Mrs Portly Is Unwell

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.

‘I once had to dispense with a literary agent because she drank too much. She was very surprised but I pointed out to her, quite logically I thought, that one of us had to be sober and it certainly wan’t going to be me.’

‘My misdeeds are accidental happenings and merely the result of having been in the wrong bar or bed at the wrong time, say most days between midday and midnight.’

‘One way to stop a runaway horse is to bet on him.’

And finally … ‘There’s nothing undignified about lying about all day and being waited on by servants, sipping bloody champagne.’

Where’s the butler when you need him?

14 thoughts on “Mrs Portly Is Unwell

  1. I’m reasurred by your cheering post that you are not after all at death’s door. Get well soon. Oh, by the way, the Rhubarb Bakewell Tart was estupendo.

  2. Ah, great post!!! Hope you recover soon. I’ve just collated my photos from our 3 week trip to South America, and shared 973 on snapfish with family and friends. It goes in this pattern – sunrise, breakfast, mimosa, building, landscape, lunch, wine bottle, animals, dinner, landscape, wine bottle, new cocktail, sunset, and so forth. I mention this only because you said that one of your blogs has become mainly about your kitties instead of food. And I completely understand!!! There I am at Machu Piccu and I’m more interested in following the damn llama to get a good photo!

    • Oh, hahaha! I was looking back at my Peru pics from ages ago, having been reminded by your trip. Apart from realising what a truly bad photographer I am/was (I can now see all sorts of missed opportunities), I too have endless pictures of llamas and their cousins, guinea pigs (before and after cooking) and vizcachas. And as we took a small Paddington Bear with us (who as aficionados of the children’s books will know, hailed from Peru) lots of out of focus pics of him, too! No cats though. 🙂

  3. Poor you. You just made my New England head cold look like a cake walk. Keep resting. We’ll wait…

  4. i hope you are feeling much better this week Linda. Yep i think lying in bed all day drinking champers would be the bomb! cheers sherry

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