Actually, she’s fine, but I’ve always rather liked the Jeffrey Bernard reference. Bernard, for those who don’t know of him, was a famously louche journalist who wrote a column called Low Life for The Spectator and who habitually hung around Soho drinking dens with the likes of Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon.
He once said ‘journalism is the only thinkable alternative to working’ and for that alone I’d have a soft spot for him. The only time I ever actually set eyes on him was in the Groucho Club, where I was part of a twittering group of young women at the bar. As we swirled into the restaurant, still luvvying like mad, I caught the baleful eye of a man sitting hunched in the corner. It was Bernard, and he wasn’t impressed.
His column was described by Jonathan Meades as ‘a suicide note in weekly chapters’, a reference to his dissipated lifestyle. When he missed a deadline, the magazine would post a notice saying ‘Jeffrey Bernard is unwell’, a catchphrase which passed into the English language. Keith Waterhouse wrote a play of the same name, starring Peter O’Toole, a man who not only looked uncannily like Bernard at his best, but who had done his own share of bohemian boozing. His performance earned him an Olivier Award.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this as I don’t have a mammoth hangover, just a cold in the head, a strained back and a bruised knee (after tripping over, stone-cold sober) but it’s left me singularly ill-equipped to create a new recipe this week.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. In the meantime I will leave you with a small selection of bon mots from the great man.