I must say I got in early to find all the orders put away and Jams, a little frantic.
"Who's in today Jams?" were probably my 11th to 14th words.
"Me and you buddy," he smiled.
"Just you and me buddy, so far."
"Tim's in at one and Danny's going to be late, he's in the hospital."
"How late is Danny going to be?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"I'm glad I'm early," I said, "I anticipated some sort of shit would go down."
"I'm glad you're early too, now I don't have to worry about that side of the kitchen."
"Well, we've both been here before Jams, lets just get on with it."
"Haaa, yeah. True. True. Lets do it."
From that point on, my day just got better. You don't expect that, at my age.
Danny came in and he wasn't late.
Tim came in and took care of business.
Four of us.
I don't feel like I've even been at work today, it was so effortless.
Except for Danny's eye.
I can't get away with anything when Danny is on.
I very rarely transgress as a chef, rarely cut corners, never lapse in my hygiene, always make the effort to be consistent.
But there are temporal lines cut into the freshness of food. ie - there is a time when a food is fresh enough to serve, there is a time when that food is not fresh enough to serve. Somewhere in the middle, is the time when the decision becomes difficult about whether to throw the food away, or whether it is still acceptable to serve.
My lettuce was yellowing a little, still crispy, and I was going to cover it with prawns and marie rose, but still yellowing a little.
Danny comes over from mains - "I'm here now, what do you want doing? Are you going to use that lettuce Craigy? Were you going to hide that lettuce?"
I felt myself getting a little red while I laughed.
"Are you heating your bowls Craigy?"
"Are you draining your scallops so they sear and don't just stew?"
"Are you sure that's the right board to use now Craig? Come on, you know better than that. We both know better than that"
And so on and so forth, the man keeps me on my toes where others don't.
As far as Tim is concerned, hmm, as far as Tim is concerned.
Well, I'll say this, the annoying thing about Tim, is not the fact that he says he is good, the annoying thing is that he is as good as he says he is.
Tim takes care of business, but was quiet today, with me, except for the story of his infeasably large garage door.
Jams, Jams, Jams.
My man, I've got your back.
Had got me a present on his split of a little tin of juice.
These small gestures are exaggerated in the kitchen and I shall repay the favour.
Jams is also taking care of business.
But not enough business with the girls.
Today was effortless.
I prepped a little, served a little, cleaned up the back-yard, to-ed and fro-ed a little.
I try to get stuff on before Danny can see, I try to watch what he's doing and finish off his plates before he has a chance, when he walks away from the section, I try to finish some salad off and stick it in the fridge, but he's still pretty much ahead of me, and, like working with Tim, I can blink, turn around, and find three things done, before I've even considered them on the cheque.
I was reminded today, of being taught by Prof Mary Clinton, my good friend, and the best lecturer/tutor/academic on the English Language scene - considerably better than Chomski on mushrooms. Oh dear Mary, I hope you are Ok.
But I digress.
An effortless day, but I tried to work hard, it's just that the company was so good, the time flew, I laughed, I learnt something (about brulees) and I didn't fuck up too much.
I had a good day, so here is a happy poem I wrote called The Ballad of Ignatius Browne.
The Ballad of Ignatius Browne.
Ignatius Browne wore a curious frown,
After taking up gainful employment in town,
But soon he was living in moments of divine distraction,
In a kitchen distinguished for its furious action.
He’d forget all about his cruel disfigurement,
The way that his fingers would race through time,
He dismissed all knowledge of mortal sentiment,
And gradually all that he served was sublime.
One evening following a faultless service,
He pondered on what he found beautiful in life,
As he strolled he heard music and saw ground-breaking art,
Felt the warmth on his back and saw the face of a wife.
…and a beautiful face…
…Which would not a take a beating…
…Like so many others provoked on first meeting…
But taking a beating was just what she did.
Young Browne was a coward though, and he hid,
From the violent gang that killed his wife,
He hid while they burnt, throttled and raped her,
And hid when they stripped her and ripped her and taped her.
Till one cold winter night long after that event,
By the time that Browne lived out of a tent,
The fiends returned and they got him too,
When he shivered asleep,
He was rudely awakened
By an army of feet,
Which stomped on his face,
While his body they beat.
They left him with nothing, all tatters and blood,
In the ditch by a bush near a stream made of mud.
Till a lone rider passing, looked down on hearing,
The horrible noises which came from the clearing.
“Step up,” said the stranger from on top his steer,
I’ll house and nurse you, my home’s just down here.
Browne with a nod and a grimace complied,
To the farmhouse they went, to the devil they’d ride.
For his saviour was not of the virtuous mind,
But a slave to his pleasures, the unholiest kind,
He travelled the land to seek out any poor,
Unfortunate wretches he’d manage to lure.
On waking, Ignatius, his nightmare he found,
Alone on a table, all naked and bound,
His body laid out, the unprepared meal,
To be seared by the flame or cut by the steel.
As minutes turned to hours and hours into days,
Ignatius endured unimaginable ways,
Under the beady, gleaming eye of his tormentor,
On the surface he softened but beneath it he seethed,
And his instinct got sharper as long as he breathed.
One day faced with only his death or survival
His hand found a blade and his pupil his rival,
His master came close and Browne took his chance
And speared his tormenter with cold makeshift lance.
But before he escaped and ran into the night,
For an hour he held the dead body in sight,
Blood ran from his hands to the sounds of his cries,
As he carved round the sockets and pulled out the eyes.
The eyes he took with him, from then down the line
In a jar, under arm, all pickled in brine.
He’d watch them and listen to roaches at night,
And only repose when the day became light.
To survive through the day was his singular plan,
Hence man became beast, and the beast was a man.
One night near a ditch by a bush and a stream,
A lady was lost and a person did scream.
They found her alone in the light of the day,
Talking forever but nothing to say.
She spoke of a beast, burnt toe to head,
With scars all bound up with sheep-guts and thread.
It was bald on the crown and the skull was the feature
All scarred and sucked in, it was Lucifer’s creature.
Ignatius had heard her come singing through grass
And thought it his wife come to get him at last.
He rose and she jumped, he did her no wrong,
But he’d never forget the melodious song.
Merely to live was his function no longer,
As desire for the song in him grew all the stronger.
Under cover of darkness, on lolloped Browne,
Until hearing a tune from the tavern in towne.
With eyeballs in jar held firmly to chest,
He burst through the door and we all know the rest.
He snatched up the wench and then made for the pass,
And that was the last that we e’er saw of the lass.
The song turned to terror as he dragged her along,
And all that Browne knew was that something was wrong.
To the ground went the jar as her screams pierced his ears
And he ripped out her tongue as her eyes poured with tears.
Nine days he dragged her to cliff by the ocean,
Where he threw down the body in one sweeping motion.
Then felt his way down to a cave where he sat,
Crunching on crabs and on spiders and bats.
In the darkness he’d feign to make music with stones,
But when none could be heard, he would crush his own bones.
Over years as they’d mend they seemed to grow stronger,
And his legs they grew long, and his arms they grew longer.
At the mouth of his dwelling was a mountain of carcass,
Of faeces and flesh which would stink in the darkness.
He blocked up his nostrils with earth, leaves and sticks,
And his head appeared smaller and his mouth it played tricks.
Now those that go passing within a four hectare square
Would do well to heed this and never go there.
Or end up as one of the many he masters,
For a man can move fast, but Ignatius moves faster.
Of morals this ballad may offer up some,
Such as some take a beating and most more than one,
To receive one is bad, but to give one is worse,
So beware not to be one who dishes the first,
Or it may simply be that to judge from afar,
Is enough for your soul to end up in a jar.