Latest news from the lyric writer
of the original "Thick as a Brick."
Well - I have been a busy body. Busy, busy, that
is - not necessarily a mere pain in the veritable sagbutt. Unless,
of course, you happen to be The Old Bag. She has hardly stopped complaining
these last four weeks. We had a windfall: the lottery provided a chance
intervention by British Airways, who had decided, in their infinite
wisdom, that I should be upgraded to a Silver Card and given a few
thousand extra air-miles after all the travelling last year with Anderson
and his wayward tribe.
So - at incredibly short notice - we embarked on a foolish vacation
week to sultry Barbados where a lacklustre Winter season had provided
for a substantial last-minute discount at a rather nice West Coast
paradise including rental car and a flight with Premium Economy ticket.
So, off we went, having had barely time to pack a Y-fronted underpant
or fresh buttock-clefting knicker. Baggy shorts and sunscreen. Sandals
and brown socks. Knotted hankie and native-repellent. Of course, I'm
kidding there. Awfully nice chaps the Bajans. Smiley and always game
for a laugh at the expense of the Germans and the Yanks.
Been to B'dos a couple of times before, of course. Once for a "business
meeting" involving cricket, courtesy of the Party bosses. And
once for an incredibly dirty weekend with The Young Bag, back then
when she was filled with zest and go. Saucy minx. I have the polaroids,
still. Want to see them? I'll bet you do. I'll bet you do.
We checked in at the Coral Reef Club, to a basic but cheerfully furnished
garden room. Still luxurious compared to the South Coast cheap-and-cheerfuls.
Far from the beach but mercifully peaceful and were met at check-in
by the house staff who remembered they had hosted Anderson, Wife and
family on an occasion or two. How they made the connection, I can't
imagine, but The O'Hara family who own and run the place seem to know
everything. Splendid and relaxing was the prospect of a week in Paradise,
even without Phil Collins. Until the worst thing imaginable happened.
TOB picked up a nasty gastro-bug from the road-side shack along the
way which she insisted on visiting, having heard that it was full
of inglorious ex-pats and undesirables. Just because Michael Winner
might have supped there without gastric consequence says little, given
that the man must have had a cast-iron constitution to repel the additions
un-lovingly bestowed upon his critical palate and reputation as the
world's legendary gastronomic snob and critic by many a rancoured
chef and maitre D. Whether in retribution for a malicious review or
in mere anticipation of the same.
So, a few nights of projectile vomiting and moaning of the third kind
ensued. I dined alone at the Coral Reef restaurant - deliciously and
relentlessly. His Royal Lowness, Fatasapig, I became known to the
waiters and water carriers.
Other couples and families shunned the solo male weirdo with the iPad
and the sandals-and-socks ensemble. An O'Hara - forget the first name
- offered a night-cap in the bar but TOB wouldn't hear of me having
so much as a half-way decent time in her sickly absence. Supping on
the occasional milk and scrambled egg she whinged, moaned and regurgitated
into her self-pitying madness. No TV to soothe the pain. And, since
she has yet to master the delights of the internet and email, there
was little for her to do except sit on the balcony, within a fast
quick twenty feet of the lavvy-loo and pray for salvation in the form
of sunshine, warmth and an empty bowel.
I, having had the temerity to bring a small travel guitar, loaned
by Flo the Axe-man of evil repute, spent a few lazy mornings honing
some songs and lyrics for the new project. I seriously think I might
be getting the hang of this. I have downloaded, at vast expense, a
computer audio-recording programme called Logic Express which promises
to bring me closer to the consummate song-writing and recording experience.
My rather slow Mac laptop, of some vintage, threatens to grind to
a backward halt from time to time but there is a duty-free shop in
Bridgetown, so I am told, that will grace my middle-aged palm and
back-pack with a shiny new Macbook Air. 8Gb of RAM and a 500 Gb solid
state drive. Whatever they might be. Might be worth a thought.
And then, TOB can then learn to wrestle with the old Macbook Neanderthal.
Given to me by a grateful department, little-known in government circles,
The Resources And Deployment Committee. A think tank, assembled from
cross-party academics and intellectuals, barnstorming the longer-term
potential actions of the Treasury. Fat lot of notice G. Brown ever
took of us, I have to say. Lunched and blethered his way through a
few meetings and findings and then went his own way with the advice
only of The Few. Democracy starts and ends down Westminster Way.
But all over, all too soon for me, although TOB couldn't wait to board
the BA flight home and forget the whole sordid and painful business.
But the negative eating experience was not yet over... The catering
(boarded in Barbados, I was informed) included Salmon Gravlax and
Tenderloin Fillet of beef. Which we both duly ordered, TOB having
decided that the plumbing was back on line and ready for solids. And
solids was what we got. The Gravlax, which should have a translucent
marinated appearance must have been in the freezer for months. Opaque
and tasteless save for a fishy tang and leathery texture. Pacific
species fish it was, so much less succulent and rich in Omega 3 oils
than Atlantic Salmon. I know about these things, having been on the
receiving end of a lecture or two from his flutey nibs, the ex-Salmon
But the beef was the thing to write home about - and to BA Customer
Relations Department about too! Impossible to cut let alone chew.
TOB and I had to give up after one attempted mouthful each. Better
chew on a pair of soon-to-be-retired British Army desert boots than
make the futile attempt to derive nourishment and sustenance from
the Barbadian Tenderloin Fillet of Boot. The cheese plate, grasped
as late salvation since no alternative main meal was offered, had
no cutlery, no crackers or biscuits - just a small piece of Cheddar
and a few grapes. And this was Business Class! My advice is take your
own left-overs doggy-bag from the excellent Coral Reef kitchen and
avoid the BA dinner altogether. Until they shake up their catering
supplier and teach the rules of culinary acceptability. And Michael
Winner was grumpy? I am the man to take his place! Big shoes to fill
in the late Winner's grump department? Fill? I might well have eaten
them, in preference to the aforementioned BTF-of-B.
So I penned a letter of complaint to BA on my return. See if they
Ah, well - Spring is in the air in West England. Lambs are lambing.
Daffodils are daffing. And TOB is TOBbing.... Back on the Fois Gras
and the Pork Belly casserole. Iron constitution, that woman. As a
rule. Last seen in Hunter Wellies and Barbour Jacket, picking up road-kill
on the Clutterbury Southern Bypass. Two badgers, disassembled pheasant
and what appeared to be a small deer - Muntjac I am told - all to
grace the Sunday lunch table in due course. After they have hung in
the larder for a couple months no doubt. She really is taking this
country living a bit too seriously. Me, I'm off the the Dirty Duck
for a pint of Old Nobble and a kangaroo cutlet. Food you can trust.
Over and Out. GB signing off.
PS: Anyone got a Romanian or Bulgarian phrase-book? We're going to