'I could never make out why he was called the Naked Chef", said the lady with the red hairdo, sipping her Campari and soda. "I watched every episode and he never took his clothes off once."
"That wasn't the point," said the man with the dog. "The point was that he was trying to make food simple again. Bring out the flavour that was there, not load it with sauces and creams. It was like music being unplugged. Bare essentials."
"He could have done that with no clothes on," said the red-haired lady.
"It might have been a bit distracting for you, dear," said the man with the dog. "You might not have paid attention to the recipes if young Jamie had no clothes on. Anyway, it's just a name. The Naked Chef. Like Two Fat Ladies. They weren't specially fat."
"Yes, they were," said the red-haired lady. "They were fat all right. And there were two of them."
"But they weren't ladies."
"Not in the traditional sense, maybe," she said reluctantly. "No, they did drink and swear a bit..."
"And I don't think he's actually called the Naked Chef any more," said the resident Welshman. "I think he's now called The Man Who Put The Wind Up The Government. With all those TV programmes showing how ghastly school dinners are..."
"It's not the fact that they are ghastly," said the man with the dog. "It's the fact that they are also dangerously high in salt and sugar, and this leads to behavioural problems, and all the children lack concentration and hit the teachers. I'm summarising the situation, obviously, but that's it in a nutshell."
"Warning: nutshells may be dangerous to your argument," said the Welshman.
"Very clever," said the man with the dog.
"I don't see it myself," said the Major, who had been listening from behind a glass of red wine. "I come here of an evening and I have a few glasses of sugary wine, and a couple of packets of salt-enriched crisps, and I don't present any behavioural problems."
"That's because nobody is trying to teach you anything," said the Welshman. "If you were trying to acquire and retain knowledge, you might be a maniac."
"Anyway," said the Major, "this Jamie Theakston fellow..."
"Ah!" said the man with the dog. "You see, you do have learning problems. You can't even remember Jamie Oliver's name! I blame the crisps they serve in pubs, myself. They're rotting the Major's mind."
"Well," said the Welshman, "maybe if Jamie Oliver turned his attention to British pub food, he could cause another revolution. If he could prove the low value of conversation in pubs, and the appalling level of fact retention as evinced by the Major, was down to the terrible stuff they put in pub snacks, it would change the face of British pub culture. We sit around in British pubs and come up with shaggy dog stories. They sit around in French cafés and come up with existentialism."
"I think we get the better of the deal," said the man with the dog.
"I still think the Major's mind is being rotted," said the red-haired lady. "If he had any grasp of maths, he would see he is paying a fortune by buying wine by the glass, and would get a bottle when he arrived for half the price. But the salt in the nuts and crisps ruins his mathematical aptitude."
"I buy wine by the glass," said the Major, "because then I can kid myself that each one might be my last of the evening. But if I buy a bottle, I'm here for the duration."
"But you always are here for the duration," said the Welshman. "So why not get a bottle?"
"Because the nuts and crisps have got him," said the man with the dog. "Not even Jamie Oliver can save his mind now."
"You may be right," said the Major, affably. "Anyone ready for another?"
By Miles Kington
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