Is it ever forgivable to subvert an innocent family tradition with an act of treacherous deceit?
This is the question I ask myself as I prepare to spend Easter weekend with the Hall clan.
Over the years our Easter celebrations have come to be associated with a range of activities.
One tradition was initiated by my grandma some time back in the Eighties – leaving us all with the compulsion to bleat: ‘Mint Sauce’ when gazing upon a field of spring lambs, just as she always did.
Another long-standing marker of Easter was the hiding of Mini-Eggs in Mum’s garden – made tantalising by the shouts of ‘hotter, hotter’ or ‘colder, colder’ as me and my brother tottered towards (or veered away from) the stash on our pudgy little legs.
Some family traditions live on through the generations, never-changing. But others cry out to be transgressed....
Our most egg-centric Easter pursuit involves a very steep hill, lots of glue and some pipecleaners.
Every year for the past decade, we’ve spent several hours decorating two or three hard-boiled eggs each, before schlepping up to the top of a vertiginous track and chucking them down with wild abandon.
Nominally, the winner is the one that travels the furthest. But in reality it’s all about creating the most special egg.
Competition to produce the most outlandish offering has become stiff, with one-upmanship traversing the generational divide.
Over the years I’ve created an Elton John, several pirates, a mermaid and a Hoxton hipster with big red glasses, dreadlocks and a chin piercing. That particular eggs-ample of my artistic talents rolled for miles, gaining first place on the Egg Roll Podium that year.
My brother is even more creative. With judicious use of yoghurt pots and bin-liners, he has fashioned an impressive oeuvre of gigantic insects, Olympic skiiers and terrifying aliens. As the years pass, the pressure to innovate mounts. And last March – like the sorrowful eggs lying in a heap at the bottom of the hill – I finally cracked.
In a moment of duplicitous inspiration, my boyfriend and I concocted a cunning plan.
Using lab goggles, plastic gloves and a scary-looking syringe, we extracted the contents of an ordinary-looking hen’s egg. Then, like a surgeon wielding a scalpel, my boyfriend used the syringe to pump the empty egg shell full of Pollyfilla.
We incubated our egg at just the right temperature for the filling to solidify nicely, both of us anticipating with glee the consternation our indestructible egg would cause.
Fantasising about smashing all the other eggs into smithereens, we pushed any trace of guilt to one side in order to better savour the anticipated victory.
Then came the fateful day....
Given minimal adornment, our offering looked meagre in the egg-stravagant pile. It did not stand out amongst the Disney princesses, polka-dots and bumble bee.
Nonetheless, we were convinced it would out-perform them all. And yet....
Polyfilla probably dries most effectively in a well-ventilated space. Certainly not inside an egg-shell.
The second I launched our egg down the hill, it imploded into a sticky, ectoplasmic mess.
Not only had we lost the contest, we were forced to confess that we’d cheated.
Now, one year on, I am wondering with renewed vigour how to ensure that my eggs stand out from the crowd.
More ventilation....a longer ‘drying out’ period... We’ve already ventured (literally) down the slippery slope of corruption. As they say, we might as well be hung for a sheep for a lamb (‘Mint Sauce!’).
Now where was that packet of cement again....?