A Borough life: turning 30

Categories: Reflections and opinions

In a new series, chef, food writer and Borough Market blogger Luke Mackay talks about his life-long relationship with food, cooking and the Market

Words: Luke Mackay
Image: John Holdship

So, last time I was 28 and scared of terrorists. This time, I am 30 and scared of being alone. I am specifically and literally 30—it was Saturday 13th January 2007, my 30th birthday and I had my birthday breakfast (oysters and Guinness) at Wright Brothers by Borough Market with my best friends.

I tend to celebrate things at Borough. As discussed previously, it’s very much my happy place but I was so conflicted and confused on this particular day, that I really didn’t know what to do. I was exactly where I wanted to be and yet nowhere. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it will be a decade in January.

I remember looking at each and every one of my friends in turn and thinking ‘you’ve found the one, you’re married, you’ve got kids, bought a house. You’re a grown up.’ I was miserable, in my happy place, on my birthday.

A Guiness-y fug
When I was younger and naïve, I’d never have thought that I’d be 30, in a job I hated, living in a rented room in Battersea, single, lonely and jealous of people I loved. After three pints and a dozen native oysters, my mood had improved and my phone rang. It was someone offering me a job and a cottage on an organic pig farm in Wiltshire. In a Guinness-y fug, I said yes.

So, with the rest of my life sorted out by 11am, we set off on a tour of the Market. Some of my mates were Borough virgins, so obviously we went straight to The Market Porter for a couple of sharpeners to make a plan. I’d show them all my favourite places, chat with the best producers and make them love it like I did. After a few nice pints.

We predictably forgot about the plan in The Market Porter, but had a terrific conversation about what a failure I was—my friendship circle is pretty brutal in tough times, and I wouldn’t have it any other way—tears of laughter rolling down my face as talk turned quickly to bedsits and pneumonia and alsatians feasting on my still, lifeless corpse. And then—I mean, what’s a trip to Borough without a quick half in The Old King’s Head?

Hilarious root veg
Just a livener to regroup. A nice lunch time pint. Nothing wrong with that. Then we’ll go and talk to the nice man about comte, or check out what feathered game is on show at Furness. There would almost certainly be some hilarious root veg on display at Turnips. Almost certainly.

And on it went. My first trip to Borough where I didn’t enter the actual Market. I think I ended up in Clapham, 30 and a day, eating a kebab on a pavement no closer to love and marriage than I had been pre-oyster, but ‘happy drunk’ so it was okay—plus, I had absolutely and completely NAILED an interview for a job on a pig farm.