Monday, 30 November 2009


It was raining when I got to the station, hard and cold, the sort of rain that looks like it will never stop. And an icy wind was blowing. I was hunkered down in my deeply inelegant ski jacket, but at least I was warm - that is, until I got to Wimbledon and had to change onto the District Line. The District Line always seems to be unheated in the winter, and over-heated in the summer. As I froze between Wimbledon and Notting Hill Gate, my thoughts turned, as they often do, to food, and I had a sudden yen for mussels, steamed in the classic way with white wine and garlic. I've always liked seafood, and have never been squeamish about eating it (though I do draw a line at oysters, because I really can't see the point of them). I wasn't allowed to eat seafood as a child because my mother thought it would poison me; as a consequence, I love it and sometimes buy a whole dressed crab at the fishmonger for my lunch.

As the train rattled on through Fulham Broadway and Parsons Green, and harassed people pushed onto the already crowded train, instead of counting how many people in the carriage had iPhones, as I sometimes do to pass the time if I've forgotten my book, I thought about lifting the lid of the cooking pot and imbibing that wonderful briny aroma of the sea, of eating the plump, orange mussels with hunks of good bread, and mopping up the cooking liquor afterwards. This thought sustained me as I walked through the ticket barrier at Notting Hill Gate. The muddy, wet floor of the station was enough to tell me that it was still raining above ground; cross-looking, wet people were hurrying up and down the station steps, shaking out their umbrellas. But the rain had stopped, and a number 52 was waiting for me at the bus stop on Kensington Park Road. And when I arrived at the house on Ladbroke Grove, my old man in Kensington said, "Oh it's lovely to see you. You always cheer me up!". I thought about the mussels one last time before I sat down to take a morning's dictation.

I might cook mussels for Friday's supper.

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