Tuesday was fish and chips day, and I looked forward to supper from the moment I woke up. The days were long and hot in Oranjemund, and sandy if there was wind, the Namib desert never far. Our house was on one corner of the town, the only buildings beyond there being the hydroponics, where a scrawny man grew vegetables in strange watery circumstances, and the cemetery where my big brother Phillip was buried. We went there once a month to stand silently and remember.
It’s one of the first choices you have to make as a growing boy – are you a leg or a breast man? It’s a pity to have to choose, I always thought. Can’t you have the best of both worlds? Do we have to grow up to be so dull that you can either have one or the other, but God help you if you fancy both? And what about the thigh? Does it have to be the entire leg? What if you have a penchant for a nicely turned thigh but couldn’t be bothered with the scrawny lower leg? I mean, face it, there’s not much to recommend the calf, is there? Not much meat on it, nothing to get a grip on.
All of a sudden one day, a few years ago, I woke up like Rumpelstiltskin and looked around to discover that, while I had been sleeping, the world has been transmogrified from a grown-up environment in which grown-ups behaved like grown-ups – give or take – into some strange parallel universe in which the adults were, with worryingly few exceptions, spending half their lives in the kitchen making cupcakes and giving them extravagant toppings.
Slavery belongs in another time. America finally got around to it in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln ordered the emancipation of slaves in Confederate states. Hard to believe, that; 1863 is just the other day on the canvass of history. Just 150 years. That’s three Johnny Depp lives since Lincoln abolished slavery. He’s just turned 50 by the way (I know, I fell over too). On a backdrop of eternity, 150 years would disappear into a black hole sooner than you could say “My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.” (Johny Depp said that.)
I know how he felt. Whenever I am in France, and pass a patisserie shop window, I cannot walk by. I stop and stare, transfixed, at the beautiful things inside. You want to have them all, eat them all, just die right there on the spot. But that would be just silly, so you gather all your strength, and walk on.
In the kitchen, pink is what you want in your lamb or beef, not pork or chicken. Pink is what you get if you include beetroot in a pan of vegetables and roast them. Everything else from the potatoes and onions to the carrots and courgettes will have turned a luscious crimson. It’s a worthwhile effect, and needs no fake food colouring.
St George’s Cathedral is the heartbeat of Cape Town. That it represents a particular religion and a particular denomination is beside the point. No matter who we are and what we believe, the cathedral stands there for us all, thanks more than anything else to that man I still want to hug while we still […]
In the chill of a Yorkshire winter in what was then the West Riding of that large northern English county, where Cathy called for Heathcliff in whipping winds on grim moors, the pretty girl with wide-set cornflower blue eyes would have to hold her hand out to be stuck repeatedly with the back of a hairbrush when the orphanage carers – for want, perhaps, of another word – would deem some wrong to have been done.
If I were the owner of a genuine steakhouse, that well-seasoned beast in which generations of South Africans have grown up, what this tells me is that none of the old-style steakhouses is likely to win one of these gongs if these big boys are allowed in the competition. The bar is set way too high for most of them, so doesn’t that defeat the object?