These were written for The Worthing Herald, from the present day dating back to about 2009. Before 2009, my parents clipped them out of the paper and kept them in a box file.
After 11 years I've finally decided to bring this column to an end, and so am VERY INTERESTED in a new weekly gig. If you'd like me to write for your paper, magazine, website or pamphlet, please let me know.
I was listening to Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs this morning (it’s my Sunday morning singleton ritual – I do all the washing up, clean the kitchen and weep), and I noticed something. It was in the middle of Let There be Love by Nat King Cole. You know the one – let there be you, let there be me… let there be rain… a lark and a dove, etc etc. So far, so rom com. But then one lyric jumped out, one I’d never noticed before. “Chilli con carne,” he croons, “Sparkling champagne...”
Hang on. Chilli con carne? Seriously? Colon-defying mince and beans, the food of love? The perfect pairing to birds singing in trees, oysters, night breezes etc? The culinary chapter in the middle of the textbook of romance, chilli con carne? Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo, and did you remember the Doritos? Is that what Darcy and Elizabeth had at the wedding breakfast? Did Heathcliffe roam across the moors in search of a late night pharmacy to get Cathy some Rennie’s? Chilli con carne. Hmm.
Credit where it’s due, congratulations to the humble chilli for beating out all flouncier competitors. Chocolate-dipped strawberries, figs, fondue, all trounced by a steaming pot of cowboy’s delight. And that’s despite some deeply unsexy traits – the tendency to leave an orange ring round one’s mouth, for one, or all the subsequent toilet trips for another. And another. And another. I like to think Nat King Cole would start the meal with a Pepperami and finish off by serving up a jar of Nutella and a spoon.
There’s always the possibility, of course, that the lyric has recently been inserted by Coleman’s or someone in the hope of selling more Mexican packet mix. It probably used to be something more obvious, like moonlight or violins or that melty chocolate pudding from the M&S adverts. If this is the case, though, I’m a bit worried they’ll start doing it with other songs. Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit would become Return of the Big Mac. Dylan might have to start singing Like a Rolling Scone (made even more treacherous as it necessitates the pronouncing of ‘scone’ wrong). Bob Marley’s classic actually will be called Jam In, and the joke will become redundant.
Prince will do Raspberry Soufflé, Pixies would have to sing Here Comes Your Man (from Del Monte) and radio stations would forgo the Beach Boys’ altogether and just play the old Babybel advert. It would be a nightmarish world of perpetual hunger. I’m almost compelled to write a dystopian novel about it, where everyone lives under the oppressive watch of Big Muncher. It would be called Nineteen Ate-y More.
But I digress. If it’s not a brainwashing scheme, and Nat King Cole really does believe chilli con carne is the food of love, well, that may be the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Because I’ve just learned to make a pretty darned tasty chilli con carne, so a proposal can’t be far behind.