About 25 years ago I was watching an episode of the children’s television programme Bod when my older sister walked through the room. It was the Alberto Frog section of the show, in which an amphibious orchestra leader and his Amazing Animal Band performed favours for distressed creatures who, overcome with gratitude, would offer him a reward. (Alberto Frog, it occurs to me now, was a cartoon version of Hannibal from the A-Team, or Don Corleone from The Godfather. I digress.)
Alberto would always respond to such offers with the line: “I wouldn’t say no to a milkshake.”
The grateful citizen would say: “Any particular flavour?”
And the Amazing Animal Band would ponder aloud, listing a series of flavours that, to my recollection, were usually chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, but perhaps I am just confusing his choices with the flavours one used to get in “Neapolitan” ice cream tubs.
My sister, who is eight years older than me and who was something of an antagonist during my childhood, said: “It’ll be chocolate.”
I disagreed, naturally, and insisted that it must be strawberry, or one of the other flavours. She was right, and it wasn’t just luck. This happened on several occasions, and her predictions always rang true.
I never knew how she did it until I brought it up about two decades later. I assumed that there must have been a subtle clue in the way he spoke that gave away the answer, or a mildly complicated algorithm. Would she at last tell me the secret?
“Oh,” she said. “It was always chocolate.”