A wonderful evening with my daughter, with sticky rice and green tea; sweet and sour, her favourite. We laugh and she tells me stories about new love and life. And then I think about my mother, and my training of the sticks.

It’s a long story, over three years, just like a degree.

It started with Saul when I was seven.

“Pineapple is slippery, use the sticks with a dub of rice, it helps with the lift”. He wore polo-neck jumpers and was an expert with the sticks.

Eric, a year later, used the sticks like spanners, clunking at his bowl. He was a mechanic and balanced the pork rather than grip it. But he was funny, and he told funny stories.

Noel after that (when I was nine) wasn’t very funny, but he could sing. Never at the restaurant, but always on the way. Noel worked the sticks with ease. He had a red pick-up, Eric a yellow mini, and Saul always walked.

It ended with Harry and my tuition was complete. He was a chef and a God with the sticks. “Let the aroma excite you, be at one with the ginger divine.”

He lived in Seattle, and went back home in the fall, to his wife.

fondest memories,
from nineteen seventy-six,
my mother’s lovers.