Pat Carney, Mark Budgen & Maldon SaltThursday, March 22, 2007
In the mid 80s Vancouver Magazine editor Mac Parry summoned freelance writer Mark Budgen. Mac wanted Budgen to write a profile on the influential Progressive Conservative MP, Pat Carney. It seems that Budgen (he does not deny this but does not remember his exact words) turned Mac down telling him that Carney's political position (right) did not fit with his own (left).
I have known Budgen for close to 30 years and we have traveled to Perú, Uruguay and Argentina on magazine assignments. In Buenos Aires godmother/first cousin Inesita O'Reilly Kuker was charmed my him but still gave him the nickname of Marx because of his left-wing views.
A perhaps only a little less ethical Robert (Bob) Hunter accepted the Carney assignment and I was dispatched to take her picture in her Point Grey home. As soon as I found out that Carney had been born in Shanghai I had an idea. I showed up with make-up artist extraordinaire Inga Vollmer. Vollmer made her up and as soon as we were ready to shoot I asked Vollmer to give her some final touch ups. This was my signal for Vollmer to apply what in her consideration was "Chinese Dragon Lady" makeup. I do believe that Carney never looked any better.
Some years later I told writer Ben Metcalfe of my experience with Pat Carney. We were having after dinner cigars and coffee at his Shawnigan Lake cabin. My daughter Ale was there as she had been my assistant in a shoot at Shawnigan Lake School for a fund raising brochure. Ben told me, "When I was working at the Province this short and chubby girl would come to my desk for my copy. I could barely see the top of her head behind my typewriter. It was Pat Carney."
All these years Budgen and I have been friends and I particularly like dining (usually lunch) at his Strathcona Heritage house. Budgen is most frugal, but does not think twice about splurging on good cooking ingredients. He is an excellent cook. One day he had a little shallow porcelain container with little mysterious looking flakes. He passed me a bowl of hard-boiled eggs and told me to try them with the Maldon Salt. He mentioned how so many years ago the Danes had defeated the Saxons in a great battle on the Maldon Sea. "The sea salt that is evaporated from the Maldon Sea waters," budgen said, "has traces of the blood of those English."
I must add here that I am not the only one addicted to the delights of Maldon Salt. Rebecca, too, demands I serve it and when I am not looking she serves herself an extra pinch.