Illustration: Simon Letch
IT'S THAT time of year again, the merry season, when my husband has more followers than Jesus. Old school mates, local tradies, the photo-lab lady, happy clappers all calling with a simple request.
You see, after slogging away for the past 12 months in their office, shop, or place of worship, they've decided on a cold Christmas lunch. A cold Christmas seafood lunch, to be exact. That's where we come in.
They don't want anything too fancy, of course. Just a couple of abalones for a Nigella-inspired dreamy, creamy dip. Or some lovely jubbly sea urchin roe to slap on their snapper, Jamie Oliver-style. And they were just wondering, when he's out next, if he can accommodate them.
If you haven't already guessed, my husband is a fisherman. That's what he does for a living. I repeat - a living! In the early hours of the morning, while you're donning your suit, he's sucking on a hooker hose and scraping live product from the bottom of the ocean. While you're synergising or touching base or whatever you do from nine to five, he's dragging net bags up to the boat with his neck.
Your water-cooler catch-up coincides with him yelling at his deckhand, who's sexting instead of steering the tinny. And while you're tucking into your baguette, he's pulling urchin spines out of his legs.
Let me share another priceless gem with you. Seafood is attached to a quaint little arrangement with the Department of Primary Industries known as a quota system. If he gifts you some seafood, it comes off his yearly allowance. Perhaps you should pause, mid-lobster claw, and digest what that means for our profit-and-loss sheet.
During the year, we've had a few situations where a freebie wouldn't have gone astray. Our pipes exploded but we didn't ask our plumber mate to fix them, gratis, on the weekend. We needed some business equipment, which we paid for in cold, hard cash. The dog had pancreatitis but the vet didn't offer a discount just because he loves domestic pets. No, we understood, explicitly, the two-way transaction process that needed to take place.
So if you are seeking seafood for your festive lunch this year, I suggest you travel, in the early hours, to the fish market. That's where our product ends up after we've delivered it to the freighter while you're tucked up in bed.
For our part, we've decided on a traditional Christmas roast (we're so over lobsters). As soon as I've typed this, we're going to hit up the local farmer for a complimentary lamb. Hmm. Maybe we'll just fork out for a free-range chook with some home-grown spuds instead.
Joanna Atherfold Finn