The Merman

Another extract from The Compleat Imbiber. This time an essay by Hugh Johnson called Confessions of a Merman

Sometimes I think I must be a merman, and a half-cannibal one at that, to enjoy browsing on the sea bed as much as I do. I remember a particular plat de fruits de mer at Hornfleur which was quite simply that: a bare-handed predators’s banquet on all stony, scaly or limpid beasts that lie, crawl, or proceed in illogical little flicks among the wrack and the wrecks,  stirring up sand or disguised as pebbles.

There were shrimps and oysters, whelks and mussels, winkles and cockles and clams. The napkins were sea-green with crustaceous designs. The plate was virtually a bivale in pottery. The wine, palest from a dark green bottle, was as cold and as tangy, almost, as the sea itself.

The toss of a lobster pot from the harbour wall, where pyramids of tarry rigging were black against the moon, the cafe-restaurant Aux Deax Ponts was like an extension of the sea bed, with the only difference that the water boiled. I returned there with unabated appetite for grilled sole, steamed turbot, moules marinieres night after night.

This evening we ate out in New Brighton. We walked down from Vale Park along the Prom looking out with Liverpool at our back and forward to the Irish Sea. There were ships coming in and it felt good to watch them as the light shifted over the water. The ships and the great warehouses and buildings that run along the Liverpool shore line all seemed dwarfed by the river and the pull along of the tide.

Now making fish cakes for the family’s supper tomorrow and looking forward to seeing Dexys in The Duke of York’s Theatre all by myself!

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