While going to graduate school and living for several years in London, Thanksgiving dinner was not neglected by me or other American students and business people. Typically I invited colleagues from S.O.A.S. who came from many different countries and had not experienced our holiday tradition. (Some of the return invitations provided me the experience of their holiday traditions, an unexpected bonus.)
One year, Struan Simpson, a neighbor in Dalmeny Court drove my daughter and me from London to my then friend Melinda’s warm house in Herts for the potluck feast. He was a master storyteller and the provider of this joke which I’ve found some way to tell on every Thanksgiving since then, dragging it out slowly with my best imitation of an Oxford actor’s accent and a squawking parrot.
Warning! Slightly spicy joke henceforth. Please don’t read further if you might be offended.
So … an English family living in the countryside invited some American friends to a Thanksgiving dinner. The table was set formally with Irish linen tablecloth and napkins, fine English bone china, Waterford crystal glasses, lit candles in candelabra sitting on mirrors, flowers and clementines from Morocco, tiny sterling salt cellars with their tinier sterling salt spoons, and the meal from one end of the table to the other was elegantly plated. Sitting in front of the host for carving sat a small roasted pig with an apple in its mouth rather than the turkey to which the Americans were accustomed.
As the guests were being seated, they could not help but notice the eight foot tall, gilded bird cage on one side of the room and the parrot within it, hopping about from perch to perch, observing as well as being observed. Just after everyone was set at their assigned places and as the host stood up to begin carving the roasted pig, the parrot began farting, loudly, and there were a few ahem!s at the table.
The host excused himself for a moment, collected the parrot from its gilded cage and walked out of the dining room to his den with the bird. A few minutes later, he returned and put the bird back in the cage, walked back into the kitchen to wash his hands, then rejoined his guests and assumed the carving position once again.
Just as the host was raising the knife, the parrot let out a squawk that could’ve been heard in London from the dinner table in Herts, and in his best parrot voice said:
Lucky little suckling pig!
You lucky little swine!
Sage and onion up your arse,
Sealing wax up mine!