Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

February 03, 2009


I was interviewed by a newspaper. Once, a very long time ago. It was 1986 and I was young and naive - answering questions about my last year of high school. My picture and young and naive answers were all there on page 8 of The Sun. It was a bit of a thrill.

I haven't been interviewed since. Until now. Who doesn't love to flap their chops, talking about themselves? Thanks for the chance to do it again, House & Baby. I got a kick out it.

House & Baby: Dinner Party for 6. Dead or Alive, famous or not. Who's coming ?

Hoppo Bumpo: Is this one of those dating dinners? Am I supposed to be inviting 5 handsome blokes? No? I suppose you're right - Mr Hoppo Bumpo probably wouldn't appreciate that.

My picks then would be dinner guests from history – to start, scientists John Snow, Maria Skłodowska and Howard Florey. Each of these people made life-saving discoveries in public health and medical science. English scientist Snow, made advances in knowledge of how diseases spread, though his study of a cholera outbreak in London. You may better know Polish born Sklodowska, as French resident Marie Curie. She was of course a pioneer in the field of radiation and its uses in medicine. And Australian scientist Florey, discovered penicillin. It would be fascinating to talk to each of them.. Though I’d probably seat Curie at the other end of the table. She was known to carry little vials of glowing stuff in her pockets.

And just to keep the conversation sufficiently lively, I would seat Sir Winston Churchill (British prime minister) and Lady Nancy Astor (first female Member of Parliament) in close proximity. The insults they are reputed to have traded are pearls. Case in point:

Astor: Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.
Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.

H & B: Oh, and did I mention you're cooking (the old you, not the stand-back-and-throw woman of new). What are you serving, and why ?

HB: Easy, that would be ...

Lamb rack stuffed with fetta, paprika, lemon and oregano
Roast vegetables and steamed sugar snap peas
Ginger cake with gold leaf and creme anglais
Coffee served with Turkish Delight

The lamb and vegetables are a favourite. They're a very simple and probably border on a stand-back-and-throw, but doesn't everyone want time to talk with their guests before dinner?

The Ginger Cake is the antithesis of stand-back-and-throw. Lots of work and precision required. Its from back in the days when I had was an enthusiastic experimental cook. Piquant French capers, Maldon salt and sugared violets were pantry staples. I think this dessert from Vogue Entertaining circa 1992, typifies the culinary excesses of that era well. Didn't everyone put gold leaf on their cake?

And finally the Turkish Delight. Yes, well this is a case of needing to make amends for a mistake. It follows a disastrous dinner party experiment when I was 15. My co-chef and sister may have a better memory of events, but I seem to recall one of us holding a tray of the gelatin-based confection, while the other tried to wrench pieces out. Each bit stretched out like a rubber band before snapping into a near-inedible, chewy rubber ball. (Note to self: go easy on the gelatin this time.) However, the original might be suitable to serve with coffee if things between Churchill and Astor are getting a bit heated.

H & B: Life-skills-wise, what's more important - Hoppo, or Bumpo?

HB: Oh, most definitely bumpo. This is an essential skill for retail clearances. That and head-high-tackles. As they say, all's fair in love and sales.

H & B: You're quite the sewing fiend, and I don't see any hint that having an argy-bargy-boy's life has limited you. That said, do you ever wish for a pink little in the house?

HB: Some days as Argy and Bargy run riot around the house, I think how nice it would be have a girl in the mix. Pre-school boys are high octane and like to crash and bash their way through the day. Then I think how we didn't start our family til I was 36, so I'm just plain lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children. Besides while they are small they don't know that its socially unacceptable to have their toe-nails painted fuchsia and wear frostiest rose lipstick.

H & B: You're the star of the show, and the awards ceremony is in your honour. What song will be playing as your introduction ?

HB: Something suitably farcical such as the theme from Benny Hill. I would undoubtedly trip climbing the stairs to the stage, to accept the award.

Thanks again H & B for the questions. You can read an interview with House and Baby over here. If you'd like to be interviewed too, drop me a line via e-mail.


  1. Congratulations! I've been in the paper a time or two, but nothing so nice as this, so not as much fun (NOT for anything bad..just not fun! :p )

    And I say having a girl in the mix wouldn't have necessarily made a difference...my dd may love the pink, but she can and will run with the boys like the best of them. :p

  2. Girls are definitely quieter but sooooooooooo much more evil!!!!

    Would love to be interviewed (am just saying is all ;-)

  3. Great interview,
    ahh, pre-kids...what you could eat and contemplate making to eat...and all after 5 o'clock!
    My girl is NOT quieter at all-in fact the loudest and definitely the most contrary!

  4. COngratulations on the interview!

  5. Loved the interview! So cool to learn more. How have ou been going?

  6. Great interview, so funny. Would love to be a fly on the wall at that dinner party.

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