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DINNER IN MANILA TOM PARKER BOWLE GOES OUT FOR A FILl PUNK ROCKER TO TORY BOY TOBY YOUNG’S TURN TO THE RIGHT IT’S LIFE, GYM RICHARD T KELLY GETS SOME EXERCIS

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You love Indian. You kill for Chinese You dig Thai. You go ou fo Korean, stay in for Japanese. And there’s a great little Vietnamese place round the corner. Ever had a Filipino? Us neither. But then no one goes to Manila for the food, right? They go for the ladies. Or the boys. Or the ladyboys. Or they don’t go at all. Unless they’re fearless foodie Tom Parker Bowles, determined to discover the world’s great hidden cuisine. On tour in the Filipino capital, Esquire’s gallivanting gourmand encounters fried pigs’ heads, warm duck embryos and a strangely seductive dictator’s wife only one of which he doesn’t eat
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lasked, “is the girls. Ortheboys.Youasex tourist?” “Christ, no,” I’d splutter. “I’m going there to eat.” “Yeah right. Manila to eat. Ha!” they’d say, and suddenly come over all Monty Python, with a wink, a nudge and a “say no more, say no more”. Just buying a ticket there made me guilty, of what I wasn’t quite sure. So why go? A city neither famed for its food or beauty, it’s not the most obvious choice for adventures gastronomic or aesthetic. But it was one of the few cities in Southeast Asia I knew next to nothing about. And for me, it’s always had a certain exotic, far-flung charm. The more people tried to put me off going, the more determined I became to tramp its streets. As I was driven from the airport to Makati, the high-rise, ex-pat, security-cordoned business hub, the city seemed little different from any other sprawling, Southeast Asian metropolis. Sluggish, ill-tempered traffic, and a symphony of high-pitched horns? Check. That ubiquitous pall of smog, yellow as a smoker’s fingers, that lurks above the concrete? Yup. The whiff of frying meat, exotic spice, bin juice, piss and petrol? Of course. Beggars, sinews hewn from steel, aad faces set hard against the world? And hawkers, flogging single cigarettes, feather dusters, phone chargers and nylon knickers every time the traffic ground to a halt? Yes and yes. I made it to the hotel in one piece, untroubled by automatic gunfire or flying blades. And the next morning, after a few too many cocktails with Chris, the photographer, in Martinis, the soft-lit hotel bar that we came to love,! found myself in a market, where my culinary education was to begin. “This is one of the safer food centres,” says my guide Ivan Henares, soft-voiced and gentle. Myheart sinks. “Safe” in myexperience usually means emasculated, tourist friendly stuff, with all the naughty bits removed. Food for the terminally uninterested, sop for the couldn’t-give-a-craps. We’re in Market! Market! — an upmarket collection of regional food stalls in Taguig, a few minutes from

he call came just after nine. “She’s here,” said the soft female voice. “Come over.” I mumbled my assent and flew out the door, pausing only to change my tatty T-shirt for a slightly less tatty shirt. But as I hurried down the lushly carpeted corridors of the sumptuous Manila hotel, my initial thrill was tempered by a niggle of concern. “She” was Imelda Marcos, wife of ioth Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos. “She” of the shoes, nearly 3,000 pairs of them. And the wanton, profligate, Olympian spending that still astounds to this day — billions of dollars of public funds lavished on everything from Canaletto to the Crown Building in New York. All while millions of her countrymen struggled to survive each day. “She” of the “he” who was the great hope of post-war Philippines, before declaring martial law, banning a free press and exiling and imprisoning political opponents. I mean, what’s the etiquette for dinner with a dictator’s wife? Should! be liberally outraged and refuse to even set foot in her presence? Or play it cool and detached, mentally sharpening my quill as we spoke? I was here to write about food, for God’s sake, not some searing insight into Philippine history. What would Marie Colvin do? Or Gill? The lift arrived and I stepped inside, whisked to the top of the hotel in a flag of tinkling muzak. I’ll just be impartial, distant but polite, I muttered, as I walked into the gilded splendour of The Tivoli. And there she was, 8t years old, resplendent in a lime green dress. She looked up from the table, her lacquered, jet black hair piled high, and smiled. “Oh, hello,” she said in a regal drawl, holding out her hand. Great stones glittered on her slender fingers. This was it, the

