Early one Winter solstice I settled into the top deck of the X5 with Jack Kerouac as my companion and serenaded by kids from St Johns heading for their breakfast club. Down at street level, I saw the handwritten sign: trainee baker wanted – enquire within.
Sal, Dean and Marylou sat quietly in the ’49 Hudson waiting for me to get on board with them. Eddie was starving, but wasn’t he always?
The tall mist–enveloped beeches of the West Woods leaned towards the bus, the rising sun silhouetting us against their boughs. I’d criss-crossed the downs for over a year now, burning in the unremitting summer and freezing in snow-bound traffic. Was all this an escape?
The college catering course had left its indelible inedible stain on shelves of library books. There were five cracked copies in the same paperback edition of English Bread and Yeast Cookery, and there and then I fell in love with the woman who sold out enough to have her own cookery range, but not to the extent that she’d sell garlic presses.
We bicker now and then, Elizabeth David and me. She uses far too much salt, I complain, but maybe I just sold out more than she did in the matter of taste. And I can’t remember on which Midwest sidewalk I left Sal, Dean and Marylou, but Eddie and his kin visit me often. There is always someone hanging around the rubbish skip in the car park behind the bakery.
Some of my best bread goes there.