Tag Archives: Nigel Slater



Since everything on TV nowadays is celebrity chefs, here’s another from HORRID HEROES AND CRAZY CROOKS by David Clement-Davies, with cooking, murder and Master Chefs in mind…


I hope wise parents understand
I’d have this story quickly banned
Because the crimes I have in store
Are stewed in blood, guts, gunk and gore,
Hearts, lungs and livers, hands and toes
And human entrails, lined in rows
Then diced up finely where they lie
To bake up in a human pie.
We’d all go blind and surely deaf
To show the likes on Master Chef!
But what’s revolting, in my view,
Is that it isn’t even true:
In Fleet Street, close to London harbour,
Lived Sweeney Todd, a Demon Barber,
Whose shop front told, with cockney pride,
His skill in cuts – Short, Back or Side
But when Todd’s clients took the chair
He’d seize them by a knot of hair
And with his razor, where they sat,
He’s slice their heads off, just like that.
Then throw a lever on the floor
Which tipped them down a neat trap door
To send his victims down the shoot –
Off to the kitchens they would scoot
Where Mrs Lovett, stashed below,
Was greasing tins and rolling dough.
And when she got the bits Todd sent her
She’s stuff them smartly in a blender
Or, short on new electric fangles,
Would grind the hand cogs on her mangles.
Then mince ’em till the dish looked tasty
And cover folk in short crust pastry
So in the oven pop the mix
For fifty minutes – Gas mark six!
It’s vicious, please don’t tell your mother,
But people sometimes EAT each other.
Then when the pies were freshly done
Todd turned up with his marker gun
To stick a label to the side
And off to market he would ride
To sell hot pielets round the town
Todd’s Steak and Kidneys – Half a Crown
While hawking round, for all to hear
Exotic with a pint of beer!”
I try and try, from time to time,
To justify Todd’s ghastly crime,
Regardless of how close I look
There’s nothing to redeem the crook.
Except for this, I’m glad to say,
Which I unmasked the other day.
For not just anyone would do
In Sweeney’s filthy human stew.
Oh no, of this pure fact I’m sure
The barber was a connoisseur,
Indeed the very heart and soul
Of careful Quality Control,
And since real Master Chefs are few
A sort of gruesome Albert Roux.
Who only picked on clients that
Were grossly rich, or hugely fat,
And I’m quite sure Todd left alone
Poor folk, of barely skin or bone,
(Unless, of course, they failed to dip
Deep in their trousers for his tip.)
Todd never harmed a comely lass
Or any girl with cheek or sass
And rarely ever touched the heads
Of pensioners, or newly-weds.
Instead Todd favoured Counts and Earls
And Barons, Viscounts, Dames, or girls
Whose noble parentage he knew.
Todd even diced a Duke or two!
A Master Chef, not of Provence,
But purest London provenance
Who, as he dropped them down his ditch,
Would cry “Take that” and “Eat the Rich!”
Which proves another thing I’d missed
This Sou Chef was a Socialist!
Who wanted all his crimes to be
The finest in Society.
Which also shows why, from that blender,
His Steak N’ Kidneys came out tender.
The other thing in Sweeney’s favour
Lay in the pies’ exquisite flavour
For with her Ramsey recipe book
Todd’s love became an expert cook
To add some spice, or fresh chopped herb,
And make ingredients taste superb
Not least the essence of their stew
With all that tasty blood, so blue,
Indeed the kind of human pottage
To grace the likes of River Cottage!
Yet this, since life can be unfair,
Proved fatal to the Demon Pair
Because the Todds became, I guess,
The victims of their own success.
But not, as all the news hounds lie,
Because of buttons in a pie.
Oh that bit happened, as you’ll see,
When Sherlock Holmes was having tea,
And found a shirt stud in his stew
Jumped up, cried “Watson, here’s a clue”
But then the daft, eccentric twit
Completely missed the point of it,
Concluding that the Ku Klux clan
Were smuggling fasteners to Japan!
No, with their pies they showed such flair
Chez Todd produced a billionaire
And baking finest pies by far
That barber won a Michelin Star!
At which the crook was so elated
He had his business automated.
The Todds installed, in steel and pine,
A Patent Pie Production line,
Which with its new electric switch
Could, single-handed, EAT THE RICH.
So send a hatchet round the shop
To slice and slash, to cut and chop
And dice them, minceur, while below
It rolled ’em up in baking dough
And then, with all the Gas it saved,
It had them swiftly Microwaved.
Then even packed them, on the nail,
To post them off by Royal Mail.
Which surely anyone can see
Was quite a smart utility,
Until they learn the fuel crisis
Brings threats of escalating prices.
Now this last part provides our clue
To what befell the grizzly two.
For once she’d given up her job
Todd’s sweat-heart turned a dreadful snob
A selfish, snotty, bitchy prig
Who bought a coach and powdered wig
Then, dressed in pearls and crinoline,
Would dream of dining, with the Queen!
And asked her love, eventually,
To change their First Class recipe
So use, instead of Earls, alas
The members from the Working Class!
At which Todd’s lower jaw fell ope
And foam, a bit like shaving soap,
Began to bubble out of it:
Todd had an apoplectic fit!
The awful thought made Sweeney shake
And gave him such a stomach ache
That, sitting down to ease his stitch,
He accidentally – threw that switch!
A dreadful slashing now began,
The Todds were turned to Raspberry Jam
And by their Patent Pie Machine
Were posted, in a soup tureen.
But strange to tell, this new position,
As last fulfilled some rare ambition.
For shipped with chocolates, port and champers,
All neatly packed in Christmas Hampers,
Beside a leg of honeyed ham,
TODD’S PIES turned up at Sandringham.
Where, followed by the BBC,
The Queen was tucking into tea.
Among choice guests she’d learned to view,
That mixed the likes of Michelle Roux,
(Who’d if he’d known the state of play
Might certainly have rued the day),
With Rick Stein, Wignall, Delia Smith
And Raymond Blanc, of gallic pith,
Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater,
Who’d brought his own refrigerator,
And, fresh from Fish Fights that enthral,
That top drawer Fearnely-Whittingstall
Who knows the most destructive plan
Was dreamt up by that animal Man.
Of course, not fond of scuffs nor hikers
No place-mat Pratts, or Hairy Bikers
Nor blokes like Jamie, to appall
Her palate newly Bloomenthal.
But there they sat, with graceful sighs
To tuck into those regal pies
So after years of being bled
The Rich ate Sweeney Todd instead!


If you enjoyed this excerpt from Horrid Heroes and Crazy Crooks by David Clement-Davies and want to read more of the bungling Sherlock Holmes too, look at the post below. The picture is of Jonny Depp in the movie of Sweeney Todd. Horrid Heroes and Crazy Crooks is under copyright to Phoenix Ark Press, 2014, All Rights Strictly Reserved.

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