I phoned the legendary Old Stokie last night to check where he’d be and where we’d meet up for the FA Cup Semi Final at Wemberley on Sunday. After inquiring about Mum he moved on to the main business of his life in the moment of this call. ‘I’ll tell you what Winger,’ he said, ‘I’ve only just gone and bloody electrocuted meself.’ If a rusty old train could talk, that would be the sound of OS’s voice. He went onto to explain that what had happened was that he’d broke a knob off the cooker, which is gas, but which has electric parts for the ignition and so on, and that after he’d tried to switch the oven off with what remained of the knob he’d introduced a screwdriver into the equation and that by making contact between the screwdriver, the shaft that had previously held the oven knob, and himself he had completed a circuit and been ‘thrown right back across the room.’ He was cackling like a maniac by now. ‘Lucky the fuse board has got a tripper unit on it or I’d’ve fried,’ he said.
I asked him what it was that was going in the oven anyway. ‘Bloody oven chips,’ he said (he has long held it against me that I once served these up to him here in Norwich). When I asked what he was having with them he named a product I’d never heard of: Hunter’s stewed steak. ‘It’s bloody lovely it is,’ he said. I didn’t know what it was but when I learned that it was meat in a tin I replied that it sounded repulsive. Further investigative questioning revealed that Hunter’s stewed steak is, in fact, intended as a pie filling. ‘So you’re having pie filling and chips for dinner then?’ I said.
‘I don’t eat pastry, winger,’ he replied, ‘I try not to have too much cholesterol.’
It’s lucky there’s no cholesterol in fags then.
In the end, I arranged for myself and grey man to go round there in the summer and have oven chips and Hunter’s stewed steak served to us on the terrace with a bottle of Sancerre. OS said he’d wear that Colman’s mustard apron I bought him for a present once to do the serving. ‘I dunna bloody like mustard,’ he said when I asked if there was to be any gentleman’s relish, sauces, or whatnot served with his meal. No, it was all to be plain fayre.
The item that I first took to be a spinning top in the recipe picture I requested, as per below, is, I imagine, the remnants of the famous broken knob. Some years ago OS asked would I do a speech or say a few words at his funeral. I said Yes, so long as he didn’t mind people knowing the truth, but I have the feeling he’ll live to be a hundred and ten and that he’ll have to do mine instead.