moment of truth. I looked her in the eye, straightened my back... and bowed. Bowed goddammit — not a subtle nod but a Ml bend from the belly. And, in a fit of still oilier lickspittlism, I called her “Ma’am”. So much for journalistic sangfroid. “Manila?” said my friend, a man so intimate with the cities of Southeast Asia that he could use theirtoothbrush the morningafter. “It’s a flicking armpit. You want to get out sharpish, and into the Philippines proper. They, on the other hand, are sublime.” He was not alone in his view. “One of the grimmest cities in the world,” opines shaggy rabble-rouser Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. “Cess-pit”, “hell-hole” and “dirty dive” were among the more complimentary descriptions. No one could understand why I’d fly all the way out to this tropical republic of 7,000 islands and spend my time in the capita!. It was like going to Disneyland, only to waste the entire visit in the loos by the main gate. This was a city, I was told, to be endured with a hanky held firmly to one’s mouth, the sort of place that madeSodom and Gomorrah look like Marlow on a crisp autumnal morn. I was told that bodyguards were “essential”, that everyone carried guns, and “had no compunction using them”, and that cocks battled on every street corner. “The only reason a man goes to Manila, without being forced to on business,” said every male

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• that tastes somewhere between lime and orange cuts through the fatty edge. “Very Pampanga a province in the Central Luzon region ,“ nods Ivan with approval. At last, I’m smiling, shovelling more of this beautiful melange into my mouth. “Its birthplace is only an hour or so northofthecity,”sayslvan. “Youshouldget up there. It’s beer food, lots of fat and heat and flavour.” Damn, it’s good. “It’s not an old dish, but has an interesting history.” He pauses, lost in thought. Then turns to me. “You know, Manila is a lovely city. People assume it’s dangerous and primitive, and don’t realise how big it is. But problems are only down in the south, in Mindanao. You have to understand the history to understand everything, from the city to the food.” He fiddles, absentmindedly, with a straw. “The food here is a fusion of the Malay at its base, and Spanish, Chinese and American. We look east and west, and are unique in doing that. It’s underrated too. There are Filipinos all over the world, yet where are the restaurants, the famous dishes that equal dim sum, or green curry or pho?” He’s right. Think of how many Filipinos there are across the world: millions and millions. There must be around t~o,ooo in London alone. That’s larger than any Thai, Japanese or Korean community. And how many restaurants? You can count them on one hand. It’s the great hidden cuisine. “The problem is, we adapt easily to new places,” Ivan says as we get up to leave. “And don’t like paying to eat food we’d make better at home anyway.” Two hours later, I’m standing on one of the most pristine lawns I’ve ever seen. It makes Wimbledon’s Centre Court look shabby. The fluorescently verdant glow of the grass is made all the more luminous by the dirty grey concrete sprawled all around. And the bright white crosses, all in neat rows, which stretch out into the distance. This is the American Cemetery and Memorial, a mighty tribute to US personnel killed here during the Second World War. Narra and acacia trees sway gently in the breeze and an American flag flutters above the tall stone chapel. It’s impossible not to be moved; a well-manicured slice of America in the heart of Manila. Yet there’s little sign of a Filipino equivalent, despite the hundreds of thousands — civilian and armed forces — who also perished at the same time. “During the liberation of Manila,” says Ivan, “America flattened and obliterated the city. They wanted to decimate the Japanese and succeeded. And they saved us, for which we’ll be forever grateful. But we lost everything —400 years to build, a few days to flatten — That was the price we all had to pay. After liberation, we didn’t reconstruct, we built new buildings. Add in widespread corruption, and this,” he waves his arm at thecityaroundus, “iswhathappened.” >

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HIGH LIFE AND STREET LIFE THE CHAOTIC STREETS AND FRAGRANT MARKET FOOD OF MANILA. IFAR LEFTI IMELDA MARCOS SERVES UP SOME CHARM FOR TOM PARKER BOWLES OVER DINNER

