Monday, 18 September 2017


Enjoy the past with care.

On a late night comedy programme on Radio 4 - that sounds oxymoronic - someone said:

I admire your pluck despite your apparent incompetence” to which the ‘incompetent’ replied

I’m not incompetent I just split some water on my trousers when I was washing my hands

Old fashioned comedy. They don’t tell them like that anymore. The past was such fun wasn’t it?

David Baddiel, writer and TV presenter, told the story of sharing a flat with Frank Skinner whose favourite meal was pie sandwich and whose room was so untidy the cleaner refused to go into it let alone attempt to clean it. Fun in the past? It was full of clothes waiting to go to the launderette, unwashed crockery and indescribable brands of food.

Angel Delight, Smash, Sunny Delight….delightful.

Yet there’s apparently been a gastro-retro-revival recently. Is this because of Brexit and a visceral yearning for a fantasy past when Britain was really great ….wasn’t it? Or is it a feeling of where we are right now, poised for doom, and simply wanting to hang on - what a football manager once wonderfully described as being on the “crest of a slump.”

According to the Times last week dishes on the up in this retro-boom are Prawn Cocktail, Spam Fritters, Coronation Chicken, Black Forest Gateau and Trifle.

Drinks à la mode include Negroni, Lambrusco, Babycham, BlueNun and Black Tower.

I imagine the glitterati having hilarious dinner parties in fits of laughter over tripe, Mateus Rosé and haggis …

“Haggis. What’s haggis made of Nigel?”

“Scrotum, Deirdre, as I recall.”

This is a blip surely, just a moment of eccentric masochism. Are we really going to return to the world of Richmond Sausages, of wine boxes and zabaglione? Well as regards wine boxes apparently so. It’s the good stuff now in those boxes (seriously reviewed by wine critics), they don’t clink in the recycling and the remark “jusht anuvver glass hic” doesn’t involve noisily and clumsily opening a second bottle to reproving looks.

This is 2017 but a lot of us are still behaving like teenagers.

What we keep on learning is that fashion recycles itself. Steam trains are fun, dodgems in an age of virtual reality still cut it and miniskirts disappear and then return. Sunday lunch with all that “trimmings” malarkey seems like a kind of gastronomic Capstan Full Strength, hopelessly out of date in a clean-food world, yet it retains its allure. Not for the food itself but for the ceremony and the conviviality of the event.

It’s the bottle of claret and uproarious conversation which is so wonderful. That bloated feeling which roast potatoes and rare beef leaves (with me at any rate) is a price well worth paying for the joy of companionship.

In a techno-world of computer games like FIFA 17, Vanquish and Firestorm how refreshing that Snap, Monopoly and lunch still have a place in people’s lives.

So drink that Negroni, nibble that pork crackling and relax.

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