…I had a lovely meal not long ago in Strathpeffer (the Red Poppy) and the guy sitting opposite me was eating duck which reminded me of a lovely bit of duck (‘Canard a l’Orange’) I had in a London restaurant twenty five years ago near Covent Garden at the Hogs Trotters, the Beefcake Pothouse, or some such place with a meaty brand name, and very tasty it was too apart from the embedded lead shot that had been used to shoot it (you don’t get any of that culinary palavering in the ‘Strath’, you know: no, a top notch and unleaded cooked duck there), so we complained politely and were given free brandies for the remainder of the evening, after which I recall very little.

My duck-eating companion at the time was a guy called John, who that morning in his role as Social Work Assistant with the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had been chased down Portobello Road by a man wielding a brick under the false impression that improper advances had been made towards his wife on discovering them both rummaging about in the bedroom cupboard, when in fact John had simply popped by to offer his advice on the home decorating front and the bedroom cupboard just happened to be where the paint pots were stored. Easy mistake to make, eh? John’s keen analytical brain summarized the situation in an instant, concluded that rational explanation was futile and ran off down the road (as any self-respecting cupboard rummager would do under the circumstances) with the ‘brick-wielding’ man in hot pursuit. Needless to say he survived to tell the tale, and with aching legs and an indignant tone of voice recounted the events to me that evening over brandy and ‘Canard a l’Orange’ in the Hogs Trotters, the Beefcake Pothouse or whatever the place was called. Sympathetic as always, my laughter could be heard reverberating outside in the street.

(Extracted from The Bit in the Middle: the curiously comic tale of a gardener in the Scottish Highlands.  An Ebook by Patrick Vickery)




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