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Makati. Here, you can eat your way around the regions without breaking a sweat. In theory anyway. Despite a seasonal lull in the temperature, it still feels like stumbling around in a pizza oven. The whole area is neat and scrubbed. Smart French boulangeries and English bookshops, armed guards and information centres. In the background, a band plays, a jaunty sort of local music with ahint of the Mexican mariachi, and a dash of the Spanish flamenco. “They’re all blind,” Ivan says. We sit down. His blog, Ivanhenares. corn, is essential reading for the Manila virgin, and we have his wisdom on tap for the day. A bowl of bright yellow.., well, something.., is plonked on the table. All around, families chatter and paw their telephones, sipping Coca~Cola and gobbling their lunch. “Karc-kare,” he explains. I take a bigspoonful. It’s tripe in a teeth-achingly sweet peanut-butter sauce. Even the intensely salty, fishy hit of bagoongalamang, orshrirnp paste, does nothing to temper the sugar. The soft, bovine wobble of the offal is superb, but the dish is memorable for allthe wrong reasons. I’m off to a bad start. I smile wanly and we move to the next stall, where another bowl appears, another stew, this time blacker than eternal night. “Pig’s blood with meat andoffal. JJinuguan, a great regional dish.” I take a mouthful. There’s a

whisper ofvinegar and various unidentifiable pieces of pig. But it’s dull, heavy and a little turgid. I know it’s just two dishes, but perhaps the naysayers were right after all. Then salvation arrives in the unlikely form of a chopped and fried pig’s head, Sisig, meaning “chop-chop” after the action involved in making the dish. There are crunchy nuggets of flesh, and soft slivers of pig cheek and the gelatinous crack of the snout and ear. Chillies add fire not a Filipino staple, save in the region of Bicol), a squeeze of calamansi a cherry sized citrus

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Unlike Milton Keynes, Manila wasn’t born bad. It was once one of Asia’s loveliest cities — the “Pearl of the Orient”, with beautiful colonial churches and breezy boulevards, shaded walks and cool arcades. This was the upside of5oo years of Spanish rule. Now, crawl through the traffic — through the mass of concrete and corrugated iron, the rotting façades peekingout between the endless signs selling Pizza Hut and Wendy’s Delivery, Marlboro and Merit Menthols — and you’ll occasionally, very occasionally, happen across a handsome colonial house. Or the crumbling remains of walls, gates and bulwarks of Intramuros, the fortified Spanish fortress. Modern Manila ain’t a pretty city. Where do you go after total decimation? There wasn’t the luxury of preserving all those years of heritage, rather the necessity of instant rebuilding. There were hovels to be built, money to be made. There is a

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that gobbles up foreign influences,” he says betw~~ bites ofpako, a dainty fern he picked that mornin It’s crisp and delicate, mbce.j with a pickled quail’s egg and a sharp mango dressing “We seem to lack a decent marketing of our food. And we don’t show off our own food, rather keep it to ourselves. Upscale Filipino restauran~ have never worked. They’re expensive and Filipino people will say, ‘They’re not authentic, they’re geared for foreigners and we can cook better at home, so why bother?’” Kare-kare appears from the kitchen, as different from yesterday’s lurid peanutbutter offering as could possibly be. It’s light, and elegant with just a hint of earthy sweetness. “Properly done,” says Claude, “these things take time.” “We like the slightly boiled, the slightly soured,” said the late Filipino food guru Doreen G Fernandez. “One distinct characteristic of Filipino food is the sourness,” agrees Claude as he spoons the tart, guava-spiked broth, sinigang, into my bowl. “It’s brought about by our being a tropical country, first and foremost. Before
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ThIs Istakenfrom Kuusnarye, one otthe great modern books on Philippine cuisine. It you hevethe time, pig’s head Is best. Butyou eensubstitutethis fortheseme amount otbetlypork 1kg pork belly, diced br 1kg deboned p g’ head: ow s, ears and ch k 2 large hue oni ns; 2ttr water; SDDmI pineapple luice; lSg sai , log blac pe ercorns; 6 chicken livers; 2tbsp lime iuice: 60m1 white vinegar; bird’s eye chillies to tas eli go or 10 0201 a stoc pot, add the water, pineap to luice, salt, pe perco ns chicken livers end pork Cover and bring to boil, hen simmer. Cook to ebout an hour, un I meet is fork tender. 21 Remove pork end chicken livers en c ol Discard liquid 31 Grill pork over charcoal until sk becomes crisp loriry over high heat in a pan Chop chicken livers into smell cubes, mix with pork and place in a bowl. Mix in lime lu ce chopped onions, white vinegar, salt, pepper and chillies. Just before erv ng, heat a skillet br ces iron griddle pan until white hot. Put in mea mixture This is the hird coo Ing 5 g where the meat ge brown r nd runchi Ser e wi h cold b er, and e tra chullies an tm on the sid -

