Forgive me Robert Atkins for I have sinned

For 22 hours we flapped our way to the other hemisphere. I head-banged and drooled my way to Australia and no matter how many Twister positions I tried – right foot on fold out dinner table, left hand on neighbour’s head – I could not find a satisfactory position.

I meditated on broccoli to get me through each excruciating minute. After 2 weeks of England’s finest chicken pies, chicken and leek pies, chicken and ham pies, cottage pies, shepherd’s pies and mash, I needed green tea on a drip.

Mired in exquisite aeroplane anguish my mind wandered back to the exact afternoon self indulgence became self abuse.

Dear cousin Rob had taken us down cobbled lanes to Simpsons Tavern, the oldest (1757) chophouse in London, right near where Chaz Dickens used to hang with his homies.

You could have whipped out my quill pen out and tickled me pink! The Simpson Tavern was divine – the quaintest, ye olde-est tavern with pew seating, shared tables (well before it became fashionable), and busty hostesses ferrying platefuls of gravy. Vapour fogged all the windows and for a brief moment, superfood salads and chia seed pods did not exist.

I half expected Tiny Tim to pop up and tell me it was 43 sleeps till Christmas.

I smashed shepherd’s pie. With a side of sausage. With a side of bubble (and squeak). With a side of cauliflower cheese. With wine and followed by stewed cheese and toast. Every deeply savoury sloppy gravylicious mouthful washed down with merlot made me realise how British people came to conquer the world: fortified by stodge, united by mash and liberated by booze, they went for it.


Slumped in a Costa coffee shop for two hours afterwards, I and my limp digestive system chased down the meal with a two alka seltzers and a cup of ginger tea. I concluded there was nothing Falstaffian about me.   I told myself that I would eat nothing but air for the next year. Well, until dinner time. When the gracious hosts proudly presented the evening’s offerings: beautiful homemade shepherd’s pie made in a deep crock pot – thirty whole centimetres of dense mince beef topped with mash potato and a cheesy crust.

I prayed to Robert Atkins for forgiveness and got my nosebag on. Thank goodness for my Wolford control undies.

Paw note: At the tavern Dennis Wongbert had bangers and mash with a side of sausages with a side of toad in the hole. To drink, he had a bowl of custard. Good boy.

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