“A revolution is not a dinner party.” - Mao Tse-Tung, 1927
“Big bag of chips, please.” - Scaryduck, 1982
"So that's Cod and Chips twice and a pickled egg"
Your conventional view of history says Chairman Mao died in 1976 after a long, distinguished life at the forefront of the Chinese Communist Revolution. That is, as we all know, a load of old cobblers. In reality, Mao Tse-Tung tired of running a country of one billion citizens and all their petty, personal problems, faked his death and ran off to run a fish and chip shop in the South of England.
Now don’t get me wrong. He was a lovely bloke. You’d find it vey hard to believe that this was the man who had led his people on the Glorious Long March, had overthrown the corrupt government of Chiang Kai-Shek and saw his country re-born in the red-hot crucible of the Cultural Revolution. No wonder he wanted the quiet life. He cooked the best chips in Henley, too, as the long queues out of the shop door would testify.
With decades of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leadership under his belt, it wasn’t long before the other chip shops in the area withered under Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Only the capitalist running dogs of The Brown Trout (surely the worst name for a restaurant ever) survived, the long queues out of the door of this chip shop testament only to the fact that he cooked every single portion to order. One at a time.
We all loved Chariman Mao, and if he gave his Little Red Book of Fish Recipes away with every packet of chips, the entire population of Henley would have been card carrying reds by now, and not under the jack-booted powers of capitalist oppression that is Michael Heseltine and...err... Boris Johnson.
I actually went to college with Mao’s son Andy, a youth who worshipped the music of Phil Collins rather too much to be completely healthy. He once filled an entire C-90 cassette with "Easy Lover", back to back, over and over to listen to in his car. This was shortly before I bludgeoned him to death with a frozen haddock. When pushed on the matter and threatened with the withdrawl of our trade for the pedestrian delights of the Brown Trout, he finally revealed the one great secret of the Chinese Takeaway.
“Andy,” we asked, “When someone comes in and orders just chips, do you all come out of the kitchen holding meat cleavers and stare at them?”
“Yup. It’s part of the job description.”
“What do you say?”
“I go for the lyrics to ‘In the Air Tonight’. My mum and dad run through the shopping list.”
Clicky for part II of this epic tale of mirth and woe.