Saturday, July 23, 2005

A family feast

My parents came round and we sat in the garden. They wanted to talk about the train bomb. I drew the diagram of the train, where I was, where Mark and Leo and Patrick and Eamon were. Where the bomb was. Where people were hurt and where they were killed and where and how they escaped. I have drawn that diagram many times at the request of many people. I remember how much I wanted to 'place' myself in relation to the bomb in the early days following 7/7/05 and how confused and angry I was when the media reported the bomb as being right where I was standing.

Mum and Dad had brought me a present of a bag of well-rotted ten year old horse manure for my roses. (This must strike non-gardeners as a completely strange thing to give as a gift - a bag of shit - but if you are a gardener, it is Black Gold. Take shit, turn it into black gold, and then smell the roses, there's a maxim to live by, hmm?)

Anyway, this got us off the subject of terrorist attacks and onto the subject of gardening, and Mum and Dad watered and deadheaded and tidied the garden. You cannot stop gardeners doing that kind of thing; if pots are drying out or tomato trusses flapping or flowers need deadheading, then their fingers itch and they become twitchy until you give them a pair of secateurs.

I poured fragrant rose wine in deceptively huge glasses filled with ice. Mum and Dad drank 1/3 bottle each per glass without realising. It worked, much jolity ensued. They excitedly showed me the plans for their new house which they will move into at Christmas time. They are moving from the country to the city. Much more civilised. I tell them that I could never live in a village now, the city is where I belong now. This city in particular.

John returned from work and we went to Yildiz. At first glance this looks like an ordinary kebab shop. Ah, but enter, and there's a restarant at the back and you find the tenderest cuts of chicken and lamb grilled to perfection over a huge roaring fire.Flat bread so fresh and light it tastes of pancakes, tomatoes and coriander and olives and lemons, roast onions in a caramelised vinegar, ribbons of radishes in a tangy dressing all served up for free alongside your choices. We had feta pastries so fresh and hot that they burned the mouth, fresh calimari and the softest, tangiest grilled helim cheese. Plus 2 bottles of ice cold Chablis. A feast for less than £16 a head.

I have been craving fire-cooked lamb eaten with the fingers since the 7th July. The most ancient of all human meals, so legend tells us. The meal eaten since Abraham's time and by all his millions of descendants. Since the time of Abel, and Cain, the first warring, murderous brothers. For many, many thousands of years humans have lit fires and gnawed bones companionably, the feasting and the fellowship protection against the fear of the dark. And here I am, a 21st century woman, licking her fingers and gnawing the bones and nothing much has changed at all.

We drank to life. The fear banished by the simple acts of eating and drinking and gardening with those I love the best.


Anonymous Bee said...

Curing the soul by means of the senses. A damn good plan!

July 24, 2005 4:26 pm  

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