Saturday, 19 April 2008

Supper # 5 - Hayward's Heath

The last time I was in Hayward's Heath I seem to remember some kind of 4am dash out of a friend's window. We didn't have any clothes on and it seemed like a wildly inappropriate way to behave in the dull yellow light of a hushed cul-de-sac. This is how the town appears to me - suburbia carved into woodlands; the thickets blunted by an urban influx; sound-proofed and paired-down so that order is made and peace maintained. I imagine that down the paved cut-throughs there are hundreds of mini-rebellions taking place - commuter kids digging for some chaos.

THE SET UP: The Blockers came here from California twenty years ago. Their kids have disbanded to Santa Monica, Cornwall, UEA but their house still feels like a big, full family home. I arrive (late again) and am surrounded by loud, eager guests wanting to know what the hell this trip is all about; where the van is; where I've come from; what I'm making for pudding. I try and answer everyone as best as I can then make a beeline for the range and get prepping.
David brings me a great big glass of white plonk, Judith pulls great platters of sticky ribs out of the oven and we all buzz noisily into the dining room for a big old feed-up.

WHO CAME: David, Judith, their sort-of neice Zhinnia (working on a property programme in Brighton), J's uncle and aunt over from France, an American friend and her son, another couple and me.
WHAT WE ATE: Enormous, Coca-Cola sticky pork ribs, purple 'slaw, green salads, potato and bacon salad. Anyone would have thought I hadn't eaten for days by the way I attacked those suckers. Sylvia, the American friend asked whether we were going to eat them British or US style but most people seemed to have them gathered up in their mitts already and were slathering all over them. So so tasty. You really can't beat the pure physical pleasure of this kind of dinner - it makes you feel alive!

DINNER TABLE TOPICS: David's (silver) surfing with his medic son, Oliver, down in St Ives - he split his chin on a rock and, after a quick pint, went down to the hospital where Oliver comandiered A&E and stitched it up for him; the French health system that has helped both the uncle and the aunt fight cancer; Sylvia's amazement at the possibility of seeing a black president in her lifetime - her African-American father never thought he'd see a black quarterback in his, let alone a President Obama; how ignorant British people make themselves look when writing off the whole of the States as Dubya-lovin' raghead baters; progressive local government environment policies; my time at the University of Missouri; Brixton and the future of Angel Town.

THE PUD: I decided to do Brownie Fudge Sundaes in their honour. I slowly warmed a slab of it in the oven, pulled it out, sliced that old rascal up into ten, crowned each one with a scoop of vanilla ice cream then drenched them with hot chocolate fudge sauce and gave a jug of sauce for
top-ups. It all got poured and the Americans approved so I was happy.

MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: The youngest Blocker's room - full of CDs and Vans boxes, hooded tops and F. Scott Fitzgerald. My sleep was heavy like my supper.

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