I was all set to watch the lovely Fernando tonight at 9pm but for some reason The Restaurant Inspector is having a mid-season break until the 11th June. What the bloody hell is that all about? But, joy! It meant I caught the fantastic fishy tale, Inside Billingsgate which you absolutely must watch on the i player if you missed it.
Roger who started as a porter, and is now the main-man merchant is ready to poop on his porters from a dizzy height. An ancient law says they must be licensed and protected but Roger thinks that it's time to open up to competition - let the cheap labour in and have done with it. One porter has been with Roger for 18 years and Roger refuses to say if he'll still have a job if the laws change.
"I hope to turn over between £150 and £175 thousand this week" said Rog. Oh My God. How much? He took £35,000 in one day! Why has he been in the business until he's old, knackered and everyone hates him? He could have retired as a rich man after a decade.
Then there was the other merchant who was being most unpleasant to the Chinese as they were trying to choose the finest live eels. He admitted that since the pie and mash shops have gone the Chinese are his main buyers so why doesn't he try to show them some respect?
I've never done Billingsgate but always intended to at some point in the future (when I was in a fit state at 4am to handle a fish market). Now I can't because I will end up causing a right old stink worse than any rotting fish if I have to personally witness Roger trying to humiliate his staff or any of the other gits having a go at anyone born outside the toll of the Bow bells.
Another thing . . .you all know how I feel about razor clams (see the Spooks blog) so I was shocked and stunned to see Roger having to hide a box because it would cause a riot if anyone saw it. He meant they would be fighting over it rather than fighting to get out of its way lest they were attacked by the pesky molluscs as I was (are they molluscs?).
And finally . . . the funniest bit was where one merchant was talking about the pollack v cod debate. He said that Jamie and Hugh had gone about campaigning for fish and chip shops to sell less cod and more pollack and the result? Cod's dropped in price, pollack has shot up and is now being over fished. "And it tastes like s**t." he said and went on to liken cod to a healthy-eating body builder and pollack as a lard-arsed Jeremy Kyle watching, junk food addict. Classic.
By the way, when I was a dinner lady (yes, I have a shady past) I worked with a kitchen porter called Big George who had been a fisherman on the trawlers in Brixham, Devon. He had retired from fishing because his legs had gone after spending years knee deep in ice, packing the fish on the boats. He said that skate was the only fish that could not be brought on board because it exuded such slime that no-one could stand up on deck. It was kept in nets off the side of the boat. Now I knew there was a legend or myth or possible truth about fishermen and skate but George looked at me like I was mad when I nudged and winked and muttered, "Did the wife ever get jealous of the skate, then?" Have I made this up or does anyone else remember this fisherman's tale? Let me know.