You can’t kill people with chestnuts

MORE accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, they say.

That’s not exactly right. The precise wording is more accidents happen in my home than anywhere else.

It’s a standard kind of place (walls, floors, roof) with standard appliances (toaster, cooker, vacuum cleaner). Where can it go wrong?

With chestnuts, that’s where.

It’s hardly a lethal weapon, is it, a chestnut? I mean, it’s winter, and chestnuts are a cold weather delicacy that should impart a sense of cosy bonhomie. You can’t kill people with them unless you shoot them from guns, or drop them from a great height. In a crate.

Maybe not, but you can still do an awful lot of damage. I roasted some in the oven. The trick with chestnuts is to stab them first so they don’t explode later. Aficionados leave one unstabbed so that, when it bursts, you know the rest are ready.

My wife wouldn’t wait. She took them from the oven and grabbed one. The unstabbed one. Very hot.

Most people peel them gingerly — because of the heat — with their fingers. My wife used her teeth. The chestnut went off like a volcano, searing her gums, lips and cheeks.

I found her with her head in the sink, wailing. Bubbling, actually, through the cold water. She was trying to put herself out and drowning in the process. I got the full story in serial form when she came up for air.

The abbreviated version is that it was my fault. For leaving one unstabbed, but we won’t dwell on that. I’m telling you this because it’s a timely warning on winter activities in the home.

She lifted her head from the water. She looked like a duck. Lips like purple plates. She saw the alarm on my face and dashed to a mirror.

“Aghhh!” she wailed, “I look like a duck!”

“No you don’t,” I lied.

“I look like Donald Duck.”

“No,” I said emphatically, “like Daisy Duck,” and gave myself away.

That was three days ago. My wife skulks in the house like a possum, only coming out at night. Her lips look like a mad plastic surgeon has been practising with collagen. They’re also covered in festering blisters.

“It looks a lot better today,” I said.

She burst into tears. “You’re just saying that.”


Wail; breast-beating. “I’m going to stay like this. I’m going to be ugly forever!”

Be warned, if this ever happens to you, that it is no time for funny remarks.

My wife is beautiful and I should have assured her that her beauty would return. I shouldn’t have said, “So what’s new…?”

The doctor says the burns will be history long before the winter is over.

My wife says that’s not the only thing.