"Cheese has always been good to me."
Jim Friteuse

Friday, September 28, 2012


On the 15th August 1962, during a college trip to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s site at Windscale in Cumbria, an accident occurred in the nearby small seaside town of Seascale that would change the life of seventeen year old Peter Perkins forever. 

Windscale (circa 1962)

At that time he was a shy, underachieving first year philosophy student at the University of Sheffield and a field trip to Windscale seemed the ideal opportunity to get out of the tediously dry lectures on Descartes, Nietzsche, Rousseau and Schopenhauer.

He had no idea how he had ended up in Yorkshire studying a course with the stupidest (and longest) title in the university’s curriculum.  

The History of Western Philosophy and Its Connections with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day would be, as he was to discover within minutes of attending his first lecture, of no practical use whatsoever when (or indeed if) he graduated.

The only thing that kept him there was the prospect of a date with the beautiful, but shallow, Mary Jane Webster. Peter liked redheads and Mary Jane with her blazing shock of fiery hair effortlessly fitted his ideals of the perfect woman.   

There was only one problem that stood between him and the woman of his dreams.

That problem went by the name of Vim Tomsen.

Vim Tomsen was a German exchange student from Berlin, whose absentee father was currently residing under a false name in Argentina, having given both the Red Army and Simon Weisenthal the slip in 1945 and 1948 respectively. Vim had a thing about parades, in that he loved them, and every time one snaked its way through Sheffield he would inevitably barge his way through the bystanders and find a way of getting to the front of the procession so it looked like he was leading it.

Peter had no idea what Vim was studying, although he liked to think it had something to do with world domination.

Vim was under the impression that he was Mary Jane’s boyfriend as he had already asked her out in his customary abrupt manner. “You vill be mien liebchen, ja!” he had said to her over a romantic dinner of raw herring and Jägermeister Kräuterlikör.

Fortunately the trip to Windscale was only open to philosophy students, but it turned out that Peter had nothing to fear from Vim as Mary Jane had no feelings for him whatsoever and found him wholly unattractive. His close cropped blonde hair and the scar that ran down the left side of his cheek did nothing for her. She also hated the monocle he wore on his right eye and the way he clicked his heels together whenever they met.

A few days before the field trip, Ray Billabong, a reprocessing engineer from Seascale, had nipped out of the nuclear processing plant at Windscale to purchase a copy of The Boys’ Bumper Book of Western Philosophy from WH Smith for his son, who was strangely interested in the subject. As he flicked through the pages he accidentally dropped it in between two rods of plutonium. 

The Boys' Bumper Book of Western Philosophy (1954 edition)

It was such a stupid thing to do and he sincerely hoped that no-one had seen him do it; otherwise he would have spent the rest of the day feeling foolish and embarrassed whilst his workmates, who were all from London, mercilessly ribbed him using their peculiar rhyming slang with phrases like, “Gor Blimey, mate, you’re a right Edmund Burke, aincha!” or “This place would have gone up with an almighty Harold Bloom!” or “What an Immanuel Kant, you are!”

Ray was lucky. There was nobody around to witness the stupidity of his actions and so in order to cover up his tracks he placed the now radioactive book into a lead container and carried it out of the facility in his bag at the end of his shift. Fortunately for Ray, the security guard on duty that day was his close friend and neighbour, Bill Woomera, who just waved him through with a smile and a shout of, “See you down the pub tonight, mate!”

Lacking the resources to bury the container a thousand feet underground, Ray did the best thing he could at such short notice – he smuggled it into the local library at Seascale and secretly hid it amongst the other books on philosophy that no-one ever read due their inherent lack of any usefulness.

Ray thought that he got everything sewn up. No-one would even look for a book on western philosophy, let alone find it in the dark recess of the shelf where it had been deposited. What Ray hadn’t taken into consideration was the chances of two philosophy students from Sheffield taking shelter in the local library on a rainy day in August 1962.

After they had completed their tour of Windscale the coach party of fifteen philosophy students from Sheffield stopped off at Seascale for a bite to eat and a look around. Peter and Mary Jane wandered off on their own and were idly chatting to each other when the heavens opened up and it began to rain heavily. They looked around to find shelter and, seeing the local library was open, headed off in that direction.

