. Anyone would think I was talking about the Middle Ages rather than the 1960’s. I used words out of wonderful books and plays, especially from the 1700 and 1800’s. I loved the Roaring Twenties and adored P G Wodehouse. When Dad took us to see a Noel Coward play I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks. Yeah – weird.
Anyway, back to the Elephant’s Sufficiency.
‘What do you mean by that?’ said Mrs Pascoe, deftly avoiding Mozart’s balls, ‘”Elephant’s Sufficiency”?’
I was stumped. Mum said it all the time and I didn’t know what it meant.
‘Ah,’ said the amused voice of my English teacher, Mr Thompson, ‘Hinemoa is making a joke as usual – the correct term is “Elegant Sufficiency” and if my memory serves me right, it was first used around 1722 and then in the Victorian era. Right Hinemoa?’
I jumped and turned round to see him standing just behind me, a grin from ear to ear. A friendly face. Phew!
‘Er yes,’ I said, ‘I think it was … can’t remember …’ My voice tailed off.
‘Oh and I’ll have some of Mozart’s balls before anyone buys them all,’ said Mr Thompson, as Mrs Thompson, my German teacher arrived pushing their new baby in his pram. Mrs Thompson raised her eyebrows. Mrs Pascoe handed him a bag, managing a sickly smile.
The other girls, eyes on the Elephant’s Sufficiency, began milling around Mrs Pascoe who was laying cellophane sheets over the edibles.
Under a marquee in the middle of the football field, the school jazz band started to play a ridiculous old 1950’s song, ‘Nellie the Elephant.’ The Thompsons and I stared at each other and started laughing. I bought a slab of fruit cake, then we headed off to listen to the band.
- : Humour
- : Elephant poo in the illustration