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colour, though, everywhere, splashed across buildings and daubed across jeepneys, the elongated 4M~ that provide the city’s cheapest public transport. And God, too. “God is Love” screams one typically garish billboard. “Godly Fear” quivers another. The headline in that morning’s Manila Times, just below “President to Teach Lawyers How to Fire Guns”, is “Catholic Priest in Ancient War with ‘Demons”. High churchin’, hell and brimstone Catholicism is the order of the day. The Spanish pitched up back in 1521, greedy for money and Catholic converts. And stayed for 400 years. The country remains predominantly Catholic — So per cent of the population. Then the Americans came, bringing universal education and a vastly improved infrastructure. Both countries left indelible footprints. “Food is like a ritual here,” says Lilah, our new guide, “a religion in itself, binding the family together.” We’re driving northwest of Manila, towards Pampanga, known as the “gourmet province” and birthplace of the luscious sisig. It’s joyous to escape the stifling city and its i~m inhabitants. We pass paddy fields “Rice is the staple of all meals. Without rice, it’s not a

BIRD OF PREY THE FOWL BUSINESS OF COCKFIGHTING IN MANILA WITH RAZOR-EQUIPPED BIRDS IS A BLOODY GAME IDPPDSITEI. TOM AND CLAUDE TUCK IN IABOVEI

meal,” Ivan had said), and endless hoardings exhorting us to “Drink Colt! The Strong Beer for Real Men”. Or eat at Dairy Queen, Cinnabon, McDonald’s... I’ve never seen junk-food advertising so rampant. This is America’s real legacy, a taste for the fast and processed. But it’s Jollibee, the national burger chain, that’s the most ubiquitous of all. They say that in New York you’re never more than 6ft from a rat. The same might be true in Manila, but you’re certainly never more than ~ft from a Jollibee. The burgers are slightly sweeter than Ronald’s, and more popular. Jollibee Spaghetti, with a sweet tomato sauce, outsells the Big Mac. Go figure. But today, we’re eschewing fast food for lunch at Claude Tayag’s house. Tayag, an artist, sculptor, furniture-maker and chef, has warm eyes and a wide face. He’s tall and immediately likeable, with a slight paunch. “This area is where some of the best food in the Philippines comes from,” he says in his husky voice. “Now, let’s eat.” He echoes Ivan’s arguments as to the world standing of Filipino food. “This is a cuisine that adapts,

electricity, cooking with vinegar, especially palm vinegar, was a way to prolong the life of adish.” He adds inacouple of fat, phonebox-red rivercrayfish, and chunks of milkfi h and fingers ofokra. “Try this.” I take a bite of a green pod that is incredibly sour. “It’s kamias, one of the many souring agents we use. They vary from region to region, season to season. Can be green mango, tamarind or even lemon juice. You get the salt from the fermented fish and shrimp pastes, or the fish sauce. Salt and vinegar. The heart of Filipino food.” The soup is rich yet light: a meal in one. “People forget how varied Filipino food is. Each region is distinct. The younger generation is rediscovering its culinary roots. But I do fear the McDonaldisation of our country.” “Every region has its own version of adobo,” says Claude, leaning back in his chair. It’s been a few hours, and belts are unbuckled, guards dropped. “It means anything cooked with vinegar, so is a technique rather than an actual dish. But the staples are vinegar, garlic, black pepper and >

