“Why do your feet smell of Christmas?”
I’d been showing off my new novelty socks to Mrs McG – the ones that look like the cover of The Art of Failing.
“What? Oh, it’s complicated.” I make it sound as if my feet are mixed up in some complex emotional web, my feet fancying Hayley, but Hayley’s gay, and fancies Su, who’s bi, and has a thing for Jo, who’s hot for Alex, who’s really into my feet. That sort of thing.
“How complicated can it be?”
“It goes back to when my golden crown fell off.” Now it’s a different sort of story – a comic fairy tale with a drunken prince and one of those new-style feisty feminist Disney princesses, who kick ass, but still look pretty when the ball comes round. But it’s really about my tooth. The crown fell off on a Friday evening, and I wouldn’t be able to see my dentist until the next week. So I bought an emergency crown repair kit from Boots. As well as some mouldable tooth putty, it contained a small bottle of clove oil. You were supposed to dribble it on the exposed stump. Which I did, but there was still more than half the little vial of it left. That was all a couple of years ago, and I’d found it again while looking for something else (too embarrassing to say what, exactly – let’s just call it ‘the ointment’).
I had a quick google, and discovered that one of the uses for clove oil – which is not, in fact, oil used to lubricate your squeaky cloves, but oil made from squeaky cloves) was as a folk treatment for manky toenails. I have a manky toenail. It didn’t take a genius to realise that rather than just throwing the stuff away, it could be employed in its anti-fungicidal capacity. So I’d been drizzling it on my big toenail, the way Nigella used to drizzle good olive oil over pretty well anything (though not, as far as I remember, manky toenails). And the clove oil does, indeed, smell very Christmassy.
I was going to explain all this, but I sensed that Mrs McG didn’t really care that much. So I just mumbled “Clove oil.” And then, “Squeaky cloves.”
“Oh,” she said, her mind on other things. “Very festive.”