During my 17 years as personal chef to mammoth broadcaster Dave Lee Travis, I was asked to do a lot of weird things with that well-known maize-based breakfast cereal; cornflakes. Some bizarre shit I’d find hard enough to erase from my memory in later years, after our regrettable and less than amicable parting of ways. Most of his requests never threatened life, nor convened public by-laws or European directives and largely, bar the incident involving the Serbian white-haired hamster and his eldest daughter - Davina, were legal outside of the Netherlands. Make no mistake, it was a demanding job, and DLT a demanding boss. But I respected him for that, and he respected me for taking the beatings like the snivelling useless idiot he asked me to be. Dave didn’t nickname himself ‘The Hairy Cornflake’ because he looked like one (yes, he nicknamed himself). There’s no such thing as a cornflake with hair – that would be weird. In fact DLT resembles some twisted, cartoon amalgamation of Fred West, Teenwolf’s Dad and Thomas the Tank Engine.
We can only guess at why DLT took on the monicker of the Hairy Cornflake, but it is written that said pseudonym developed out of his 1970s persona ‘The Hairy Monster’, and became ‘…cornflake’ when he took over BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast Show. Sharp was DLT, as sharp in wit and all round cleverness as he was in those tight little denims, react-a-light ‘peido’ sunglasses, and open neck shirts. And so it came to pass, with ‘It’ being a cornflake incarnation that took on Noel ‘Whirley Wheel’
Edmonds head to head in a live TV vengeance spree after they’d sabotaged each other’s ratings for radio
and TV shows. Ha, you guys were craaazyee! I believe Edmonds came off worse, and DLT exacted the
sweetest revenge. At least no innocent people died. Which, for cold-blooded serial killer Edmonds and
his ‘late late breakfast show’ front, must be seen as fortunate.
The hair prefix was, of course, down to DLT’s love of hair. He had more hair per square yard of frame than
any beast I’ve seen with my own eyes, in sci-fi books or on Discovery Channel documentaries. There
wasn’t an inch uncovered, and so the summer was a very uncomfortable time for this man (and for all those around him).
It is therefore possible to conclude that it was his challenging genetic profile, combined with his love of Cornelius Rooster-endorsed roast maize flakes, that led this man into broadcasting history as Daaave Leeee Travis ‘PARP! HAIRRRY CORNFLAKE ‘DING’. He liked cornflakes a lot. I mean, a lot. Around 60 bowls a day, a lot. This intake helped DLT reduce his massive sex drive and limited the acts of self-pleasuring to 3 or 4 (on a good day). At least that’s what he said. And of course this ties in with what cornflakes were originally created to do in the 19th century, by Seventh Day Adventist religious nut jobs Keith and Harvey Kellogg. DLT used to believe that abstinence from sexual thought kept him focussed on his ‘calling’ to the higher broadcasting power. It was difficult to argue with Travis if you consider his triumphant television moment, ‘The Golden
Oldie Picture Show’ of the mid 80s. A sublime notion in programming that asked low budget, incompetent
film graduates and poor actors to portray the great hits of the past, songs that were previously unable to
express themselves visually as they predated the ‘promo video age’. Brutally literalist depictions were the
order of the day, and the show also primed DLT for, as he called it, “the great pub quiz of life”, triumphing
in other competitive arenas, such as his celebrated achievement as the only man on the planet to win
‘Pipe Smoker of the Year’ and ‘Rear of the Year’ in a single annum.
And so it was, that as personal cornflake chef to this success story I had to create new and interesting ways to serve the damn things to him. This wasn’t easy, as DLT was somewhat, one might say, ‘puritanical’ about his maize-based breakfast cereals. No frosted or crunchy nut ‘imitators’ were permitted within the confines of his mock medieval, two-garage, five bed pile in the Surrey countryside, oh no. Mostly I kept to the tried and tested formula of bowl + milk + sugar, and occasionally reconstructed these by changing the type of milk or sugar, but never the manner of flake or consistency of the various parts. Nor the bowl either, he had his favourite bowl. Or the spoon, he had his favourite spoon too. It was a demanding job, though more in a soul-destroying way than anything else.
