IF I were ever to find myself wandering lost in the red light area of some strange city, I am now armed with the knowledge of how to spot a wanton lady of the night who may be intent on luring me into her sordid web.
And to whom do I owe thanks for this useful piece of information? None other than my old pal the Wonderful Withers of WoS.
Now, don't ask me how the Wonderful One has actually worked it all out. I imagine it has taken painstaking hours of research armed only with the kerbcrawlers A-Z and a condom (strictly for his own protection, I may add).
But Smashy and I were the beneficiaries of his diligent undercover work at a rather poorly attended meeting of the Wednesday Club in The Yard last night.
As we sat morosely drinking our beers and trying to dream up some lively topic of conversation the wonderful one scanned the bar disinterestedly, before perking up like a police spotter dog having just sniffed out the illegal contraband of an unsuspecting drug mule.
Then, as his eyes narrowed to focus on some unsuspecting female, he declared: "She's a prostitute."
Smashy and I, suspecting that perhaps Withers had encountered said lady of the night on a recent unscheduled trip to downtown Splott, chorused: "How do you know that?"
"It's obvious," he said. "Only prostitutes wear red shoes."
Now I am not sure how Judy Garland fans might react to this news having drooled over the star's seemingly innocent performance in the Wizard of Oz, but Withers was adamant. And who were WE to argue, two innocents abroad being served up this undisputed truth in such an open and honest manner.
Like all good hacks, we made our excuses and left...
Imparting this information during a smoking break at the side lodge printer Mike, the man who has more former girlfriends than Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger rolled in to one (most of which now appear to be in various loony asylums throughout Wales) came up with another astonishing fact to equal that of Withers.
"Do you know, and I have yet to have anyone disprove this theory, that all fat girls wear great shoes?"
The Fugitive and I looked at him perplexed.
"It's true. My girlfriends are often accompanied by fat friends and they are ALWAYS wearing great shoes. I suppose it distracts from the bulge in their stomachs."
A real charmer, printer Mike.
Reminds me of Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes) who, in the course of lending the wonderful one his vast experience in chat-up lines, said: "It's easy mate. To get chatting to a bird, all you have to do is compliment them on their shoes."
So there you go...
Back to my roast lamb recipe from the other night. I had a lamb leg joint to cook and found a useful recipe in an old copy of Observer Food Monthly. The man responsible is Simon Hodgkinson, and I did this with the perfect roast potatoes that Nigel Slater swears by.
Roast leg of lamb joint
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in three lengthways
6 anchovy filets, cut in half
Some rosemary leaves
half a bottle of white wine
potatoes, peeled and cut in half (how many depends on how greedy you are)
goose fat for roasting
sea salt, pepper
1/2 pint of chicken stock
WHAT I DID:
To prepare the lamb, slice 12 deep cuts in the skin and flesh of the lamb and insert a slither of garlic, half an anchovy and some rosemary leaves.
Heat the oven to 220 degrees.
Place the lamb in a baking tray with the half bottle of white wine.
Put in the pre-heated oven.
Cover the potatoes in cold water and bring to the boil on the hob.
Boil for seven to 10 minutes then drain the water. Put back on the heat and shake the pan so the potatoes crumble around the edges.
Heat the goose fat on another baking tray, then put the potatoes on the tray and toss them in the goose fat.
After the lamb has been on high heat for 15 minutes and browned nicely, reduce the oven to 180 degrees. Cook the lamb for another hour, basting in the wine. Keep turning the potatoes to brown them, then at the end sprinkle with sea salt.
Remove lamb from oven and let it stand for 15 minutes, covered in silver foil to keep warm.
Put the lamb roasting tin and juices on the top of the hob and add a sprinkling of flour, stirring it into the juices.
Add the stock a bit at a time and continue to stir, simmering on the hob.
Serve up with roast potatoes, any veg you fancy and the lamb, then add gravy.