Article

Best of times, worst of times: Paul Day

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of the man behind Sussex Fish

Fantasy job
Big game fishing. I would love to run a couple of charter boats somewhere like the Azores. I would love going out with the boys every day catching fish like big tuna and swordfish. The Azores has this shelf where the seabed drops away very steeply and the currents create the conditions which attract massive fish to come and feed. It’s quite a unique part of the world and I love to go there.

Worst job
I worked for an emergency plumbing and drain clearance company for a time after leaving school. This was a really grotty job. Some big country houses’ sewerage was essentially pipes running to a large cesspit. When the pipes got blocked, it was our job to flush them out. That sometimes involved one of us being lowered into the cesspit. Being the new guy, that was me. I think I’d better leave the rest of it to your imagination.

Favourite TV show
I don’t watch a huge amount of television but I’ll watch Robson Green and his extreme fishing programmes. Sometimes he gets on my nerves a bit, but they are still good shows. I’ll also watch those programmes which follow trawlermen, but that’s pretty much all. I’m a fisherman to the core, I suppose.

Favourite childhood meal
I was lucky my mother was a good cook. She used to do a cracking cheese and onion quiche. It was all really homely food. I think the dish I enjoyed most was her roast chicken on Sundays.

Least favourite food
Eggs. I despise them. They are alright used as an ingredient, but If you stick a fried egg or scrambled egg in front of me, it makes me feel ill. There has only been one circumstance when I have eaten them by choice: I started boxing when I was 14 and I would drink raw eggs because it was part of our training diet. It was amateur level but we all took it very seriously. I ended up boxing at county level.

Favourite sport
I got into boxing through a friend called Scott Welch, who ended up fighting for the British heavyweight title. He suggested I come along and give boxing a go. I loved it—the training, the fitness, the discipline.

The thing that people misunderstand is that it’s not all about knocking people’s heads off. A lot of boxing is about defence. Yeah, you get some nutters who go in there for a brawl, but a lot of the training is about technique, movement, body position, how and when to punch. There is a real art to boxing, and I loved all of that. I fought as a flyweight—I was a lot thinner in those days!

Best meal ever
That was Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow. I was working on a trawler based there. We had this really good trip so the skipper decided to take us out to celebrate. I had john dory with seasonal vegetables and it was the most amazing meal I’ve ever had—everything was beautifully cooked, wonderfully presented, and the whole ambience was great. It really was up there.

Worst meal
Someone tried to serve me egg on toast once. The less said about that the better.

Signature dish
That would be roast duck with a home-made plum sauce, served with sautéed potatoes. Not something I cook every day, but I’ll save it for special occasions.

Worst kitchen disaster
That happened on one of the trawlers. I was taken on as a cook who would work the decks when I had time. On my first Sunday, the skipper asked for a Sunday roast for the crew. I put the chicken in the oven, turned it on and headed back on deck. After about an hour I went back to the kitchen, opened the oven door—and the chicken was gone.

At first I blamed the crew, but they pointed out that they had all been on deck with me. To cut a long story short, on trawlers the oven doors have an extra latch to stop them flying open in rough weather, and I hadn’t engaged it. The chicken had sailed out of the oven and bounced all the way down to the cabins where it was rolling around on the floor. You can imagine I wasn’t Mr Popular that day.

Favourite album ever
Easy. Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell. I remember rocking to it in front of the mirror when I was a kid using my hairbrush as an air guitar. I loved it the first time I heard it and I still love it now.

Best gig
Ooh! That is tricky. I saw Madness at Finsbury Park last year and that was brilliant. But I also saw the Stone Roses in Brighton a few years ago—a fantastic gig—so probably one of those two.

Best thing about London
I love the energy and drive. There is such a pace to life, and it just gives you a lift. London really has something special about it.

Worst thing about London
The traffic.

Worst daily chore
Getting up at 1:30 in the morning.

Tipple of choice
I don’t really drink a lot, but I do like a vodka and coke with ice.

Hangover cure
A few sips of water and go back to bed.