WELL aye, I swear down – I’m a proper Teessider now.
After many years of exile on Teesside from my native Essex, I’ve finally gone and done it. I’ve popped my parmo cherry.
To the astonishment of friends, colleagues and, well, the rest of Teesside, I’d never eaten a parmo until this week. It was nothing personal against the national dish of Teesside – I just hadn’t really fancied it.
So this week I broke with tradition, headed off to the Europa and tucked into my very first parmo.
If you haven’t been covered by the irrational blanket ban that suddenly appeared a while back, you may have had the misfortune to read the ramblings of a group of bitter and twisted keyboard warriors who would have us believe that the current Bears consortium and pretty much all of the current team are, in fact, the children of Satan and should be burned at the stake.
Well, for the record, I didn’t enjoy getting dumped out of the KO Cup any more than the next fan, although Ben, Stuey and Stoney gave us plenty to cheer, didn’t they?
And anyway – we had some post-match celebrating to do. Birthday celebrating. It was parmo time.
Take a bow – and happy birthday – Charlotte, the official face of the BSG, one of the nicest and hardest working people you’ll ever meet and trusty shalesport travelling companion of Yours Truly.
Like the rest of our party who were at the Europa, Charlotte’s a time-served parmo connoisseur.
And the first person our group encountered on our arrival was Redcar-based Kiwi Jade Mudgway of Buxton Hitmen, a man even less local than me – by several thousand miles – but nonetheless an avid parmohead.
When I told him I was a parmo virgin he gave me a look of horror. You’d have thought I’d told him I’d arrived from Planet Zarg on a mission to rid Earth of cheese and Jelly Babies.
It’s because I’m a cockney, you see. We all eat jellied eels for breakfast, dinner and tea down there, you know.
So the occasion of my very first parmo was greeted with a sense of excitement not witnessed since Peter Parmesan of Grangetown accidently spilt cheese on his pork fillet back in 1867 and realised he’d come up with a winner.
Cameras flashed, expectant glances were exchanged and the obligatory status update made on Facebook Mobile.
Yeah, it was OK. With a bit of garlic sauce on top it was quite tasty. I might even venture out for another one.
So that’s it – a line has been crossed.
Like a transsexual groggily waking up as the anaesthetic wears off after the gender realignment op; like when Clark Kent realised he could fly and save the world if he put his red undies outside his trousers; or like Queen after they used synthesisers for the first time.
Something irreversible has happened.
I’ve finally earned – or maybe eaten – the right to a passport bearing the crest of the People’s Republic of Teesside.
I am Martin Neal – resident of Teesside, eater of parmos.