Saturday, 5 July 2008

Zen and the art of Cookery

Thursday 8pm

I have just been making packed lunches for myself and smallest child. Cheese sandwich for myself, cheese and ritz crackers for youngest. And whilst doing so I was munching upon some biscuits, Squiggles, that I came upon in the larder. And being a tidy soul (or fat pig if you prefer), once I had finished I scraped up all the left over bits of cheese from the counter top and stuffed them into my mouth along with the biscuits.

And the tastes went together beautifully. So beautifully in fact that I got some more and forced Nicola to try them. And she agreed with me, unless that is she was just humouring the mad man to get away, but I don’t think so.

And in that instant I realised what cookery is all about. It is the blending of flavours, textures and colours to make something nice. The rest of it, all those methods and rules are just ways to create new combinations without poisoning us. And cookery books of course are just lists of flavour combinations that people have discovered over the years.

Just for fun I think I will write a cookery book, because if it is all just painting with different tastes then we can all do it, can’t we ?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


Tuesday 3am

Nothing seems real. I am sitting in a rented house on the other side of the world from home, surrounded by unfamiliar things, living out of a suitcase really. My sleeping patterns are all mixed up - here I am awake at three in the morning, my head bunged up, hayfever I think, but feeling like I am not quite here, not quite anywhere really. A ghost.

This was an unexpected trip, arranged at short notice due to my fathers death. His illness and death came upon us quite quickly really, not unexpectedly as I have said, but the quickness of his going into hospital, his slight recovery and then rapid decline and death all seemed to happen quicker than I could respond to. The funeral of course was arranged and over in a few days and again this made it almost impossible to be here even if we could have afforded the trip. I should have been here of course and would have liked to have been, but did not realise this until afterwards. Moving so far away from home I knew something like this was bound to happen eventually and I think I really said goodbye to him two and a half years ago when we left.

So now we are all gathered to scatter Eric’s ashes and say goodbye, and I feel detached from it all, like arriving during a film, not quite sure who is who or what the plot is.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Saturday 10.15am

I am in the north of England. In an enclosed garden in a small village called Horncliffe. It is peacefull here, not quiet because I am surrounded by noise but somehow just as it should be. I notice a constant background humming and gradually realise what it is – bees, hundreds of them working away in the flowers that are all around me. And birds too are everywhere, sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, rustling close by and then more and more distant past the wood pigeons in the woods fading into the distance. But no traffic noise. In Havelock like most places no matter what time of day or night it is there is always the constant rumble of cars, but here off the beaten track it is absent and I feel much more relaxed for that. Just as Edward Thomas described in Adlestrop years ago this background of birdsong is such an English sound. And it is part of me too, part of my englishness that I will carry everywhere deep within me, and no matter where I live.

The rain comes on, a summer shower of sudden heavy, wet raindrops and I go back indoors, carrying the birdsong with me.

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