Monthly Archives: December 2013

The necessity of beauty


A must read for a new year attitude ajustment.



Pamela was my lodger. She was living in the third bedroom in my flat for the same reasons that Mr Micawber pronounced the immortal words:”Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”

I’d tried to fill the gap between my meagre salary (women were paid far less than men in the Hongkong I lived in ) and my expenditure, by doing TV quiz shows,  radio programmes, using the children as photographic models and even doing PR for the Anglican church until I could stand being hypocritical no longer. So Pamela was my next attempt at solvency. While she lived with me my life was filled with her dramas, love affairs, crises and disasters.

She arrived with one fiancée, dressed demurely in twinset and pearls, tweed skirt and silk head –scarf. Soon she…

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Surviving the 60’s – Pretending to Be



Smoking fags in my best friend’s bedroom,

Pretending to be someone else,

Listening to Dylan whine his laments,

Pretending to be somewhere else.


Caught in the void of becoming,

Learning to let go of the past,

Wondering who, where to be,

Not part of the everyday crowd.


The Monsignor has condemned me,

My parents pronounced me dead,

My siblings struggle to find safety,

Amidst broken domesticity.


Hiding unseen in plain sight,

Seeking survival from a structured life,

Escape to England’s Porlock shores,

Embrace a changed pattern flow.


Celebrate Tea Time,

Travel by horse shod feet,

Feel the mystery of the Moors,

Mourn a thickly iced chocolate cake.


Pretend to be someone else,

Pretend to be somewhere else.





         In the early 70’s, I lived in a repurposed farmhouse transformed into three separate but connected apartments.  The house was located on Anniversary Lane, a rural country road.

Anniversary La

       In order to simplify the evening meal preparation, a system of shared cooking was developed… []  resulting in communal evening meals.

         Visitors as well as members of the Anniversary Lane house frequently occupied the table.  These visitors brought a distinct flavor to the meals.  An African Education Minister in training, a retired cultural attaché from China, a woman poet who moved into the milk house for the summer, a medical resident and his girlfriend looking for a place to stay, a University Department of Education Professor from Greece and an assortment of other house member’s acquaintances offered their opinions and conversations.

The house members themselves provided an array of shapes, ages, and experiences.   A couple occupied the top floor apartment with their two preschool daughters.  The father was obtaining his doctorate degree in English while his wife worked in a University research project. They both had traveled Europe extensively.  They were the inspiration behind the communal efforts at the farmhouse.  They also set the standards for the menu derived from their European diet.   Fresh bread, a green salad with homemade dressing or vegetables and a main dish, dessert was optional.  Beverages were served BYO.

Two male graduate students lived in the apartment beneath them.   One of the students was from England and carried his culinary heritage with him.  He frequently opted out of cooking and paid the minimal fee to attend the meals.  His roommate, an American, participated when his girlfriend was present.

My man friend and myself newly occupied the last apartment.   He was a medicine resident at the University where I attended graduate classes.  I was the chief cook for our apartment, he my Sous – Chef and dishwasher.

I remember one weekday meal at our apartment attended by my fellow classmate from Swaziland.  He had participated in our meals previously and lamented the lack of his home’s culinary choices while studying abroad.

He described the preparation of food in a reserved British accent that could not disguise a deep longing for the familiar taste of home.  We at the farmhouse decided to satisfy his yearnings with an impromptu meal.

For weeks prior to the meal we researched the foods native to his country and searched for possible substitutes in our co-op’s food inventory.   Recipe books were consulted for guidance on flavoring and cooking techniques.

The content of the menu escapes my memory except for my skillful adaptation of green bananas for fried plantains.

I do remember the tears in my friend’s eyes when he entered our dinning room and inhaled the familiar aromas of home.