I have utilised mangoes in many ways: they are the basis of a Thai salad; perfect to add to a martini, wonderful simply sliced and drenched in lime juice. Never before have I thought to combine them with pork belly. My love of pig meat is well documented. So is my desire to combine pork with the gamut of fruit: gooseberry, plum, peach, pear, apple even rhubarb. But as I toddled my way through Waitrose looking for something to accompany my pig, I found myself staring at a mango. And the mango stared right back.
So some hours later I found myself griddling slices of the sweet orange flesh in a state of waitful anticipation that they might somehow work. And surprisingly, they did.
Exposed: the naked truth about wobbly bodies in the buff
Comedy is an art and not a science; there is no set formula for laughter. There are moments when the funny thing to do, the correct punchline to a joke, is delivered to you, rather than decided by you. Filming for the telly the other day we were struggling with an ending for a gag. It soon became apparent that the joke worked by allowing the camera to reveal that I wasn't wearing any trousers.
My colleagues were rather astonished at my readiness to remove my N.K.Toms breeks and be dressed (or should that be undressed) in a public arena solely in my fluorescent pink boxer shorts. I, however, was unfazed; semi-naked but definitely unfazed.
I have always been very comfortable with my body. Which is astonishing since it's hardly impressive. It's not the sort of physique that Michelangelo would have bothered with; I ain't no David. And maybe that is the point, the nature of my comfort. I am aware of my body's limitations, its over-indulgences, its excesses, its general sense of hirsuteness. None of these, however, has stopped me enjoying an au naturelle communion with my personal space. In other words, I am seldom happier than when wandering about the flat starkers, clothes-less, in the scud.
In fact for many years I believed that we should have more nakedness in our world. Clothes represent a myriad of meanings. They signal our social standing, our occupation, our sub-cultural reference points. It's easy enough to spot a middle-class goth doctor by their sartorial appearance. Losing our clothes, embracing nakedness, forces us to engage with the person rather than the packaging. Now obviously there is the awkward bits and pieces to overcome. But frankly, as Brits maybe we need more exposure to such objects, to help us deal with our immaturity and puerility when it comes to our sex and sexuality.
And I have a firm belief that the demystification of our bodies would make for an easier time for us all. I still don't understand how a woman's body barely covered in a handkerchief's worth of material is so much more acceptable than the same woman in the buff? Surely the issue is our imaginations, our minds rather than our bodies?
Back on track with a moan about Manchester
There are some things that those of us who live on these islands are compelled to complain about. The weather tops almost every list when it comes to the great British disease of having a good bleat. A reliable second is almost always travel: if we're not complaining about road works or traffic we are moaning about the concentration of buses in threes, having had nothing bus-like for ages. And trains. Considering how Colonial Britain gave much of the world rail transport, we don't seem to be very good at running trains these days.
I, however, would like to break from tradition. I would like to praise our trains. Last week, I travelled to Manchester from The Big London. This not insubstantial journey used to chew up in excess of three hours. Nowadays technology has allowed tilting trains to hurtle up and down the track in two hours. Astonishing.
When I expressed my amazement at the ever-decreasing journey length to a friend that makes the self-same journey on a weekly basis, I was informed that once track upgrades are completed the journey time will be further cut to a little over 75 minutes. Incredible.
The only downside about this is that I very rarely have to go to Manchester. Maybe I'll just moan about that now?
Highland dress is history when Beeb puts the kibosh on my kilt
I'm off to Aviemore next week. I haven't been there since I was 13 and my one and only school ski trip. I'm am off to look at some wildlife for the BBC. It's a fascinating mission for a devout city boy like me but should be eye-opening if nothing else. All sorts of questions present themselves about a day on the side of a Highland mountain. Will I have mobile phone reception? Will there be a decent coffee shop nearby? Will I be able to wear suede shoes? And on the clothing tip I thought it would definitely be appropriate to wear a kilt. If a man cannae wear a kilt up a mountain in Aviemore, then where can he?
However, contemporary life isn't that straightforward. I was e-mailed a list of appropriate clothing as recommended by the BBC Natural History Unit. It was an impressively exhaustive collection of clothes. There were fleeces aplenty, a plethora of gloves, scarves and snoods and at least two pairs of long johns suggested. I phoned and explained that since I was back home and in the Highlands I thought I'd wear my kilt. And a big down-filled anorak. This kilt suggestion was met with some well-meaning concern.
I was told that the temperature could potentially drop to minus 10 which could be further exacerbated by wind chill. I listened politely before informing them that Scotsmen had worn kilts up the side of Highland mountains for hundreds of years; they were kilted through harsh autumns, unforgiving winters. If the history men of the Scottish nation could exist happily with nothing more than eight yards of tartan, woollen fabric wrapped around their waists, then I too would do the same. After all, a man's a man for a' that.
I was, however, informed that the Scotsmen throughout the ages didn't have such stringent Health and Safety guidelines. Suffice to say that my kilt will remain in the wardrobe unmolested.