Wall Street traders. Space Invaders. Arcade dreams. Custard creams. Kylie and Jason. Thatcher and Reagan. HP sauce. Inspector Morse.
Band Aid. Live Aid. Cherry-ade. Kwik Save. HIV, MTV, TUC, SDP. Del Boy and Rodney. Deirdre on Corrie. Just Say No. Farmer Barleymow.
Striking miners. Flash designers. Berlin wall. Maradona’s handball. Virgin Atlantic. Sticky-backed plastic. Baywatch beach. Papa Don’t Preach.
Big hair. Polo necks. BHS. VHS. ET. BT. Mr T. Ford Capri. Donkey Kong and Pac Man. Now it’s Captain Caveman! Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are you?
Ahh, the ‘80s.. That deeply-troubled decade of social inequality and oversized shoulder pads. And what of it? Why is my mind suddenly cast there?
Because right now I’m looking at a menu at Chez Bruce – a well-regarded restaurant on the verge of Wandsworth Common – and standing out from the text like a flashing blue siren from an ’80’s police procedural, is a word that takes me right back to that very decade: “Viennetta”…
“WHERE IN JENKINS’ NAME IS MY GRAVY?… ” I holler at the waiter, evidently newly prenticed and a waif of a boy, whose smart attire barely disguises a demeanor resembling that of my poor cousin Henry just before he died of the pox.
What dark times are these when a gentleman ventures into his preferred eating establishment and has to wait for his gravy! So enraged am I, that I find myself resorting to some choice utterances – namely involving that damn fiend Napolean and a frisky French poodle – before slamming my silver tankard down so briskly on the mahogany table that my ale splashes over my well-tended beard. Curses and curse again!
Does he not realise that I am London’s foremost restaurant critic? Admittedly, we are but few in number, namely my good self and that blasted rapscallion upstart Charles Pendergast. Yet, it would appear this wretched boy dares test my ability to destroy reputations with nothing more than my quill and a pot of ink! View Post
So went to another of Johnnie’s wine-tasting workshops last night. He does them in his own kitchen, which I think is pretty brave – having a dozen punters in your kitchen as they quaff ten glasses of wine. Could easily turn into a disaster episode of Come Dine With Me.
But his workshops are hugely enjoyable and genuinely educational. And I can even say that after waking up with a head more fuzzy than a permed-up Paddington Bear whose just bungee-jumped over Tower Bridge in a woolly onesie.
Luckily, it’s not far to get back to mine from Johnnie’s. It involves a two-step stagger onto the pavement, a 90-degree turn left, a couple more paces… and voilà, I’m home. Even after ten glasses of wine, it’s still pretty negotiable – although if there’s sherry involved, anything can happen.
Anyway, in a brainwave that may have had something to do with those ten glasses, I vaguely recollect suggesting to Johnnie that we put an event on together – with him doing a workshop on pairing wine with food, and with me cooking the food.
ME COOKING THE FOOD? Hahaha… What was I thinking? Cooking for a dozen people, each say five courses – well it doesn’t need a mathematician to work out that’s.. a LOT of cooking. Practically industrial. And not only that, I’m asking people to part with their hard-earned cash for the privilege. No, I must’ve imagined it..
In a deeply secret red-and-silver kitchen,
Somewhere in London or possibly in Hitchin
( – in spite of sweeping skyscraper shots,
I’m guessing it’s filmed somewhere in Herts.)
The contestants listen with a sense of forebode
To cheeky-chappy Gregg and his mate John Torode.
“It’s The Market Challenge!” they boldly disclose,
That’s a pimped-up version of (the Hitchin) Waitrose.
The clock starts ticking, contestants are aflutter.
It’s Supermarket Sweep with organically-made butter
That’s been churned from a cow, who’s been pampered to the hilt
With a daily massage on Egyptian-cotton quilt. View Post
May I present to you the Polynesian legend of ‘The Octopus and The Rat’.. Some legends tell of intrepid heroes and dastardly villains, and their epic duels across space and time. Some tell of deceitful deities, and their tricks and schemes to bewitch humankind. Some tingle the spines of wide-eyed children, and some devour the hearts of brave but stupid men. Some make you laugh. Some make you weep. Some inspire nostalgia. And some make you glad to be alive.
But this one doesn’t.
A rat and hermit crab are stranded at sea after a devastating shipwreck. They go their separate ways. The rat then comes across an octopus. ‘Hullo,’ greets the octopus. They strike a bargain, which sees the octopus carry the rat to a far-away island. But as the rat disembarks, he disingenuously craps on the octopus’s head. And that is why octopuses have tubercles on their heads, and that is why rats are their sworn enemies.
Do not say you were not forewarned. It contains no otherworldly beings or mythical beasts. There is no overarching theme or cautionary tale. It begins with a character utterly superfluous to the plot and climaxes in a quite random and meaningless act. And the hostility between the two protagonists is biologically inaccurate; they inhabit completely different ecosystems. As
legends go, it is, frankly, not a particularly good one. It doesn’t even make sense.
But at least it’s a good introduction to my time in Tonga, a land that similarly confounded a young naive medical student at the turn of the Millennium. A faraway land replete with legend, a culture so different to my own. View Post