There’s only ham (and the wisdom of elders).

My mother came to visit me recently and prone as she is to delivering broadsides of devastating wisdom, she left me with this one to ponder: “There is only ham”.

“If you think about it. What else is there?”

I perhaps ought to give some context to this insight. She had been ruminating on providing packed lunches and this was her conclusion. I must have looked a bit puzzled so she added. “No it’s right though isn’t it? If you think about it, what else is there?”

I looked across the room to see what my brother was making of this statement and to my surprise he was nodding along in agreement. It appeared to be just me who thought this was a strange thing to say.

“Do you take packed lunches to work?” I asked my brother.

He nodded.

“And what do you have on your sandwiches?”

He thought a moment and answered “Fishpaste”.

I was on my own in thinking this was funny. Maybe I still am.

I ought to explain that my mom has some serious form when it comes to delivering bizarre bon mots. Years ago she was bemoaning the absence of a nice girl in my brother’s life when she added: “I don’t understand why you haven’t got a girlfriend because you have some lovely jackets”.

I thought this was hilarious until realising the full implications of the remark. She didn’t think it remotely surprising that I didn’t have a girlfriend. After doing a quick audit of my wardrobe i realised why. My jackets were plainly rubbish. It was a sobering episode to discover the cold hard truth of this particular cause and effect. It was a kind of family science this logic. No wonder I struggled so much in my biology classes.

Much is made of the so-called wisdom of elders but it does depend on who your elders are. It’s one thing, I imagine, to grow up with someone like Carl Sagan or Nelson Mandela as your homely sage and another to be surrounded by wrinkly old crackpots who announce with deadpan sincerity “There’s only ham”.

At the risk of making my t-shirt business so niche that only I understand it watch out for my new “Only ham” commemorative t-shirt. Out soon!