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bay.” In just two days, I’d munched through three separate adobo versions. “Now the general complaint is that Filipino food is brown and oily.” I nod, my mind going back to the previous day. “But that’s just not true. Look at what you’ve eaten today. I use the freshest ingredients and make it look good. And I’m hoping more people will take as much care of the presentation, and the cooking, too. Find the time, do it properly. So we don’t take the short cuts; the peanut butter in your kare-kare... Or taking the easy route to adobo, just shoving everything in the same pot and using over-fatty meat.” He shakes his head. “This is how we must change. Makeitlookappetising,sell I.. its virtues.” And there are many. Sisig being a particular one. Claude makes his own version, superior to the day before. The chillies are hotter, the cartilage more crunchy, the fried meat sticky and chewy, too. “This was originally a sour dish, made to quench a pregnant woman’s cravings. So unripe mango or guava, or anything I fermented in vinegar.” He ‘4 takes a swig ofSan Miguel and smiles. “Later in the pregnancy, boiled pig’s ears and tails would be dipped in vinegar. But it was only in the Sixties, when local stall holder Aling Lucing, just a mile or so from here, grilled the ears and snouts further until blackened, and mixed with chopped onions, chillies and boiled chicken livers. [Founder Lucia “Lucing” Cunanan] used all the pig heads from the US base next door. They had no use for them. Then a brother of mine opened his own place, Trellis, in 1980 in Manila, and served it on a sizzling platter, so there was another layer of flavour. And it took off. What was once a regional Pampanga food became a national obsession. Now, sing means anything served on a sizzling plate.” I settle back still further into my chair, happy to listen to Claude for hours. “Remember, in Manila the chef has no ego. Food is very individual here. And spice is generally added. We do love sour things in general, and everything comes with vinegar. But it’s the eater who finishes off his dish. After all, it’s you eating, not the chef.” We leave, reluctantly, clasping bottles of Claude’s homemade crab fat and copies of Food Tour, his book on Filipino food and travel. I’m inspired. I want to eat more. Street food is not a big draw here, certainly when compared to Thailand or Vietnam. But then there’s balut, the pavement equivalent ofAnimal Farm the porno version you saw as a teenager on grainy VHS. It’s a fertilised duck egg, complete

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with embryo, and, like the porno and Manila, too, suffers froma wildlyexaggerated reputation. “Baaaaaluuuut” — cry the vendors as dusk rushes in, yet this is not about feathers and crunching bones. “God, no, we don’t eat balut with feathers and bones,” says Ivan Man Dy, the lean power behind tour-guide company Old Manila Walks oldmanjlawajks.com .“That would be disgusting. If you gave that to me, I’d spit it out. Yuk! Gross! Now, this lady sells good ones. They’re best at about i6 days, before they develop too much.” He buys two. “Break the bottom and drink out the juice. Then open the top, add vinegar or salt, eat the embryo. Next, peel the egg and devour.” I’m nervous. And have certainly thrown up over less. I’ve something to prove, though I’m not entirely sure what it is. But if not a delight, then batut is certainly a surprise. The broth is rich, tempered with a hint of shit and decay. But no worse than a decent Epoisses cheese. The duck is tiny, no bigger than a ~op piece, with the texture of a warm oyster. I swallow it down and bite into the egg. It’s beautiful, regally rich and pungent. A soft boiled egg in mink cape, packing a gold-plated AK-47. One more Filipino myth destroyed. I could go on and on. Dinner at Café Juanita, run by Manila’s best obstetrician, is riot of kitsch, scrunched fabrics, belly pork and fairy lights; or beer and noodles in the panciterias, sitting among old men and their endless games of cards. Then there’s the cockfight, surprisingly undramatic; the betting was more thrilling than the main event. “Do-do-do-do,” goes the crowd, waggling their fingers in some secret punters’ code. “Huchen, huchen, huchen,” cries the kristo orbet-taker, adaptingodds and taking bets without the aid ofpaper. The noise crescendoes, then silence. The blades are unsheathed, razor sharp and gleaming, like metal spurs on the cock’s legs. These glossy, horny, mighty cocks, preened as a pony club steed, strut and claw and crow. Then the fight begins. At times, slow — at others, brutally swift. It’s all over in a trickle ofblood. But it’s dinner on my last night in Manila that turns a growing flirtation into true love. With about 12 hours’ notice, Margarita Fores puts together a feast in every sense. Chef, writer and restaurateur, she’s small and sexy, exuding the same, single-minded passion as Claude. She introduces me toJoel Binamira, the thin and intelligent man behind the blog Market Manila (marhetmanila.com He used to be a banker, then consultant, but food’s his real passion. He talks eloquen y on Iechdn, a great, shiny roast pig: “A speciality across the region, sometimes stuffed with lemongrass or fruit or beer.” The pig, seemingly coated in thin toffee, sits gleaming in the centre of the table. He breaks off a shard of the brittle skin. It’s the finest piece of pigskin I’ve ever eaten. One of the best things I’ve ever tried, full stop. “It’s a celebratory dish, but also a very traditional

Manila’s a city with a pockma’~~ face and a horrible limp, a place of erron80~ preconcePtbor~S But it has a heart of gold

