By Any Other Name
Cor, me mum used to make the best bubble and squeak! Newkirk lay flat on his back in his bunk, staring at the ceiling. They were in an interminable lull between missions and he was bored out of his mind; therefore, it was high time for a spirited session of teasing his favorite Frenchman.
He flipped himself over onto his stomach and hailed his French comrade. "Oy! Louie! Think you could make me a bubble and squeak?"
Louis LeBeau paused in assembling his camp version of cassoulet and raised his eyes heavenwards. Mon Dieu! I hate it when Pierre is bored! He turned to stare at the RAF Corporal in disbelief.
"What has made you think of such a thing Pierre?"
Newkirk carried on dreamily, as if he hadn't even heard LeBeau's question. "Or 'ow 'bout toad in the 'ole? Or a nice plate of bangers and mash? That was me favorite lunch back 'ome. Well, that and fish and chips with mushy peas…or kidneys on toast…or boiled beef with Yorkshire pudding…or…"
LeBeau grew increasedly frustrated at his friend's culinary reverie. He set his utensils down and turned to confront the irritatedly loquacious Englishman. "Enough Pierre! What is this, how you say, toad in the hole? You refuse to eat escargot and yet have no qualms about eating toad? I do not understand!"
Newkirk sat up and lazily dangled his legs over the side of his bunk. "'ey now Louie! Don't lose yer wool! Can't a man daydream about the meals 'e misses?"
"Meals? Meals? You call that – that – whatever it is – a meal?" LeBeau's eyes began to widen in astonishment.
Newkirk nodded smugly. "Of course. Y'know, me sister Mavis makes one 'ell of a shepherd's pie!"
LeBeau shook his head. "Again with the names! Shepherd's pie? Is it made from shepherd?"
Newkirk rolled his eyes. "Oh c'mon now mate, yer just bein' ridiculous!" It doesn't 'ave a shepherd in it no more than a Welsh rabbit 'as rabbit in it!"
LeBeau was about to throw in the towel. "Then why is the dish called Welsh rabbit then?" He shook his head in frustration. "What is wrong with you English? In France, we call the food what it is! A pot au feu, cassoulet, ratatouille, boeuf en daube – that is what it is! None of this squeaky bubbles or banged mash or holey toads!"
"Which is what Louie?" smirked the Englishman, even though he knew French well enough to understand completely.
"Enough is enough Pierre!" LeBeau raised his hands in a gesture of finality and turned back to the stove. "I must finish making dinner!"
Newkirk affected an exaggerated air of offense. "You don't 'ave to get so mad Louie. I didn't mean to rile you up." He winked at the other men in the room, as that had indeed been his intention from the very beginning. He adopted a faux conciliatory tone. "Okay Louie, okay. Go ahead and finish whatever it is yer makin'…"
"Cassoulet!" huffed the Frenchman.
Newkirk jumped down from his bunk and quietly moved to stand just behind LeBeau. He reached over and gently tapped him on the shoulder. LeBeau didn't even bother to turn around.
"What do you want Pierre?" he sighed dramatically.
"'ow about dessert then? Do you know 'ow to make spotted dick?" Newkirk turned quickly and began running before the last two words left his mouth. He leapt out the door just as a large wooden spoon whizzed past his ear. He stepped back inside the doorjamb to give the knife one last sadistic twist.
"Alright, mate, alright! Just make me a treacle tart for dessert and we'll call it a draw, eh?"
A burst of wildly profane French that was music to the Englishman's ears streamed out of Barracks Two's open door. Newkirk grinned wickedly as he turned to casually stroll across the compound in the general direction of the mess hall.
Blimey it doesn't take much to get Louis 'opping mad does it? Reckon I'm eatin' in the mess hall tonight. Maybe tomorrow night as well. He slipped his thumbs in his pockets and whistled a bright tune as he headed across the compound. It sure was worth it though! Well worth it!