Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.



I don't know what time I woke up.

When I did, I waited for about half an hour before opening my eyes, and then promptly shut them again because I was falling through space at hundreds of miles an hour and the ceiling was turning around at the same time. Seeing that could make you fall out of bed.

Six hundred elephants seemed to be stampeding through my head. Even one elephant would have hurt, but exaggerating seemed to help the pain.

I lay there and eventually slid uncomfortably into a half-slumber. I was crawling through the Gobi desert searching for water. But I couldn't get anywhere at all because the scorpions were spinning webs around me and tying me to the sand. I know scorpions don't weave webs but these ones did.

Then I woke up again and tried to remember where the kitchen was so I could drink water. I found the kitchen. I found the tap. I found a glass.

I couldn't eat yet. The last of the stampeding elephants was standing still in my head. I hoped he would follow the others, but he didn't. Obstinate bastard of an elephant. He just stood there, stamping his foot every now and then.

I tried to remember what day it was, but couldn't. Then I had a brainwave. It must have slipped past the elephant. I went outside and picked up the morning newspaper and looked at the dateline. It was Saturday.

Just a normal Saturday morning, really. I forget what else happened except that the CFO called me late in the afternoon to tell me Mr Richards, our dearly beloved managing director, was lying in a bed in the cardiac intensive care unit of a major hospital.


Next morning, my head felt clearer. I walked to church and sat ten pews from the front. The guitarist-slinging choristers finished a jarring five-verse song about praising and worshipping, and then the priest entered, strode to the altar, and started the Mass.

The guitar players interrupted throughout with their unmusical versions of the responses, prefacing each with that horrible 1-2 introduction. Twang-twang. The place seemed to be stuck in a 1960s peace-train time warp. Imagine discarding Palestrina, Victoria and William Byrd for tone-deaf singers playing untuned guitars. We got to the gospel. It was the one about the Pharisees, who were sanctimonious, self-righteous hypocrites who needed the hoi polloi around to make themselves look good.

Then the priest climbed the pulpit, red-faced, to deliver the sermon. He looked like a mountaineer going up Everest. He raised his hands in the air and told us the love of money was the root of all evil. Didn't I know it. I had $20 million hanging in the balance that morning. Or was it forty? I still couldn't remember. Way up there in the pulpit the priest droned on about people having too much money and too many things, flapping his arms to emphasise every second syllable, a towering inferno of jaw-jutting sanctimony.

Then he finished by demanding we all contribute more to the parish coffers, turned and half-fell out of the pulpit.

Something didn't jell, but I couldn't work out what it was. I was worried about Mr Richards, who was not allowed any visitors until tomorrow.

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