|Bill Bailey is the one on the left....|
|Top End street junction of Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley...|
|Fortitude Valley Circa 1960|
|Queen Street, Brisbane Circa 1969|
|Queen Street, Brisbane - Circa mid-Sixties|
British comedian/ actor/musician Bill Bailey was a guest on “The Graham Norton Show” a few weeks ago. During his time on the show he related a story to the amusement of his fellow guests, his host and the audience.
While out driving one day Bailey was stationary at a stop sign when out of nowhere an elderly woman (not me) opened his car door and climbed into his car. Settling into the seat the lady directed Bailey to drive her to a certain address. Bill said he had nothing else to do so he drove the lady to her destination.
That’s taking “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey” literally, don’t you think?
A similar situation happened to a friend of mine in Brisbane back in the Sixties.
At the time my friend Nancy worked in the offices of the “Truth”, a Sunday newspaper in days of yore, the premises of which were at the south-western corner of Brunswick and McLachlan Streets, Fortitude Valley.
During her lunch hour, as was her wont, Nancy visited Queen Street, the main street of the CBD, a couple or so kilometres from The Valley. Those were the days long before Queen Street became a pedestrian-only shopping mall. Trams, buses, cars, trucks and other modes of transport (not horse and buggy) still bustled busily along the inner-city street.
The noon-day clock was ticking at a rapid rate of tocks.
Nancy's lunch hour was expiring. She needed to be back at work. Sweat (perspiration…she was a lady) formed on her forehead in her anxiety. She jumped into a cab – after flinging open its door – and breathlessly asked the driver to take her to the newspaper's address in The Valley. As the car pulled out and headed off in the direction of The Valley Nancy noticed the driver’s shoulders were shaking uncontrollably.
At first she thought he was in the throes of a fit. In a way he was - he was in fits of laughter.
The man wasn’t a cabbie; he was private citizen going about his business when a frazzled stranger climbed into his car demanding, albeit politely, for him to take her to the address she’d hurriedly blurted out.
It soon became obvious the driver was a gentleman; one who appreciated the funny side of the situation in which he’d innocently found himself. Good-naturedly the driver attempted to placate his crazed passenger while, en route, an embarrassed Nancy apologised non-stop for her rash behaviour.
She made it back to work – just in time! “Two for the Valley!” taken literally!
Nancy had a penchant for embarrassing moments.
Another fateful day, with her macramé bag clasped firmly in her hand, she scurried along Queen Street trying to beat the unbeatable clock. Her string bag swung freely in the breeze caused by her haste. Suddenly she was yanked backwards. Her bag had snagged on something. Tugging to no avail, Nancy turned. To her abject horror she discovered her shameless bag had indiscriminately latched onto the zip of a blushing, unsuspecting man’s trousers! Fumbling then ensued between two strangers in Queen Street in the height of the lunch hour rush; two strangers who hoped they’d never meet again - not in the night and, most definitely not in daylight!
Was it a case of fly-in-fly-out, or lunch on the fly? Perhaps instead of fly-by-night, it was a fly-by-lunch. Lay-by would’ve been less awkward.
A few months passed before Nancy was brave enough to make a re-appearance in Queen Street. She prepared her lunch at home. From then on for a while, Nancy ate her self-prepared lunch while glued to her work desk; it was a safer and less mortifying way.
Lunch-On-the-Run Slice: Preheat oven 180C. Grease 30x20cm slice tray. In pan heat 1-2tbs olive oil over med-heat; cook 2 crushed garlic cloves, 4 chopped, rind-less bacon rashers and 1 finely chopped onion until onion begins to caramelize and bacon starts to crisp; remove from heat. In bowl, combine 450g grated zucchini, 200g ricotta, 1/2c grated parmesan, 1/4c chopped chives/shallots, salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine 6 eggs and 1c S.R. flour until smooth. Add bacon mix to zucchini mix; pour in the egg mixture; fold to combine well; pour into baking tray; bake 40-50mins; cut into slices.
Spinach-Cheese Rolls: Preheat oven 200C. Finely chop and cook 1 spinach bunch; drain; squeeze out excess liquid. Combine with ½ onion, finely chopped; blend with hand-mixer to thick paste; add 1tb cream cheese or soy cream cheese, 1tbs minced garlic, 1c plain flour, salt and pepper; mix well. Cut 4 sheets partially-thawed puff pastry sheets in half; spoon 1/3rd to ½ cup mix down short end of pastry; carefully roll up; repeat process; place on greased tray; spray with olive oil; bake until golden.
Chicken Salad: Combine 1/2c orange juice, 1tbs grated orange zest, 1tsp olive oil, 1/2ts ground ginger, 1tsp honey and 1/4tsp cumin; add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; marinate 1-2hrs. Preheat oven 190C; remove chicken from marinade; place on baking dish; discard marinade. Sprinkle freshly-ground black pepper over chicken; bake 25-30mins. Toss together some mixed greens, 1/2c thinly sliced red capsicum, a few red onion slices, 1/3c thinly sliced cucumber and 1/4c toasted pecans. Whisk together a dressing – 1/3c orange juice, 2tbs olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (keep in separate bottle if taking salad to work). Add chicken to salad; sprinkle over some dried cranberries; drizzle with dressing when ready to serve.