When my brother lost, he accused me of cheating and we started throwing the strawberries at each other, hurling them as far as they would go, till Dad said (meekly) there was no need for aggression. Then Mum came in, had a look at the mess on the carpet and instead of heading straight to the cupboard where she keeps the “tough-on-stains-yet-gentle-on-fabrics” stain devil, she said, “Do you remember that time we went picking strawberries?” She wasn’t talking to us, she was looking at Dad and they eyed each other the way grown-ups sometimes do, saying all kinds of things without actually opening their mouths. It went all quiet, as if they’d just dug up a treasure or something.
Then—all of—a sudden—ACTION! They started laughing, Mum shrieked and held onto the dining table for balance, her chest heaving (this sort of thing only happened in cartoons, I thought), Dad ran into the kitchen to bring some more, almost slipping on a squashed little heart-shaped missile, and more strawberries went flying around. My brother and I ducked our heads and ran to pick up as many as we could, like those kids scuttling after tennis balls in Wimbledon while the greatest match in the world is being played. “Deuce!” called Dad, and Mum threw herself on the sofa, crazy tears rolling out of her eyes. In the corner, with his mouth open and his tongue out, stood my brother: “Here! Me!” And I was the director, and I was recording it in my mind, all of it, everything, calling it “Strawberry Jam” already. It is still the most magical film in the entire history of the universe.
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