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one, eaten way before the Spaniards arrived.” I chew, my head in hog heaven. We sip on Margarita’s sinigang, stunningly clean, elegant and fresh tasting. And that sourness is just right. Simple, yet glorious. “The problem,” Joel says, between bites, “is that here, it’s region first, then country. Hence the profile of our dishes abroad. But myself, Claude, Margarita and many others, we want to keep traditional cooking alive.” At their best, the sisig, lechdn, sinigangand adobo are world-class dishes. “It’s all there; the love of home cooking, food and ingredients,” says Margarita. “We mustn’t lose it. Even traditional dishes now come from packets. We must fight to protect our heritage.” Joel nods and we get on with the eating, late into the night. As we drive back to the hotel, my belly full, and head stuffed with chat and goodwill, I look around. Yes, it’s a city with a pockmarked face and a horrible limp, a place of erroneous preconceptions. But it has a heart of gold. Like the kind beauty who’s fallen on hard times. Far more than a mere hub for the rest of the country, an archipelagic afterthought, Manila’s one hell of a capital city. It hums and throbs and buzzes and whirrs. Overlooked and underappreciated, it’s the plucky survivor. You just have to look beyond the obvious, scratch away the generalisations and long-held cant. Just like the food. Visit Manila with those in the know. You can’t fail. Method As for Imelda... II In a bowl, combine Well, what do you gail c and cracked think? Clever, funny, peppercorns with vinegar, soy sauce and charming, and happy bay leaves. to laugh at herself Add the beef and I was seduced. mar nate for at least an Sorry. I just couldn’t hour. Six hours s belier. Heattheoi inapan help it. Part Dame Brown meat in batches Edna, part Liz Taylor, over high heat. Set with a hint of aside. Add rena ning Cleopatra and your ma nadetopan Add water to the pan, granny too. Her bring to boll, then shoes, by the way, simmer and add beef. were gold sandals Put in the oven at — well, gold coloured, 1SO’C and cook far 2—2¼h .Salt to taste. not made of the real precious metal. She’s not so rich now. Hard times and all that. At the end, she gave me a plate: a picture of her in her full pomp, willowy and carrying an umbrella. “To Dearest Tom, Idohopeyou’llbeback.”YesMa’am, Iwill. So much for the shithole. I had a ball. F* Tom ParkerBowles stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Manila (÷6327508888 noandarinoriental.com/maflila

A COIN INTO THE CUP
Ross Raisin’s second novel takes on homelessness. With jokes!

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station, oup proffered in hope rather than expectation. You might drop a few coins in before accelerating away, feeling pleased with yourself. Ross Raisin deoided to go a few steps further homeless guy outside the ou’ve seen him. The and write a book about that guy and the thousands like him, and how they got there. “The book started with an interest in homelessness and I wentfrom there,” says the 31-year-old Yorkshire-born novelist. ‘The idea of the stereotypical Glaswegian itinerant and tracing him back, giving him a life, a family — a story.” Following God’s Own Country, his debut which won The Sunday Times’ Young Writer of the Year Award in 2009, Waterline announces Raisin as a profound thinker as well as a distinctive voioe. In the opening pages we meet Miok Little, a shipbuilderfrom Govan, whose world ceases to have meaning after his wife’s death. The shipyards he knew as
P.OSS RAISIN PHOTOGRAPHED FOR ESQUIRE IN LONDON BY N SOFIA RI CHTER 16 MAY

THERE WILL BE PIG’S BLOOD DINUGUAN IABOVEI IS PORCINE BLOOD WITH MEAT AND OFFAL. TOM TRIES FILIPINO FAST FOOD ILEFTI

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a youth have long since died too, and Miok finds himself adrift. “I was interested in industry,” Raisin says. “The idea that a community oould be built around this one activity and everyone was affected by it. And what would happen if it ceased to be. That idea of bereavement goes beyond the actual factof Mioks wife dying. It’s the death ofaway of life.” After the fUneral. Miok is left alone to dwell on his future. He takes a night bus to London with a notion of starting over, but his spiral from menial jobs to sleeping rough and drinking is rapid. The authors mordant humour is never far away (another vagrant complains that the Polish homeless are taking all the best dossing spots), and Waterline sidesteps sentimentality. As Raisin sees it: “There’s always the sense that what happened to Miok could happen to anyone.” Kevin Sampson Waterline (Viking) is out on 7July

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