I never thought that I’d be writing a blog post in defence of Paul Gascoigne. I’m not much of a footie fan, and following a few haphazard, gin fuelled attempts at the game last term, I’ve been forced to concede that I am probably less John Terry, more Terry Wogan*. Indeed, as the words of Gazza’s fire-fighting PR agent resonated throughout Twitter (“He’s done what?! I’m having an evening meal in Mallorca! I am literally speechless!), I’ll admit I had an eyebrow raise of my very own.
According to that most trustworthy of publications, the Mirror, gung-ho Gaz is said to have brought: “a can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm” with him to gunman Raoul Moat. I find three out of four of these items reasonable wrisible, especially the lager. If there’s one thing a mentally unstable gunman on the loose probably doesn’t need, I’d assume it’s a cheeky pint and a packet of pork scratchings.
Anyway, my point is that whilst much of Gazza’s well-intentioned, super special rescue kit seems a little suspect, the chicken, I would argue, was spot on. Now sadly the Mirror has been a tad miserly on the details here, and us readers are left in suspense – no-one knows if the chicken was fried, battered, mousselined or fricasseed (I assume the first, if only for ease when travelling), but it is of no importance. Gazza’s paltry snack offering (get it?!), was spot on.
Food has, and always will be, a tremendous bridge builder. I’ve read numerous saucy articles recently (get it again?!), preaching the virtues of melted praline in hard to reach crevices, and to quote a 90 year old woman from my post office the other day “I’m fed up of reading about food and sex!”. While it’s a topic worthy of discussion (see previous post Sex and Souffle for more…), I’d say that the main reason I love food, is that it transcends all that for something more useful, and maybe important.
For example ever been on, or had, a really bad French exchange? You know the kind, the one where your petit ami turns out to be into piercings, sulking and keeping out of direct sunlight, and you’re starting to wonder whether hitchhiking back from the Dordoigne would be safer than staying with the host family’s cross-eyed dad for another 10 days? In these kinds of grim situation, food is more than a staple, but a saviour.
Oui mes enfants, sharing the last, squished pain au chocolat with Clement or Laeticia often says more than “ou est le piscine?” or “j’aime bien le discotheque” ever could. Indeed, I’d even go so far as to venture that sucking up some mouth-watering, delicious spaghetti from a shared plate Lady and The Tramp stylie, can be infinitely preferable to either the awkward-turtle silence, or hysterical ramblings of many a mis-matched dinner companion.
I could easily go on about this forever, coming from a family which views food as literally the cure for everything (luckily no-one in our house is, as yet, obese). I will forever be known to my housemates as the girl who was unable to offer any words of comfort at all to my sobbing, emotionally traumatized chum in first-year, and instead proffered a cheesecake a timely two hours later. And I’m happy to say that it worked. As did the three chicken spicy Efes on several other upsetting evenings.
With this in mind, I really do think Gazza was on to something, something that maybe deserves a lot more serious consideration than given here. Whilst I’m sure that we’ve all turned to food for comfort at least once in our lives, the ability of it to join and connect people from different backgrounds, races or religions is extraordinary, and not something which I think is truly appreciated yet by the British. With that in mind, I’m off to offer my dad a pint and a bowl of Kettle Chips, because I shouted at him earlier for scratching my car. He took the paint off and everything…
*By the way, my dad has read over my shoulder and piped up that that joke doesn’t work at all, as apparently Terry Wogan is also quite good at football. As I don’t know many other footballers, and the ones I do know I can’t think of funny jokes (less Ashley Cole more Cheryl etc.) I’m just going to pretend he never said anything and stride on regardless.