Ian McMillan: Now you see them, now you don’t – a Yorkshire pudding mystery

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We’ve all experienced that mysterious phenomenon of the Disappearing Object That Was Definitely In The Pocket. You know the kind of thing I mean: you put your house keys in your jacket pocket, you hear them jingle as they nestle between the chewing gum wrappers and those old Euros from your holiday. But when you put your hand in your pocket to get them out to perform their primary function of unlocking the door, they’re not there.

There’s no hole in your pocket. Nobody, as far as you can recall, has upended you on your stroll. You definitely put them in your pocket. And now they’re not there. You search and search the limited pocket-space, your chubby fingers flapping and probing: Nowt. Nada. Zip. You decide you’ll have to smash the window to get into your own house, like a reformed burglar who just can’t bring himself to enter his property by the accepted route.

And now the really odd thing happens, the final act of the mystery: you make one last despairing plunge into the pocket. The keys are there, and it seems they’ve been there all along. Sheepishly, you unlock the door. As the hinges creak they appear to be laughing at you.

That “reappearance of lost objects” occurence, though, really makes me think that one day my mam’s favourite Yorkshire Pudding tins will turn up again, decades later, like those apocryphal Japanese soldiers who emerged from the jungle refusing to believe that World War 2 had come to an end.

In the early 1970s our family moved from Barnsley Road in Darfield to Edderthorpe Lane. We trundled some of the stuff down to the new house ourselves in a wheelbarrow and my dad and his mate Uncle Jack took some in their cars. For the big items, we had a removal van filled and emptied with speed and skill by two blokes smoking cheroots.

And somewhere, between the wheelbarrow and Uncle Jack’s Ford Anglia and the smoke from the twin cheroots, my mam’s Yorkshire pudding tins went missing. Lovers of the Food of the Gods will know that the tins 
are a big part of the success of the 
dish; in short, the older the tin, the better the flavour. You read about peasants who keep a pot of soup simmering on the stove for hundreds of years and because of that the soup tastes of history and culture as well as turnips and cheap cuts of mutton; well, the best Yorkshire pudding tins are 
like that. And let me tell you, my mam made the best Yorkshires. Until the tins went AWOL.

Once we were moved into the new house, my mam searched high and 
low for the tins, which simply could not be found. My dad went out and bought some more from Mrs Parry’s, but my mam always said her puddings were never the same. And she 
talked about her old tins until the new pudding tins were old pudding tins, but it made no difference.

What’s this in my pocket? Keys. Shame. I thought it might be pudding tins.