We'd all gone up for seconds on butterscotch tart days although other aspects of our school dinner-times weren't quite so enjoyable. My poor husband was made to stand on a chair in the middle of the dining hall when he refused to eat his peas. My sister-in-law (actually this is disgusting) refused to eat her fish one day and when she lined up for her dinner the next day she was told to leave the queue and go and sit at her class table. When she did she was served up the fish from the day before, now dried and congealed, on the same plate, and told to eat it. She's still not sure if she'd been singled out because she was the only black child in the school. But thank goodness she didn't eat it and end up getting really sick.
In my own school dinner horror story I'm not quite as blameless as the other two, and it's possible that the dinner ladies were right not to admire the creative salt mountain I'd poured over my vividly green peas in the hope of disguising them. I too was told to sit there and eat them up, I too, did not.
As adults the three of us laughed about those long ago days but none of us had even once thought of telling our parents what had happened at the time. I hope nowadays no one's ever forced to eat congealed meals at school or humiliated in front of everyone and if they were they'd tell someone who'd stop it.
But I know children don't always think that they can speak out or be listened to if they do and that worries me.
Amazingly butterscotch tart is still being served in schools today and currently enjoyed by my six-year-old niece.
I made it the favourite pudding of witchling Bella Donna in my Bella Donna books. The fifth in the series 'Witch Camp', has just been published and sees Bella heading off to camp and feeling homesick.
I can remember going off to camp myself at about her age, not a wild magical camp of course, although the Isle of Wight can be very exciting. I didn't like being away from home and phoned my lovely step-grandfather to tell him so (we didn't have a phone in our own house).
He told me just what I needed to hear: 'I'll come right now if you want me to but why don't you give it another two days and if you still want to come home then I promise I'll drive down from London and come over on the ferry and bring you home.' I never had a moment's doubt that he would do exactly what he said and once I'd spoken to him I started to feel much better and lasted to the end of the camp.
In 'Witch Camp' Bella Donna has to face everyone else's nightmare creations chasing her. So she's a bit too busy to have time to feel homesick for long!
Anyone else remember butterscotch tart? And what on earth did they put in those peas to make them such an un-natural colour?
Ruth Symes' website is ruthsymes.com. She also writes as Megan Rix.