Take four men, langoustines, seaweed. Add tequila. Stir

Share
Related Topics
STORY so far: I am on a remote Irish island in Bantry Bay, engaged in a ruthless power struggle with three other men.

BANTRY Mussel Fair had been in full swing when we arrived in the west of Ireland on 7 May, so Eric had dived into the shops to buy lots of mussels, langoustines, garlic and many another thing, to take on with us to the island. The Famous Four Go To A Desert Island And Have A Gourmet Weekend, by Enid Blyton, that's what it felt like.

'What are you going to cook?' Alan asked innocently.

'You'll find out,' growled Eric.

What Eric was engaged in was not just cooking, you see, but power cooking. You've heard of power dressing? This was the culinary equivalent. Eric was about to make a bid to cook his way to the top.

There was a time when, if you were not a chef, male cooking was all sausages and steaks and lots of frying, and no fancy elaboration. But the image of cooking has changed out of recognition and when a burly character like Eric takes over the kitchen with bowls of mussels and langoustines, he is making a statement. This is: Get out of my kitchen. This expression of power has been used usually by wives over the centuries. Now it can be said to men by men.

Dusk fell. Eric slaved over the mussels. Alan poured him a gin and tonic. Later, he poured him another gin and tonic. Was Alan just keeping him refreshed? Or was this power cocktail shaking? Was Alan drink-mixing his way to the top? Surely not . . .

'I'm just going down to the foreshore to get some seaweed,' said Eric, hands dripping. 'Let's hope it's the right seaweed for what I'm cooking.'

He vanished into the dark. Alan and I looked at each other. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said. We had just been outseaweeded. The only way Eric could falter now was if the dish failed, but no such luck; the shellfish cauldron was magnificent, and the fish soup that was to come out of it was even better.

I did my best to upstage Eric by falling ill the next day. When Eric reappeared at breakfast time with a pan to growl 'One egg or three?' (had he spent all night in his apron?), I said I was retiring to bed to die, trying to make it sound as if I was being murdered by one of his mussels. It didn't work. Eric, Alan and Peter discovered during the day from Finn, who runs the shop and post office at Adrigole, that mussels will give you severe gut-rot if combined with whisky, and I had indeed had a small nightcap of Jameson's the night before. Self-inflicted misery was the verdict, which seemed to cheer everyone up but me.

Peter had been confidently quiet all this time, as befits the man whose family owned the island. He showed no signs of being fazed by Eric's power cooking, Alan's power drink-mixing or, indeed, by my power suffering. He wasn't even unduly perturbed when the only boat that could take us to the mainland and back was found submerged, letting in water like a teetotaller. It turned out that after months of being ashore, the planks had dried, creating cracks for the water to come in. What it needed was 24 hours immersion to soak up water. Then it was watertight.

And it was the boat that provided Peter's finest hour, though it was at the 13th hour. On the last day we took all the bags to the boat and rowed to the mainland. We packed the car. We hauled the boat out to sea again on a complicated system of knotted ropes attached to a buoy, so that the boat would not be washed on to the rocks at low tide and the next visitor could pull the boat back in. And we found that a knot on the rope had stuck in the buoy loop so that the boat was now fixed permanently 20 yards offshore.

Understand any of this? No matter. The upshot was that Peter, about to drive us all to the ferry at Cork, found himself undressing on the quayside, getting into his trunks and swimming out to disengage the boat. Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his dignity for his friends.

'Get the tequila out,' said Eric. 'The man's a hero. He needs a warming shot.'

'Give me the car keys, Peter,' said Alan. 'Leave the driving to me. I'll get us to Cork.'

Yes, Peter had outleadered us all. But I said nothing. Selfishly, perhaps, I was already in the back of the car, doing a bit of power writing and making notes for my best-

selling work, Three Men In A Boat And Another One In The Water.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor