Now I know I’ve told you this story before but a lot of you may not have heard the tale of how Mark and I got together. When we first met in 1990 I was living with my boyfriend and I had made friends with a German woman. She was rather intense and serious – and a vegetarian – but we got on all right as I made her laugh. So one day I asked her round for dinner. She said, ‘Can I bring my boyfriend?’
‘Of course,’ I said, being a hospitable sort of bod. And then she dropped two words into the soup of my life which changed it forever. ‘He’s vegan.’
‘Vegan? What? What? Vegan?’ What the hell do vegans eat? I spun round the flat opening and shutting cupboards and pulling things despairingly out of the freezer and shoving them back in again. As a meat-eater, I could cope with vegetarians – but vegans were altogether alien. I knew what vegans didn’t eat – I just had no clue as to what they actually did eat. I mean, what the hell do you live on if you don’t eat meat or fish or cheese or eggs or milk? Or yoghurt? Added to my woes was the conclusion I drew from this – that since my German friend was intense and serious – and a vegetarian, therefore her boyfriend, being vegan, must be even more intense and serious. This was not looking good.
If only I’d had the Vegan Cookbook back in those benighted days!
In the end, not having a clue what to do, I made a salad and, following the advice of the Calendar Girls (‘when in doubt, get it at Marks and Spencer’) I went to M & S and found a mushroom pate. The day came: I made the salad and opened the pate, and my friend arrived with her boyfriend. ‘This is Mark,’ she said.
‘Hi Mark,’ I said. He looked friendly, so I decided to come clean. ‘I didn’t know what vegans ate, so I copped out and made a salad,’ I said.
And he laughed! Thank God! So we had dinner and he was very polite about the mushroom pate although afterwards he said he hadn’t liked it – and we got on fine. And that was our first meeting.
Next installment tomorrow…