Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sad Man, Happy Meal, Corduroy Pants

Earlier this evening I cooked a pasta meal with sausagemeat and cream and garlic and onions and nutmeg and white wine and pepper and chilli. It was fucking amazing. It made the best meal that Jamie Oliver has ever cooked taste like colonic irrigation.

But before serving it, I had to go out into Grimstone to find more wine. Alma said I would be lucky, meaning she didn’t think I’d find anything open. The fact is, just about everything closes at 5.30 here. In London, most wine and chocolate shops don't close till 9 or 10 at the earliest. Some of them even stay open all night! Here: no. So I ventured out, on foot – Heathcote is off-road and broken in London – and eventually I found a dingy little general store with a few bottles of wine and spirits behind the till. Also behind the till was a lugubrious Sikh who answered my breezy queries with a monosyllabic grunt. At first I was slightly miffed by his lack of appreciation for my breeziness, but by the end of our brief transaction, I started to feel quite concerned. He was barely there.

‘Are you OK?’ I asked, my wine in my hand, my body on its way to the exit.

‘Hmm?’ he asked.

‘Are you alright?’ I repeated, standing still. ‘You seem a little... sad.’

‘I’m just feeling a little – ’ He shrugged. ‘ – low,’ he said.

‘Oh, no!’ I replied. ‘I’m sorry to hear that. Well....’ There was nothing else to say. ‘Good luck,’ I said. ‘Take care.’

And as I made my way back home, I felt sad and I wondered what might have been wrong. Of course, it might have been anything. Someone close to him might be sick or dying. He might be homesick. He might feel guilty because he accidentally poisoned some children, and they died. Or he might just be depressed at the quotidian thanklessness of eking out a living on the outskirts of one of the most racist conurbations this side of the next place.

As for myself, I'm feeling surprisingly chipper. I'm getting properly settled in, in the spare room. I'm helping Alma wade through the death administration - the finance, the codicils, the personal effects. And I'm having lots of smashing ideas. Oh, and I'm getting excited about the book. It's getting properly close now, and some people have said very nice things. Unfortunately I am predisposed to disdain all compliments and despise all flattery. Nor, nor, nor, Arnie Kiddenman. Gannon an flatterers.

Yes. I am finding the accent up here absolutely delicious. They have their own words and everything! I met one of Alma’s neighbours last night – let’s call him Wilbur – and he referred to me as ‘a corduroy’. Apparently it means ‘a young ‘un’. See also ‘whippersnapper’. A corduroy! I’m a corduroy! When I quizzed him on the etymology, he pleaded ignorance. Later, after he’d gone and Alma let it slip that she’d never heard the word before, I began to think it might not be a Grimstone or Northern word at all. It might just be a Wilbur word. Still, fuck it. A word’s a word. I’ll take it.

And the sausagemeat, as I say, was a treat.

Thank you, come again.

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SugarCain said...

That recipe sounds delicious. I am kitchen disabled, and it is dinner time here. I'll bet you used a pinch of this, a dab of that, a dash of something else.

Are you in any danger of being sussed out as a smarty-pants writer and pursued out of town by angry villagers?

I'm enjoying your reportage.

Timorous Beastie said...

What a nice post. I was just moaning about the poor communication skills of some English people (I've been sending emails back and forth to the UK a lot recently), and then I read your post and thought....ah, what a sweetheart. I like the fact that you try to get past the service encounter facade and talk to people as if they were human. So many people (including me probably) would just harrumph off, irritated.

Anonymous said...

i would let Jaime Oliver irrigate my colon.

Maureen said...

I've lived in New York City for over 30 years now and while most people envy me I can't shake the fantasy of moving some place quiet and green. Your posts are already calmer and, dare I say it, happier. Congrats!

~~Silk said...

You seem to be feeling a lot better. Good. Things had been sounding dark for a while there. Enough to worry a person.

LaLa said...

You know, since your move up North you do seem a lot happier and it is showing in your writing. I'm really enjoying your Northern Tales, keep them coming.

And please go and give the shopkeeper a hug.

Salacious Soul said...

You are a thousand times better than Jamie Oliver. His accent annoys me. British accents are weird.

Cool blog by the way. I like reading it at work when i'm pretending to be working. :)

Salacious Soul...

Wisewebwoman said...

The downhome cooking-for-granny Bete is such a treat!

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Better Bete, much better. So nice to see you balancing your post here with slices of your life and not so much on the self-deprecation (sp?).


and no!

thank you!

Some Chilean Woman said...

I like sausage too.

DJ Kirkby said...

I came, I read, I consider my brain kissed :)
Meal sounds scrummy and I am going to being using the term 'corduroy'.

PurestGreen said...

Hooray, you are happy! May the flames of outlandish word usage continue to be fanned.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

"I like the fact that you try to get past the service encounter facade and talk to people as if they were human. So many people (including me probably) would just harrumph off, irritated."

Wot TB sed.

And I loved the "nor, nor, nor" bit, partic as I started off being annoyed with you for quoting some obscure literature wot I'd never red.

And corduroy! LOL!

You really are a smashing human bean old chap, do you know that?

So well things are looking up. Me too. Although I did have the weirdest dream last night, which I'm tempted to offload into your comments box cos I'm not sure my own putative blog can handle it. But that's a bit cowardly. Hmm.

La Bête said...

Thank you all for being so lovely.