The first thing I wondered, nine months ago, when news broke that Queen Kate was pregnant – the very first thing, even before contemplating who the father might be (Harry, I imagine, the lovable little scamp) – the first thing I wondered was: does this mean we’ll get a pie?
“But, Colin,” I hear you ask. “What’s a pie got to do with anything? Maybe the nation will get a boy, maybe a girl but one thing which won’t slip from between Kate’s royal thighs is a meat and tater.”
And that’s true. I’m no expert on reproduction but I know even a Middleton can’t procreate something you’d serve with mushy peas.
But still I wondered if we’d get a pie. Just like I wondered it when London hosted the Olympics. Just like I will keep wondering when any event of national celebration takes place.
Because I am a boy from a place called Denby Dale.
It’s a village in West Yorkshire where, every so often, for the past 225 years we’ve baked the world’s biggest pie. We did it in 1788 to celebrate the return to sanity of King George III (the pie lasted longer than his mind); we did it in 1846 at the Repeal of the Corn Laws; and in 1928 to celebrate victory in World War One, which ended in, er, 1918.
One pie was buried in a field. One dish still sits, vast and rusting, in the village hall car park.
The last one was made to mark the millennium. The entire village turned out on an August Saturday to watch this massive dish being carried on a truck, along the main road, up the Miller Hill, into a farmer’s field. It was 10am, and everyone was already drunk. We followed the truck at walking pace. It was the year 2000 but it didn’t feel it.
Up in the Pie Field itself, it was a real festival. Fun fair and beer tents, dodgem cars, tug’o’war. There was a circuit where you could race on mini tractors. Dickie Bird cut the crust. My dad said he’d done it well, like there was an art. How did it taste? Like something dragged four miles through a village.
It wasn’t Silversmiths. It didn’t matter. Have you ever had the world come to your valley? That’s how it felt. Special. Australians and Americans and hot girls from the next village. People caroused in the field, then packed the pubs. The single Indian restaurant did a roaring trade. The streets were still filled at 1am. When they took the bunting down on Monday they said let’s do it again, soon. It hasn’t happened yet. Which is why when Kate pops I wish her well but wonder: oh man, what’s the point of a royal baby if it doesn’t even get you a village pie?