Salt beef sandwiches, my dad and me | Jay Rayner

My father Des was always there to remind me that there are more important things than lunch

It is two days before my father’s funeral, and I am sitting in a railway arch just south of Tower Bridge, staring at a salt beef sandwich the size of my head. Des Rayner loved a good salt beef sandwich, and I like to think he would have approved of this one: the thick slices of pink meat the colour of a baby’s cheek, the smear of mustard that will make you sniff, the rye bread keeping it all in order. We each of us have our ways of saying goodbye to those we have loved, and this is one of mine.

Unlike his son, Des was not interested in the variety of the table, and every greedy man needs someone like that in their lives. He wasn’t so much disdainful of my appetites as bemused. It was useful for a long speech of mine on the joys of, say, the latest faux rustic French paysanne bistro to be met with the “and?” of a raised eyebrow. Des was always there to remind me that there are actually more important things in life than lunch.

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