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  • Lorna Ward

Beef jerky and a Kit-Kat

There’s nothing quite like watching Jamie Oliver cooking up a storm in rural France when you’re banished to a big white tent in Afghanistan for five hours in the middle of the night….

Picture the scene….I’ve just polished off a packet of beef jerky and a tepid cup of grey tea and, having not had dinner, am feeling somewhat peckish. It is nearly midnight so I should by rights be heading off to bed and looking forward to breakfast (not that my life revolves around food you understand).

I am, however, sitting in the departures ‘lounge’ (read tent) in Camp Bastion, with another 3 hours’ (of five) to wait before my first class (read Hercules) flight to Kabul for my city break (read foot patrol and aid distribution).

I should be keeping my mind off my rumbling stomach with the third series of ‘Spooks’ which is sitting waiting to be watched on my laptop. I have cunningly kept my laptop with me. But, not so cunningly, my headphones are uselessly languishing in my bag on a wooden pallet covered in netting waiting to be loaded onto the Hercules. As my lack of cunning dawned on me earlier, I decided I was too embarrassed to go back through ‘security’ (read x-ray machine in other tent surrounded by bollards) to ask to take them out.

So I am now reduced to whatever happens to be showing on the communal BFBS TV in the aforementioned ‘departure lounge’ (again, read tent). Cue Jamie Oliver on one of his culinary extravaganzas around Europe. Today it seems he’s made his way to somewhere in the South of France.

…He’s now cooking duck on an open fire and has been making deliciously fluffy (or so he tells me) rustic bread. To be honest, I was a drooling mess as soon as the sizzle of olive oil hit the pan. I’ve tried to look away but it’s no good, I am mesmerized.

He’s just stopped at a quaint little café for a few chunks of local cheese, some ‘charcuterie’ and a chilled beer, I have to take myself away or I will start licking the screen. Cue a trip outside the ‘departure lounge’ (still. a tent) in the dark to the aromatic portaloo while being deafened by a combination of helicopters, land rovers and a C17 (why can’t I have a green boarding pass?). This should bring me back down to earth.

Back inside now and have banished all thoughts of dinky little cafés in rural France….nice wine and fantastically smelly cheese.

Or so I thought….

Jamie’s now adding the finishing touch to the ‘succulent chargrilled steak’ – a ‘crunchy fresh salad drizzled with vinaigrette’……

It’s no good.

I am now licking the screen.

Next time I’ll remember my headphones.


P.S – Five hours, beef jerky, a kitkat and screen-licking public humiliation…only to be told the aircraft has gone ‘US’ (unserviceable to you and me) and we’ll not be flying tonight. Fabulous. Just fabulous.

RV (rendez-vous to you and me) same tent, same screen, tomorrow night then.

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