25 Apr, 2020 @ 15:30
3 mins read

COVID-19 lockdown has denied Lisa Burgess vital oncology appointments but her chef partner’s kitchen skills have put a smile on her face

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DAY 50 of cancer lockdown with my French partner and chef, Joffrey Charles, and the good news is I am not starving.

My oncology appointments have been postponed twice at Costa del Sol Hospital, Marbella – last November due to radiotherapy burns and again on April 15th, a casualty of the lockdown. But there is happiness to be found in the small things. There was an extensive search recently for Joffrey’s electric shaver and much joy when he found it lollygagging in the back of a cupboard. He left it lying precariously on top of a cotton bud container and my elbow sent it flying to the floor in pieces. I have learned a lot about my partner under lockdown and one of them is that his hair grows much faster than mine. I am just grateful to have any.

We have remote control wars in our household, I am a news junkie, he loves action movies, comedies and cookery shows. We have managed to compromise but, mon Dieu, after a two-hour session with CNN, I discovered he is an ardent capitalist and I am a passionate centrist. Debates rage heatedly at Casa de Joffrey y Lisa.

Talking about passion, I am keeping busy writing my semi-autobiographical novel, Dirty Burgess. It’s my Irish nickname in reference to a much-loved Irish movie, The Snapper. I recently sent off the first three chapters, edited 25 times since January. It’s racy but not 50 Shades of Lisa – more Bridget Jones meets Samantha Jones with a touch of Love Story. Hollywood hasn’t been on speed dial yet but I may be calling my friend and former work colleague there, Bobby Farrelly, who made Dumb & Dumber.

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ON LOCKDOWN: Lisa Burgess

Joffrey offered to help feed frontline workers in Mijas but due to my deficient bone marrow and weak immune system, he is not permitted. We shut down our catering and food delivery business in Mijas quickly due to coronavirus. So now he is offering to help cancer charities using his bi-lingual skills to comfort the French community. More Sky News and Spanish Congress for me, less Trainwreck and Rambo for him.

On the food and cleaning front, things are going swimmingly. I am not allowed in the kitchen or on the deep cleaning. Monsieur is the aficionado of both – no problemo Joffers. His budget cooking under lockdown has been a marvel. One night he rustled up stuffed pork steak with glazed carrots and made-from-scratch onion gravy. The remainder of the pork in the fridge was used the following night for a stir fry pork with noodles and vegetables.

Tonight is spaghetti Napolitano – my favorite – with lashings of grated cheese. I could easily eat that three nights in a row. I learned much during my 8-month long chemotherapy last year about foods that boost your immune system so I incorporate 5 vegetables, nuts, or fruits into my diet every day. Joffrey has had to swap his Twix bar for mandarins, Coca-cola for fruit smoothies, crisps for pistachio nuts and strawberries for M&M’s. He is allowed his donuts to maintain the entente cordiale.

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STILL SMILING: Lisa’s chef partner Joffrey has been helping keep her happy

While Joffrey is watching French Top Professional Chef, I post a daily tribute to a person or couple I know on my Facebook page and end the night with an inspirational quote, just in case there is someone up at 4 am feeling desperate. I have been there. In a world where you can be anything, be kind. I repeat this nightly to myself while gazing longingly at a portrait of my darling departed Irish mother, Ann Burgess.

My biggest challenge this week has been a call to arms from a TV production company in the UK. They are working on a project about Andalucia before lockdown. The aim, when it airs to millions in the UK and Europe, is to attract national and international tourism to our region when the borders reopen. I am assisting for free in finding archive video footage of Andalucia so I have had the enormous task of finding drone pilots, bodegas, travel companies, tourist boards, and more. I have been hung up on a few times but it just made me persist more.

I celebrated with a fruity cava after receiving beautiful archive footage and joined my first, virgin Zoom party in Dulwich, London with my English friends. It was hilarious as we kept talking over each other. Two glasses in, I had to be put on mute quickly – much like the Zoom UK cabinet!  I am planning a Zoom pub quiz for this weekend. I am nominated as the first Magnus Magnusson about the USA so Joffrey beware!

We are also laying the foundations for another Joffrey’s restaurant on the Costa, someday over the rainbow. I know I have at least five operations ahead and I still don’t know if those cancer node buggers have got the better of me. I am aiming to rise like the Phoenix from the golden ashes with a 20-year-old body, a 52-year-old mind, and a handsome 30-year-old affluent chef on my arm but patience is necessary.

Joffrey and I are avidly watching the various projects globally in the race for a vaccine. You can guess France is his pick, mine is the UK’s Oxford University. 

France’s Charles De Gaulle once said, ‘Faced with a crisis, the man of character falls back upon himself’ but I am more inspired by Winston Churchill’s rallying call during World War II: ‘Never give up, never give in’. We certainly will not, Sir!

Charlie Smith

GOT A STORY? Contact me now: charlie@theolivepress.es or call +34 951 273 575. Twitter: @Charlie_smith95 / @olivepress

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