‘After I gave birth to the twins, you surprised me with a feast of things I’d had to give up while pregnant: bubbly, Brie and prawns.’
Stories taken from Hotel Du Jack
By Dan Brotzel
Published by Sandstone Press
Vit B tabs (ones that fizz)
Sausages (thick ones)
Get cash out (loads)
3 bottles red wine (min £12 each)
Big pack spaghetti
2 medium onions
3 garlic cloves (how many bulbs = 1 clove?)
500g lean minced beef
90g chestnut mushrooms
400g can chopped tomatoes
Hot beef stock (or cold and reheat?)
Ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan (to serve)
Vase for flowers
CDs? (timeless but not cheesy – Motown?)
Subscribe to Spotify (no ads)
Get laptop fixed
1 kg potty puree (dried herbal incense thing)
Dishcloths, wipes, tissues
Shake n vac stuff
Nice duvet cover/Pillow cases/Sheets
Toilet bleach x 4
Antibacterial cleaners, all kinds
Dry-clean rugs? Curtains?
Gin (NOT Tescos own)
Posh ice cream
Blueberries, raspberries etc
Nice card or nice writing paper
Fancy hand conditioner stuff? (posh)
Earrings or nice bracelet? (both?)
Box and bubble-wrap
Post Office – send Express? Get her to sign?
Call EE – check phone working
Get Cosmopolitan/Marie Claire etc
Library – get that Mars & Venus book
Lager x 12
Wine box (red) (or white)
Wotsits (big pack)
Large bar Dairy Milk
Chocolate milk stuff
Bottle of port (Tesco’s own)
We met at a farmer’s market, standing by a stall offering South African beef jerky and biodynamic Stilton. I laughed as you hoovered up all the samples, feigning gourmet appreciation to cover your greed.
On our first date, we saw Super Size Me at your beloved arthouse cinema, followed by Belgian waffles and ice cream.
The next few months were a blur of weekends in bed, fortified by home-made cafés au lait and Cumberland sausage sarnies.
The day you proposed, we sat against a windbreak on the beach, one cold February morning. Remember? We shared a tray of vinegary chips to wash down the little bottle of warm Cava you’d bought along. (I’ve still got the wooden fork somewhere.)
The allotment. Years it took to get it, and then we found chard and squash were about the only things we could grow that didn’t get eaten away. But all those wonderful picnics we had there, drinking stewed tea from your grandad’s old Thermos. Rummagings in the shed. And all those excruciatingly ingenious marrow recipes . . .
After I gave birth to the twins, you surprised me with a feast of things I’d had to give up while pregnant: bubbly, Brie and prawns. Mealtimes took on their happy routine: slowcooker casseroles on a Saturday, Sunday roast, hot chocolate after the kids’ school concerts, your eccentric ‘power salads’ in summer.
For your fiftieth, I got you that French Country Cooking course you were always going on about. It was always easier to get you to cook when it was for some birthday or special event – I lacked the ‘big match temperament’, you’d say. (You lacked the ‘washing-up-as-you-go gene’, I’d reply.)
And so we entered a double-cream era of cassoulets and tartiflettes, ragoûts and terrines de veau, soufflés and coq au vin. You were happy to drive miles for an obscure ingredient or kitchen implement, something you’d only ever use once that was then tucked away in the back of the cupboard with all the other oddities.
After your scare came the keep-fit years – the bikes, the lycra, the couscous, the pine nuts, your obsession with fresh carrot juice. Our Katie marrying Alexios and the big fat Greek wedding feast his family put on – we didn’t eat for a week afterwards. Our retirement trip to Japan, and our first (and only) taste of fish sperm and curry doughnuts.
But of all the meals that make up a marriage, I never saw this one on the menu: vending-machine Hula Hoops for me, and nil-by-mouth for you.
Hotel Du Jack by Dan Brotzel is published by Sandstone Press, priced £8.99
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