Bad back

When I was a kid I broke my nose. I fell from the top of a helter-skelter on an army base playground and landed nose first. When I say “fell” I mean I was pushed, by a dude. When I say “dude” I mean a kid with some sort of spinal disease.

I was trying to get into the little elf house at the top of the helter-skelter where you sat down to get going on the slide. This kid wouldn’t move and let me in the elf house. I figured I’ll clamber around the dude. He had his torso in some sort of blue medical armour thing and his head faced at a funny angle so I thought he wouldn’t be able to stop me but also I couldn’t punch him or push him to shift him because, you know, he was poorly or ill or somesuch.

I started trying to climb around the outside of him and he started yelling at me. Calling me names I don’t recall and getting pretty flustered. He didn’t even want to get in the elf house himself. He just didn’t want me to get on that slide. The dude was suffering from something but still that didn’t make him the king of this elf tower. As my foot swung around him he starts properly screaming at me and bits of his ill spit are hitting me. I smell medicine and feel a bit sickly, then I look down and the rubber tarmac stuff looks pretty far below all of a sudden. Then he fucking shoves me off.

I’m sure time froze. Suspended in the air somehow and I just glared at the spinal dude in shock. Even as I fell, as I tried in vain to angle some way other than face-first, I was pretty embarrassed that that kid, in his medical spinal armour, in his condition, had properly done me.

Boom! My nose just smears across my face. I start up wailing and there is blood gushing out of my face. Over my siren screams I can hear old BackAttack laughing it up. My mum comes running over, looking a bit annoyed that I interrupted her chat with her friend. She picks me up and I start bawling about how the cripple kid just pushed me off and she starts telling me off for saying “cripple” and she’s making excuses for the bastard and saying that he’s got learning difficulties and I might have frightened him! Seriously, my nose looks like mince and Ma is blaming ME for scaring the psycho into pushing me from the top of a helter-skelter. I’m livid and looking for the kid’s helper or whatever to step in and apologize or at least belt the kid one but there’s only a creepy looking old git in a tracksuit smoking by the playground gate paying no attention to his vicious back-troubled charge. I’m in agony and I’m furious with everyone and it only gets worse.

At the hospital they hit me up with plenty of painkillers so I’m in some sort of Calpol haze when Ma gets me dressed for my second playdate of the day. I’m supposed to be going to my best friend Thomas’ house. His sister has a Curiosity Killed The Cat poster and he has a sweet garden with a fort we built in it. I’m dozy and my face stings but I’m still super keen for the playdate. In my drugged up stupor, Ma totally stitches me up.

A few weeks prior to this nose disaster she’d bought me this terrible green tracksuit from like M and S or somewhere not a cool shop like Fosters or Benetton. It was super baggy, silly bright green and worst of all it had a gross navy blue zip up polo neck on it. It was the shittest tracksuit ever and I had flat out refused to wear it. I had even balled it up at the back of my drawer along with some pajamas I had wet one night and been too embarrassed to tell Ma about. I never expected to see the thing again.

As we waited at Thomas’ front door for his mum to answer, my neck itched. I was still floating around somewhere on the kid drugs but now the colour in which I had been incased, came into focus. Green! My mother had taken advantage of my condition to dress me in the woeful green tracksuit with the grim navy blue zip up polo neck! She’d even zipped the fucking thing up! To the top! Thomas’ mum opens the door and she looks shocked at my dry blooded and bandaged face. Thomas looks shocked, not at my face, but at how dreadful my outfit is. I get that Ma had to change me out of my sweet McClaren F1 teeshirt and lemon yellow Tottenham Hotspur FC away-kit shorts, they were covered in blood and gravel. I understand I needed to change. But to this? That was blatantly stitching me up, getting at least one use out of the green M and S trackie. I was too tired and in pain to yell at her there and I was already super embarrassed that she had no doubt located the hidden pee jammies. I’d had one. I spent my time at Thomas’ house that day rubbing against anything that would stain or rip the damn thing. I came home covered in blood (my nose kept bleeding), creosote, grass, moss, mud and I even sprayed the arms with a can of WD40 we nicked from the shed. I got in trouble for the tracksuit but Ma didn’t go mental about it and she didn’t mention the pajamas which was cool. I still think she blames me for the run-in with the poorly kid though. She told me to be grateful that I could walk and she was quoting the Dalai Lama: “All that is asked of us is that we be kind to one another” even though I had to walk around with a smashed-to-bits nose, in a fucking vile trackie. It was a bad day.

In much the same way that I was forced to wear a bad getup by the actions of others, I have been forced to eat badly by the actions of others. By “others” I mean my wife. By “actions” I mean actions that I did. By “badly” I actually mean, differently, with less coriander and chillies than usual. By “In much the same way” I mean “Yes I am genuinely seguing from the tale of a childhood run-in with a spinal disease afflicted dude on a helter-skelter and a terrible green trackie my mum made me wear, to some food talk”.