Sadly it was Lee Travis’s violent and uncompromising reluctance to accept the new and innovative paradigms in the mid-ground breakfast cereal world that brought about an abrupt end to our working relationship. An end I find, to this very day, difficult to talk about.
But for the record DLT, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t my fault. I’ve kept quiet about this for so many years just to protect
you DLT. To protect you because I… I… well. Now it’s got to come out, and I WILL NOT stand here as the man I
am and allow this gross injustice to carry on. It was Diddy David Hamilton, DLT - yes, your ‘friend’ Diddy David
Hamilton who smuggled those Frosties into your 46th birthday bash on that terrible day.
You see, I’d gone to the rear kitchen entrance to empty the spoils from your daily back clip and anal wax with Rosella the housemaid, as she found it a terribly traumatic task to do alone. ‘Diddy’ was there, behind the garages, his tiny little legs flailing out the top of that famous box, Tony the Tiger beaming gleefully off the packaging, unperturbed. Devouring the frosted flakes inside like a sugar-coated product-addicted madman he was DLT. Squealing ‘They’re gRRRRRRReat! They’re gRRRRRRReat!’ in his crazed munchkin-like voice. It was all I could do DLT to lift him out of that box by his little legs. And he thrashed DLT, boy did he thrash. So strong for a little lad, so very strong. But eventually the sugar wore off, and his struggle subsided. I dumped Hamilton in the back seat of his pedal car to sleep it off and returned to the scene, removing the Frosties box and throwing it in the bin where it belonged…… And that’s when you appeared.
The rest, as they say, is history. But the truth is out now, and should DLT see this (I understand work’s been thin
on the ground for him lately) then perhaps, just perhaps, he can find it in that big, hairy heart of his to get back in
touch. Because I do miss those big hairy hands across the back of my head, I do so miss that.
And, of course, I miss watching him smoke a pipe like a champion.
Here’s a handy kitchen hint sent in by one of our readers; Carole Fraser of Toronto, Ontario:
‘Crumb Saving Math’
“These days, you can buy finely crushed crumbs for most recipes, but I still like to make my own. Sometimes I make extra crumbs for future use. It doesn’t take long, and the crumbs can be kept in a sealed glass jar or container or frozen until needed. I’ve found that to make 1 cup of finely crushed crumbs you need either 28 saltine crackers, 24 round crackers, 14 graham cracker squares, 22 vanilla wafers or 3 cups of uncrushed cornflakes’”
Err, thanks for that Carole. Just one thing though, it’s ‘Maths’ ok, not ‘math’, ‘maths. Maths, that’s maths. Mathsmathsmathsmaths maths maths mathing fucking MATHS’.
We’ve given you a language, now kindly use it properly.
And whilst I’m here Carole, most of our UK readers will have no idea whatsoever what a ‘saltine’ cracker or a ‘graham cracker’ is, nor why on earth you’ll be sticking some broken vanilla wafers in there as well as those mutherfucking cornflakes. I fear this isn’t a crumb coating for something sweet is it Carole? Hmm? No, I think is the answer, isn’t it Carole-with-too-much-time-on-her-hands from Toronto, Ontario? Knowing what you people like to do with food over there in your Martha ‘jailbait’ Stewart all-you-can-eat inspired kitchens, I fear this is for something savoury.
And then, there it is! Immediately following your e-mail:
A recipe suggestion for ‘Cornflake-coated chicken’ from Denise Elder of Hanover, Ontario.
Denise, fuck off you freak. Go make a giant peanut butter ice cream sandwich, eat it, keel over, and die slowly on the kitchen floor in a pool of your own obesity.
I’m off to start my new day job working as personal chef for Mr Hugh Grant. Simple brief really - mornings only, start at 9, finish at 11, knock something up for Hugh with baked beans that he can reheat or use in a kung fu attack later that day.
Next time: interviews with a Coq muncher, battle cheese and the fascists' guide to breadmaking.