After I lay spent by her side she toyed gently with my ‘Elgin marbles’ until she fell asleep.
In the morning we were both keen to seize the day. For me heading off to some distant training station opened up fresh opportunities, but I could sense Nadine’s fear she had reached the end of an era during what she referred to as ‘the change of life’....read more
Two years later as a tall, athletic-looking twenty-one year-old, armed with a first class honours degree and a Private Pilot’s Licence, my contemporaries considered me an ideal applicant to be a pilot in the RAF. Although I had told the truth on becoming an Air Squadron member and my flying instructor recorded me as an exemplary student pilot who had carried out his first solo after only eleven hours dual instruction, that damned Curse of Talipes still hung over my head....read more
Although well ahead of the game with the girls on my course and even those a year above and on other courses, Dr Jennifer Driscoll was outside this pre-selection circle of influence. Yet she taunted me from a distance like a silent Siren that needed some extraordinary stimulus to sing her special song...read more
I found him in the garden, brandy and Evening Standard in hand, “Dad, what happened to my left leg, do you know?”
Dad slowly shifted his focus from the bottom of his empty brandy glass to the underside of the pulled up trouser leg I presented to him. “You were born with single talipes, Nick; I’ve not given it a thought till now, you don’t limp or anything so what’s the problem? Is it hurting?”
“What’s single talipes? I’ve never heard of it?”...read more
On a bright, clear morning, we wandered aimlessly around Brixham, never far away from supervision. Ruth took lots of pictures of the colourful waterfront and the replica of the Golden Hind before we left for the short sail around Start Point to Dartmouth. Mrs G had phoned ahead to confirm there were berths on the visitors’ pontoon still available....read more
We had made good time to Chichester and turned off the main road heading for Appledram Marina. Dad inserted his card pass and up went the barrier in robotic salute. There were few people out and about, but the clubhouse seemed to be well patronised. “Would you care for a snifter after your ordeal, Son?”...read more
A short walk brought us to Room 7 and after the young lady pressed a button, Aunt Win’s Welsh companion answered, confirmed admission and the door opened automatically. Upon being ushered in, both dad and I paused in the entrance vestibule, shell-shocked by what was indeed a spacious fully furnished apartment. Aunt Winifred was barely visible at the far side of the room next to a panoramic window overlooking the rolling Sussex countryside and the Parish church... read more
Perhaps Dr Pickle’s throw-away remark about going to school in my father’s academic robes had gone deep inside my sub-consciousness. I admired my father and tolerated his personal idiosyncrasies but was determined to make my own way in life, without any hint of nepotism.
I am not quite sure how my father had been drawn into sailing...read more
Following the BBC programme, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, shown on Wednesday 14th February, I thought I would re-post my recipe for Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup. In the programme, recent research has shown that nitrate-rich vegetables and particularly beetroot help reduce blood pressure and make physical exertion easier.
Those of you that have read my Cretan cooking blogs before will know that I love to twist Greek terms to something in English. I do this all the time to help me remember difficult Greek words. This time it has a connection with my novel, Discrete Reversal, because the Greek word for beetroot, παντζáρι, is pronounced 'pants Harry'. I leave it to you to decide whether 'pants' is a noun or a verb!
Unless you have an allotment or a farmers’ market where you live, you might be a bit stymied with this recipe because beetroot is mostly sold without the ‘tops’. However, as with much Cretan village cuisine, ‘waste not want not’ is a central theme. It is said that in wartime, Cretans survived on snails and horta, which is basically a dish of weeds much like dandelions. Here our markets and many ‘supermarkets’, sell beetroot complete with leaves and stalks and you pay by the kilo for the privilege. Nearly every week I buy eight small beetroot (I prefer the small ones for roasting whole) and of the 2kg total, more than half is leaves and stalks, much too valuable as a food and vitamin source to be thrown away.
This recipe is not a well-publicised Cretan dish in the usual sense of the term, but is more an adaptation of the principle of being frugal, something that modern society might wish to rediscover.
A word of advice (well, several words): A recipe gives the basics but the chef makes the meal taste good. Once you have the basic soup it is for you to add spices and seasoning until it is superb. Now to me, good food is a ‘whole tongue’ experience…all of it ideally should be involved, because without that balance, some ‘je ne sais quoi’ will be missing’. I am NOT a chef, but I am a glutton, so I add things until my glutton’s tongue is happy. Do not be afraid to add a little sugar, honey, lemon, or Worcester sauce for instance, until you like what you have made. If this frightens you, put a little in a bowl and try your additives. My Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup won’t be exactly like yours, but so what?
When our long-standing Headmaster, dear old Frobisher-James, retired in 1984, I was in what was still called the Lower Sixth. We heard on the grapevine that the Labour-run council had forced the governors to appoint a head-teacher of its choosing. He turned out to be a man with a social sciences degree from a red brick polytechnic in the back of beyond...read more
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