Postcard from Seascale

For a small town, Seascale had a large library and the couple meandered through the bulging shelves of Fiction A-Z by Author and Non-Fiction A-Z by Subject until they eventually found themselves standing in the Reference Book Section and it was there that Peter discovered, in a dark recess, the book that Ray Billabong had secreted there a few days earlier.

Peter took the book off the shelf and opened it up. Perhaps, he thought, The Boys’ Bumper Book of Western Philosophy, might give him a better understanding of the subject he was supposedly studying. As he turned the first page he let out a sharp cry of pain. “Ouch!” he bleated.

“What’s the matter?” asked Mary Jane, looking a little concerned.

“I’ve just given myself a paper cut from this stupid book. I hate paper cuts. They’re so bloody painful.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” Mary Jane chided. “Let’s have a look.”

Peter showed her the index finger of his right hand. There was a faint red line running down its length. “I think you’ll live,” she said.

Neither of them was aware, on that fateful day, that the radioactivity from the Boys’ Bumper Book of Western Philosophy had already entered Peter’s bloodstream and was beginning to alter the chemical composition of his body. 

It started to take effect almost immediately and, although Peter Perkins didn’t know it at the time, it was the beginning of a process that would eventually change him from a mild-mannered philosophy student into the fairly well-known, reasonably celebrated and mildly irritating superhero I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man, capable of diffusing any dangerous situation with carefully chosen words of philosophical wisdom.

Peter made his first appearance as I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man a month after he returned to Sheffield from Seascale. His costume consisted of a brown jacket with patches on the elbows, brown corduroy trousers, a striped shirt with a plain collar, spotted tie and a pair of comfortable suede shoes. It was vitally important for him to protect his identity and so whenever he appeared as I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man he wore a pair of glasses.

His first act for the benefit of mankind was to help eighty-year old Mrs Greatrex across a busy road. His Spinoza-Sense started to tingle when he saw her dithering at the side of the road, unable to make the decision whether to cross at that particular place or walk further down the road and attempt to cross there. He whispered to himself, “This looks like a job for I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man!” before donning his costume in one of the changing rooms in nearby branch of Burton’s.

As he took old Mrs Greatrex by the arm he cleverly combined the words of Heraclitus and Søren Kierkegaard into a sentence of his own making. “One cannot step twice in the same river,” he said in a gentle, soothing voice, “but when you nevertheless make that leap of faith it is subjectivity at its height.” Old Mrs Greatrex felt comforted and confident at the same time and she made her way safely across the road.

News of Sheffield’s own super-hero began to spread across town and he became a minor celebrity. He was interviewed by a reporter from the Sheffield Telegraph after he confronted Nosher Barnsworth (a notorious armed robber, pimp and bonsai enthusiast) during a daring daylight raid on the Eccleshall Road branch of Barclays bank, by successfully combining the words of Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzche and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz. “The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. God is dead,” he said, “but we live in the best of all possible worlds.” After hearing those words Nosher had no other choice but to surrender to the police and the mercy of the English judicial system.

A year after his spectacular arrival as I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man, Peter Perkins and Mary Jane Webster were married and they had three children, René, Gottfried and Socrates, in rapid succession.

Life, it seemed, could not be better; but life can also be a fickle mistress and shortly after the birth of Socrates, things started to go terribly wrong.

The three boys, having inherited their father’s genes, very quickly learned to talk and they used most of their energies contradicting what their mother said to them. When she asked them to do something for her once they told her that they would only do it if there was sufficient reason to do it and when she argued about it she was told, in no uncertain terms, that she was not enlightened enough to understand how reality is fleeting and impermanent.

To compound matters even more Peter had not fully understood the unwritten mathematical law that all men who marry redheads should take into account, which is: Fiery red hair / Fiery red temper + annoying husband x 3 children = Misery for all concerned.

Mary Jane’s temper reached boiling point as she struggled to bring up three pretentious and ungrateful children and a husband whose irritating sayings were becoming more bizarre and surreal as each day passed. When she asked him to do the washing up after dinner one evening he replied, “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” This direct quotation from William of Ockham was commonly known as Ockham’s razor and was used completely out of context, proving, to Mary Jane at least, that Peter was losing it.

They were divorced two years later. Mary Jane took the children with her and admitted them into a correctional facility just outside Preston, where they would have all the pretentiousness beaten out of them. It took five long and agonising years of therapy to turn them into normal children and when they realised the effect their father had had on them they never spoke to him again.

