Floyd at Linthwaite
We were very privileged to have held "Floyd's Cookery Theatres" at Linthwaite House Hotel in 2006/2007 in which time we got to know Keith Floyd well. On Monday, September 14 2009, Keith passed away. He will be greatly missed by many.
Memories of Keith Floyd by Mike Bevans, Owner, Linthwaite House Hotel
I first met Floyd in November 2006. I got a call from the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, whom we have worked with in the past. Could I do a room on a sunday night for Keith Floyd who was doing his stand up autobiographical show. Why not? They gave me some tickets and some friends and I went to see him. It was shocking to say the least. There were kids in the audience - a very diverse audience to be sure - and his language left a lot to be desired especially his opening lines designed to shock gambit. I can't repeat it here. Oh go on then, I will. “I'm f****** p*****, and if you don't like it you can f*** off now”. When he realised there were kids in the audience he was mortified and invited the boy down to the stage for a chat. Something he'll never forget. Later on a heckler on the front row (completely inebriated by the sound of it; though at first we just wondered whether this person was actually unable to help it, but in any case Floyd was having none of it) was asked by Floyd to restrain herself. She didn't. He tore a strip off her and she was asked to leave and escorted out of the theatre. She was to be found at the interval lying on the floor of the bar, drunk. Her husband, who was a dedicated follower of Floyd, attended the second half, and had brought a gift for him - a Panama hat - which Floyd, ever the gent, wore with aplomb.
The way he behaved on stage really summed up how he lived. What you see is what you get. No airs and graces. He'd swear if he wanted; no-one could tell him not to, but he had standards of decency and could behave like a gentleman. He believed in fairness, hated political correctness and the nanny state, and of course he enjoyed a drink, which he could generally manage. (Whiskey was preferred to red wine.)
As a result of the gig in Kendal I got talking to the great man over coffee the following day, and we immediately struck up a rapport. He regaled stories of his life, and commented on the industry, the country, rugby union and its players, his sartorial approach (faded elegance; he had either 70 or 700 pairs of shoes)and we had hours of fun. A few days later he phoned me to say he wanted to do something in the Lakes.
He'd fallen in love with Linthwaite and the Lakes and could he come up and discuss opportunities. The result was the Floyd cookery sessions at Linthwaite which started the following year and continued until after the divorce from Tess in 2008. We had some mind boggling situations. First day he asked me:
”Have you got any of my books?”
“No”, I replied.
“Well I can't remember any of my f****** recipes”.
I had to go to Kendal to buy his books so he could do the recipes. He told me he never kept any of his books; had never read them.
He and I would sit down with guests at dinner on one night. He pecked at his food though he needed to eat more. He couldn't really stand being worshipped and was short on patience. But start a conversation up with a subject he loved and he'd be off. Of course the guests loved him but we could all see that it was slowly unravelling for Floyd. After the divorce he phoned to say he wouldn't be coming back, it was Tess that loved the Lakes etc..
So it was with huge sadness that I learned on a plane flying back from holiday last week, the death of my brief friend Floyd. I value and treasure the time we worked together, and England is now missing a fine fellow. I read in one of the obituaries that he had an edginess, maybe similar to Oliver Reid, Richard Burton. I think that's true. He had a dash of good old fashioned swash buckling Englishness about him, a raffish character who would have probably suited being born in the Victorian era.
There has been a lot of waffle about how he compares to the chefs of today. He doesn't. He was from a different era and hated the modern food approach. He was more robust and simple in his cooking, just like on TV.
We miss him.
Mike Bevans, Linthwaite House
Linthwaite has also been proud to host guest Chefs' evenings in the past and these have included Marcus Wareing, of Petrus as it was then, Richard Corrigan (Bentley's and Corrigan's); Nigel Haworth, our favourite Michelin starred chef in the North at the wonderful Northcote Manor Hotel and of course Steven Doherty, of the Lakeland Cafe, Windermere and ex Gavroche.