Una McNoon appeared in my house one day in consequence of an astonishing string of coincidences, and we immediately realised how much we had in common. However, she knew infinitely more than I (I’d already been working on this project for a couple of years, and seemed to have got badly stuck), and she offered to give me a hand.
The first thing she did was to encourage me to make use of what I already knew, thereby clearing up the question of how to structure the chapters: “Write them as if they were songs … just do what you’ve been doing for years except that this time the song will be considerably longer and you’ll have a chance to explain many of the ideas and feelings that you deal with when you’re song writing…” “...And insert bits of the recipes in the places where drum breaks would go” she added suddenly, with boundless confidence, apparently baffled by my slowness to catch on.
She was with me for the nine months it took us to polish up the material, choose the recipes and complete the texts (she refused to let us tackle a chapter until its corresponding song was ready: “We’d be cheating otherwise”, she would say laughingly. Nor would she ever allow us to jump ahead, so this invention was composed step by step, strictly in the order imposed by the chapters). Then in June 2007 she left, though not before insisting that I make use of everything we had done together and that – if I so wished – I could even borrow her name as long as I found it useful.
So that’s what I’m doing: this experience-on-a-plate is intended to bring you a taste of the work we did together, and that for me was the journey of a lifetime.