Monday 12th December 2016.
I overheard about this man, indeterminate age, who driving with his wife, released his safety belt, opened the passenger door, and fell out in an untidy tumble. He rolled and rolled into the grass verge. What thoughts, I wonder, rolled and rolled in his rolling head until rolling and thinking stopped dead?
Words to this effect were typed into his mobile phone on an unsent text message bearing no recipients. With little thought and unclear emotion, his wife, the very next day, mailed it to his entire address book. Tossed the device out the window at that same grass verge, instead of flowers.
The pert, smartly dressed woman spoke. “Troubled one that one. Going nowhere. Couldn’t have been love.”
“For the best – however evil that may sound,” replied her dining partner archly – accent you could take a file to.
“You always say that, Harry -’for the best’, whatever the occasion.”
“The grimmer the better. Our situation is hopeless don’t forget,” he answered. Then, with a gratuitous wink, breaking fruitily into song, “But while there’s bhajis, and pickle and love and romance…”
So dissolved the conversation of others, laughter stuck in their throats.
Bradford. Boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, once ‘wool capital of the world’. Now first UNESCO city of film. Heaping yet more historical significance to our visit, here we are at The Kashmir on Morley Street, Bradford’s inaugural Indian – first opened its doors in 1958. Same year J B Priestley returned to make his BBC documentary “Lost City”. A title that, at the time, attracted viewer complaints. Lost to him, he meant, having never set foot since World War One. Just ”a grunting, saurian-eyed fatty trying to be nostalgic” he qualified.
It was Clive of the French Foreign Legion who put us onto it. A spartan, shabby canteen; dark as long weed in a lake. The look of a last chance cafe at the edge of the wilderness where diners, menaced by all kinds of hunger, fetch up alone. The monosyllabic grunt of the waiter doesn’t matter. Enlist or flee, that’s the real question, not what plate of grub. I imagine raw desperados chasing the answer in great naan bread sauce moppings, as if, on the plate bed, beneath the mirky slops, it was engraved discretely somewhere. Enlist… Flee…
Everything came at once in an Indian dish avalanche: a passable three dip pickle tray; starters of onion bhaji and chicken tikka on the bone (nearly half a bird as far as I could tell); meat vindaloo and meat kashmiri; garlic naan, pilau rice. The chicken tikka was on the dry side but that’s a common hazard; otherwise, the food was hard to pick fault with, just not triumphant. At £25 all in, plus a jug of lassi, who could complain about Bargain Hunt’s dronings from the anachronistic flat screen.
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles