THIS may be an embarrassing confession for a 58-year-old grandad, but it has taken until now for me to learn to cook.

Until the past year or so, my repertoire has been restricted to egg, chips and beans, or baked potatoes.

But, for no discernible reason, I’ve suddenly felt the urge to expand my culinary skills, and my wife has encouraged this mid-life ambition by buying me a book, called The Roasting Tin – Simple One-Dish Dinners, by Rukimini Iyer.

As someone who’s never been able to multi-task, the key is the “one-dish” bit. There’s no juggling several pots and pans, or working under the unbearable pressure of trying to manage a range of timers.

In all honesty, the book could easily have been entitled: The Roasting Tin – Simple One-Dish Dinners for Stupid, One-Dimensional Blokes Who’ve Shamefully Relied On Their Wives For Too Long.

Anyway, suffice to say that I’ve taken great satisfaction in rustling up the likes of Super Simple Salmon A La Pesto With Giant Cous Cous, Watercress and Lemon. My wife was impressed enough to buy me another book in the series, this time called The Green Roasting Tin – Vegan and Vegetarian One-Dish Dinners, which led to me having my own “signature dish” – Rich Potato and Mushroom Gratin With Cream and Reblochon. Who’d have thought it?

It is a mark of my progress as the new Jamie Oliver that I’m now the proud owner of The Quick Roasting Tin – 30-minute One Dish Dinners, and The Roasting Tin Around The World – Global One Dish Dinners.

However, it would be, frankly, dishonest of me to suggest that I’ve become a one-dish master. I frequently have to ask my wife questions such as: “How do I get the zest off a lemon?” and “How big is a medium onion?”

To be fair, she’s been very patient, even when I’ve asked the same question for the eighth time. To my knowledge, she’s only sighed twice; resisted rolling her eyes until my back’s been turned; and only ever refused to eat one of my offerings on the grounds that the salmon was so under-cooked it might well have still been able to swim back upriver to where it was spawned.

As a sign of her growing confidence, she even bought me a present recently in the form of a gadget called a ‘mandoline slicer’, primarily to help me with my aforementioned signature dish, which includes 1kg of Maris Piper potatoes, ‘sliced paper thin’.

Using my standard peeler, I usually take approximately six and a half hours to get through a kilo of spuds, and my wife made the investment in the hope of eating before midnight for a change.

“Look, I’ll show you how to do it,” she said, taking the mandoline slicer off me to demonstrate.

It was very impressive too until she reached her third Maris Piper, and the blood started spurting like a scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

She’d sliced her thumb so badly that we’d have gone to casualty had it not been for the fact that hospitals are busy dealing with a global pandemic. Instead, she made do with several steri strips, big wodges of kitchen roll, a tea-towel, and letting out more expletives in a minute than Gordon Ramsay manages in a whole TV series.

I think I’ll look after the cooking from now on.


“DADDY, you look tired. You should have a nap,” our four-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, told her Daddy.

“Thanks, Chloe, maybe I will,” he replied.

“After you get my dessert,” she added.

ONE from the archives…Rosemary Reaks, of Harrogate, received an excited telephone call from her granddaughter Evangelia Holgate, in which she declared: “Grandma, Grandma, I’ve been to the dick show.”

Rosemary was mightily relieved to discover she’d been to the end of term school disco.