Camberwell comedian Jenny Eclair finds that, as a by-product of touring the UK, she has become an expert on regional cuisine. The ‘best sausage ever’, for example, is to be found in Shrewsbury. And also on Lordship Lane…
Sometimes while travelling around the UK, I like to pretend the country is a giant deli board and it’s my job to sample its regional delights, be they cheese, sausage or chutney.
Well folks, this month’s special hails from Shrewsbury, where I ate the best sausage I have ever tasted in my life – plump and meaty and sizzling with flavour. Seriously, I nearly wept.
On further investigation I discovered this breakfast delicacy hailed from nearby Wenlock Edge farm. Cue a flurry of Twitter activity and I was soon informed these blissful bangers are available on my very own doorstep, courtesy of Franklins Farm Shop on Lordship Lane. A million yays! I have found the saviour of the boring breakfast.
A flurry of Twitter activity soon informed me that these blissful bangers are available on my doorstep at Franklins Farm Shop on Lordship Lane
To be honest, Shrewsbury ticked a lot of boxes. My tour manager described the town’s appeal thus: ‘What Brighton is for gay men, Shrewsbury is for middle-aged women’.
I’ve seldom visited a place where the shopping is so directly targeted at the 50-something’s purse strings. Shrewsbury is the Mecca of middle-aged mooching. Its medieval high street has all the usual chains plus some of the best independent retailers I ever had the pleasure of popping into.
These indie treats include a glorious vintage clothing emporium where everything is hand-laundered by angels and an Aladdin’s cave of a sewing shop, stuffed with jewel coloured silk thread and kits for all abilities.
I may have mentioned my tapestry fixation previously. Well, far from being a passing fad, I’m pleased to report that I have advanced from ‘squirrel and his nut’ to ‘rose and honey bee’. Of course, once these pieces are finished, they need ‘making up’, ie, either framing or mounting onto cushion covers. Obviously, being an utter cack-handed novice, this is beyond me, so I have called upon the help of Fine Cell Work, a London-based charity that rehabilitates prison inmates through the power of sewing.
What we need in this country is a register of qualified handypeople who can be called upon by old ladies to hang pictures, install bookcases and turn knobs in the right direction
For £60, Fine Cell Work will turn my grubby woollen masterpiece into a cushion and flat-warming gift for my mother who, at 86, has just dramatically downsized and is struggling with all things new (including an unfathomable central heating system, a new washer-dryer and the fact she has no shelves).
Meanwhile 200 miles away, her three useless children fret and attempt to sort things long distance. What we need in this country is a register of qualified handypeople – preferably with their own tool belt, a pencil behind the ear and a cheerful whistle – who can be called upon by old ladies to hang pictures, install bookcases, turn knobs in the right direction and generally assuage the guilt of middle-aged offspring who are too far away and too impractical to help.
It’s not even as if we can send up a grandchild to help because none of them has been trained to make anything more complicated than a latte. It’s time to get back to basics – schools need to offer woodwork and sewing and the sexes should take their pick. Let’s try to turn our youngsters on to DIY, before the only place left to learn to do anything practical is in the nick!