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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cabinet Maker / Joiner

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Like many other black men, I grew up with only women around. Now I'm worried the experience has ‘feminised’ me

Tyrell Williams
People struggle to board a train at the railway station in Budapest  

Even when refugees do make it to British soil, they are treated appallingly

Maya Goodfellow
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones