The Eat Is Off

This is one of the saddest days of my writing career as it is when I bid a fond goodbye to this website. It’s not a huge wrench as I haven’t posted a review since February, but it is a symbolic occasion as these incognito food reviews are how my late-blossoming vocation started.

It was in Spring 2015 that my great friend Paul Sweeting said that one of his associates, Paul Simon, had started an on-line magazine and would like to know if I was interested in contributing to it. I asked how much it paid and he said nothing. He didn’t say nothing in that he stayed silent, he said that it paid nothing. I thought about this proposition for a while and after two seconds I declined the offer. I was then told that he wanted me to write about food and drink and, whilst there was no fee involved, I could choose where I reviewed and I would be reimbursed the amount of the bill. After a further two-second pause I said I would give it a go and see how it went.

I decided to write lunch reviews and keep my identity a secret so that I would be treated like any other punter when I called, hence the baby photograph on my business card, website headings and social media. Even after seven years you will see very few photographs of me on-line although there are are one or two on my other website I must be one of the very few who never show their face on Facebook or twitter. You can thank me later.

Tile Hall 2015. iPhone cameras were not that great back then.

I called my series of articles Let’s Do Lunch and on 13th May, 2015 I queued up with my tray at the counter of the fabulous Tile Hall in Leeds Central Library to partake of my first feed. The review was published on and off I went. I had decided that I wouldn’t spend a huge amount each week as the series was aimed at office workers and visitors to our great city who were either just grabbing a bite to eat in their lunch break or wanted something sensible to see them through to dinner when they would go for a treat. I must admit to blowing the budget on a couple of occasions, which somehow seemed to coincide with my birthday, but I never took the proverbial.

I stayed with Leeds Living until Autumn 2019 when I set up this site and I must say that, until a few months ago, I enjoyed every minute of it.

There are several reasons I have decided to put my knife and fork next to each other on the plate and ask for the bill. The main one is that the site was meant to be a reference resource, where else would you get a hundred reviews all done by the same person so as to give consistency. Since lockdown, however, the whole food scene in Leeds has changed so as to make it irrelevant.

There is also the constant battle with my waistline, the fact that I am on a fixed income and my slush fund having contracted sufficiently to make me think twice about spending twenty quid or more to write an article. I don’t blame the restaurants for this, they now have to start repaying the loans from the pandemic and catching up with rent which had been suspended during lockdown. The prices of ingredients and fuel have also gone through the roof so, like a lot of the general public whose living costs have also increased, I have had to trim my sails, otherwise I would be out there supporting them.

I have every intention of keeping my other site going so you don’t get rid of me that easily, in fact, now that I don’t have to lurk in the shadows any more, you might just see a raised profile on social media. I think I’ll keep the baby photo though.

I will leave the site as its is until the hosting fee becomes due again so you can have a final look.

Obviously, without you, dear reader, it would have been pointless in my carrying on for all these years so please be aware that you will forever hold a special place in my heart. Mange toutes.

I would just like to end as I began, by mentioning Paul Sweeting and Paul Simon, two great blokes who have improved my lifestyle beyond my wildest dreams. I can never thank you enough gentlemen.

Images by Stan Graham.


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