Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Bernadette has been in agony for the past four days with an infected tooth. My brother and sister-in-law came to dinner last night - anniversary of my mother's death. Bernadette was brave in sitting through the meal before heading for bed on a cloud of painkillers.


A new journey begins with a drive to the Drivings Standards Association Test Pad at Gloucester. The Test Pad is a large tarred rectangle some 150 meters by 80. The Pad is patterned with different coloured cones and two speed gates. Steve of Acer Motorcycle Training will (maybe) coach me through the new SDA biker test that comes into effect on April 27. The SDA will test me in advance on April 2 so that I can describe what is entailed in an article for Motorcycle News.
The test is about control. It begins with the rider keeping pace with a pedestrian. Next comes a slalom and double 8. Then for the difficult bit - difficult for me. Ride the length of the pad and back, pass through a speed gate at 50 KPH and immediately swerve and come to a halt. I finally managed 40 KPH after six attempts. Speed never was my strong suit...

Monday, March 16, 2009


I love D J Kirkby. She wrote a more than generous review of OLD MAN ON A BIKE. Now she offers to exchange soup recipes: her Lotus Land for my Jerusalem artichoke.
Proper stock is the first essential - none of those vile powders or stock cubes made from God knows what. Mostly I use chicken stock - though I keep vegetable stock in the freezer for vegetarian guests. Chop and melt two shallots and two cloves of garlic in unsalted butter. Meanwhile peel and slice the Jerusalem artichokes and simmer the Jerusalem artichoke peelings in the stock for twenty minutes to concentrate the flavour, strain. Add the artichokes to the onion and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes before adding the stock. Simmer until the artichokes are soft. Blitz with a blender till smooth. Check the seasoning. Reheat before serving and stir in the creme fraiche.
Guests tend to eat a second serving so prepare plenty or whip their bowls away quickly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The USA has a Secretary of State. We Brits have a Foreign Secretary - same job, different title. The Foreign Secretary projects the public image of the nation. Like her or hate her, Hilary Clinton is impressive. I have been watching our Foreign Secretary on TV - David Milleband. He possesses the gravitas of a student at a Provincial University. No wonder the Russian Foreign Minister treated him with contempt.
Perhaps age has caught up with me....


Jerusalem artichoke soup is delicious. I used creme fraiche rather than cream, lighter and adds a gentle tang. Also proper chicken stock. Stock cubes are a negative.


Harper Collins bought OLD MAN ON A BIKE after the bankruptcy of The Friday Project. Harper Collins have lost their copy of our contract. They have asked me to sign a new contract. My agent, Paul Marsh, has asked for a return of the foreign rights with which Harper Collins have done nothing. Harper Collins won't cooperate. The original contract with Harper Collins included an advance against royalties. They have never paid this advance. They admitted that I was leagally due the advance - however if I insisted on being paid, they would publish OLD MAN ON A BIKE as a cheap paper back. Harper Collins is part of the Murdoch Empire....
Meanwhile I have been cooking Jerusalem artichoke soup and a smoked haddock risotto for Father Dominic of Blackmore and Upton Parishes.