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Another revolting 1970s recipe from my complete set of Good Housekeeping cookery cards; beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, they are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

Ingredients

4 dozen mussels, about 6 pints
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled
butter
1 bottle dry white wine
chopped parsley
2 sprigs thyme, if available
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
butter
2 level tsp flour

Method

Place mussels in a large bowl and under running water. Scrape off mud, barnacles, seaweed and “beards” with a small sharp knife. Discard any that are open or even just loose (unless a tap on their shell makes them close) or are cracked. Rinse again until there is no trace of sand in the bowl.

Finely chop shallots. Melt a large knob of butter and sauté shallots until soft but not coloured.

Add wine, a small handful of chopped parsley, thyme, bay leaf and several turns from the pepper mill. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add drained mussels, a handful at a time. Cover and steam, shaking often until shells open (about 5 minutes).

Remove top shells over saucepan to catch juices and place mussels in wide soup plates. Keep warm.

Strain liquor and reduce by half, thicken a little by adding a small knob of butter creamed with 2 level tsp flour, whisked in, in small pieces. Adjust seasoning. When cooked, pour over mussels.

Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Serve at once. Use forks for mussels, soup spoons for the juices. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.

Girl No. 2

Just had a weekend at this place in Ireland, and cutting the story short the party included six girls in their late twenties, two of whom I got on with well (I’m 48). Girl No. 1, who I’d got some chemistry going with first but neglected in favour of Girl No. 2, then slept with this guy aged, I should think, about thirty, with a big fucking ginger beard who was running the place and giving orders. There was only one evening available to go for something, after a meal out: I call Girl No. 2 over at an appropriate moment and keeping cool: “I really like your personality, and you look stunning tonight … I’ve got a couple of things I’d like to show you in my room if you’d like to come down, kind of a surprise … it’ll be okay…” (candle and incense sticks).

She nods enthusiastically but then understands what I’m saying, and to my surprise becomes rather shy, disappearing outside to the table to cower and attend to her fingernails. I’ve come across this before, but wasn’t expecting it and have been wondering what else I could’ve done … perhaps thinking faster and asking her to stay and talk, as she wasn’t going to take the opportunity to come back when I left the table to hang around. Another evening might have been good, as the next morning she comes over with the most excited and pleased excuses, and spends much of the day by my side.

In the night I had to put up with Girl No. 1 next door having what was obviously pretty mediocre sex and making sounds with the sole purpose of me overhearing. The other ginger beard fucker had talked with her for four or five hours straight before making a move – a bit much I thought, but maybe I had something to learn there.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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