Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sloppy Guiseppi

We had a lovely evening last night with Hilary and Rupert on their boat in Chelsea Harbour. It’s called the Cailliach, named after a dark, mystical, mythical Scottish crone. It’s suitably eccentric; a big, beautiful, ancient wooden craft, which is surrounded, as you might expect for Chelsea, by rather soulless pleasure cruisers. Entering the boat is like entering the 1920s. It's undeniably compact, but has an astonishing amount of character. There are all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies; little wooden cupboards which reveal the most intriguing little rooms and storage spaces. There’s a dining room, a sitting room with a glorious wood-burning stove, a brilliantly-equipped galley and a tiny bathroom with an actual bath! Everywhere you look, there’s the most stunning wood panelling. Obviously, I'm covered in bruises today from hitting various parts of my body, attempting to negotiate rather tight spaces, but it truly is a magnificent little home. I wholeheartedly approve!

The company and food was rather fine as well. We ate the most delicious stroganoff and a fabulous goats cheese flan for starters. On the way home, Hils took us through a Design Centre that sits next to the harbour and seems to remain open all night, like a weird scene from a horror movie. You go in, and there’s this strange musak being pumped everywhere. The place is lit up like a Christmas tree, yet there’s absolutely no one around. No one at all. Not even a security desk. Why would it stay open after all the shops have closed? Why weren’t lines of vagrants sleeping in there? Why hadn’t someone nicked one of the freaky models of sheep that peer at you from every corner of the place? I wondered if I'd suddenly walked into some kind of art-house film...

Today, the sun continued to shine. I worked all morning and then went to meet the three generations of women in my God-daughter’s family at Highgate Woods. It was very charming. We had a lovely lunch in the outdoor cafe and then played on the swings. Deia is extremely confident nowadays, particularly physically. She was giving her Grandmother a few minor panics by rushing to the top of a slide and then throwing herself down, using a horizontal metal pole as leverage.

September 1st 1660, and Pepys was organising things for Montagu’s trip to sea; specifically a vessel to carry his belongings out to the Downs; an area of sea off the coast of Kent which was used as a sort of gathering point for warships and large ships heading off on global adventures.

Pepys lunched with Henry Moore the lawyer and Dr Timothy Clerk at the Bull Head in Westminster upon the “best venison pasty” he claimed ever to have eaten. And it got better; “with one dish more, it was the best dinner I ever was at.” Clerk and Moore had a heated argument about theatre and Pepys was asked to mediate. It was decided the three men would go away, think about things, and then return in three days’ time to resolve the debate whilst eating the remainder of the pasty. I assume taverns in those days had no qualms about storing un-finished food for people. Imagine trying that in Pizza Express? "Sorry, I'm a bit full, do you mind hanging onto half of this Sloppy Guiseppi for a few days? I'll be back next Tuesday to finish it off..." Quite how nice a 3-day old venison pasty would be is also a matter for debate.

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