Peter moved back to his home town of Braintree in Essex, where in 1979, he found a job as an event organiser at the small Frontiere cheese factory, where his skills in putting words together helped him enormously. When the factory received a visit from Liam Schiffrin, Peter was recruited into the Big Top as the first point of contact for any Kiwi agents arriving in the country. He had put on some weight and lost some hair and retired I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man, preferring obscurity to the limelight of his heady days as a superhero.

In 1962, when he first acquired his super-power Peter’s appropriate words of philosophical wisdom sounded confident and cool, but in 1985, when he met Jim at the airport, he was a fat, balding forty-year old divorcee, an estranged father of three and a borderline alcoholic with an unhealthy desire for slim Asian women less than half his age, and his nuggets of wisdom, when he used them, sounded more than a little creepy.

In the car on the way to the Braintree branch of Frontiere, Peter Perkins told Jim and Claire his life story, adding, as a footnote, that he was currently seeing a psychoanalyst who was attempting to cure him of his pretentiousness issues.

Braintree, Essex

“Pretentiousness issues?” Jim asked, nervously.

“According to my psychoanalyst, since my visit to Windscale the reason I spent my life putting on an extravagant outward show was to claim a position of unjustified distinction.

“That sounds like a load of rubbish to me,” said Jim.

“Oh no,” replied Peter, defensively. “He’s very clever. He has certificates and everything that prove he is.”

“Having a certificate doesn’t mean you’re clever, Peter,” said Claire.

“Do you have any certificates, Mr Friteuse?”

“Only for swimming.”

“Oh,” said Peter, and then he remained silent for the rest of the journey.

After two hours they reached their destination and pulled into the gravelled driveway of a small two-bedroom bungalow in a leafy suburb of Braintree. Peter helped them in with their suitcases and stood in the doorway as if waiting for a tip.

“What?” asked Jim.

“Err, my boss said that if you’ve got any questions then I should be available to answer them before I leave you to it.”

“Oh, right. Well, what’s there to do around here?”

“There’s a supermarket at the end of the road. It’s not very big, but it’ll have most of the stuff you’ll need.”

“Does it sell canned food?” enquired Claire.

“Oh, yes. Lots of it. But we’ve already stocked up your fridge and cupboards with food and stuff. We didn’t now exactly what you ate, being foreign and all.”

“I was thinking more about the night life, Peter.”

“Well, there’s an offy two streets down. That’s where most of the youngsters seem to hang out.”

“What’s an offy?”

 “An off-licence. They sell Thunderbird and Woodpecker cider over the counter, mostly to the under-age kids in the neighbourhood.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

“Not in Braintree.”

“Anything else?

“Well, err, not really. The people of Braintree don’t lead the most exciting of lives, not like us in the Big Top.” Peter whispered the last part of his sentence, making sure that Claire couldn’t hear it.

“Right,” said Jim, “I suppose that will be all.”

“OK, then, I’ll pick you up in the morning at 8.30.”

That night, Jim and Claire ate beans on toast and watched a bit of bad telly before retiring. Just before he turned the light out, Jim said to Claire, “Can you believe it – Braintree’s full of nutters, there’s nothing to do at night and the telly’s rubbish.”

“I know, darling,” said Claire. “Isn't it just perfect! It’s exactly like home!"

Friday, September 21, 2012


Not only was Chaz Bracegirdle’s choice of wife greeted with a deep sense of bitter disappointment by his parents and many older siblings, but his move into television drama had united even the most hostile of family factions into declaring their universal loathing of him.

It was a shame because he was once the darling of the Bracegirdle’s; blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lantern-jawed and strikingly handsome, women circled around him like a flock of starlings. Throughout his teenage years and into his mid-twenties he was never without a beautiful woman hanging onto his arm and his every word. “He had the choice of any woman on the planet,” his mother had complained on one of her many death beds, “they used to throw themselves at his feet, so why on earth did he have to go and marry Stephanie.”

Stephanie Frobisher’s name was never spoken – it was always spat out, as if the very act of it tripping across the tongue was poisonous. When Chaz had brought her home and announced that they were engaged to be married a mild shockwave ran through those who had assembled in the drawing room of the large family home in Orangatanga. It wasn’t the suddenness of the announcement that bothered them, nor was it the fact that she wore her hair in a beehive that was doused with so much hairspray that people choked as she passed by. Neither was it the fact that she dressed in clothes that were so tight they looked like they had been sprayed on and that up until a year earlier she had been a man going by the name of Steven. These apparent faults in her character and appearance paled into insignificance when Chaz announced to his nearest and dearest that Stephanie was from Australia!

