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It's all true - I am walking down the aisle

Published 8 April 2007
News Review
716th article



The greatest growth industry over the last few years is "health" food. Organic carrots (I have those), organic sheep's milk yoghurt (I have that) - everything has to be organic or at least labelled organic. Do we trust the labels?

Then there's free range chickens, or rather chickens we're told by the manufacturer are free range. What does that mean? I have investigated. A free range chicken is one that has two acres of ground just for itself.

This presents problems when you have to catch the little dear and murder it so it can be packaged for sale. A whole new profession of chicken-catchers has appeared.

These are usually young men and women around 12 years of age.

They're given enormous nets and have to chase the chicken until it is captured.

I understand these youths are paid a mere £3 for each chicken caught.

It can take up to six hours to catch a particularly unruly bird, thus making the hourly rate for the job equal to, or below, those dear Vietnamese sewing high fashion goods in dank dungeons.

Why this situation has not come to the attention of the Home Office or the Sunday tabloids, I do not understand.

Ever wishing to go with the flow I lunched a few days ago at Luscious Organic on Kensington High Street. This was acquired by a Yugoslavian lady, Dragana, who I understand will be appearing as the wicked witch in Humpty Dumpty on ice at some bizarre theatre in the north.

She took over Luscious Organic in 2003 when the previous company went bankrupt.

Among her partners are Boy George and a man called Simon Brown, whose book Feng Shui for Wimps was on display above my table.

Dragana certainly made a go of it. The premises used to be empty. Now they're buzzing. Elle Macpherson shops there. I know that because I was sent Elle's bill in error. It dwarfed my humble purchases.

That happened once before when Coutts sent me the bank statements of the Monaco consul-general.

I never found out who got mine, nor did I care.

Luscious Organic has five tables inside and another six outside (weather permitting). The shelves are full of packets of stuff so healthy I didn't dare read the labels. They even have organic wine.

Geraldine appeared holding a packet of watercress, then put it back. If she was trying to tell me something, I missed the point.

Greg, the manager, produced the menu. I chose Caribbean vegetable soup followed by Moroccan chickpea and spinach stew, rice and salad. My soup and main course arrived at the same time, but there was no sign of Geraldine's Provencal lasagne.

The soup was absolutely superb. Very tasty. It said, "I'm not only healthy but nice as well." The Moroccan chickpea and spinach stew surprised me by also being excellent.

I went to Luscious Organic shortly after eating roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at home expecting just to taste everything for you. But it was so good, I stuffed myself.

Geraldine's lasagne eventually arrived. It seemed moist and pleasant to me. Greg also offered fresh vegetable smoothies. But I stuck for a large glass of very fresh orange juice.

The London Clinic offers on its menu "freshly squeezed orange juice". That implies not only that it's fresh, but recently squeezed on the premises. I received a tired orange juice, obviously from a carton and bought in. It was horrible.

I confronted the chef over this matter. The next morning orange juice appeared.

"Take it away," I said, "it's awful."

But they kept coming back, eventually explaining the chef had squeezed oranges that morning for me. So thereafter, at least in room 528, the orange juice situation was tip-top.

My table at Luscious Organic overlooked the 1930s Odeon cinema, about to be redeveloped. Thanks to a group of objectors, with me particularly vociferous, the frontage is to be retained. Behind it will be flats and some cinemas.

For dessert Greg plied me with cakes. Orange and almond cake, moist and excellent; then carrot cake with lots of nuts, and an orange and banana cake with icing. That last one was a bit heavy. They have organic coffee and espresso.

Downstairs there's a clinic open seven days a week offering services which include face reading. As a finale Geraldine took a bottle of pinot grigio "made with organically grown grapes from the living soil". It was all so healthy I began to feel a bit queasy.

You'll note from our photo I am able to stand up unaided.

I walk with one stick.

I've gone home. My house is now inhabited by more nurses than Emergency Ward 10.



Winner's letters

Sorry to inform you, mate, but you are not suffering from an "extraordinarily rare disease", as you stated last week, but from an internationally common sickness caused by eating seafood - there are nearly 1,100,000 entries for Vibrio vulnificus on Google. Never mind, you don't have much to worry about: of the 50% of patients who die from the disease more than 30% of those do so in the first few days. So it seems you are probably over the hump. Fancy another prawn cocktail yet?
Bob Forrest-Webb, Herefordshire

Begorrah, not only are you losing weight, you're manifesting into Jimmy Savile.
John Finegan, Count Cavan, Ireland

An unexpected bonus of MW's long stay in hospital was that we enjoyed an above average number of photos of the fragrant Geraldine and Dinah. Um ... er ... could MW possibly arrange a teeny-weeny relapse?
Robert Randell, London

So, you've survived and are now to be hitched - congratulations. Only, why do I have to read all about it in some downmarket rag that I found in a hotel lobby? Surely getting married is the most important event in your life?
Rosamund Ainsworth, Devon

Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or e-mail michael.winner@sunday times.co.uk