My “action” was the poisoning of my wife. This was an accident. Even though I cooked them, because raw ones basically condemn her to the gastro equivalent of twelve hours of stomach punches by Tyson, it turns out that spring onions and my wife go together like me and cheekbones. She was in agony.*

*She will want it on record that the spring onions caused her PAIN and nothing else. There were no other grim symptoms whatsoever. Now it seems like I’m over-protesting on her behalf, I’m not! This is the truth y’all.

This sucked because it meant I had to do everything family-style for days instead of rolling around writing funnybook blogzillas like this one. Her pain caused me a shed load of hassle. I had to become Father Of The Year, husband most extraordinary, a no-blogging legend of the household. I was basically a solid gold hero. A Man Legend. Even though it was an accident, I’d cooked the damn things. I definitely did not want to get the blame for my poor wife’s suffering. I tried to avert attention from dinner to lunch, that she’d had at her mum’s! Ha! Surely it was something there? Maybe “a bug that’s going around”? No dice. When it comes to catching me doing things wrong, my wife is fucking Lassie. She sniffed out the truth within hours. Spring onions! She glared at me like I had actually tried to take her out Russian Government poisoning style.*

*Please don’t kill me Putin. Roman?

To make amends, I have been forced to change my cooking style. Out with my usual spicy Asian Szechuan hipster fatty nonsense and in with plainer food. More simple food? No, I can still render our kitchen as downtown Nagasaki if a fridge had exploded instead of an atom bomb. Quicker food? Nope, I can still take four hours over the cooking. Nicer food? Nah, it’s not my world this butter and potato and rosemary planet. My food is trying to be ‘Bladerunner’ and Raiden from ‘Mortal Kombat’ and this stuff is all period drama Keira Knightly and Mr Darcy britches or something.

It’s okay though. This is what we had last night. It was pretty good. The gist of it comes from the Joe Beef cookbook which is one of the greatest books, let alone cookbooks, in the history of me buying cookbooks. You should get it.

Skirt Steak with Epoisses, Escargot Butter fries, a salad of stuff

Skirt steak-Enough for two people. I eat twice or thrice what my wife does. Maybe you are in some sort of three way marriage thing? Buy more polygamist carnivore! You eat with your kids? Good on you, the middle class dream is being lived! Buy more. I do not know how much meat you want to eat.

A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme-I said “sprigs” not DVD boxsets of ‘Rosemary and Thyme”. Ha Ha! What wit. I’ve never seen it. I don’t even know what it is to be honest. Is it a cop show in the Yorkshire Dales? Ha Ha Ha. Shut up.

A load of garlic-sliced

Salt/Pepper

Olive oil

-Take the steak out of the fridge an age before you want to cook it. Cold steak is stupid and you are stupid for trying to cook it.

-Marinade the meat in all them boring herbs for as long as you have. A few days would be awesome, but who has a few days? Add ludicrous amounts of garlic if you don’t have much time or else you may as well not bother with it at all.

-Heat a heavy as hell pan till super hot. Brush all the nonsense off the steak and brown on both sides. When it’s got some proper brown on it (Maillard reaction caramelization, not heroin) throw it in a 220c oven until a thermometer says, 63 in the middle. Take it out and rest it and it will drift up to the early seventies which is medium ish. According to my dumb thermometer anyway. Overcooked skirt steak tastes like overcooked skirts, if we’re talking heavy leather Roman Centurion dude war-skirts.

Escargot Butter:

It’s just a garlic butter that you could put on snails or you can be a playa and put it on fries like this.

Half a pack of unsalted butter-room temp

Half a bunch of parsley-How big is your bunch? I do not care but mine is about as big as Terry Waite’s beard.

Four or five large cloves of garlic-sliced*

Splash of Pernod-I didn’t have any so I used Ouzo, which was weird, but sort of worked.

Few drops of Tabasco

Salt/Pepper

*I cooked the slices until lightly browned in butter. Raw garlic is nearly as dangerous to my wife as spring onion.

Blend in a food processor until a solid lump of Snail Butter forms. Then toss it through hot fries or oven chips until it melts and makes your house smell like a crappy French bistro.

Epoisses Cheese:

This cheese stinks like death and trench foot but it tastes awesome. Buy 100g for two people, throw a bit of olive oil on it and soften it up in the oven until it is melty and properly hums. Spoon some on the steak, dip yr snail chips in it.

Now your kitchen smells like a crappy French bistro in which someone died, ages ago.

A salad of stuff:

I cannot give a salad recipe. It’s green stuff in a bowl. I know I know, Ah sweet vinaigrette! Ah gentle mache! Kindly romaine and piquant olive of truth! Whatever. I put blanched green beans in a bowl with little gem, rocket, chopped almonds, maybe capers, I don’t recall. I made a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Then I mixed it up, and we ate it.

Do not plan for intimacy afterwards. This is not a meal of romance. You smell like snails and dead feet. If you get tappin’ after this, yr gross, or in love. I dunno.

‘Til next time y’all. Beware the afflicted on helter-skelters yeah?

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