No Food in England

No food in England; no food in Asia; knowing what it is to starve

When you have been starving it is something you do not forget. Most people never have this. I could empathise with Oliver: “please sir can I have some more” when I was young, but at that point my tummy had always been reasonably comfortable.

Then during the later years of my marriage we had little money, rather than let the children and her go hungry I reduced my own food. Working shifts I was mostly separate in cooking my food. I would make toad in the hole with just one toad and lots of hole. Living then on flour, egg, milk and a sausage. When I was off shift I was made to cook. We would have arguments while I cooked and I would serve up for the kids and her but the argument would escalate and I was always the one to dash my plate on the floor after having a mouthful and then to go without.

The way to cope I found was to drink water. This takes away the desire for food to a certain extent. It didn’t or did help that I had read “Down and out in Paris and London” as Orwell had taught me how to starve. I clearly remember being at work and feeling so hungry and not going to the vending machine for food but to the water dispenser.

One Christmas we had beans on toast for Christmas dinner. From then on we always referred to beans on toast as Christmas dinner.

When I escaped from the situation with her, I went to volunteer in Ecuador, India and Indonesia. During my second stint with the Turtle Survival Alliance India people, I was again with Shashwat, an English University educated Indian. He completely failed to get a kitchen sorted out in the house where we were staying in a village in an Indian backwater. The food just did not come. Some days there were a few biscuits or some white bread. The water trick helped and I remembered the same feeling from the past. I would lay in bed like Orwell craving food.

However, even the water was troublesome to get, as in India for clean water they rely a lot on plastic bottles of so called ‘mineral water’ and where to get this in a Indian backwater? One of his Indian friends said to him: “what are you doing to the English man?” Later Shashwat admitted to me that he was addicted to cough syrup, which took away any desire for food. Clearly you could get cough syrup in an Indian backwater. Any respect I had for him in the past evaporated during that time.

Later in Indonesia I was to come to those feelings of hunger again. With my Indonesian girlfriend, we became poor people, making and selling flour based ‘cake’ for a few pennies and some rice. Poor people’s food made by poor people. Then we wild foraged for vegetables. It was close to, but not quite, starving. With the pennies we had enough to buy purified water for us and some flour for ‘cake’ to start the cycle again.