In Portland Oregon it was 4.31am. The Flaming Chef was sleeping off a Chicken Dumpling stew and mozzarella salad. It was one of those night-time emergency calls that we all have to make at some time or other in our lives. Of course, it wasn't night-time here, but it could have been. The curtains were drawn on the noon sun and once again I was under a mountain of blankets with the phone.
“Hello Chef, it's me Tristram Spencer and my world is a shit one!” I had to stop and compose myself at that point, my bottom lip was wavering at 50hertz per minute and if I'd have gone on I would have risked electrocution on my own tears. As I pulled myself together I listened down the line to 7,000 miles of static. Someone, somewhere was out there, connected to me and listening... actually listening. Surrounded by my own hot air I exhaled, a full 7 minute monologue in B flat minor.
It was a sad, hysterical, raving call; one long sentence with no punctuation. That I was still alive come the finale says I must have stopped for air at some time, but I really don't recall. Imagine sitting down on the toilet and your whole rotten insides spilling out from your arse: intestines-stomach-kidney-liver-lungs-heart, all connected together like a long string of sausages. Well that's what it was like, a complete cleansing of the system. When I was finished The Flaming Chef didn't react, not a word. He just ever so quietly put his receiver down and all that was left was the sound of the sea.
Sometimes people don't need to say anything. Sometimes just their ear and time is enough. Without knowing it this mysterious chef from somewhere across the ocean had helped me make the most important decision of my life. Throwing off the covers and flattening down my hair I dialled The Maudsley and asked to speak with John.
And that's how it happened... how John is coming home. There was no drama, no huge internal struggle, no pros and cons. We spoke as if nothing had happened and quite astonishingly the only tears came from him. I really do think it's going to be quite an unforgettable summer.