Never Meet Your Heroes
The idea was to go to Glastonbury this year and write a piece about the abundant and vacant meat consumption at the festival, something like this article that George Monbiot article wrote in 2015 and basically nobody listened to. However given that today’s anecdote largely revolves around me eating a sausage sandwich, I felt such a thing would be dishonest, and as we will see - I’m really not above anyone else or anything.
Never meet your heroes, that’s what they say.
My strong and handsome brother in law learnt this backstage at one Glastonbury where he bumped into the idol of his adolescence, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead). He somehow summoned the courage to approach his icon, and despite every nerve in his body pleading him to retreat, managed to blurt out the words of his undying devotion “Hey man, I love all the stuff you’ve done with Atoms For Piece”
Thom glanced at him with the indifference of a man looking at a half eaten carrot, and replied “toilets that way mate.”
Snubbed by the callous dismissal, Harry held his head low and walked away and vowed never again to make false idols of men. I once tried to console him by explaining that Glastonbury is a loud place, perhaps Thom just thought he’d said, “hey do you know where the toilets are?” But it was too late by then to be swayed by reason, the damage had been done, the angel fallen.
Fast forward to Glastonbury 2022 and the hero to fall from grace is not Thom Yorke (of Radiohead), but of course Sam (of Sam’s Good Stuff).
It took place in the queue for a sausage sandwich. A woman - young, naive, full of dreams for this life - looked at me and slowly shaped a smile. She walked away. “Claire!” the name was shouted and as she came back to claim her own sarnie from the till, she looked at me again and said “I know you…”
“You’re Sam from Sam’s Good Stuff!”
It had happened.
I’d been recognised.
All the hard work toiling away at my craft had paid off, and lo and behold; I was famous. I thought of Paul McCartney the night before moving thousands with his reprisals of Let It be and Hey Jude at the piano keys, and saw that like him, I had made it too. Stood there from the mouth of that sausage sandwich counter, looking down the hill upon the masses sprawled across the valley floor, I thought Paul, oh Paul! Here we both are, at Glastonbury, getting the respect we deserve for this lifetime (or near one year in my case) of pouring our hearts into our art.
It was a few minutes into these reveries when I realised that the woman in front of me was expecting some kind of reply. That was when a friend appeared and rescued me, “Ah Sam this is Claire, we’re both obsessed with your emails!” She had brought me some time and I would use it to formulate a bedazzling and articulate riposte that would at once leave them in hysterics, hungry and crying.
“Good” I said, after what seemed like a few more minutes. Oh god this is even worse than Thom Yorke! At least he provoked allure in his condescension, but I was proving to be only vapid. I should send them to the toilets, I thought, but I looked around, I didn’t even know where the toilets were. That’s one thing about Thom Yorke, he always knows where the toilets are.
My other friend then appeared and saw this as a suitable opportunity to tell them about last night and explain the cut above my lip that had happened when I took so many mushrooms that I passed out and hit my face on a bench. Claire laughed at the story, but I could tell it was forced, and she said she had to leave to find some other friends, an excuse others brought, though one I knew was only concocted to relieve her from spending any more time in the face of such disappointment.
Her hero had been shattered like my mind had been the night before, yet I knew the fragments of mine would be put together sooner than she would recover from her delusions.
Other devoted fans of this newsletter will realise that this instalment is slightly late. My mum even called me last night to check that I was still alive, and also to scold me for going to Glastonbury and leaving an ill wife at home with a baby to look after who incidentally developed chicken pox on the first night I was gone. I’ve been doing my time since - up all night, up all the early morning shifts and down each bedtime routine. My mind and ego has been slow to recover, but I’ve spent the time cooking potato curry for baby George, taming my hubris and whispering warnings across to Paul if he might hear me.
We are only but men, and beyond this masquerade of fame, we can probably achieve no more than to look after our families and those we love.
Thanks for reading Sam's Good Stuff: Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Baby Potato Curry
This is the first recipe I’ve shared that is for a baby or child, but it works also for an adult when they crave the comfort and simplicity of eating like one. It works on the standard set of Indian spicing for cooking vegetables and is something I quickly put on the stove just before cycling off to pick up George for nursery. You can peel the potatoes though I often don’t bother, even if I have in this case to make a slightly prettier picture. If you have some potatoes and spices in your cupboard, you’ll at least always know there’s a lazy meal to fall back on, to be eaten with pickle, a little rice or naan and perhaps eggs in some form, be they boiled or fried, or better yet - a dal to defy death.
3 medium potatoes (roughly 600g), chopped into pieces
3 cloves garlic and equivalent amount of ginger
A few heaped tablespoons passata or 1/4 tin of tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or use more if you have no other tomato)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon sugar and salt
Boil ~500ml water in a kettle.
Cover the bottom of a saucepan (that has a lid) with oil or butter or ghee or some combination of them, and put on medium high heat. Bash up the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar (or use a blender or chop it). Add the cumin seeds to the oil and fry for about 20 seconds until they are fragrant but do not let them go dark or burnt.
Add the ginger/garlic mix and fry for another minute until starting to take a little colour. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste and fry for another minute then add in the potatoes, and a half teaspoon of sugar and salt (I probably don’t put quite as much in when it’s strictly for a baby). Add hot water from the kettle to cover the potatoes, cover the pan, and cook on low heat for 20 minutes or until the potato is tender.
Remove the lid and cook off the excess liquid until it has reached a consistency you find pleasing; whether a slightly loose sauce or a thick coating.
What a trip. Glastonbury, mushrooms, a masquerade, recognition, a lack of readiness, a moment lost in time…and an epiphany as earthy and sustaining as a dish of Baby Potato Curry.