Monday, August 29, 2011

Gordon Crook 1921 - 2011

On Friday our dear friend Gordon Crook died. He hasn’t been well for a while now but he was in good spirits up to a month or so ago. Even though his last days were a struggle, it was only a few weeks ago that Gordon was sitting in his chair busily drawing a bunch of tulips that had been brought in by a visitor. The drawn line was as much a part of Gordon Crook as his acerbic judgements, his cooking and his wild English garden in the heart of Wellington’s Aro Street. 

His biography is well known but we will never forget our first discussions with him in the early 1970s, not long after he had arrived in New Zealand from a successful career as an artist, designer and teacher in London. He was still wondering what he had done coming so far from everything he knew and loved. Over the decades his courage, skills and insight drew a devoted group of friends to him so by the end he was content to have chosen this place. His long life was dedicated to a passionate search for beauty. That undertaking drew on his fearsome determination and unrelenting curiosity. 

Sometimes that curiosity pushed him to esoteric fascinations (BOTA - Builders of the Atrium - was an unforgettable one) and sometimes to doing beautifully the simple things of everyday life, cooking, gardening, reading, talking with friends. And there was always the work inspired by his dreams, the flights of his imagination and the things he could see so clearly from the corner of his eye. Gordon earned that great reward of the committed artist; a life doing what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it and seeing the results give pleasure.

Whenever we visited, tea and a scone were prepared and served in Gordon's china, a cricket themed cup was a particular favourite. Earlier this year we asked Gordon to show us how he made his scone (always pronounced to rhyme with cone), and he did.

Gordon’s scone
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups self-raising flour
30 grams Olivio (oil based ‘butter’ spread) in small pieces
¼ cup of sultanas
Zest of a lemon (optional)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Mix the flour and baking powder and rub in the Olivio very lightly
Mix in the zest and the sultanas very lightly
Beat the egg in ½ a cup of milk
Add milk and egg mix and knife them into the flour mix
Flour an oven tray
Form the mixture into a single ball and press it onto the oven tray to produce a disk about one hand’s width in diameter
Partially cut into eight segments and put into oven at 200 degrees
Check in 15 minutes and bake till ready.
Serve with jam and butter.