TO Lisbon, which may be summed up in two words: shabby chic.
My first concern regards shaving. These days one is not allowed to take a razor blade on board a plane lest one submits to temptation and cuts the throats of one's fellow passengers. Fair enough.
One could take an electric razor, but that is a modern abomination. One could grow a beard, but that looks as if one has something to hide. One could buy a razor in Lisbon, which I resolve to do, but it is impossible to get them singly and the idea of throwing away blades is anathema, conscious as I am of my global responsibilities.
I could give away the excess blades but who knows down what dark alley that might lead. In the event, I refrain from shaving and within days I bear an uncanny resemblance to George Clooney.
WHAT I like best about the Portuguese is their height. Standing in a tram I cannot help but note I tower above most of them, which, if not a unique experience (it used to happen on the rare occasions I visited the my weans' primary school), is refreshing. This has some surprising consequences, the happiest of which is that sizes marked XXXL sometimes fit me and there is a plethora of shoes into which I can squeeze my tootsies. Lisbon could do worse than market itself to runty Scots as Good For Shoes.
MY dear friend Julie Davidson, who makes Ranulph Fiennes look a wuss, has, of course, been to Lisbon where, I am unreliably informed, she went hither and thither in search of authentic Portuguese cuisine.
Like many ardent travellers, Ms Davidson prefers to eat where the locals do, which means delving into the parts of towns less intrepid souls may be eager to body-swerve. I commend her courage, but wonder whether the quest for the local is all it's cracked up to be. Take here, for instance. If you were to ask a local where they eat they'd probably say a fast-food outlet, none of which boast Michelin stars. Having said which, there are locals and locals.
POPE Benny has said cheerio, so he must swap his beloved red shoes for brown ones. Also, he will henceforth be called "pope emeritus". This reminds me of Frank Giles, ill-fated editor of The Times during the Hitler diaries fiasco. Mad Rupe sacked him, giving him the honorific title of editor emeritus. When he asked what it meant, Rupe explained: "It's Latin, Frank. The 'e' means you're out, and the 'meritus' means you deserve it."
A T last I have the solution to a problem that has bedevilled me for decades, namely what is the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie?
Discussing this philosophical conundrum with my dear friend John in our exclusive club, Stagg's, he looked at me as if I were a few bob short of a bet. A cottage pie, he explained, is made – usually! – with beef, while the key ingredient of shepherd's pie is lamb.
There is a clue, he added, in the name, shepherds being umbilically associated with sheep and their offspring.
Talk about a eureka moment! In all the years I have been eating this delicacy, which in my nutritional opinion is second only to fish and chips, I had never guessed the blindingly obvious.
SO faretheweel Sir Denis Forman, who has died at the mighty age of 95. Ignorami may say: who he? For which they should haud their heids in shame.
Sir Denis was the top doberman at Granada when it was a power in tellyland. Programmes he was responsible for putting before the great unwashed included Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel In The Crown, Coronation Street and The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club, whose stars included Bernard Manning, Paul Daniels and Cannon and Ball, all of whom helped make this country what it is today.
Sir Denis, of course, was One of Us. He was born at Craigielands in Dumfriesshire and educated at Loretto. I commend his first memoir, Son Of Adam. He recalled consulting the Encyclopaedia of Ethics, his eye alighting on the entry for prostitution. "Not many prostitutes around St Mary's United Free Church in Moffat," Sir D remarked.
"What an improvement it would be, though, if when we went to church in our Sunday best a lot of prostitutes rushed out of the vestry, mobbed my father and dragged him off to practise whatever they did in the Minister's room."
Cannon and Ball were championed by the late Sir Denis Forman
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