Chaz mistook the gasp of horror that filled the room for one of familial joy and he continued with what would be his last ever family speech. “And – great news – I’ve been offered – and I’ve accepted – the part of Doctor Normalsize in Shortarse Street.”

From its outset (and despite it being in colour), the Channel 1 soap opera Shortarse Street  was destined for failure. It failed for two reasons – firstly it was based on an idea that had been hurriedly written on the back of a dead possum by the exiled documentary film maker Clancy Taylor; and secondly it was let down badly by its rather mundane subject matter.  The plot, such as it was, revolved around a community of criminally insane dwarfs who were harbouring a wounded fugitive bearded lady from William Foley’s Circus, falsely accused of murdering and dismembering a trapeze artist with a foot fetish and her lover Corky the Clown, whilst a spliff smoking detective from Wellington stumbled around eating cherry pie and a disgraced doctor from Australia performed illegal operations on seals using only elastic bands,
blackboard rubbers and rudimentary 18th century carpentry tools. The show barely caused a ripple, many viewers finding its premise boring, predictable and too commonplace to be of any interest, although there was a minor controversy over its portrayal of the New Zealand Police Force as being stupid and unprofessional. 
Duncan Argostein, the television critic for the Orangatanga Times, however, laid the blame for the show’s poor performance squarely at the door of the Channel 1 casting department. According to New Zealand’s historical records, held in a small back room in the Wongawonga Museum of Anthropology, the country had been stricken with an acute shortage of dwarfs throughout the entire 1980s and so all the main protagonists of Shortarse Street were played by actors well over six feet tall. Described as the Great Dwarf Drought by popular historians, it lasted until the opening of the firstSanta’s Grotto in Nikkinakknori on the 1st September 1989.

The final episode of Shortarse Street was hurriedly written by the tea lady at Channel 1, because everyone else was (apparently) busy, and it featured a horrific scene where Doctor Nomalsize is eaten alive in a swimming pool by a pack of leopard seals, seeking revenge for his treatment of the other, more placid, members of their species.

Chaz Bracegirdle’s family had been happy with his decision to become an actor – they envisioned him gracing the stage of the Apollo in Wellington as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Lear or any one of the Henry’s – and they actively encouraged his choice of career. All their praise, adoration and encouragement ended abruptly when he decided to perform in a soap opera.

The Bracegirdle’s were renowned for their hatred of soap operas. They considered them to be the lowest form of entertainment (worse even than The One Hundred Dollar Woman, a dismal imported American TV series about a woman who, after an accident in a manicure salon, is fitted with a bionic fingernail) and they looked upon those who watched that kind of show as, at the very least, retarded. That their son had chosen to be in such a waste of everyone’s time was akin to a betrayal of all the values they held dear. He was, they declared, a traitor to his family name and his ancestors, who had made their vast fortunes through the misery and unnecessarily painful deaths of others, would be spinning in their graves if they knew

And on top of all that he was marrying an Australian!

They saw no other course of action but to disinherit him and cast him out like the leper that he was.

With no money, nowhere to live and no prospect of employment after the debacle that was Shortarse Street, Chaz sought out the only person that had showed him any kindness during those dark days at Channel 1 – his cousin, twice removed, Claire Friteuse (nee Bracegirdle).

Claire and Chaz had met while she was filming her popular cookery show Cooking With Cans and they had liked each other immediately. Claire knew hardly anything about the Orangatanga branch of the Bracegirdle family and what little she did know had been supplied to her by her father in one word – snobs. She found Chaz to be anything but a snob – he was interesting and (in her own words) ‘fricking gorgeous’.

Jim had just finished breaking the news about their move to England when Chaz appeared on the doorstep with a battered suitcase. He looked dishevelled and miserable, not at all the person that Claire had got to know at Channel 1.

“Sorry about this,” he said, “but I seem to be in a spot of bother.”

Jim invited him in, sat him down and listened patiently to his sorry tale.

