The old man is sitting down to a
fish supper: fish and chips, a saveloy, three gherkins and a pickled
onion; with a cup of sergeant major tea. The fish supper is still on
its newspaper - yesterday's Evening Standard. The tea is well, you
know, a half pint tin mug full of a milky amber liquid and a spoon in
it, that surfaces every so often like a diver rising for air... because
the amount of sugar in it has changed it to a viscous solid. it's on a
paper doily. By the side of the tin mug is an open tin, full of Old
Holborn Ready Rub and a packet of Rizla papers in a natty little
compartment. The lid has a rolling machine with one in the slot; the
battered old prewar enamel ashtray has a half-smoked cigarette in it,
brought in from a quiet puff in the outside khazi*, listening to the
bees in the loganberry trellis. Besides this is a an older silver
*This was a strange place where wartime habits
still survived, he had a special toilet roll he would hand visitors. It
was an Izal... a special one impregnated with disinfectant and made from
shiny paper. It was completely unabsorbent. I used to use some of
granddad's carefully torn up Evening Standards** (thrifty, that's what
he was, thrifty). They might leave week old news on my bottom, but at
least they were marginally absorbent. The smell was incredible; in the
height of Summer a machete would have been useful to fight your way in
through the miasma and the runners from the loganberries. ("I grew
those from canes sent all the way from Scotland; Logan's a Scottish
name, boy") Once in there, the many layered olfactory experience was
devastating for a young boy. I reckon if we'd lived closer and visited
more often I would have ended up with the lung capacity of a Pacific
island pearl diver. Breath in there? Are you kidding? It would be as
easy as breathing on Venus...
**When green grandad died (so named
after the colour of his front door - it is now blue [Thanks Google
Earth] but next door's is still pink and you can guess that that was my
maternal 'pink' grandfather's house...) Ah, where was I? When he died, I
had this idea that his body would be left to the Evening Standard, his
body mummified and his backside peeled with one of those cheese slicers.
Old staffers would gather round the thin layers, formaldehyde dripping
from them, reminiscing over old stories..
***This post has been brought to you at the request of Destry54blame him!
A sad tale from my tweenies (20-29): Well,
I had got involved with this lass from Yorkshire... she was so, so
pretty. Not sexy, but delicately pretty, the sort of looks where she
was so fragile looking, like a fine china vase... She was living on a
farm in the dales with a guy who beat her. I kid you not. I was not
happy, we gradually got closer whilst I tried to provide advice. You
might have gathered by now that my natural inclination is to help
people. And when they're very pretty, well...
I offered to come
and intercede with the guy, but apparently she was frightened he'd shoot
me (he had a 12-bore shotgun), I said I was scared, but what he was doing was
unspeakable and I was happy to remonstrate with him. But even so I was careful to try not to get too involved, but her
letters got, frankly much more interested than they should have been.
So I moved out of my house share (she couldn't bear to be with other
house-sharers) and into a flat I could barely afford. But the lass had
various commitments which she couldn't... like her horses, you
guessed... I was a romantic fool, Galahad to the rescue...
She had always loved Bob Dylan, so I
booked a room in the Wembley Hilton for two nights, a reservation in the
resto there and bought tickets to the Bob Dylan concert at Wembley Stadium. I was not
particularly a fan but Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds were one of the
support acts (and they were awesome). What I hadn't realised was that
the door opened at 11.00 a.m. with the supports and that it was 8 before
Saint Bob turned up. There were no seats, just the concrete of the
stands... The guys on the terraces above having been drinking and god knows what else above us, decided
it would be cool to relieve themselves on the steps before them and watch it trickle
down past and through those sitting down on the concrete levels nearer
the pitch... that was not the best day of my life... made worse by the
fact that the racket from the people around overwhelmed the sound
system, and it was substandard anyway. With the screaming, we could not. hear.
a. single. word. Dylan. sang. At this point, having missed our
dinner reservation... I said we had to leave.
When we got back to the
hotel room, the pain in my bottom (and hers) from the concrete and the
hours of miserable sitting had left it's mark; even her shapely bottom
had bruises, I had massive black bruises on my buttocks. No nooky, no
romance, just physical pain and despair. In her case of a wasted
weekend and mine, for the lack of maturity for not saying earlier, this
is a waste of time. Oh. And it was two months disposable income...
Even now it makes me wince; the thick end of £500.
Normally I'd do a full ingredients breakdown, but it's not really necessary as this is a really simply recipe. You'll need a medium-small flat roasting pan. Slice a large onion (enough to layer a single layer on the floor of the pan), sprinkle a tbsp of Olive Oil, then 1/2 tsp of ground Cumin, 1/2 tsp of ground Coriander.
Take 3 bell peppers, de-seed them and cut them into thin lengthwise strips and lay them evenly on the onion. Then sprinkle a tsp of Balsamic vinegar, a tsp of Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce and a tbsp of Olive Oil on that, grind a goodly amount of black pepper over this. Then put a couple of layers of foil across the pan so that it is effectively sealed. Put this into the middle of an oven on it's lowest setting. On mine it's called Miser... No comments, please! for about 3 hours. Then after that loosen the foil (make sure the roasting tray is on a bigger tray), put the trays on the top shelf and turn the gas up to GM8 for about 20-30 minutes.
You can serve it hot or put the contents into an air-tight jar and use it effectively as a condiment or pickle. I love this; minimum of effort but a really versatile result.