I love Jamie Oliver - at every stage of his career. As a cheeky chappy. As a dad. As the boss of a posh restaurant near Old Street (Fifteen) that was ridiculously hard to find. I think his 30 minutes meal guide is ace. And his new British book looks fab too, although I've only flicked through it.
Ministry of Food memories
But the thing I remember best about him, is the apparent sense of total, agonised, furious failure he felt when he couldn't get Britain's school children eating better. The tabloids understood the power of a shot of mums sneaking burgers into their children's school after junk food had been banned. That picture (burger gate?) was designed to not just undermine Jamie's healthy school meals, but his reputation.
This thought has been helping me dream up a new year's resolution.
Or at least Jamie's bounce has helped - he picked himself up, sorted it out, had a go in the US, and then got back to his real talent - talking up a good cooking show. An d this happened thanks to a detour to the Cricketers pub at Clavering (run by his mum and dad) on the Herts/Essex border. It's a very posh place. Or put it another way Jamie didn't learn his Mockney accent in this bit of north west Essex. And sadly we didn't get to eat there because dogs aren't allowed inside - so it was bags of crisp (posh crisps) out in the cold... (see pix above of Pete, Lola, Nell and Vulcan; my mum wouldn't come as she said she had a bad vibe about the trip!). It's the ideal spot to serve gourmet pub grub and put the world to rights.
Bit of a twizzle
Have you heard of Dave Hampton - the ambitious carbon coach, who hopes to do for fossil fuel use what Jamie did to turkey twizzlers - who was interviewed in the Ecologist mag recently about how greens shouldn't be so up tight. We're not responsible for everyone (and especially their non-green behaviour) he says. The interview is here. But below is a quote that resonates... (Jamie, you can take note too).
What was the highlight of your year (2011)?I think the highlight is me fully getting, for the first time maybe, that I am not responsible for anyone else's life or behaviour -and that I am only responsible for my own! Gosh, it feels good saying that, I have been living in this fantasy world where I believed it was up to me to save the planet and if that is a mental illness it is quite a common one - we all know of campaigners who seem to believe that everyone else is wrong and they are the only ones who are right! But if we go around clearing up our own mess and being positive about our own lifestyle, other people will start copying us and picking up their own carbon ‘litter' too.
Dave Hampton/carbon coach, interviewed in Dec 2011 Ecologist
Looking back at 2011 is a terrible time for those of us at Mayhem Corner to look back on our carbon use. We did after all travel to the other side of the world by plane - although at least we stayed there for three months. Sorry nonetheless.
In addition, somewhere along the way this year I'd forgotten about the joys I get from trying to live simply (or as Pete puts it simply live) with an eye/ear and eco-kerchung on the planet.
When all around are telling you that austerity is bad, it's easy to forget (assuming you have enough to cover mortgage, food and other essentials) that you don't need to be doing spending overdrive in order to have a darn fine, sustainalbe life. And that's where Jamie Oliver, comes back in. He's a bloke with a dream and vast ambition to get Britain eating better using every type of media (have you seen his apps or his mags?) who has discovered that his success is better if he cheer leads rather than criticises. I want to be like that too.
And if all this hurts your head the Cricketers has a splendid solution. Its low timber beams are bound in padded leather to prevent accidents. So here's to not ducking the obvious, especially if you are already living the green dream. Good luck and happy days for 2012.