I hadn't realised just how fashionable it is now to give up a career and start over as a cook; I'd have become a fashion model if I'd known. I've been a journalist for 25 years, working as a gutterpress scumbag tabloid journalist for the UK press for much of this, then becoming a columnist (on technology) for The Times for the past 10. I moved to France eight years ago and am now living in Avignon, about 80kms north of Marseilles and the Mediterranean. I work as the Plongeur (Kitchen Porter in England, dunno in the US) at La Table des Agassins, the restaurant of a four-star hotel http://www.lesagassins.com where I get on very well indeed with the Chef, Jean-Remy Joly. I start at the Ecole Hotellière on September 12 working towards my CAP (Certificat d'Aptitude Professionel) as a Commis Chef. It's one 10-hour day a week doing two recipes and some basic classroom stuff which will qualify me to work as a proper cook by next summer, hopefully. I started working in restaurants about 18 months ago, after asking the chef in my favourite local restaurant if I could go and watch him work now and then; I liked it and worked a day or two a week with him, then got a job for two months with a Traiteur in Nimes who was a real a-hole, then moved to Avignon to live with my then girlfriend. Who promptly decided that, oh, now you've signed the contract and got the job and live in Avignon? It's over between us. Women, huh? Can't live with them, can't sauté them with shallots and mushrooms in a Sauce Madère. So now I live here and work the plonge five days a week, doing fish and vegetable prep in the mornings, washing up at lunch and in the evenings. And love it, even though the CTS in my right wrist means I don't get to sleep much at nights. Still, we close in December for a month so I can sleep then, can't I? Well, that's what Chef tells me anyway. I always wanted to be a cook but my mother forbade it as she was a school cook (1,500 covers a day!) and said it was no job for a clever young chap like me, so journalism it was. Which I loved and I still write a lot, my own diary online at http://www.mostxlnt.co.uk/diary and stuff on living in France and cookery for some websites.