A few years ago Carl and I had a business where we worked out of a studio above a one bedroom apartment on a large block of land that had distant water views. When Carl would disappear on appointments leaving me ‘home alone’ I used to take a few breaks from my desk and wander over to the windows where I could get some sunshine and enjoy the view.
The only problem was my serenity would be intruded upon by the tenant down below. He was about 60 and had moved in with a sad story of having lost his fortune through a number of divorce settlements and now needed somewhere inexpensive to live. He had migrated to Australia many years ago and had recently moved across the country to re-establish himself in Sydney.
He signed a 12-month lease on the understanding no pets were allowed but promptly moved in with a cat and a number of caged birds. A girlfriend appeared too but she wasn’t there permanently as she was married to someone else and occasionally felt the need to go back to the man she had married. There were rumours she was employed by the oldest profession in the world but perhaps they were just rumours; or perhaps he told us about her ‘career’.
He was employed as a taxi driver but this didn’t work out well for him as he was constantly out of work for losing his licence for running red lights or speeding, or being fired for driving the taxi up the back of a parked car and writing it off. When I asked him how he came to slam the taxi into a parked car he said it was because the passenger in his taxi had fallen asleep and he kept looking behind him to make sure she was actually asleep and not dead.
But it wasn’t his driving skills or his cat and birds or married red-light girlfriend that bothered me, it wasn’t even the posters of girls on the back of motorbikes lining the bedroom walls that bothered me; it was that being almost permanently unemployed, he was always at home.
And he didn’t like to wear clothes.
He had a car that he worshiped (and couldn’t drive because he didn’t have a licence), and he would be outside my vista cleaning his car wearing only black, tight underpants with a pair of thongs on his feet. If I happened to be outside collecting the mail or taking out the garbage and he saw me, he wouldn’t be phased in the slightest. Just didn’t have a problem with me seeing him in a pair of ultra-tight, over-stretched black underwear that in the sunlight were practically see-through.
And trying to keep my eyes above his one item of clothing I was faced with a bare chest covered in grey hair with a big gold chain around his neck finishing in a swinging medallion. Over one side of his chest and nipple area he sported a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe. A large one but she was now drooping and sagging with age.
I’d try to collect the mail without him seeing me but I was never that lucky. ‘Hello, how are you, Charlie?’ he’d ask.
‘Oh, hi Mark. Really busy actually. Really rushing. How are you?’
And he’d walk towards me beaming broadly and would tell me all his troubles and plans for his future and it wasn’t easy getting away.
Eventually he moved on, owing us rent money but promising he’d pay us back ‘one day’ and saying if we ever needed a taxi, he’d be more than happy to drive us around – for free!
Not as tempting as this creamy pasta that’s dairy-free.
Creamy Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Pasta
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Nominal. Pasta and chorizo and cannellini beans are very affordable.
- 400g penne pasta (spaghetti would work well too) I used organic spelt.
- 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 375mls chicken stock
- small handful of thyme, leaves only
- 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 handfuls rocket
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook pasta according to directions on the packet.
Meanwhile, place cannellini beans, stock and thyme in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and blend.
In a small frying pan, cook chorizo until crispy and fat begins to render. Turn down the heat, add garlic and cook gently being careful not to burn the garlic. Turn off the heat and stir through lemon juice.
When pasta is cooked, rinse and drain and return to saucepan with a little of the cooking water. Add bean puree, chorizo and rocket. Toss to combine and serve.