There are people who set off alarms bells — figuratively and metaphorically —and there are people who don’t. Obviously I fall into the ‘set off loudly’ category. A few years ago, I ended up having to ask our Mayor to intervene with a letter to the area Chief of Police because I was being stopped virtually every single time I left the house. It wasn’t all bad though: I once had a very enlightening conversation, pre-Brexit, with a sandwichless picnic type of police officer who took the time to explain, quite condescendingly I thought, that my GB driving licence was not valid in France because Britain was not in Europe and never had been. There’s not a lot you can say to that.
My perennial aura of culpability follows me everywhere, including security and customs, both of which I seem incapable of negotiating without a full body search and scan and lengthy interrogation. I was once detained for some time at the Eurostar terminal in Waterloo while they searched my luggage at length. Bizarrely, this included going through and watching a load of perfectly innocent films on videotape that I had brought with me from France. This was before mobile ‘phones and my mother, imagining that I’d missed my train, gave up and went home without me.
A few days ago, Gatwick airport gave me a chance to flex my wannabe hooligan muscles once again when my baggage and I were stopped no fewer than three times. Poor Léo, who had gone ahead without a single hitch, had to wait for me on The Other Side, and was forced to explain, rather long-sufferingly, that if he was still hanging around it was because he was waiting for his ‘anarchist mother’; they immediately took pity and even offered him a chair.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 spring onions, peeled and sliced
2 bulbs fennel, roughly chopped
2 chilli peppers, sliced
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 handful sage leaves
1 large orange, peeled and cut into segments
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
1 tablespoon honey