Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Shrove Tuesday, Whorehouses and so on...(unedited) South Shropshire Journal 14/3/14

Here I go with another column in arrears. Deficit journalism. It was Shrove Tuesday last week and I completely forgot about it. I couldn’t give a flipping toss (see what I’ve done there?) about pancakes. Anyway, forgot about it I did, until I got home last Tuesday evening to find my little girls smearing pancakes loaded with chocolate spread all over their pretty little faces.

This kind of defies the whole idea of Shrove Tuesday: use up all the eggs, flour and milk in your house and subsist on dust and gravel until Easter Sunday. You’ve been a bad person. Lent it out. But don’t go buying a jar of Nutella. It will not admonish you from sin. I told that to my wife, who was pretty ambivalent.

When I was small we went on family holidays to Brittany in the north of France, every year for quite a long time. We’d take the ferry to St Marlo from Portsmouth and Mum, Dad, my sister Tilly and me would all bundle into a tiny cabin. Once across the Channel it would be a short time until we met our first galette complete. Ham, egg, cheese, and a lacey-thin pancake. That’s what it’s all about my friends. No other pancake - in my opinion - is worth the strife.

If you don’t want to cross the Channel for some decent grub do what I did last week and nip down to London. I went down for ‘research’ and a ‘meeting’ to gather a few ideas in order to make Harp Lane (My deli? In Ludlow? Opening soonish? Ring any bells? I may have mentioned it 8985095834 times before) the best it can possibly be.

Do what I did, handpick a few places in our capital, and you’ll quickly realise that the Big Smoke has never screamed louder in terms of gastronomy. Not clever stuff, not expensive flimflammery, just top-notch grub in warehouses, whorehouses, and outhouses. Making do, but not in that tired and overdone post-warish way, just very current, cool, and above all – bloody tasty.

There are boys with beards and tattoos cooking the sort of food that we can only dream of up here, for half the price. Girls out front who do customer service like we’ve never known, and they look like supermodels too. I understand that it’s a trade-off. We have a life in Shropshire that those smokin’ hot hipsters down there can only dream of. And a couple of days in London now is enough for me. I’m always happy to be heading west on the Westway. Driving over Titterstone Clee, down into Ludlow on the first sunny day in three months, well, Shropshire has never looked better. Those supermodel waitresses don’t know what they’re missing. 

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