After Shortarse Street had been cancelled the life that Chaz had known fell apart. With his family refusing to even acknowledge his existence he returned home to the flat that he shared with Stephanie, only to find that she had gone, taking all of her belongings with her and leaving behind a note informing him that she had run off with a female mud wrestler from Auckland. In the extremely verbose and hurtful missive she stated that her sex change had all been a big mistake and that she had every intention of seeking out someone who could reverse the procedure. She also provided him with a detailed list of all his shortcomings in the bedroom as well as a recipe showing the correct way to cook cheese on toast.

Stephanie’s rejection devastated him, but that was not the end of his troubles. A delegation of dwarfs from New South Wales had started to camp outside his flat and protest about how they were misrepresented in Shortarse Street

This was quickly followed by a group of Animal Rights protesters who were incensed about Doctor Normalsize’s treatment of seals, a squad of policeman from Wellington who protested about the incorrect hand signals that were used by the extra playing the traffic cop in the background of each episode, a number of circus clowns who were enraged about the consistency of the custard pies used in the flashback scenes and a gathering of old ladies from the Orangatanga Knitting Circle who just wanted some fresh air, a cup of tea with a biscuit and the return of capital punishment.

In no time at all the area outside his flat was filled with protesters (some were even there to protest about protesters) and Chaz had no choice but to pack as many things as possible into his battered suitcase and leave in the dead of night, when the only people left at that hour were the ones wearing strait jackets and incontinence pants who were claiming that Doctor Normalsize was directly responsible for the increased number of wasps in the local park.

“I didn’t know what to do, Jim,” Chaz moaned. “I’ve been blacklisted by every TV and radio station in New Zealand and the authorities have confiscated my passport and cancelled my subscription to Australian Woman’s Weekly.”

“Alright,” said Claire, “the first thing you can do is stop panicking. We’re about to leave the country for six months and you can live here if you want.”

“But what about Cooking With Cans?” asked Chaz.

“Don’t worry about that – Channel 1 has just sacked me for no apparent reason.”

“But I don’t have any money. How am I supposed to pay you?”

“Okay,” said Jim, “tomorrow morning we’ll go along to see old Mr Gimli and see if he’ll let you have my old job working behind the cheese counter.”

“But what if the customers recognize me?”

“But, but, but,” said Claire. “No more buts. No-one will recognize you because no-one in Nikkinakkinori watches soap operas on TV. The people here are above all that – they watch serious dramas and sophisticated comedies from England like The Professionals and Love Thy Neighbour. They’ll just know you as that handsome young man behind the cheese counter and try to get you to marry their daughters. Don’t worry, Chaz.”

And so it came to pass that Chaz Bracegirdle started his new life in Nikkinakkinori. He would never be as proficient in cheese recognition as Jim had been, but his good looks and cheerful personality made up for that. As time went by he met the daughter of a local farmer and they got married and had three children. He became a pillar of the community and when old Mr Gimli died he left the grocery store to Chaz in his will. He was even elected mayor, where his campaign for equal rights for dwarfs was warmly received by the whole community. He never saw or heard from the Orangatanga branch of his family again, for which he was eternally grateful, although he did receive a letter from Stephanie in the October of 1996. In it, she informed him that she was now called Clive and was living with a hairdresser from Ottawa, where they managed a community of killer whales.

Six days after he had turned up on his cousin’s doorstep he was at Auckland airport waving goodbye to the couple who had turned his life around.

As the aircraft taxied along the runway, Jim opened the file that had been handed to him by Liam Schiffrin and looked at the shadowy figure in the photograph, but he was unaware of the other shadowy figure who had followed them to the airport and was, like him, bound for the United Kingdom.

Friday, September 14, 2012


As Jim was completing his spycraft training, Claire’s TV show Cooking With Cans became an instant success. Literally hundreds of New Zealanders tuned in every week to watch their new culinary heroine tackle such classics as Tinned Salmon Sandwiches, Tinned Ham and Mustard with Iceberg Lettuce and Gourmet Beans on Toast. The book that accompanied the series, Cooking From A Can, became the biggest selling cookery book in the history of New Zealand. 

Cooking From A Can. Bigger Than the Bible?

The male population of the country were eternally grateful to Claire for introducing their wives to such a varied and delicious form of cookery. Cooking From A Can revolutionised the way women cooked in New Zealand and their men were eternally grateful for it as up until then their meals had consisted mainly of undercooked meat, overcooked vegetables, raw bananas, nuts, berries and Alpen breakfast cereal.

