Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt is regarded in some quarters as the original misery memoir, the begetter of all those ‘Please Mammy Don’t Batter The Bejesus Out of Me…’ titles that litter the supermarket shelves. Angela’s Ashes tells a tale of a poverty-stricken Irish Catholic childhood in the early-to-middle of the last century. It’s a great book with plenty of wit and literary style about its depictions of deprivation, famish, hunger and poverty. We once went to see Frank McCourt read at UEA; I took Jack the Mogul along when he was a mere twinkle in a mogul’s eye. I’d traded Angela’s Ashes with him for the first Harry Potter. In a signal of things to come, Jack most definitely got the better of that deal. Angela’s Ashes has a compelling episode in it about ‘the excitement’ this being something a young man might ‘do’ to himself, something a young man couldn’t help but do, but something that could only lead to eternal damnation. The young Frank McCourt carried out his excitement episodes in fields after (or during) his paper round where and when, perhaps, he hoped God wouldn’t see him. When we got to the head of the queue to get the book signed McCourt looked up. Jack was the only child in the audience and the author asked him direct questions.
‘Are you hungry?’
Have you eaten?’
I think McCourt thought all children must be starving, like he was, when he was a boy.
All of this is so much preamble, it went through my mind as I typed the title to this post. Last night I went round to Graham Etherington, Matty,* and Angela’s house to watch a corker in which Ricardinho Fuller scored a fabulous goal, running from the half way line and swerving several Brum players before curling it into the top corner (for his 100th league goal) as Stoke triumphed over Birmingham City, 3-2. Angela made this chicken and ham pie for the boys on the sofa; it was the first pie she had ever made in her life (chivalry prevents me from saying her age) and it was a sensation. We had it with mash, peas, gravy and ginger beer.
Angela’s Pie, via Motorola
* (of ‘car banged-up in car park’ fame)