Tuesday 12 February

For some years now Dempson has harboured a great ambition to become – of all things – a famous chef. ‘What, a famous servant?’ He hits me. ‘Like a bloody Frenchmen?’ He pours boiling water over my head. ‘Before or after the sex change?’ He dices my fingers and serves them up in a Caesar salad. Not for him the recipes contained in Oliver Cromwell’s prurient cookbooks (‘The Fully Clothed Chef’; ‘Oliver at Home…and At War’), serving up moral morsels from beyond the grave. Dempson is more fat tongue than thin lips and holds an altogether more cavalier attitude to the mysteries (and mundanities) of the kitchen. Occasionally this serves me well. I lodged with the Makepeaces before moving here and the fruit and veg from Izzy’s allotment was both amusingly shaped and delicious. Tonight, mere hours before Mimi and Petra are due for dinner, Dempson is cooking up a wonder with little more than twigs and tomatoes. It works too well. Suddenly we are in the pub, toasting our combined success (I bought the ingredients) and now, three pints later, Mimi wants to meet us here too. Without wishing to reveal the exact impact of the wine, that at this point still sits ageing patiently in the flat, let us say that the choice of alehouse - The Bar that Twas a Bog - has a shuddering appropriateness only later realized. In defence of Dempson: he hasn’t drunk all year, it wasn’t the food that did it, and no, it isn’t purple. In other news: Dodo books are still to pay Mimi a shilling for her mechanical journal while Petra agrees to pen a poem for the Hatbox project.

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