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Three Jamies in one day PDF
Thursday, 18 June 2009 14:09
 

Jamie Oliver

My mobile phone rang one lunchtime in the middle of June.
“Hi, Paul, this is Jamie...”.
“Hi, Jamie, how are YOU...?”
I answered somewhat over-enthusiastically, especially since I didn’t know which Jamie it was who was calling me.
Could it be Jamie Oliver? The Naked Chef? I mused. No, he doesn’t have my number. And anyway I barely know Britain’s top TV chef, having spoken to him only once and then rather briefly as he served me my dish of paella the evening before.

 

Perhaps it’s Jamie Boyd? The artist, writer and son of the recently deceased Lord Kilmarnock, or, as he was better known, Alastair Boyd, also artist and writer, as well as environmental campaigner and hispanophile. The Jamie I’d met and spoken to for the first time on the same previous evening that I met his namesake, the chef.

Nope. Not him either.

“I’m fine. I’m just calling to say that I’m back home earlier than expected, so can meet up with you any time.”

Ah, that Jamie Jamie Ewing. The ‘green’ campaigner who had phoned the Olive Press office the day before to ask would we be interested in covering a story about a planned environmental outrage involving the electricity company Sevillana Endesa.

“I’m just finishing off lunch, so can we meet at, say 4.30?”

That sounded interesting, said my lunch companions, Serafina and Alison.

Yes, fancy coming across three Jamies all on the same day in the Serranía de Ronda!

My colleagues and I had been “staking out” Jamie Oliver for three days, while he was trying to secretly film a food documentary in the Ronda area. We’d finally tracked him down – he was to be taught how to cook various dishes, including a giant paella, in the tiny village of Benaoján.

I had got to the venue before the film crew and met, photographed and interviewed the local protagonists. These were the paella chef, Salvador, who’s been making paellas for 1000 people once a year for 18 years; the gazpacho cook, MarInés; the tortilla española expert, Juan; and Dolores, who was going to teach Jamie how to make borrachuelos, a local pastry made from flour, butter and lots of white wine.

Then the camera crew arrived and set up inside the houses of the neighbours, while Jamie waited in the minibus. When he finally emerged and shuffled up the hill to the street where the filming was to take place, I managed to take two snaps before I was approached by the Production Manager and asked to stop and move away! From a public street in a public village! Not wishing to cause a scene, I withdrew and went to the bar for a beer.

Anyway, suffice to say that the filming took place and then it was paella time.

But first the 2.5 metre diameter paellera had to be got from its store to the cooking area. That was interesting, fitting it through the narrow streets on a dumper truck. At least one freshly-painted house lost a coat or two!

It was at the fiesta, that the positive-thinking mayor of Benaoján, coincidentally the daughter of Salvador, the paella chef, had organised, that I saw Jamie Boyd and his lovely Spanish wife, Isa. I knew her to talk to and him by sight from the memorial service to his dad in March. I reacquainted myself with her and introduced myself to Jamie.

He’d been clearing out his dad’s study that day and had found some interesting diaries and manuscripts. Alastair Boyd had written two of the best books in English about the Serranía de Ronda, namely The Road to Ronda and South of the Sierras.

I met the third Jamie at 4.30 pm as arranged. He invited me to his big house in the campo near Gaucín where he gave me the background to the environmental scandal about which he had contacted me.

Sevillana Endesa had had plans approved to erect a run of pylons right through the middle of a virgin valley which runs down towards Gibraltar on the coast, despite the fact that existing pylons tucked into the edge of woodland nearby could just as easily do the trick.

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours in searing heat - only partly assuaged by copious soft drinks and a refreshing swim in Jamie’s pool. I took detailed notes, before I set off back to the slightly cooler air of home and more drinks (alcoholic this time) in my favourite local bar.

© Paul Whitelock

 

Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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