What follows is Claire’s now classic recipe for gourmet beans on toast from page 82 of Cooking From A Can.

This is the world’s most wonderful beans on toast recipe. The colour alone, the beautiful orange hue, perfectly matches the aromatic deliciousness of their taste; and the bready crunchiness of the toast exactly compliments the squishiness of the haricot beans in luscious tomato sauce. Of all the recipes in this book, this is the one that pleases me the most, especially if you use gourmet beans.

This is the perfect hearty meal for your husband or the person you love after he has spent a long gruelling day at the cheese factory, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce turns it into a meal fit for a king with guaranteed sex afterwards – if you fancy it, of course.

For the beans:
1 tin of gourmet beans
1 can opener
1 small to medium sized saucepan
1 wooden spoon

For the toast:
2 slices of granary bread, crusts left on
1 large portion of salted butter
1 butter knife

Turn the ring on the stove to medium and set the toaster for 3 minutes.

Open the tin of gourmet beans using the can opener. You can use a Faringdon Butterfly opener for this task if that is all you have, but I think there are many more decent innovative plastic can openers on the market that work very well. Alas, the Faringdon is not one of them – it tends to spin without moving along the top of the tin. My personal favourite is the Brabantia plastic can opener – it is durable and easy to clean and comes with a stainless steel hanging loop for convenient storage.

Tease the gourmet beans out of the can and into the saucepan with a fork, being careful not to cut yourself on the edge of the freshly cut rim. I keep a large box of sticking plasters within reach for just such an emergency. Once some of the beans start to tumble out of the can, just give it a shake and the rest will follow. You may find that not all the beans have vacated the can – even with some vigorous shaking. Don’t be alarmed by this – there will be plenty of time for tears when your husband gets home – with cheap own brand beans there is always a lot of sauce and they come out easily, but gourmet beans are densely packed in, so you may need to use the fork again to coax the last few out. Give the contents of the pan a good stir.

Now take the two slices of ready sliced granary bread and place them into the toaster. Push down the handle thingy on the side so they start to cook. If it is a new loaf of bread you may have to open the plastic bag in which it is contained. This can sometimes be tricky as the ties that certain manufacturers use can be fiddly and difficult to remove, especially when you are wearing false nails. I find that a pair of scissors will do the trick, but you must be careful not to hold the bag upside down when you are cutting as all the slices of bread will tumble onto the floor and dinner will be ruined!

Make sure that you stir the beans every now and again to keep the heat moving around the saucepan. I like to stir in a clockwise direction, although Australians, I have been told, for some peculiar reason, like to stir their beans in an anti-clockwise direction, which, I think, ruins the all round flavour of the finished dish.

When the two slices of toast merrily pop up, remove them from the toaster – watch out, they will be hot – and place them onto a large dinner plate. Use the knife to butter them with, making sure that you have taken the butter out of the fridge beforehand. I like to use Anchor butter myself, but if you are poor you can use any butter you like – but never margarine! Only retarded people and Egyptians spread margarine on toast.

Once the toast has been buttered, remove the saucepan from the heat and delicately pour the beans onto the scrumptiously buttered toast.
Serve hot.
For an exciting variation of this recipe why not try using melted cheese instead of beans. I was served this once as the main dish at a lavish dinner in the residence of the Welsh Ambassador for New Zealand in Auckland, where I was informed by his excellency, Dai the Bread (a most charming and erudite man who wore his country's traditional costume - a miner's helmet and green blazer with a leek sewn onto the left lapel - throughout the evening), that it was the national dish of Wales. It was scrumptiously delicious and you can find that recipe along with a few photographs of his excellency's fine collection of life-sized porcelain sheep on page 153.
I was going to cook this dish tonight but my husband left the cheese in the fridge at work and I had to make do with Tinned Sardines on Toast (page 95), even though I don't really like fish.

Of course, Claire's book was not a success with everyone in New Zealand. A sizeable proportion of the population (around 13%) preferred to cook from packets and there was only one recipe (well, half a recipe for those who like to split hairs) that catered for their needs, that of Tinned Sausage and Smash (page 97), but they were mostly from South Island and therefore didn't count.

As sales of Cooking From A Can increased, outselling even the Bible in some parts of the country, events were taking place that would change Claire's life forever.