THIS ISLAND LIFEI MADE e-mail contact with Matt (of Matt and Cat fame) last week. Our discourse had nothing to do with food, which is something of a surprise because he’s usually found lurking behind a huge pile of chips after he and his lady wife nip uninvited and unrecognised into some unsuspecting Island eating establishment.
He has an approach to food best described as Tudoresque, in as much as it usually involves a brimming platter, a flagon or two of foaming ale, a hearth full of half-chewed chicken bones and a gentle belch.
Cat, on the other hand, tends to nibble daintily on more refined and exotic fare and her name is becoming a byword among the tahini and butternut squash cognoscenti.
Between them, therefore, they cover the quantity and quality offered by the IW dining experience, before delivering their verdict on a website — mattandcat.co.uk — which has received millions of hits.
Take a look and you will see why. It is mercifully bereft of the pretentious tosh with which food reviewing has become infected in recent years and neither do they regard themselves as 'experts’.
Don’t get me started on such self-appointed authorities. It’s impossible to read a food review or menu these days without stumbling over rampant tautology intended to convey sophistication.
'Pan-fried’ liver, for God’s sake. What else are they going to fry it in? But back to Matt and Cat, who have written about more than 300 Island food outlets (from burger vans to the hucksters of nouvelle cuisine) so it follows Matt is a man unlikely to be familiar with the strictures of Rosemary Conley.
He is not a watcher of weight, does not slim-fast (or at any other speed), thinks gluten is a Scandinavian adhesive and has been known to fall asleep in the middle of a meal while attempting to count the calories it contains.
Which is why, when he ended his recent despatch with the innocent-sounding 'how’s the diet going’, my antennae began to quiver.
When one trencherman makes such an inquiry of another, there has to be a reason (apart from the purposes of polite conversation).
Did he think I wouldn’t go on the diet? Did he think I hadn’t stuck to it? Had he glanced at the scales, suddenly become conscience-stricken and decided to reach out for advice in an understated, manly sort of way?
All these possibilities swirled through my suspicious mind but I have decided to take the question at face value.
It’s going exceedingly well, thank you Matthew. Almost two stones of adipose tissue shed so far, thanks to a regime I have decided to name the C Plan Diet.
This involves restricting consumption of chips, cheese, chocolate, crisps and cream, while learning to love rice cakes and tuna.
And the benefits?
Well, nothing can compare to the sense of smugness which suffuses the body (what there is left of it) every time someone says: "You look as if you’ve lost a bit of weight, mate …"
A bouquet among the brickbats for lovely hospital. Is that ok, mum?
It’s a fairly well-accepted fact the British are quicker to complain than they are to praise, which is part of the reason St Mary’s Hospital regularly receives its share of opprobrium.So my mother has embarked upon a one-woman crusade to right the balance a little bit.
The phone went at home the other evening.
"Keith, I’m not interrupting anything am I?"
"No mum. I’m just in the middle of eating my …"
"There are some lovely people working in the audiology department at St Mary’s and they deserve a public pat on the back."
"And when you write about them in your column (note the presumption) don’t hide it away in the corner of the page, like some sort of after-thought."
"They deserve better than that, so you make sure they get the credit they deserve."
(Note to sub-editor: please do as she says. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry and there’s the inheritance to think about, of course …)
So step forward and take a bow Alex the audiologist and prepare to receive your commendation from Mrs N snr.
"The first person I ever saw about my hearing was Peter Grimaldi and he was a real gentleman. Alex is out of the same mould and he couldn’t have been more pleasant or professional. It was a pleasure to be treated by him."
Next to be honoured is Sue, who fitted the matriarchal hearing-aids.
"What a lovely woman. When you get to my age, some people reckon you’re daft as well as deaf and think they can talk down to you."
I immediately began wrestling with this nightmare vision of anyone trying to be condescending towards my mother and almost missed the next bit.
"But not Sue. She was kind and considerate and explained everything I needed to know."
There mum. Can I get on with my tea now?