Bel Shapiro’s Vacation Story

by John Delach

Annabel Shapiro, the youngest daughter of my old London mate, John, recently returned from a vacation in the Canary Islands.


Known to her friends as Bel, she is both founder and operator of an award-winning,  London-based food cart known as The Bell & Brisket. In business for about two years Bel and her associates operate at both scheduled and serendipitous locations throughout greater London. They are engaged in what is known locally as “the kerb life.” While they take their food seriously, not so much themselves. For example dubbing the converted horsebox/food truck: “The Whoresbox.”


For the record, the main ingredient is brisket or as they also call it on the other side of the pond, salt beef. The brisket is hand cured locally and served on traditional boiled Jewish bagels or local rye bread with pickles, relish and cheddar melted by means of a blow torch; a nice touch.


Here is the message Bel sent to her father describing her diving experience in the Canaries:


So I went diving today, brilliant as always, but there’s a kind of etiquette involved that really makes me laugh.


At about 8:30 AM all the local dive schools converge on the same dive spot on the coast. There are standard trips the instructors take you out on so they know it like the back of their hands. What makes me laugh is that there are classic stereotypical behaviors from each school that all have their own branded vans and gear.


There are the Germans who stand there broad chested and Aryan barking orders at their group. Their kit is immaculate, gas tanks all lined up facing the same way, equipment in the sun with flippers and wet suits matching like a row of backing singers in a band. Everything perfect, slick and on time.


There are the Spanish, swarthy, tanned and sinewy like well-whittled wood, with hipster beards, tie die clothes and flip-flops. With sharp, angular faces; they are born to look good in a wet suit. They just rock up and dive on their own time; manana, manana.


Then there are us Brits. The school is run by Dave and Paul who seem to be having a competition to see who can get the biggest gut into a wet suit. Paul is winning but Dave likes a smoke and gets as many fags in as possible before he actually has to go under water. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d cracked open a can of Stella before the dive. Their van is a bit shit. The door handle came off in my hand. But they are salt of the earth and I had a great day with them. Gawd bless the Brits!