The Duke - September 9, 2015

Karahi chicken tikka curry at The Raj on Woodhouse Lane which has earned a top ranking on the TripAdvisor website
Karahi chicken tikka curry at The Raj on Woodhouse Lane which has earned a top ranking on the TripAdvisor website
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Despite what seems like several lifetimes spent in journalism (a writer’s year being a bit like a dog year in length) I’ve always been a great believer in putting off until tomorrow what doesn’t necessarily have to be done today.

I blame it on living with deadlines for so long. Well, if something has to be written by noon on any given day, what’s the point in polishing it off 24 hours early?

For starters, I discovered a long time ago that someone will only line you up with something else to fill the idle hours. And then there’s the adrenaline rush of leaving something until the last moment just for the thrill.

Granted, it’s not great for keeping blood pressure levels stable but what’s the harm in having a flushed face and a racing pulse once in a while?

Take this column, for example. Despite having a week to tinker around with it I usually start writing it after Sunday afternoon sport has kicked off, and know it has to be completed before dinner is served at 8pm.

Along the way I’ve usually jotted down a few notes from the newspapers and paced up and down a bit for an hour or so, getting grumpier by the minute.

This week is a shade different, due to the imminent arrival of Mother Dearest and The Stepfather. That means there’s dusting to be done, and hoovering, and ironing and cleaning the oven – not to mention sorting out lightbulb outages and making sure the bathrooms are as fresh and sparkly as a television commercial for fresh and sparkly things.

This all means I’m having to bang out this column a bit faster and earlier than usual to ensure everything is spick and, of course, span, in time for the invasion.

The Manager and I won’t actually be here for most of MD’s stay. She’s not here to see us. She’s coming over to house sit. Not that the house really needs “sitting.” It’s over 100 years old so is quite able to look after itself, but Mother D doesn’t really do genuine holidays any more, so the only way to get her across the border from Yorkshire is to give her something responsible to do.

In a way it’s quite touching that, in my mid-60s, she still isn’t convinced I can wipe my own nose or prepare anything more complex to eat than breakfast cereal – let alone keep a house intact.

But I don’t take it too seriously, especially since reading that parents who exert too much control over their children can cause them lifelong psychological damage. Well, that’s what a recent study which traced a group of 5000 people born in the 1940s found.

Parents encouraging too much dependence were more likely to have offspring scoring low in happiness and general well-being.

Obviously, there were reasons why so many mums (and it tended to be mums) in the 40s and 50s were more controlling than they seem to be today – and I’m certainly not saying that my parents weren’t caring or warm in my youth and beyond.

I just wish I didn’t still feel a chill of fear when approaching playgrounds with their oh so dangerous slides and roundabouts, didn’t always opt for the glass half empty outlook and didn’t face the constant ridicule of the Only One who I still worry about constantly – despite him now being in his early 30s and far more in control of his own destiny than I ever was.

Curry house owners feel the heat as we abandon restaurants for a supermarket meal deal

No sooner has a study of nearly 500,000 middle aged people found that those ate a spicy meal every one or two days were far less likely to die an early death than those who didn’t, than statistics reveal that curry houses are in crisis.

Granted the 487,000 people studied were Chinese aged between 30 and 79 – but it seems their longevity is down to a chemical contained in chili peppers which has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer-fighting properties.

That’s the good news. The bad is that Indian restaurant owners are meeting for crisis talks, amid concerns that restaurants opened by South Asian chefs who migrated to the UK in the 1950s and 60s are struggling.

It’s a double whammy of bargain basement “takeaway” supermarket meal packs and tighter immigration rules forbidding visas for non-European Union chefs on less than £29,570 a year – a good few grand beyond the average curry outlet.

Couple that with second and third generations of those initial immigrants not seeing their future in catering and the problem intensifies.

Given that curries are an essential part of the £4bn food industry it’s no wonder some 150 curry house owners are meeting in Edinburgh this month to discuss what to do.