"to Jo- Jo, love Floyd xxx" (there's also a little scribble of a wine glass next to it )
Looking at this inscription I felt three things:
- Ridiculous and inappropriate excitement (I may have sqeaked slightly)
- A tinge of sadness that he's not here any more, and that something so special could be sold for 2p
- Intrigue as to who Jo-Jo is/was, and whether she knew her book was to be posted off to a stranger In Buckinghamshire. Despite the likelihood that it was probably a 2 second meeting at a book signing, I decided that Jo Jo had been a glamorous, tousled, 40 something blonde who talked like she lived in an Agatha Christie novel and met him in a far away bar in the early 80's, where they spent the night dancing, drinking and tasting exotic food. Now, in her 70's, she lay back on silk sheets with a long cigarette and said to her handsome son (who looked remarkably like Keith) "I have no need for this book anymore, the memories of that stolen night will stay with til I die, sell it to someone fabulous who will love it forever"....
There are plenty of others I admire, and whose programmes I enjoy watching- Michel Roux Jr and Raymond Blanc probably my favourites at the moment, but I remember being fascinated by this brilliant, funny, charismatic and slightly bonkers man one cold, boring night in the mid 80s. Flamboyant is a word that gets over used when people talk about Keith Floyd, but with his wonky red bow tie, braces and loud, booming voice it's easy to see why they say it, and I was transfixed by him cooking on a rocking boat in Hong Kong, all flames and shouting and swigging rice wine.
Jo-Jo's donated book, "Far Flung Floyd" tells the story of that episode in Hong Kong, and his travels around the Far East- Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Like him, it's funny, informative and makes you want to cook- AND feel like you can create something really impressive. That, for me, was the best thing about him- he spoke of food with passion, but was never elitist about it- he made mistakes and wasn't afraid to show them; he was a human being and his energy and enthusiasm were addictive.
For someone like me, he's the one telly chef who reminds me what it's all about. Cooking is about love and creativity and fun- I cook because I love it, and even if it goes wrong sometimes, nothing will stop me trying. I'm sure I'll never dish up anything anywhere near as good as he did, but as long as I have the ability to give it a go, I will.
Thanks Jo-Jo, I love it.